Berlin takes on Mediterranean flair

26th July 2006, Comments 0 comments

26 July 2006, BERLIN - While most of Europe swelters during one of the hottest summers on record, many in the German capital seem to be taking the heat in their stride. Berliners have always had a reputation for being laid-back, but now the city is taking on a distinctive Mediterranean flair as shorts, sandals and spaghetti tops become the dress-code of the day. People openly talk of taking a siesta to escape the afternoon heat in a city where the daytime temperature has rarely dropped below 30 centigrade

26 July 2006

BERLIN - While most of Europe swelters during one of the hottest summers on record, many in the German capital seem to be taking the heat in their stride.

Berliners have always had a reputation for being laid-back, but now the city is taking on a distinctive Mediterranean flair as shorts, sandals and spaghetti tops become the dress-code of the day.

People openly talk of taking a siesta to escape the afternoon heat in a city where the daytime temperature has rarely dropped below 30 centigrade in the past six weeks.

In the evenings, outdoor cafes are crammed with customers well into the night while families haul out chairs and sometimes tables from their apartments to create their own picnics in the city centre.

"Popular suburban areas like Kollwitz Platz are like the centre of Madrid at night," says one foreign resident. "The cafes are full and kids are up till all hours."

In some flats without balconies it's not uncommon to see young people sitting on their windowsills several floors up, dangling their legs into the air below.

During the morning, the city's municipal waste disposal workers are starting work at 6 a.m. - one hour earlier than usual - in order to escape the scorching midday heat.

One physiotherapist who opens her practice at 6:30 a.m. said she dealt with three clients in the first hour and had a waiting room half-full of people by breakfast time.

Pensioners can be seen tending their gardens shortly after sun-up, while elderly ladies take advantage of the relatively mild early morning air to go Nordic walking in the city's parks.

Not unlike southern European metropolises during the heat of the day, popular Berlin city-centre areas like Alexanderplatz and Potsdamer Platz look deserted during early afternoon compared to the hustle and bustle that usually goes on there.

Work at construction sites seems to be going at snail's pace after the building industry union IG Bau issued health warnings and even distributed sun lotion to those members who prefer to work stripped off to the waist.

"Of course, things don't move as fast during weather like this," said one construction worker. "And you might be tempted to take an extra cigarette break or two."

"Workers need to take a break," says Axel Wunschel, managing director of the building industry association for Berlin and the surrounding state of Brandenburg.

"Productivity is bound to decline during temperatures like those we are experiencing at present," Wunschel told the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel. "It's no different here than in other countries in southern Europe."

Meanwhile, the city's vast network of parks and lakes have been crowded well into the evening with the city's large collection of outdoor public swimming pools reporting a roaring trade as Berlin's 3.5 million residents seek to cool off.

In a bid to bring some relief, local councils agreed to allow outdoor swimming pools to remain open until sunset, around 9 p.m. - one to two hours longer than normal.

But the German Life-Saving Society warned bathers against being reckless after a dozen people drowned in Germany in bathing accidents over the weekend, at least two of them in the Berlin area.

DPA

Subject: German news

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