When it comes to housing, Australia and Berlin are worlds apart. In Australia, as in much of the English-speaking world, housing is treated as primarily a vehicle for investment and wealth creation, a state of affairs which began with the privately-financed speculative building of colonial times, and is firmly entrenched in the culture; 70% of Australians own their own homes, and the “Australian Dream” is still widely held to be home ownership, though these days the home may well be a trendy inner-city apartment rather than the traditional bungalow on a quarter-acre block. In Berlin, however, the vast majority of residents are renters, and they have considerable political clout, as they have had for decades. [more inside]
After a dispute with her landlord, 23-year-old student Leonie Müller abandoned her apartment in Tübingen and started living on trains. On the first of May, Müller bought a BahnCard 100, a ticket which costs 4090€ and entitles her to unlimited travel on Germany's railway network for a year, and has been calling the trains home since then, living out of a backpack, washing her hair in the train bathroom, writing her papers whilst watching the scenery go past at 320kph, and periodically staying with friends and relatives across Germany. She has a blog (auf deutsch) and plans to write her undergraduate thesis on her experiences as a train nomad.
How to be German in 20 easy steps; also, from the same author: how to be English. Elsewhere: how to be a really hip German.
Endbahnhof, a collection of photographs of every U-Bahn station in Berlin, organised by line and showing the variety of architectural styles in the system. There is an interview with the photographer, Kate Seabrook, here.
Jens Spahn is a parliamentarian in Germany's centre-right party, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and a committed Catholic. He is also gay, and has been openly so throughout his 11-year political career. While he does not focus specifically on gay issues, he advocates equal civil rights for gays and lesbians (including gay marriage, tax parity and adoption rights) from a conservative position. He does not regard this to be a contradiction.
On the 19th of October, a Deutsche Bahn ICE3 train will travel from Germany to London through the Channel Tunnel. [more inside]
The Guardian ran a series of articles looking at the state of high-speed rail travel today. France intends to double its length of track over the next decade, and China is planning a massive rail-building programme, including a high-speed line which will halve the travel time between Beijing and Shanghai to 4 hours. In Germany, domestic air travel is rapidly going extinct, and Spain's network has made day trips between Madrid and Barcelona a possibility. The USA, which has long neglected its rail network, is planning up to 10 high-speed lines. Meanwhile, Britain's only high-speed line goes to France, but there is talk of a 250mph line from London to Birmingham and beyond, possibly by the early 2020s. Meanwhile, the CEO of France's rail operator, SNCF, weighs in on what the UK should do.