The Best of Berlin in February

Retro lounging - business class!

The Best of Berlin in February
Photo: DPA

Stepping out of the elevator and into Pan Am Lounge is like travelling back in time a few decades. This private party and event venue in the heart of the old West not only boasts breathtaking views of the Gedächtniskirche and Siegessäule – it has also managed to retain its original 1960s décor, down to the very last ashtray (not to mention the hand-painted wallpaper featuring a scene from the Boston Tea Party). “It’s like entering a film [read: Catch Me if You Can]: it’s a complete conservation of sexy, stylish 1966,” boasts Pan Am’s owner Natascha Bonnermann. This time machine experience swept the former dancer off her feet. When, in 2005, the lounge reopened after years of disuse, it was she who had awakened the former penthouse suite of the “Pan Am ghetto” from its Sleeping Beauty state to create a sense of personalized intimacy, “like being at home at Rock Hudson’s.” And for those too young to catch that cultural reference – well, Bonnermann insists the Lounge’s allure spans generations: that its heydays live on in a sort of collective consciousness… It’s that cool. “You are never alone here,” she says, running her hands along the wood-paneled wall and over the back of a leather armchair. “All of the generations of PanAm are here… You can feel the spirit.” Once the hub of PanAm airline employees in the 1960s and 1970s, today’s lounge caters to clients of differing budgets and visions by offering all-inclusive packages that can include food and entertainment. Oh – and did we mention that the staff dress up as stewardesses and airline pilots?/EP

Pan Am Lounge | 10 OG, Haus Eden, Budapester Str. 43, Tiergarten, U+S-Bhf Zoologischer Garten, Tel 030 72626 7541,

War and peace

With its cluttered windows of Russian war paraphernalia and rundown exterior, the small Senefelderplatz storefront of OG 107 looks rather uninviting… until closer inspection. Next to a mannequin armed with a machine gun, among pictures arranged in a small shrine, sits a portrait of Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist who was shot after openly opposing the war in Chechnya. The shop’s owner, a Ukrainian named Sergey Steuer, is an intimidating, 6-foot-tall man with melancholic eyes smartly dressed in camouflage pants and a military chapka. Like his shop, he is not short of contradiction. A former doctor and self-professed anti-militarist, he undertook a complete lifestyle (and wardrobe) change when he opened OG 107 (a reference to his favourite colour: the olive green of the German army uniform) seven years ago. “Doctors hate diseases, but they need to know everything about them in order to fight them. In the same way, we need to know everything about war and violence in order to understand it.” That’s presumably why Steuer’s shop stocks rows

and rows of military memorabilia. Russian military jackets, hats and shoes line the walls. Belts, scarves and weapons hang from the ceiling. The majority of these become costumes for film and theatre productions – most notably the German war movies Die letzte Schlacht (2005) and Die Luftbrücke (2005). Steuer’s collection also includes his own photographs (some of these – namely the shots of his children in military uniform outside the shop – have caused a certain amount of controversy). OG 107 could almost function as a museum – and a chat with the talkative owner will only enhance the experience./AW

OG 107 | Kollwitzstr. 2, Prenzlauer Berg, U-Bhf Senefelderplatz, Tel 030 22435051, Mon-Fri 14-18,

Bloody tampons…

We live in a city where we get paid to reuse beer bottles, and yet every month we females – you can’t be blamed for this one, boys – create a monstrous pile of used tampons and sanitary towels without a second thought. On average, each woman uses 11,000 tampons or pads in her lifetime. So what’s the answer – reusing your tampons? No, no. That perfectly designed silicon bell called the Mooncup is here to save your bank balance, your health and, in short, the world. It’s simple, economical and ecological: you pay between €17 and €20 and it’s yours until menopause. No more monthly payouts of €8 or more when you find yourself in a tricky position. Just remove the Mooncup, rinse it, then fold it and whack it back in. Plus, remember that the ‘natural cotton’ in your tampons is not porcelain-white when it is picked: it’s been bleached to create a ‘hygienic’ image, and small residues of that bleach remain in your body after use. Not good. And last but not least: imagine the amount of tampons and towels used by one woman each month. Multiply this by 12, then multiply it by the number of women who have access to sanitary protection at all, and you’ll get the nasty picture: hygienic commodities turned land and sea pollutants. Heavy periods, swimming, travelling and sleeping are all friends of the Mooncup. So next time you go out to take your bottles back to the magic Pfand machine, why not order a Mooncup from your local chemist? You’ll even be able to order them through EXBERLINER soon. Get your Mooncup and save the world! (We’ll take Berlin, one vagina at a time!)/SG

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EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.