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BERLIN

The Best of Berlin in March

This month Exberliner, Berlin's leading English-language magazine, tells you where to get your fix for quality hot sauces and chocolates.

The Best of Berlin in March
Photo: Exberliner

Hot sauce dealers

In a country where mild food and sensitive palates are endemic, Pfefferhaus has brought some spice to the locals’ eating habits. To the chili community that has been hiding on the internet for years: hide no more. To the expats who miss a bit of piquancy: rejoice! At Pfefferhaus, you’ll find it all: from BBQ and hot sauces to an amazing array of treats (chili-flavoured chocolate, anyone?)to wasabi nuts, chips and even the homegrown but hard-to-find Cola Rebell drink. And the hotsauces are the real deal, specially imported from the U.S. and Central and South America. The current bestseller is the (German-produced) Suicide Sauce’s Honey Garlic Hot Sauce Stinger(€7.90), but real alpha males will definitely want to try the Ass Reaper (€9.50) or Sudden Death(€9.95). If you’re still wary of exposing your palate to such extremes, just repeat owner Felix Eichholtz’s mantra: “It’s fun! It releases endorphins!” His own favourite is a hot sauce from CostaRica: Melinda’s Scotch Bonnet (€5,50). Taste it and weep…

Pfefferhaus | Dircksenstr. Bogen 94, Mitte, S+U-Bhf Alexanderplatz, Mon-Sat 11-20, www.pfefferhaus.de

Chocoland

Ritter Sport – the square chocolate bar made to fit in football fans’ pockets – has come a long way since Clara and Alfred Ritter founded the first factory in Bad Cannstatt, near Stuttgart, in 1912. As if worldwide distribution, 26 regular flavours and even a new organic line weren’t enough, the company is now displaying ambitions of Willie Wonka-esque proportions: Bunte Schokowelt, a colourful,four-storey shop, café and showroom in one, right in the touristy heart of Berlin Mitte. The pillar of giant Ritter Sport bars at the entrance is enough to make anyone’s mouth water – luckily, the consumption begins almost immediately. Just head to the “Schokolateria” cafe or the “Schokolounge” restaurant to satisfy your cravings with chocolate lasagne (€6.90), chocolate mousse cake (€2.50) and a cup of marzipan hot chocolate (or any other Ritter Sport flavour of your choice;€3.40). Kids are shown how to make their own chocolates in special workshops(€8 for a 75min lesson), while the real addicts can binge on Ritter Sport-labelled paraphernalia – from sport bags and t-shirts to office supplies. Top all this off with an educational stroll through the mini-museum,where you’ll be enlightened about chocolate-making and the family business history.Bunte Schokowelt may not be everyone’s cup of heiße Schokolade, but it’s enough to satiate even the fussiest Ritter Sport fan.

Bunte Schokowelt | Französische Str. 24, Mitte, U-Bhf Französische Str., Tel 030 2009 50830, Mon-Thu 10-20, Fri-Sat 10-22, Sun 10-18, www.ritter-sport.de

Puncture chic

In this age of ecological correctness, it’s hard not to slip up somewhere.Travelling by train, not plane, may score you some green points, but ifyou’re a meat-eater, your carbon footprint will be running rings around you.Electronic cars, it’s purported, are an environmentally friendly antidote to gas-guzzlers – bar one inconvenient truth: electricity often comes from burning coal. And trading four wheels for two offers a simple solution to pollution… but what if those wheels end up on the scrap heap?Jaap Wijnants’ Puncture Bags range adds a poetic twist to the concept of re-cycling: he resurrects defunct bicycle inner tubes by refashioning them into everyday objects. From wallets and laptop bags to bike saddles and furniture upholstery, each item bears the subtle hallmarks of its former life: puncture repair plasters, logos and serial numbers make the designs genuinely unique.The tomDK pencil case is particularly eye-catching: its curving lines and accentuated corners tame industrial materials into a precise, rounded form.Puncture Bags is ‘trashion’ as it should be. It’s environmentally awareyet tailored to consumers’ needs: a far cry from the bombastic constellations of bin liners and tin cans that have littered the catwalks since the 1990s. Puncture Bags bridges the difficult gap between elegance, functionality and durability. Jaap’s products appeal to the minimalist in allof us, but are also particular enough tobe distinctive. They’re much too special to ever throw away.

Puncture Bags | www.puncturebags.com Stockists: Schoene Schreibwaren, Niederbarnimstr. 6, Friedrichshain, U-BhfFrankfurter Tor; Not A Wooden Spoon, Oderberger Str. 2, Prenzlauer Berg, U-BhfEberswalderstr.; ETSY, www.etsy.com; DaWanda, www.en.dawanda.com

Superstore forsuper-people

Still missing that perfect pair of rainbow leopard-print Lycra leggings?Superstore will satisfy all your 1980s fashion craves. Tucked away in a backstreet of Mitte’s fashion district, this charming two-level vintage shop is run by a cheerful gang of international friends who share the store with La Kitchn, a space dedicated to cooking courses (in everything from Italian and Korean to “erotic” cuisine) and catering services. Everything here,from the gold-foil-covered walls to the disco ball and pink flamingo lamp,screams out extreme pop from lost decades. With his pink striped sweater,flowery waistcoat and puzzling haircut, which only the truly stylish canpull off, David, the American owner, fits right in. The perfect outfit for your next Berlin night out might combine that sparkly gold blouse, with its American footballer-sized shoulder pads, and a pair of yellow Bruno Magli stilettos; if it’s chilly, add the ‘solar system’ jacket complete with Saturn,Jupiter and spaceships. Accessorize with a pair of Varnets or Ray Ban style shades, gold-chain bracelets, and a spiked belt. But Superstore also displays some more conservative clothing, from preppy Hausfrau suits to pre-Wende East German casual (e.g. lozenge marqueted oversize jumpers on bleached skinnies). Punters should expect to pay between €40 and €50 fora pullover, and about €100 for a coat.

Superstore | Almstadtstr. 43 (via La Kitchn), Mitte, U-Bhf Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz,Mon-Sat 12-20, www.superstoreberlin.com, www.lakitchn.de

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BERLIN

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.

Shops
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.

Leisure
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.

Hairdressers
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. 

Transport
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.

 

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