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OFFBEAT

Berlin politician crusades for health of skateboarding dog

Can a canine enjoy skateboarding? That's the question Berlin politicians are struggling to address in a row over a dog on four wheels.

Berlin politician crusades for health of skateboarding dog
File photo: DPA

“To what extent is the district office aware of the situation that for months now a bulldog has been seen skateboarding on Alexanderplatz daily?” local representative for Berlin Mitte Martina Matischok-Yesilcimen asked in a written question on May 12th.

It's not hard to find traces of the skateboarding dog – whose name is variously reported as “Buddy” or “Lenin” in local media – on YouTube and other social media.

His owner was even interviewed by the Berliner Kurier in January, and said that “he [the dog] loves standing in front of an audience”.

To most people the spectacle might look like harmless fun designed to earn a few coppers from tourists and provide a moment's entertainment amid the bustling crowds of the travel and shopping hub beneath the famous TV tower.

But Matischok-Yesilcimen, Social Democratic Party leader in Mitte, has questions about the animal's welfare.

In her written question, the representative asks whether district vets have examined Lenin and whether the situation might be an infraction against animal protection laws.

But so far the borough authorities have not encountered the four-wheeled pooch in their patrols of the area.

“There was no evidence of the presence of a dog owner with a dog riding a skateboard” when vets looked into it, the answer from the district read.

“There would be danger to the dog's well-being if services were being demanded of it linked with pain and suffering to the animal,” the answer continues.

But they add that “a judgement [on the dog's condition] is impossible without observing the animal” – which so far they haven't been able to do, despite tweets going back to 2014 describing a similar performance.

“Just crazy annoying people and a bulldog on a skateboard in the middle of it. Alexanderplatz is like the internet in real life,” one person wrote almost two years ago.

Whether Lenin's shredding abilities match those of Otto the bulldog, who set a Guinness world record by skateboarding through the legs of 30 people in Peru in 2015, has yet to be determined.

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OFFBEAT

Germany’s Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’

Germany's Scheffelbrücke might not seem like much to look at, but by some accounts it is the most expensive bridge in the world. Here’s what you need to know.

Germany's Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’
The Scheffelbrücke in Baden-Württemburg isn't known for its astounding beauty or engineering prowess - but it is known for its price tag. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

If you’re travelling near the Swiss border, you might come across the Scheffelbrücke – a quiet, two-lane bridge over the Radolfzeller Aach in Baden-Württemburg. 

By bridge standards, the 20-metre concrete construction seems relatively unremarkable – until you take a look at the engraved sign on the side which quotes the price tag. 

A sign on the bridge references the incredible price of the bridge: 1,520,940,901,926,024 Deutschmarks. 

That’s 1,500 trillion marks. 

Why is the Scheffelbrücke Germany’s most expensive bridge – and why is it so drab?

While Germany has the money and the landscape to have some expensive bridges, that over the Aach hardly rivals the Golden Gate, London Bridge or Sydney Harbour for elegance or ingenuity. 

The bridge, completed in 1923, takes the name of Joseph Victor von Scheffel, a German writer who will forever be associated with the glorified concrete slab. 

While one might suspect pork barrelling or crafty accounting as a reason for the astonishing cost – or perhaps a trick to reel in the tourists to the otherwise unassuming village of Singen – the cost is in fact real.

The high price is a consequence of the out of control post-World War One inflation which hit Germany, where money almost completely lost its value. 

A sign for the bridge reveals its extortionate building costs. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

Local authorities, wanting to boost the economy, signed off on the bridge as an infrastructure project. 

As a consequence, some local workers presumably became millionaires as a consequence – although there was perhaps little meaning to the idea of being a millionaire when a billion would only buy you a concrete bridge. 

Fortunately, Germany was able to bring inflation under control and wheelbarrows full of money were no longer required to purchase basic things.

And almost a century later, when not taking wacky inflation into account, Germany’s ‘most expensive bridge in the world’ no longer has that title. 

That goes to the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco (no, not the Golden Gate but the other one), which cost 6.3 billion US dollars – or roughly 5.2 billion euro  – to build. 

The Oakland Bay Bridge however goes for eight kilometres and possesses some of the aesthetic qualities which one would expect from the most expensive bridge in the world. 

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