Archives for the month of: May, 2012
The German pharmacy or Apotheke is not like an American Drugstore. The Apotheke sells only medications. It’s not like a CVS or Walgreen’s where, in addition to medications, you can purchase shampoo, cosmetics, household items, and snack food. (The German Drugstore sells these types of products.)

At an Apotheke, you have to ask the pharmacist for what you want, even an over-the-counter drug such as Aspirin. You can’t just pick it up. On the other hand, the German pharmacist has more latitude when it comes to prescribing medications, and it’s often easier to go directly to the Apotheke, explain your symptoms to the pharmacist and get the proper medication rather than visit the doctor.

As with most shops and banks in Germany, the Apotheken are closed in the evenings, on public holidays, and from Saturday afternoon (1 or 2 pm) until Monday morning. Not to fear. If you need medication on a holiday, every Apotheke has a notice posted on its door with the name and address of the nearest on duty Apotheke.

It’s important to remember that an “on duty” Apotheke is not “open” to the public, which means its doors are closed. A customer needs to ring the Apotheke doorbell to get service. A pharmacist will come to the door, and the customer will explain what he or she needs. The pharmacist gets the necessary medication, returns with the drug and bill, and the customer pays. At no point during the transaction does the customer enter the Apotheke. The customer remains at the Apotheke entrance at all times. 
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The German pharmacy or Apotheke is not like an American Drugstore. The Apotheke sells only medications. It’s not like a CVS or Walgreen’s where, in addition to medications, you can purchase shampoo, cosmetics, household items, and snack food. (The German Drugstore sells these types of products.)

At an Apotheke, you have to ask the pharmacist for what you want, even an over-the-counter drug such as Aspirin. You can’t just pick it up. On the other hand, the German pharmacist has more latitude when it comes to prescribing medications, and it’s often easier to go directly to the Apotheke, explain your symptoms to the pharmacist and get the proper medication rather than visit the doctor.

As with most shops and banks in Germany, the Apotheken are closed in the evenings, on public holidays, and from Saturday afternoon (1 or 2 pm) until Monday morning. Not to fear. If you need medication on a holiday, every Apotheke has a notice posted on its door with the name and address of the nearest on duty Apotheke.

It’s important to remember that an “on duty” Apotheke is not “open” to the public, which means its doors are closed. A customer needs to ring the Apotheke doorbell to get service. A pharmacist will come to the door, and the customer will explain what he or she needs. The pharmacist gets the necessary medication, returns with the drug and bill, and the customer pays. At no point during the transaction does the customer enter the Apotheke. The customer remains at the Apotheke entrance at all times. 

Berlin has an open public transit system: meaning it relies on the honor system. A passenger buys a public transit ticket, and occasionally, an undercover transit controller will ask to see your ticket. If you don’t have a valid ticket, you are fined on the spot. Yesterday, I read what seemed to be an almost unbelievable story. Then again, this is Germany.



An Italian tourist, after arriving at Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport, purchased a transit ticket for 2,70€. The normal fare 2,30€. She unfortunately overpaid. While traveling into the city, she was stopped by a transit controller; and you guessed it, she was fined 40,00€ for traveling on an incorrectly issued ticket. She unsuccessfully appealed the fine, but rules are rules. Like I said, this is Germany.

Berlin has an open public transit system: meaning it relies on the honor system. A passenger buys a public transit ticket, and occasionally, an undercover transit controller will ask to see your ticket. If you don’t have a valid ticket, you are fined on the spot. Yesterday, I read what seemed to be an almost unbelievable story. Then again, this is Germany.



An Italian tourist, after arriving at Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport, purchased a transit ticket for 2,70€. The normal fare 2,30€. She unfortunately overpaid. While traveling into the city, she was stopped by a transit controller; and you guessed it, she was fined 40,00€ for traveling on an incorrectly issued ticket. She unsuccessfully appealed the fine, but rules are rules. Like I said, this is Germany.

Bold Colors on this Building in Kreuzberg

Keep an eye open, there is always some interesting streetscape in Berlin.

Photographers Admiring This Unusual
Work of Art
Ad Hoc Street Art in Front of U-Bahn Warschauer Str.
Rose Sculptures for the Second Phase
of Gleisdreieck Park

Bold Colors on this Building in Kreuzberg

Keep an eye open, there is always some interesting streetscape in Berlin.

Photographers Admiring This Unusual
Work of Art
Ad Hoc Street Art in Front of U-Bahn Warschauer Str.
Rose Sculptures for the Second Phase
of Gleisdreieck Park

It wouldn’t be a fair without Corn
on the Cobb (German Style)
The Name Says it All









I’m usually underwhelmed by most parades and street fairs, but not with Berlin’s annual Karneval der Kulturen (Carnival of Cultures). It’s really unique. There’s music, dance, performance art, food, and drink all representing Berlin’s multicultural community. This four day event ends today.

I’ve included a few video snapshots of musicians I enjoyed, including a band that played folk music from Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Israel. They reminded me of the bands that played at the old Radio Valenica in San Francisco. Radio Valencia had the best homemade chili in town, and on Friday nights, there was Eastern European music! When people ask me what I miss about California. I first mention the weather, followed by Radio Valencia

I said it was Multicultural

It wouldn’t be a fair without Corn
on the Cobb (German Style)
The Name Says it All









I’m usually underwhelmed by most parades and street fairs, but not with Berlin’s annual Karneval der Kulturen (Carnival of Cultures). It’s really unique. There’s music, dance, performance art, food, and drink all representing Berlin’s multicultural community. This four day event ends today.

I’ve included a few video snapshots of musicians I enjoyed, including a band that played folk music from Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Israel. They reminded me of the bands that played at the old Radio Valenica in San Francisco. Radio Valencia had the best homemade chili in town, and on Friday nights, there was Eastern European music! When people ask me what I miss about California. I first mention the weather, followed by Radio Valencia

I said it was Multicultural

There are so many events each weekend in Berlin that it’s difficult to keep track, let alone attend any of them. This holiday weekend, Berlin hosts the 17th Annual Karneval der Kulturen. This is one of Berlin’s biggest events of the year, and it focuses on the Latino and Asian communities of Berlin. This four day event has a street parade on Sunday and fair ground with plenty of music, dancing, food, and drink.

“Subculture” Participants Walking in the Parade

However, a smaller and less well-know event is also occurring this weekend: The Carnival of Subculture. It’s the alternative to the more traditional Karneval der Kulturen, and its theme is the elimination of racism, sexism and homophobia. I discovered this “Carnival” completely by accident as I was riding my bike this morning. Although not as festive as the Karneval der Kulturen, the participants are just as energetic. 

Notice that the Banner is in English and Spanish, not German
This “Float” is comprised of Household Pots and Pans









There are so many events each weekend in Berlin that it’s difficult to keep track, let alone attend any of them. This holiday weekend, Berlin hosts the 17th Annual Karneval der Kulturen. This is one of Berlin’s biggest events of the year, and it focuses on the Latino and Asian communities of Berlin. This four day event has a street parade on Sunday and fair ground with plenty of music, dancing, food, and drink.

“Subculture” Participants Walking in the Parade

However, a smaller and less well-know event is also occurring this weekend: The Carnival of Subculture. It’s the alternative to the more traditional Karneval der Kulturen, and its theme is the elimination of racism, sexism and homophobia. I discovered this “Carnival” completely by accident as I was riding my bike this morning. Although not as festive as the Karneval der Kulturen, the participants are just as energetic. 

Notice that the Banner is in English and Spanish, not German
This “Float” is comprised of Household Pots and Pans