German convention dictates that the house/building number follows the street name (eg Friedrichstrasse 21), and numbers sometimes run up one side of the street and back down the other side. Strasse (street) is often abbreviated to Str, and is not usually written separately but appended to the street name, as in the example above. Exceptions are when the street name is the adjectival form of a place name (eg Potsdamer Strasse) or the full name of an individual (eg Heinrich-Heine-Strasse).
Within buildings: EG means Erdgeschoss, the ground floor; 1. OG (Obergeschoss) is the first floor; VH means Vorderhaus, or the front part of the building; HH means Hinterhaus, the part of the building off the Hinterhof, the 'back courtyard'; SF is Seitenflügel, stairs that go off to the side from the Hinterhof. In big, industrial complexes, stairwells are often numbered or lettered. Treppenhaus B, or sometimes just Haus B, would indicate a particular staircase off the courtyard.
Consent (heterosexual and homosexual sex) 16.
Messedamm 22, Charlottenburg (303 80/www.messe-berlin.de). U2 Theodor-Heuss-Platz. Open 10am-6pm Mon-Fri; 10am-2pm Sat.
The city's official trade fair and conference organisation can advise businesses or individuals on setting up small seminars and congresses, or big trade fairs.
A package of up to 5kg delivered within Germany costs about €7; to the UK about €17; and to North America about €32. The post office runs a cheaper express service.
Linkstrasse 10, Tiergarten (0180 5345 2255/www.dhl.de). U2, S1, S2, S25 Potsdamer Strasse. Open 9am-6pm Mon-Fri; 9am-noon Sat. No credit cards.
DHL delivers to 180 countries worldwide.
Regus Business Centre
Kurfürstendamm 21, Charlottenburg (887 060/fax 887 061 200/www.regus.de). U2, U9, S5, S7, S9, S75 Zoologischer Garten. Open 8.30am-6pm Mon-Fri. Credit AmEx, MC, V. Other locations Friedrichstrasse 50, Mitte.
Part of a worldwide chain, Regus has offices for rent, secretarial services and conference facilities.
Lengeder Strasse 17-19, Reinickendorf (0800 882 6630/www.ups.com). S25 Alt Reinickendorf. Open 8am-7pm Mon-Fri. Credit AmEx, MC, V.
Office hire & secretarial services.
The company listed below offers assistance in looking for homes and schools, and will help deal with residence and work permits.
Hardenberg Concept GmbH
Von-Luck-Strasse 13, Zehlendorf (805-8660/www.hardenberg-relocation.de). S1, S7 Nikolassee. Open 10am-4pm Mon-Fri.
Translators & interpreters
See also Übersetzungen in the Gelbe Seiten (Yellow Pages).
K Hilau Übersetzungsdienst
Langenscheidtstrasse 9, Schöneberg (781 7584). U7 Kleistpark. Open 1-6pm Mon-Fri.
Greifswalder Strasse 5, Prenzlauer Berg (4210 1777/www.intertext.de). Tram 2,3,4 Friedrichshain. Open 8am-4.30pm Mon-Fri.
American Chamber of Commerce
Charlottenstrasse 42, Mitte (2887 8920/www.amcham.de) U2, U6 Stadtmitte. Open 9am-5pm Mon-Fri.
American Embassy Commercial Dept
Pariser Platz 2, Mitte (238 5174/http://germany.usembassy.gov). S1, S2 Unter Den Linden. Open 8.30am-5.30pm Mon-Fri.
Berlin Chamber of Commerce
Fasanenstrasse 85, Charlottenburg (315 100/www.berlin-partner.de). Open 8am-5pm Mon-Thur; 8am-4pm Fri.
British Embassy Commercial Dept
Wilhelmstrasse 70, Mitte (204 570/www.britischesbotschaft.de). S1, S2 Unter den Linden. Open 9-11am, noon-4pm Mon-Fri.
The British Embassy's Commercial Department can offer basic advice for British businesses.
EU nationals over 17 years of age can import limitless goods for personal use, if bought with tax paid on them at source. For non-EU citizens and for duty-free goods, the following limits apply:
Tobacco products 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco.
Alcohol 1 litre of spirits (over 22 per cent alcohol), or 2 litres of fortified wine (under 22 per cent alcohol), or 2 litres of non-sparkling and sparkling wine.
Perfume 50 grams.
Coffee 500 grams.
Other goods to the value of €175 for non-commercial use. Travellers should note that the import of meat, meat products, fruit, plants, flowers and protected animals is restricted and/or forbidden.
Only some U- and S-Bahn stations have wheelchair facilities; the map of the transport network (look for the wheelchair symbol) indicates which ones. The BVG is improving things slowly, adding facilities here and there, but it's still a long way from being a wheelchair-friendly system.
Berlin Tourismus Marketing can give details about which of the city's hotels have disabled access. However, if you require more specific information, try the Beschäftigungswerk des BBV or the Touristik Union International.
Beschäftigungswerk des BBV
Bizetstrasse 51-5, Weissensee (927 0360/www.bbv-tours-berlin.de). S4, S8, S10 Greifswalder Strasse then bus M4 to Antonplatz. Open 9am-8pm Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm Sat.
The Berlin Centre for the Disabled provides legal and social advice, together with a transport service and travel information.
Touristik Union International (TUI)
Unter den Linden 17, Mitte (200 58550/www.tui.com). S1, S2 Unter den Linden. Open (by appointment) 9am-9pm Mon-Fri; 10am-6pm Sat.
The Touristik Union International provides information on accommodation and travel in Germany for the disabled.
Berlin is relatively liberal in its attitude towards drugs. In recent years, possession of hash or grass has been effectively decriminalised. Anyone caught with an amount under ten grams is liable to have the stuff confiscated, but can otherwise expect no further retribution. In addition, joint-smoking is tolerated in some of Berlin's younger bars and cafés.
A quick sniff will usually tell whether you're in one. Anyone caught with small amounts of hard drugs will net a fine, but is unlikely to be incarcerated.
Electricity in Germany runs on 220v. To use British appliances (240v), change the plug or use an adaptor (available at most UK electric shops, and probably at the airport). US appliances (110v) require a converter.
Friedrichstrasse 200, Mitte (880 0880). U6 Französische Strasse. Open 8.30am-5pm Mon-Thur; 8.30am-4.15pm Fri.
Wilhelmstrasse 70, Mitte (204 570/www.britischesbotschaft.de). S1, S2 Unter den Linden. Open 9-11am, noon-4pm Mon-Fri.
Friedrichstrasse 200, Mitte (220 720). U2, U6 Stadtmitte. Open 9.30am-12.30pm, 2.30-4.45pm Mon-Fri.
Clayallee 170, Zehlendorf (832 9233/visa enquiries 0190 850 055). U3 Oscar-Helene-Heim. Open Consular enquiries 8.30am-noon Mon-Fri. Visa enquiries 8.30-11.30am Mon-Fri.
Pariser Platz 2, Mitte (238 5174/http://germany.usembassy.gov). S1, S2 Unter Den Linden. Open 8.30am-5.30pm Mon-Fri.
Ambulance/Fire Brigade 112.
Help & information
Kulmer Strasse 20A, Schöneberg (215 2000/www.lesbenberatung-berlin.de). U7, S1, S2, S26 Yorckstrasse. Open 10am-7pm Mon, Tue, Thur; 10am-5pm Wed, Fri.
The Lesbian Advice Centre offers counselling in all areas of lesbian life as well as self-help groups, courses, cultural events and an 'info-café'.
Bülowstrasse 106, Schöneberg (216 8008/www.mann-o-meter.de). U1, U2, U3, U4 Nollendorfplatz. Open 5pm-10pm Mon-Fri; 4pm-10pm Sat, Sun.
Drop-in centre and helpline. Advice about AIDS prevention, jobs, flats, gay contacts, plus cheap stocks of safer sex materials. English spoken.
Mommsenstrasse 45, Charlottenburg (office 2336 9070/counselling 194 46/www.schwulenberatungberlin.de). U7 Adenauerplatz. Open 9am-8pm Mon-Fri.
The Gay Advice Centre provides information and counselling about HIV and AIDS, crisis intervention and advice on all aspects of gay life.
EU countries have reciprocal medical treatment arrangements with Germany. EU citizens will need the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). From the UK, this is available by phoning 0845 606 2030 or online from www.ehic.org.uk. You'll need to provide your name, date of birth and national insurance number.
It does not cover all medical costs (for example dental treatment), so private insurance is not a bad idea. Citizens from non-EU countries should take out private medical insurance.
The British Embassy publishes a list of English-speaking doctors and dentists, as well as lawyers and interpreters. Should you fall ill in Berlin, you can take your EHIC to any doctor or hospital emergency department and get treatment.
All hospitals have a 24-hour emergency ward. Otherwise, patients are admitted to hospital via a physician. Hospitals are listed in the Gelbe Seiten (Yellow Pages) under Krankenhäuser/Kliniken.
Karl-Marx-Allee 3, Mitte (253 10/www.aokberlin.de). U2, U5, U8, S5, S7, S9, S75 Alexanderplatz. Open 8am-2pm Mon, Wed; 8am-6pm Tue, Thur; 8am-noon Fri.
Accident & emergency
The following are the most central hospitals. All have 24-hour emergency wards.
Schumann Strasse 20-21, Mitte (450 50/www.charite.de). U6 Oranienburger Tor.
Klinikum Am Urban
Dieffenbachstrasse 1, Kreuzberg (6970). U7 Südstern/bus 241, 248.
St Hedwig Krankenhaus
Grosse Hamburger Strasse 5, Mitte (23110). S5, S7, S9, S75 Hackescher Markt or S1, S2 Oranienburger Strasse.
There is a long tradition of alternative medicine (Heilpraxis) in Germany, and your medical insurance will usually cover treatment costs. For a full list of practitioners, look up Heilpraktiker in the Gelbe Seiten (Yellow Pages). There you'll find a complete list of chiropractors, osteopaths, acupuncturists, homoeopaths and healers of various kinds. However, note that homeopathic medicines are harder to get hold of and much more expensive than in the UK, and it's generally more difficult to find an osteopath or a chiropractor.
Contraception, abortion & childbirth
Family-planning clinics are thin on the ground in Germany, and generally you have to go to a gynaecologist (Frauenarzt). The abortion law was amended in 1995 to take into account the differing systems that had existed in East and West. East Germany had abortion on demand; in the West, abortion was only allowed in extenuating circumstances, such as when the health of the foetus or mother was at risk.
In a complicated compromise, abortion is still technically illegal, but is not punishable. Women wishing to terminate a pregnancy can do so only after receiving certification from a counsellor. Counselling is offered by state, lay and church bodies.
Feministisches Frauengesund-heitzentrum (FFGZ)
Bamberger Strasse 51, Schöneberg (213 9597/www.ffgz.de). U4, U7 Bayerischer Platz. Open 10am-1pm Mon, Tue, Fri; 10am-1pm, 5-7pm Thur.
Courses and lectures are offered on natural contraception, pregnancy, cancer, abortion, AIDS, migraines and sexuality. Self-help and preventative medicine are stressed. Information on gynaecologists, health institutions and organisations can also be obtained.
Kalkreuthstrasse 4, Schöneberg (2147 6414/www.profamilia-berlin.de). U1, U2, U3 Wittenbergplatz. Open 3-6pm Mon, Tue, Thur; 9am-noon Wed, Sat.
Free advice about sex, contraception and abortion is offered here. Call for an appointment.
Dr Andreas Bothe
Kurfürstendamm 210, Charlottenburg (882 6767). U1 Uhlandstrasse. Open 8am-2pm Mon, Wed, Fri; 2-8pm Tue, Thur.
Mr Pankaj Mehta
Schlangenbader Strasse 25, Wilmersdorf (823 3010). U3 Rüdesheimer Platz. Open 9am-noon, 2-6pm Mon, Tue, Thur; 8am-1pm Wed, Fri.
If you don't know of any doctors in Berlin, or are too ill to leave your bed, phone the Emergency Doctor's Service (Ärztlicher Bereitschaftdienst 310 031). This service specialises in dispatching doctors for house calls. The charges vary according to the treatment required by the patient.
The British Embassy can provide a list of English-speaking doctors, although you'll find that many if not most doctors can speak some English. All will be expensive, however, so be sure to have either your EHIC or your private insurance documents at hand if seeking treatment.
If you want to be sure of communicating clearly, the doctors listed below all speak excellent English.
Dr Joseph Francis Aman
Franzisksus Krankenhaus, Budapester Strasse 15-19, Tiergarten (2638 firstname.lastname@example.org). U1, U2, U3 Wittenbergplatz. Open 8am-1pm, 3-6pm Mon, Tue, Thur; 8am-1pm Fri.
Dr Aman is an American GP with a practice in the Roman Catholic hospital that is opposite the Intercontinental Hotel.
Dr Christine Rommelspacher
Bochumerstr 12, Tiergarten (392 2075) U9 Turmstrasse. Open 9am-noon, 3-6pm Mon, Tue, Thur; 9am-noon Fri.
Dr Lutz Opitz
Tegeler Weg 4, Charlottenburg (344 4001). U7 Mierendorffplatz. Open 8am-2pm Mon; 4pm-7pm Tue; 5pm-7pm Thur; 8am-noon Fri.
Prescription and non-prescription drugs (including aspirin) are sold only at pharmacies (Apotheken). You can recognise these by a red 'A' outside the front door. A list of the nearest pharmacies open on Sundays and in the evening should be displayed in the window of every pharmacy. You can get a list of Notdienst-Apotheken (emergency pharmacies) online at www.apo110.de.
STDs, HIV & AIDS
For most sexually transmitted diseases, see a doctor. For specialist AIDS care and advice, contact the Berliner Aids-Hilfe.
Berliner Aids-Hilfe (BAH)
Büro 15, Meinekestrasse 12, Wilmersdorf (885 6400/advice line 194 11/www.berliner-aidshilfe.de). U1, U9 Kurfürstendamm. Open noon-6pm Mon; noon-2.30pm Wed; noon-3pm Thur, Fri. Advice line 10am-midnight daily.
Information is given on all aspects of HIV and AIDS. Free consultations, condoms and lubricant are also provided here.
Mitte, Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg, Tiergarten & Wedding (390 6310).
Charlottenburg & Wilmersdorf (390 6320).
Prenzlauer Berg, Weissensee & Pankow (390 6340).
Schöneberg, Tempelhof, Steglitz (390 6360).
For most problems, this is the best service to call. It offers help and/or counselling on a range of subjects, and if they can't provide exactly what you're looking for, they'll put you in touch with someone who can. The phone lines, organised by district, are staffed 24 hours daily. Counsellors will also come and visit you in your house if necessary.
Ansbacher Strasse 11, Schöneberg (2191 6010/www.drogennotdienst.de). U1, U2, U3 Wittenbergplatz. Open 8.30am-5pm Mon-Thur; 8.30am-3pm Fri; 2-9.30pm Sat, Sun.
At the 'drug emergency service', no appointment is necessary if you're coming in for advice, and the phone line is staffed 24 hours daily.
615 4243. Open 10am-noon Mon, Thur; 7-9pm Tue, Wed, Fri; 5-7pm Sat, Sun.
Offers advice and information for women on anything and everything.
By law you are required to carry some form of ID, which, for UK and US citizens, means a passport. If police catch you without one, they may accompany you to wherever you've left it.
For internet access, there are cybercafés all over town. There is free wireless access in the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz. For long stays, try www.snafu.de or www.gmx.de.
Dunkin' Donuts, Sony Center, Tiergarten (www.easyeverything.com). U2, S1, S2, S26 Potsdamer Platz. Open 7am-11pm Mon-Thur, Sun; 7am-midnight Fri, Sat. No credit cards.
Dozens of computers, no staff, mechanised system to buy time online, and plenty of doughnuts to hand. Other branches are similarly lodged with Dunkin' Donuts.
Other locations: Hardenbergplatz 2, Charlottenburg; Kurfürstendamm 224, Charlottenburg; Rathaus Passagen, Rathausstrasse 5, Mitte; Karl-Marx-Strasse 78, Neukölln; Schlossstrasse 102, Steglitz.
Internet Café Alpha
Dunckerstrasse 72, Prenzlauer Berg (447 9067). U2 Eberswalder Strasse. Open noon-1am Mon-Fri; 2pm-1am Sat, Sun. No credit cards.
Using one of the 15 computers costs €2 per hour at this stylish establishment. Wine, beer and a range of snacks can fuel your surfing. Also available: CD burners, scanners and games.
There is a left luggage office at Tegel (0180 5000 186; open 5am-10.30pm daily) and lockers at Schönefeld (in the Multi Parking Garage P4).
Rail & bus stations
There are left luggage lockers at Bahnhof Zoo, Friedrichstrasse, Alexanderplatz, Potsdamer Platz, Ostbahnhof and Hauptbahnhof. In addition, Zentraler Omnibus Bahnhof (ZOB) also provides left-luggage facilities.
If you get into legal difficulties, contact the British Embassy: it can provide you with a list of English-speaking lawyers in Berlin.
Berlin has hundreds of Bibliotheken/Büchereien (public libraries). To borrow books, you will be required to bring two things: an Anmeldungsformular ('Certificate of Registration') and a passport.
1, Kreuzberg (9022 6105/www.zlb.de). U1, U6 Hallesches Tor. Open 10am-8pm Mon-Fri; 10am-7pm Sat. Membership Per year €10; students €5.
This library only contains a small collection of English and American literature, but it has an excellent collection of English-language videos and many DVDs.
Potsdamer Strasse 33, Tiergarten (2660/www.staatsbibliothek-berlin.de). U2, S1, S2, S26 Potsdamer Platz. Open 9am-9pm Mon-Fri; 9am-7pm Sat.
Books in English on every subject are available at this branch of the State Library, which you may recognise from Wim Wenders' film Wings of Desire.
Unter den Linden 8, Mitte (2660/www.staatsbibliothek-berlin.de). U6, S1, S2, S5, S7, S9, S75 Friedrichstrasse. Open 9am-9pm Mon-Fri; 9am-5pm Sat.
A smaller range of English books than the branch above, but it's still worth a visit, not least for its café.
If any of your belongings are stolen while in Germany, you should go immediately to the police station nearest to where the incident occurred (listed in the Gelbe Seiten/Yellow Pages under Polizei) and report the theft. There you will be required to fill in report forms for insurance purposes. If you can't speak German, don't worry: the police will call in one of their interpreters, a service that is provided free of charge.
If you leave something in a taxi, call the number that's on your receipt (if you remembered to ask for one), and tell them the time of your journey, the four-digit Konzessions-Nummer that will be stamped on the receipt, a number where you can be reached, and what you've lost. They'll pass this information to the driver, and he or she will call you if they have your property.
Potsdamer Strasse 180-182, Schöneberg (194 49). U7 Kleistpark. Open Office 9am-6pm Mon-Thur; 9am-2pm Fri. Call centre 24 hrs daily.
You should contact this office if you have any queries about property lost on Berlin's public transport system. If you are robbed on one of their vehicles, you can ask about the surveillance video.
Platz der Luftbrücke 6, Tempelhof (7560 3101). U6 Platz der Luftbrücke. Open 7.30am-2pm Mon; 8.30am-4pm Tue; noon-6.30pm Wed; 1-7pm Thur; 7.30am-noon Fri.
This is the central police lost property office.
A wide variety of international publications are available at larger railway stations and Internationale Presse newsagents around town. Book retailers Dussmann and Hugendubel also carry international titles. The monthly Exberliner magazine offers listings as well as articles on cultural and political topics in English.
The flagship tabloid of the Axel Springer group. Though its credibility varies from story to story, BILD leverages the journalistic resources of the Springer empire and its four-million circulation to land regular scoops.
Financial Times Deutschland
Since hitting newsstands in 2000, the FTD's circulation (103,489) has been steadily increasing, and though it's not likely to dethrone Handelsblatt, its success proves there's room for different approaches within the business trade market.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Germany's de facto newspaper of record. Stolid, exhaustive coverage of daily events, plus lots of analysis, particularly on the business pages. The Sunday edition is one of the best-edited papers in the country.
The closest thing Germany can offer to the Wall Street Journal, the Handelsblatt co-operates with that paper's European offshoot. Competition from the Financial Times Deutschland has shaken Handelsblatt out of its complacency and energised its reporting.
Based in Munich, the Sueddeutsche blends first-rate journalism with enlightened commentary and uninspired visuals. On Mondays there is an English-language feature supplement called The New York Times International Weekly.
Set up in rebellious Kreuzberg in the 1970s, the 'taz' attempts to balance the world view of the mainstream press and give coverage to alternative political and social issues, while the Berlin edition keeps watch on crooks in local government. With a circulation of 123,334, it's still hanging in there.
Once a lacklustre mouthpiece of conservative, provincial thinking, Die Welt has widened its political horizons. But at a circulation of around 17,000 for its Berlin edition, it's not too popular in the capital.
Fat, fresh and self-conscious, this broadsheet is the favourite of the petty bourgeois. Good local coverage, and it's gained readers in the East through the introduction of neighbourhood editions, but there's no depth on the national and international pages.
This East Berlin paper has passed through the hands of a number of owners since it was relaunched in the early 1990s, the latest being a consortium led by Britain's David Montgomery. Though it is profitable and its journalistic ambitions less sullied than of its West Berlin competitor Der Tagesspiegel, it remains a local read, with a circulation largely confined to the Eastern districts.
The daily riot of polemic and pictures hasn't let up since it was demonised by the left in the 1970s - but its circulation has. Although still Berlin's largest seller with 189,044 copies daily, BZ sales are down substantially since 1991.
Owned by the conservative Holzbrinck publishing empire from West Germany, this paper has fallen from the pre-eminent position it once held in West Berlin. The paper has dumbed down to boost circulation, losing the intellectual underpinnings which once attracted well-educated, up-market readers.
Defiantly left, graphically switched-on and commercially undaunted, this Berlin-based weekly can be relied on to mock the comfortable views of the mainstream press. Born of an ideological dispute with the publishers of Junge Welt, a former East Berlin youth title, it lacks sales but packs a punch.
Every major post-war intellectual debate in Germany has been carried out in the pages of Die Zeit, the newspaper that proved that a liberal tradition was alive and well in a country best known for excesses of intolerance. The style of its elite authors makes a difficult read.
'The East-West weekly paper' is a post-1989 relaunch of a GDR intellectual weekly. Worth a look for its political and cultural articles.
Once, its spare, to-the-point articles, four-colour graphics and service features were a welcome innovation. But the gloss has faded, and Focus has established itself as a non-thinking man's Der Spiegel, whose answer to the upstart was simply to print more colour pages and become warm and fuzzy by adding bylines.
Few journalistic institutions in Germany possess the resources and clout to pursue a major story in the way that Der Spiegel can, making it one of the best and most aggressive news weeklies in Europe. After years of firing barbs at ruling Christian Democrats, Der Spiegel was caught off guard when the Social Democrats were elected in 1999, but remains a must-read for anyone interested in Germany's power structure. Substantial English content on their website.
The heyday of news pictorials may have long gone, but Stern still manages to shift around a million copies a week of big colour spreads detailing the horrors of war, the beauties of nature and the curves of the female body. Nevertheless, some say its reputation has never really recovered from the Hitler diaries fiasco in the early 1980s.
Berlin is awash with listings freebies, notably  (www.berlin030.de; music, nightlife, film) and Partysan (www.partysan.net; a pocket-sized club guide) and their gay cousins Siegessaeule (www.siegessaeule.de) and Blu (www.blu.fm). These can be picked up in bars and restaurants. Two newsstand fortnightlies, Zitty and tip, come out on alternate weeks and, at least for cinema information, it pays to get the current title.
Berlin's current English-language monthly is a lively mix of listings, reviews and commentary, mostly written by youngish American expats. It's based on the US 'alternative press' model, apart from the fact that it's not free. And its view is detached, almost self-absorbed, rather than engaged, as one might expect from a magazine put together by outsiders.
A glossier version of Zitty in every respect, tip gets better marks for its overall presentation and readability, largely due to higher quality paper, full colour throughout and a space-saving TV insert. This makes it more appealing to display advertisers - a double-edged sword depending on why you buy a listings magazine
in the first place.
Having lost some countercultural edge since its foundation in 1977, Zitty remains a vital force on the Berlin media scene, providing a fortnightly blend of close-to-the-bone civic journalism, alternative cultural coverage and comprehensive listings. The Harte Welle ('hardcore') department of its Lonely Hearts classifieds is legendary.
Germany cabled up in the late 1970s, so there is no shortage of channels. But television has never been viewed as an art form. That means programming revolves around bland, mass market entertainment, except for political talk shows, which are pervasive, but often very good.
At its worst, there are cheesy 'erotic' shows, vapid folk-music programmes with studio audiences that clap in time, and German adaptations of reality TV and casting shows such as Big Brother and Star Search. Late-night TV, in particular, is chock-a-block with imported action series and European soft porn, interspersed with finger-sucking adverts for telephone sex numbers.
There are two national public networks, ARD and ZDF, a handful of no-holds-barred commercial channels, and a load of special-interest channels. ARD's daily Tagesschau at 8pm is the most authoritative news broadcast nationally.
N-tv is Germany's all-news cable channel, owned partly by CNN, but lacking the satellite broadcaster's ability to cover a breaking story. TVBerlin is the city's experiment with local commercial television but is still catching up with ARD's local affiliate RBB (a merger of Berlin and Brandenburg stations SFB and ORB), which covers local news with more insight.
RTL, Pro 7 and SAT.1 are privately owned services offering a predictable mix of Hollywood re-runs and imported series, plus their own sensational magazine programmes and sometimes surprisingly good TV movies.
Special interest channels run from Kinderkanal for kids to Eurosport, MTV Europe and its German-language competitors Viva and more offbeat Onyx, to Arte, an enlightened French-German cultural channel with high-quality films and documentaries.
Channels broadcasting regularly in English include CNN, NBC, MTV Europe and BBC World. British or American films on ARD or ZDF are sometimes broadcast with a simultaneous soundtrack in English for stereo-equipped TV sets.
Some 29 stations compete for audiences in Berlin, so even tiny shifts in market share have huge consequences for broadcasters. The race for ratings in the greater metropolitan area is thwarted by a clear split between the urban audience in both East and West and a rural one in the hinterland. The main four stations in the region have their audiences based in either Berlin (Berliner Rundfunk, 91.4; r.s.2, 94.3) or Brandenburg (BB Radio, 107.5; Antenne Brandenburg, 99.7). No single station is able to pull in everyone.
Commercial stations 104,6 RTL (104.6), Energy 103,4 (103.4) and Hundert,6 (100.6) offer standard chart pop spiced with news. RadioEins (95.8) and Fritz (102.6) are a bit more adventurous but still far from cutting-edge. Jazz is round the clock on Jazz Radio (101.9). Information-based stations such as Info Radio (93.1) are increasing in popularity. The BBC World Service (90.2) is available 24 hours a day. Radio Multikulti (96.3) broadcasts in 18 languages besides German and serves up global sounds. US National Public Radio (87.9) began broadcasting from the former frequency of the American Forces Network and Voice of America.
One euro (€) is made up of 100 cents. There are seven banknotes and eight coins. The notes are of differing colours and sizes (€5 is the smallest, €500 the largest) and each of their designs represent a different period of European architecture.
They are: €5 (grey), €10 (red), €20 (blue), €50 (orange), €100 (green), €200 (yellow-brown), €500 (purple).
The eight denominations of coins vary in colour, size and thickness - but not enough to make them easy to tell apart. They share one common side; the other features a country-specific design (all can be used in any participating state). They are: €2, €1, 50 cents, 20 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents, 2 cents, 1 cent. Exchange rates can be found here: www.xe.com.
ATMs are found throughout the centre of Berlin, and are the most convenient way of obtaining cash. Most major credit cards are accepted, as well as debit cards that are part of the Cirrus, Plus, Star or Maestro systems. You will normally be charged a fee for withdrawing cash.
Banks & bureaux de change
Foreign currency and travellers' cheques can be exchanged in most banks. Wechselstuben (bureaux de change) are open outside normal banking hours and give better rates than banks, where changing money often involves long queues.
Zoo Station, Hardenbergplatz, Charlottenburg (881 7117/www.reisebank.de). U2, U9, S5, S7, S9, S75 Zoologischer Garten. Open 7.30am-10pm daily.
The Wechselstuben of the Reisebank offer good exchange rates, and can be found at the bigger stations.
Other locations: Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse, Mitte (2045 5096); Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Tiergarten (2045 3761); Ostbahnhof, Friedrichshain (296 4393).
Many Berliners prefer to use cash for most transactions, although larger hotels, shops and restaurants often accept major credit cards (American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa) and many will take Eurocheques with guarantee cards, and travellers' cheques with ID. In general, German banking and retail systems are less enthusiastic about credit than their UK or US equivalents, though this is gradually changing.
If you want to draw cash on your credit card, some banks will give an advance against Visa and MasterCard cards. However, you may not be able to withdraw less than the equivalent of US$100. A better option is using an ATM.
Bayreuther Strasse 37, Schöneberg (214 9830). U1, U2, U3 Wittenbergplatz. Open 9am-7pm Mon-Fri; 10am-1pm Sat.
Holders of an American Express card can use the company's facilities here, including the cash advance service.
If you've lost a credit card, or had one stolen, phone one of the 24-hour emergency numbers listed below.
American Express 0180 523 2377.
Diners Club 069 6616 6123.
MasterCard/Visa 0697 933 1910.
Non-EU citizens can claim back German value-added tax (Mehrwertsteuer or MwSt) on goods purchased in the country (it's only worth the hassle on sizeable purchases). Ask to be issued with a Tax-Free Shopping Cheque for the amount of the refund and present this, with the receipt, at the airport's refund office before checking in bags.
Most banks are open 9am to noon Monday to Friday, and 1pm to 3pm or 2pm to 6pm on varied weekdays. Shops can stay open 6am-10pm, except on Sundays and holidays, though few take full advantage of the fact. Big stores tend to open at 9am and close 8pm-10pm. Most smaller shops will close around 6pm.
An increasing number of all-purpose neighbourhood shops (Späti) open around 5pm and close around midnight. Many Turkish shops are open on Saturday afternoons and on Sundays from 1pm to 5pm. Many bakers open to sell cakes on Sundays from 2pm to 4pm.
Most 24-hour fuel stations and many internet cafés also sell basic groceries. The opening times of bars vary, but many are open during the day, and most stay open until at least 1am, if not through until morning.
Most post offices are open 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays.
You are unlikely to come in contact with the Polizei, unless you commit a crime or are the victim of one. There are few patrols or traffic checks.
The central police HQ can be found at Platz der Luftbrücke 6, Tempelhof (466 40), and there are local stations at:
Mitte Jägerstrasse 48 (466 433 2700).
Charlottenburg Bismarkstrasse 111 (466 422 7701).
Kreuzberg Friesenstrasse 16 (466 455 2700).
Schöneberg Hauptstrasse 44 (466 444 2700).
Eberswalder Strasse 6-9 (466 411 5700).
But police will be dispatched from the appropriate office if you just dial 466 40.
Most post offices (simply Post in German) are open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to 1pm Saturday. For non-local mail, use the Andere Richtungen ('other destinations') slot in post-boxes. Letters of up to 20 grams (7oz) to anywhere in Germany and the EU need €0.55 in postage. Postcards require €0.45. For anywhere outside the EU, a 20-gram airmail letter costs €1.70, a postcard €1.
Georgenstrasse 12, Mitte (0180 233 33). U6, S1, S2, S5, S7, S9, S75 Friedrichstrasse. Open 6am-10pm Mon-Fri; 8am-10pm Sat, Sun.
Berlin has no main post office. However, this branch, which is to be found inside Friedrichstrasse station, keeps the longest opening hours of the Berlin offices.
Poste restante facilities are available at the main post offices of each district. Address them to the recipient 'Postlagernd,' followed by the address of the post office, or collect them from the counter marked Postlagernde Sendungen. Take your passport with you.
Berlin's not so Godless after all. For places of worship, see www.berlinfo.com and click on the link for 'community'.
Though crime is increasing, Berlin remains a safe city by Western standards. Even for a woman, it's pretty safe to walk around alone at night in most central areas of the city. However, avoid the Eastern working-class suburbs if you look gay or non-German. Pickpockets are not unknown around tourist areas. Use some common sense and you're unlikely to get into trouble.
Many Berliners smoke, though the habit is in decline. Smoking is banned on public transport, in theatres and many public institutions. Many bars and restaurants have closed-off smoking rooms. Smaller, one-room establishments (under 75 square metres) may allow smoking if they want to, but must post a sign outside denoting a 'Raucher-Kneipe' (smoker pub). There's no problem with smoking at outside tables - which means that even in winter there are now lots of places with outside tables.
Qualifications & controversies
Germany's university system is currently in a state of flux. Under the Bologna Process (the EU's initiative to create a unified standard of education throughout Europe), the traditional Magister degree - which lasts between nine and 12 terms, during which time students can take a wide variety of courses - is being replaced by the internationally recognised Bachelors and Masters degrees.
Confusion reigns among lecturers who have not been trained properly in the new regulations and the gradual changeover has created a two-tiered system, with students on different courses at the same university receiving grossly discrepant levels of education and qualification.
Magister students are often favoured by employers because of the length and depth of the degree compared to the three-year Bachelor. A question mark still hangs over the introduction of tuition fees across the city, while lack of funding has led to increasingly sporadic library opening hours.
Berlin's elite university
One thing was laid to rest in 2007 - the Freie Universität was crowned an 'elite university' by the government in October (among nine in Germany), ending months of frenzied competition between Berlin's four universities. Now it's a question of what happens next. Berlin retains its pull on scholars from across the world. There are currently almost 150,000 students in the city - approximately ten per cent of whom are foreigners - divided between four universities and 16 subject-specific colleges.
Neue Schönhauser Strasse 20, Mitte (259 063/www.goethe.de). U8 Weinmeisterstrasse or S5, S7, S9, S75 Hackescher Markt.
Although considerably more expensive than most of its competitors (a four-week course costs €1,040, or €1,470 with accommodation), the Goethe-Institut offers the most systematic and intensive language courses in the city. Enrolled students can benefit from extra-curricular conversation classes, as well as a Cultural Extension Programme that organises regular cinema, theatre and museum visits. Exams can be taken (with certificates awarded) at the end of every course.
Lychener Strasse 7, Prenzlauer Berg (441 3003/www.tandem-berlin.de). U2 Eberswalder Strasse.
For a single payment of €5 Tandem will put you in touch with two German speakers interested in conversation exchange. Formal language classes are also available at €370 a month.
Freie Universität Berlin
Central administration, Kaiserswerther Strasse 16-18, Dahlem (info 838 700 00/www.FU-Berlin.de). U3 Dahlem-Dorf.
Germany's largest university was founded in 1948, after the Humboldt fell under East German control. Centre of the 1969 student movement, as well as to the quieter radicalism of the Green Party, the FU was for a long time a hotbed of romantic left-wing dissent. A founding constitution ensured that students were represented on the university's governing body and given a vote on all major decisions.
Sadly, though, not much of this idealism remains. The Student Committee still exists, but retains no decision-making powers, and the vast, anonymous campus is embroiled in the same bureaucratic structures as any other modern university. Since the Wall came down the FU lost much of its prestige and influence to its fierce rival, the newly restructured Humboldt. However, the FU got one up on the Humboldt with its new 'elite university' status, won on its strategy for an 'International Network University'. The resulting €21 million a year for proposed new research projects is welcome in the strapped-for-cash capital.
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HUB)
Unter den Linden 6, Mitte (20930/www.hu-berlin.de). U6, S1, S2, S5, S7, S9, S75 Friedrichstrasse.
Founded in 1810 by the humanist Willem von Humboldt, the HU was the first university in the world where teachers were expected, as a term of their employment, to further their own research. Hegel and Schopenhauer both taught there, Karl Marx was a student, and other departments have included the likes of Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Heinrich Heine and Max Planck. The HU entered a dark period in the 1930s, when Professors and students joined enthusiastically in the Nazi book-burning on Bebelplatz. After 1945 the university fell into decline under communism.
Since 1989, the HU has regained much of its former reputation and a variety of new courses are being offered. Together with the FU, it owns the prestigious Charité, one of the largest medical schools in Europe. It lost out in the 'elite universities' competition, but it was a close run thing, with the HU knocked out only in the final round. In August 2007, the university got into the world's press after sociologist Andrej Holm was arrested under anti-terror laws and accused of associating with a terrorist group, apparently on the basis of his academic work. A protest was mounted and Holm was set free, but remains under investigation.
Technische Universität Berlin (TU)
Strasse des 17. Juni 135, Tiergarten (3140/www.TU-Berlin.de). U2 Ernst-Reuter-Platz.
The TU began life in 1879 when the former Building and Vocational Academies merged into a single institution. Since 1916 the former Mining Academy has also been included. The university is strong in chemistry, engineering and architecture, and counts Schinkel among its graduates. In the 1930s the emphasis on development, business and construction made the TU a priority for the Nazi government, which allocated it more funds than any other university in the country.
After the war, the TU was reopened under its current name and expanded to include philosophy, psychology and the social sciences. It is now (with some 30,000 students, 19 per cent of whom are foreigners) one of Germany's largest universities. A new library was recently built.
Sprach- und Kulturbörse an der TU Berlin
Raum 1503, Franklinstrasse 29, Charlottenburg (3142 2730/www2.tu-berlin.de/fak1/skb). U2 Ernst-Reuter-Platz. Open 3.30-5.30pm Mon; 3.30-6pm Tue; 10.30am-12.30pm Wed; 11am-2pm Thur. Mon, Wed telephone only.
The TU's Language and Cultural Exchange Programme for foreigners, the SKB, is open to students from any university in Berlin. It offers a range of services, including language courses and seminars on international issues.
Universität der Künste Berlin (UdK)
Hardenbergstrasse 33, Charlottenburg (318 50/www.udk-berlin.de). U2, U9, S5, S7, S9, S75 Zoologischer Garten.
Formerly the Hochschule der Künste (a name most Berliners still use), and founded in 1975 as a single vocational academy comprising the former Colleges of Art, Drama, Music and Printing. The range of subjects has been further broadened over the years, and courses are now offered in everything from Fashion Design to Experimental Film and Media.
The eclectic variety of artistic and academic disciplines, along with the appointments of some high-profile teachers - such as Rebecca Horn, Georg Baselitz and Vivienne Westwood (1992-2005) - have secured the UdK a well-deserved reputation as one of the best establishments of its kind in Europe. About once a month, the student body organises special lectures with modish artists, often in English.
Hardenbergstrasse 34, Charlottenburg (311 20/info line 311 2317/www.studentenwerk-berlin.de). U2, U9, S5, S7, S9, S75 Zoologischer Garten. Open 8am-6pm Mon-Fri.
The central organisation for students in Berlin will give advice and provide information about accommodation, finance, employment and various other essentials.
All phone numbers in this guide are local Berlin numbers. However, readers should note that numbers beginning with 0180 have higher tariffs, and numbers beginning 016 or 017 are mobiles. To call a Berlin number from outside the city, see below.
Dialling & codes
To phone Berlin from abroad, dial the international access code (00 from the UK, 011 from the US, 0011 from Australia), then 49 (for Germany) and 30 (for Berlin), followed by the local number. To phone abroad from Germany dial 00, then the appropriate country-code:
New Zealand 64.
United Kingdom 44.
United States 1.
Then, dial the local area code (minus the initial zero) and the local number.
To call Berlin from elsewhere in Germany, dial 030 and then the local number.
Making a call
Calls within Berlin between the hours of 9am and 6pm cost €0.10 per minute. Numbers prefixed 0180 are charged at €0.14 per minute. A call from Berlin to the United Kingdom or Ireland costs €0.13 per minute, to the US and Canada €0.13 per minute and to Australia €0.79 per minute.
Both local and international calls can be a lot cheaper if you simply dial a prefix before the international code. There are various numbers and they change from time to time. Look in local newspapers or visit www.tariftip.de.
Most public phones give you the option of cards or coins, and from Telekom phones (the ones with the magenta 'T') you also can send SMSs. Phonecards can be bought at post offices and in newsagents for various sums from €5 to €50.
For online directory enquiries, go to www.teleauskunft.de.
Alarm calls/Weckruf 0180 114 1033 (automated, in German).
International directory enquiries 11834.
Operator assistance/German directory enquiries 11833 (11837 in English).
Phone repairs/Störungsannahme 080 0330 2000.
Time (Zeitansage) 090 0100 1191 (automated, in German).
Weather (Wettervorhersage) 0190 116 400 (automated, in German).
German mobile phones networks operate at 900MHz, so all UK and Australian mobiles should work in Berlin (so long as roaming has been activated in advance). US and Canadian cell phones users (whose phones operate at 1,900MHz) should check whether their phones can switch to 900MHz. If they can't, you can rent a 'Handy', as the Germans call them, via www.edicomonline.com. They'll deliver to your hotel and pick it back up from there when you're going.
Germany is on Central European Time - one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. When summer time is in effect, London is one hour behind Berlin, New York is six hours behind, San Francisco is nine hours behind, and Sydney is nine hours ahead.
Germany uses a 24-hour system. 8am is '8 Uhr' (usually written 8h), noon is '12 Uhr Mittags' or just '12 Uhr', 5pm is '17 Uhr' and midnight is '12 Uhr Mitternachts' or just "Mitternacht'. 8.15 is '8 Uhr 15' or 'Viertel nach 8'; 8.30 is '8 Uhr 30' or 'halb 9'; and 8.45 is '8 Uhr 45' or 'Viertel vor 9'.
A 10 per cent service charge will already be part of your restaurant bill, but it's common to leave a small tip too. In a taxi round up the bill to the nearest euro.
Coin-operated, self-cleaning 'City Toilets' are becoming the norm. The toilets in main stations are looked after by an attendant and are pretty clean. Restaurants and cafés have to let you use their toilets by law and legally they can't refuse you a glass of water either.
Berlin Tourismus Marketing (BTM)
Europa-Center, Budapester Strasse, Charlottenburg (250 025/www.btm.de). U2, U9, S5, S7, S9, S75, Zoologischer Garten. Open 10am-7pm Mon-Fri; 10am-6pm Sat, Sun.
Berlin's official (if private) tourist organisation. The Brandenburg Gate branch is open 10am-6pm daily.
DB Reisezentrum, Hauptbahnhof, Tiergarten (www.euraide.de). S5, S7, S9, S75 Hauptbahnhof. Open May-Aug 10am-7pm daily. Sept-Dec 23, Feb 15-Apr 11am-6pm Mon-Fri.
Staff advise on sights, hostels, tours and transport, and sell rail tickets.
A passport valid for three months beyond the length of stay is all that is required for UK, EU, US, Canadian and Australian citizens for a stay in Germany of up to three months. Citizens of EU countries with valid national ID cards need only show their ID cards. Citizens of other countries should check with their local German embassy or consulate whether a visa is required. As with any trip, confirm visa requirements well before you plan to travel.
For stays of longer than three months, you'll need a residence permit. EU citizens, and those of Andorra, Australia, Canada, Cyprus, Israel, Japan, Malta, New Zealand and the US can obtain one by doing the following.
Getting a residence permit: step one
First you need to register at your local Anmeldungsamt. There is one in the Bürgeramt of every district. Lists of those in particular areas can be found at www.berlin.de. You don't need an appointment, but expect to wait. Bring your passport and proof of a Berlin address. You'll be issued with an nmeldungsbestätigung - a form confirming you have registered at the Anmeldungsamt.
Getting a residence permit: step two
At this point, take your Anmeldungsbestätigung to the Landesamt für Bürger und Ordnungsangelegenheiten Ausländerbehörde in the Moabit district of Tiergarten. Also bring your passport, two passport photos and something to read. There are always huge queues and it takes forever - people start queuing hours before the office opens - but all you can do is take a number and wait. Eventually you will be issued with an Aufenthaltserlaubnis - a residence permit. If you have a work contract, bring it - you may be granted a longer stay.
If unsure about your status, contact the German Embassy in your country of origin, or your own embassy or consulate in Berlin.
Landesamt für Bürger und Ordnungsangelegenheiten Ausländerbehörde
Friedrich-Krause-Ufer 24, Tiergarten (info 9026 94000). S41, S42, S45, S46, S47 Westhafen. Open 8am-2pm Mon-Fri (telephone only) and then by appointment.
Prenzlauer Allee 6, Prenzlauer Berg (442 5542/www.ewa-frauenzentrum.de). U2 Senefelderplatz. Open 10am-6pm Mon-Fri; 10pm-11pm Sat. Café & gallery 6-11pm Mon-Thur.
The small ads in the magazines Zitty, tip and Zweite Hand are good places to look for work. Teaching English is popular: there is always a demand for native English speakers.
If you're studying in Berlin, try the Studenten Vermittlung Arbeitsamt ('Student Job Service'). You'll need your passport, student card and a Lohnsteuerkarte ('tax card'), available from your local Finanzamt ('tax office' - listed in the Yellow Pages). Tax is reclaimable. Students looking for summer work can contact the Zentralstelle für Arbeitsvermittlung.
German job centres
The German equivalent of the Job Centre is the Arbeitsamt ('Employment Service'). There are very few private agencies. To find the address of your nearest office in Germany, look in the Gelbe Seiten under Arbeitsämter.
EU nationals have the right to live and work in Germany without a work permit.
Studenten Vermittlung Arbeitsamt Hardenbergstrasse
34, Charlottenburg (311 20/www.studentenwerk-berlin.de). U2 Ernst-Reuter-Platz. Open 8am-6pm Mon-Fri.
While every effort and care has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this guide, the publisher cannot accept responsibility for any errors it may contain. Before you go out of your way, we strongly advise you to phone ahead and check the particulars.
Getting to Berlin
Getting around Berlin
When to go to Berlin