Posts tagged: police

Stuttgart21


Stuttgart21 is a zoning project which has as purpose the complete redesign of the main train station in Stuttgart, Germany. As part of the project, the station will be transformed from a terminus station to a pass-through station and all of it will be moved underground, below the current station. A total of 57km of new track will be laid, out of which 30km as high-speed track (designed for speeds  of minimum 200km/h and up to 350km/h). Since the city of Stuttgart sits in a valley and it’s surrounded by hills, a total of 16 tunnels (around 33km) and 18 bridges will have to be built as well. Parts of the the old (and recently renovated) main station building are also to be demolished, even though they fall under the law which protects old buildings.

The project will be funded by the Deutsche Bahn, the Baden Württemberg state and the federal government and it will transform the whole Stuttgart area and mainly the city center in a construction site for years and years. The initial costs were 2.6 billions Euros and now they are up to 4 billion Euros.

Needless to say, there is a huge opposition for this whole project for years now. Despite all the opposition, the project went ahead and recently work started at the land clearing, demolishing and tree cutting near the main station building. That is when the people started to get out in the streets and there have been a lot of demonstrations, people tried to stop the demolition crews, many of them tying themselves to the trees about to be cut and so on. Yesterday night things  got rather violent and the riot police intervened against a legal  demonstration with water guns, tear gas and pepper spray. Many people got hurt, among which a lot of young kids who were also taking part of a legal demonstration.

People are now in uproar and supportive demonstrations are taking place in many German cities and not only. A new bigger demonstration was planned for tonight and since Stuttgart is Freya’s hometown, she is not amused about the whole issue (that is a rather huge understatement). I am also not indifferent at all towards the whole issue, so we drove to Stuttgart and took part in the demonstration. Depending of the source, there were between 50.000 and 100.000 people present, the sight of so many people in one place was overwhelming. The demonstration was peaceful this time and at least until we left, nothing happened.

Yes, I made pictures too but they don’t do justice to what happened there:



Breakfast police

Every now and then, when one of the guys in my team is in vacation and I have to cover for them, I get to spend a week in this small ass village at the end of the world. Like last week. From what I know, there is only one decent hotel and that’s where I stay. The hotel itself is not that bad, the building is relatively new, 3 stars, the studio-type room I usually get is big enough, “free” internet (the hamsters pushing the bits are a bit worn out though).

But that’s not what I want to talk about, I want to talk about the breakfast. You can have breakfast in the basement, where the mess hall is. The second you go through the door, you are intercepted by a member of the breakfast Police, as I like to call them. It consists of 2-3 women which take care of the whole breakfast area, the food and so on. So right after you get through the door, someone suddenly shows up: “What is your room number?“. Without exception, this messes up my morning for several reasons.

First of all, I don’t like people who don’t give me peace in the morning when I am not even awake yet. I like to sit at my table undisturbed and drink my coffee/tee without someone annoying the shit out of me with stupid questions. Secondly, they check you up so that you don’t come there and eat your food if you didn’t pay for breakfast. So guilty until proven innocent, very nice. Anyway, I tell them my room number and I try to move on. Wrong move!. “Please leave your backpack over there!”. So you can’t take your backpack with you because, like the thief you are, you might steal food. I am not kidding, that’s the real reason, they even have a thingy on the wall saying so. You are not allowed to take an apple or another roll with you when you leave. The fact that I pay additionally for breakfast seems irrelevant to them. Besides, I don’t like leaving my backpack with the laptop and many other things out of sight but trying to argue with them is useless. I tried to do that at the beginning but then I just gave up. I just told myself that I will sue them if someone steals my backpack.

Like most hotels, breakfast is a swedish buffet where everyone takes what they need. Besides the fact that they put parsley on the scrambled eggs (yuck!) the food is good, coffee as well, fresh rolls of all kinds and so on. And everything is perfectly arranged. Much too perfect. Annoyingly perfect. Everything is lined up to the milimeter, the plates, cups, glasses. The slices of salami, ham and cheese are arranged in a perfect symmetry. Even the damned boiled eggs are arranged in a symmetric pattern. Someone over there has some serious issues, I would say.

In the end I would’ve gotten over it, a bit of order is good. But what’s incredible is that after someone got some food and went back to their table, a member (or two!) of the breakfast police shows up immediately. A cup or a glass was taken ? The rest is rearranged. A plate was slightly moved ? Then it’s moved back into place. A cheese slice is missing ? The rest is rearranged to keep the symmetry. The fork on the ham plate is not in the approved possition ? It’s moved immediately. I think they do that every 2 minutes or so, they come, they inspect, they rearrange.

I just usually watch them with fascination. It’s so stupid that it becomes funny. I actually can’t help it and, with some sort of sick pleasure, I do whatever I can to mess up the symmetry when I get some food: I take my cup from the back row, same with the glasses, I move the plates a bit, the salami slices, the boiled eggs, the honey pot. But in a few minutes one of them shows up and repairs my damage. All this is in stark contrast with the hotel I usually stay at in München. Over there nobody messes up with you in the morning, you can have breakfast in peace. Everything is arranged nicely as well but nobody has this sick obsession with perfection and symmetry, nobody gives a damn what you do with your backpack and so on.

With some luck I won’t visit this hotel in the near future!

Kids with guns

Unbelievable. Only 10-15 minutes by car from where we live, in a small town of only 27.000 or so inhabitants, a 17-year old kid shot dead 16 persons. It seems he took the gun from his house (his father is a member in a gun club), went to the school and started by getting into a classroom and shooting 5 kids in the head. The he continued through other classrooms killing more kids and teachers. Eventually police showed up and the kid fled the scene. He forced a driver to take him to some town 40km south. There he got into a car dealership where he shot a salesman and a customer. A shootout with the police  ensues, the kid is hit in the leg and then he kills himself.

Words fail me :-( A more detailed description in this article in Spiegel.

Driving License

I remember many years ago when I got my driving license: complicated business, lots of paperwork, long lines, heat, smelly crowds, public workers with the enthusiasm of a brick, etc. I don’t know what’s it like these days, not sure if anything changed.

Well, today being my free day, I managed to get to the Kreis capital. The Landratsamt building (the authority which deals, among other things, with driving licenses) has its own underground garage so I didn’t have to look all over the place for a parking spot. I got inside, there was nobody in front of me so a lady asked me if she can help. I told her the story, she asked for a picture, a form (which I had already filled in at home, it’s available on the net) and an ID. And that was it. She explained that if the Police stops me it should be ok, at least in Germany, they will know about it. 5 minutes later I was out of the building. I wonder how  much something like this takes, requesting a replacement driving license after yours was stolen. Would be interesting to know if things changed.

I managed to day to get a parking permit from the town hall. It does not allow me to park in front of the house (it’s a pedestrian zone) but I can park for free in the marked spots from the area. It’s not the most idea l solution but it’s kinda messed up with the parking around here because it’s the old city center. I can rent a permanent parking spot in one of the park hauses in the area but I pay 45 euros per month and while it’s not that far, it’s not in front of the house. Oh well, you can’t have everything.

Today I also made another trip to the dumpsite place with a van full of trash bags, old wood, old electric devices, metal, etc. It was cold, heavy snow, wet, very bleh, yucky! And this time there was a guy watching us and he took his job really serious: “Oh, this goes there”, “This goes over there”, “No, no, no, this does not go in here. This is type 3 electrical trash, go on the other side”, “Oh, cardboard ? Over there, in that container”. Shit, that dude ran us all over the place. I hope I won’t have to go there anytime soon.

And now off to bed. Since I moved here I need 25 more minutes to get to Münich in the morning so I have to wake up at 4:00am. Great.