Robert Pimm

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The Berlin Wall: my part in its downfall

Istanbul is possibly the most historic living city in the world.  But other cities have extraordinary histories, too.

25 years ago, the Berlin Wall came down.  I was living in London at the time, and was as surprised as anyone.  I thought: “should I travel to Berlin?  This looks like history.”  But I made a mistake, and decided I was too busy at work.  I’ve been regretting that decision ever since.

Later on, however, I was lucky enough to live and work in Berlin for seven years, from 1999 to 2006.  During that time I came to know and love this terrific city, with all its confusion, vibrancy and troubling, sometimes dark, history – it’s one of my favourite places on earth.

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Getting to know Berlin included walking the entire 166km length of the “anti-fascist protection wall” with some friends, in ten instalments.  I wrote a newspaper article about walking the wall, for the Financial Times, in 2003.   It’s a lyrical piece, focusing on “my three favourite spots where you can best appreciate the wall that isn’t there“.  It includes the following:

Tourist: Where’s the wall?

Guide: Here. (more…)

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Where the wall came down

By Robert Pimm

Financial Times, August 8, 2003

I’m out on a launch in the Havel, the ribbon of lakes that bounds Berlin to the west, with Erika and Juergen. Juergen’s a retired fireman, he’s been messing about in boats for years.

“In the old days there was an imaginary line down the middle of the water,” Juergen says. “If you sailed across it the East German police would arrest you and impound your boat.”

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Berlin Wall running through Potsdamer Platz, 1980 – Photo Robert Pimm

All around us, pleasure craft bob in a bowl of blue and green. (more…)

Journalism index

Lundylong

This is a selection of my journalism.  Because most of my FT articles from 2003-2006 are now archived, I have reproduced them here. For other newspapers, there are still some live links.  NB the titles were inserted by the sub-editors.

– 1 August 2003, Financial Times, “Behind every great woman…” (the challenges of being a male partner of a famous or successful woman)

– 8 August 2003, Financial Times, “Where the wall came down” (a walk around the Berlin Wall)

– 6 September 2003, Financial Times, “Island with well-hidden treasures” (Lundy Island)

– 13 December 2003, Financial Times, “A tale of two all-in resorts” (German vs French holiday resorts)

– 7 February 2004, Financial Times, “Rag’n’bones to riches” (birthday of Mary, an 80 year-old from Arsenal)

– 27 March 2004, Financial Times, “Austrian idyll far from the well-worn pistes” (Lech)

– 27 March 2004, Financial Times, “When dinner becomes the last supper” (the joys of German waiters)

– 30 April 2004, Financial Times, “Enough Buddhas for today” (Bangkok)

– 10 July 2004, Financial Times, “We’ll soon all beg to fly business” (how airlines plan to make us upgrade)

– 17 July 2004, Die Welt, “Im Dienst Ihrer Majestät” (women’s diplomatic careers)

– 31 August 2004, Financial Times, “Balmy breezes and beach bars in Berlin

– 23 October 2004, Financial Times, “Where even experts fear to tread” (guided ski-ing in Austria)

– 23 October 2004, Financial Times, “Sole mates” (Strolz ski boots)

– 7 November 2004, Boston Globe, “New Zealand at a crossroads” (NZ tourism)

– 20 November 2004, Financial Times, “The Penguin’s Distressed. We’d Better Go” (NZ eco-tourism)

– 29 January 2005, Financial Times, “The Joy of Roaming the English Countryside” (long-distance footpaths)

– 29 January 2005, Financial Times Magazine, “All the Rage in Berlin” (Little Traffic Light Men)

– 19 February 2005, Financial Times, “From Tears to Triumph” (Lech ski school)

– 19 March 2005, Financial Times Magazine, “All the Rage in Lech, Austria” (heated ski lift seats)

– 20 August 2005, Financial Times, “Rattle and Roll to the Alps” (night ski-trains)

– 21 January 2006, Financial Times, “Charmed By the No-Frills Alternative” (basic Austrian country hotels)

– 5 February 2006, Boston Globe, “A flaming end to Carnival and winter’s woes” (Cologne Carnival)

– 24 April 2006, Financial Times, “When Tourist Reinvention Spins Out of Control” (the over-development of Barcelona)

– 25 June 2006, Boston Globe, “A Temple to Faith, Time and Resolve” (Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia)

– 8 July 2006, Financial Times, “Nice Buildings, Shame About the Events” (Can hosting sporting events give you good PR?)

– 3 September 2006, Boston Globe, “When hush, crowds descend” (Vienna Zentralfriedhof)

– 2 September 2007, Boston Globe, “History in the Tropics” (St Helena)

 

StH long
Anyone who can identify the buildings in both pix on this page – let me know.  

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