Berlin Journal: Amid Delays, Airport Is an Attraction Itself

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  1. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Totally uncharacteristic of Germany and tragically humorous, which is also uncharacteristic...:)

    In a Land of On-Time Arrivals, a Tour of Anything But
    BERLIN — In the early days of aviation, it was common for people to visit airports simply to stand on observation decks and watch the planes come and go. This city’s new airport is attracting tourists for the opposite reason: a conspicuous lack of passengers and planes after a series of delays and bungles that have driven its cost billions of dollars over budget and pushed its opening back indefinitely.

    Part of the appeal seems to be the chance to gawk at evidence that Germany — practically synonymous with precision and efficiency — could fail in such a spectacular fashion.

    Scheduled to open in November 2011, Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport began offering public tours of the construction site after ground was broken in 2006. Since then, about one million people have signed up, said Ralf Kunkel, an airport spokesman.

    And business seems to have picked up even more as the problems have mounted. One budget travel agency began offering vacation packages last spring — two nights in a nearby hotel and a trip to the beleaguered airport in a double-decker tour bus.

    One recent Sunday afternoon, 16 sightseers and their guide, Elisa Naundorf, a lively young woman in tall black boots and a red-and-white parka, made their way to the airport’s Infotower, a 105-foot-tall triangular structure with an observation deck above and a museum and gift shop below.

    Before ascending the tower’s 171 steps, tourgoers could buy beach balls and baseball caps, umbrellas and USB sticks, all emblazoned with the airport logo. From one shelf, a plush blue ant wearing a miniature hard hat and overalls seemed to look on as visitors handed over $13.50 for the tour.

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