Going to Berlin in the next month or so? Looking for a unique tourist experience? Here’s one that comes not out of some guidebook, but rather from no less than Die Zeit: the lobby-tour, a tour of the German capital from a lobbyist’s point-of-view.
These tours are run by Lobby Control (site only in German), a lobbyist-tracking NGO which, as the site’s headline reads, is “Active for Transparency and Democracy.” According to the Die Zeit piece, Berlin has it’s own “Iron Triangle” of lobbyists, actually a sort of Iron Trapezoid, running from the Reichstag to the Friedrichstrasse S-bahn station to the Gendarmenmarkt to Potsdamerplatz (respectively the NW, NE, SE and SW corners). Through it runs majestically the famous avenue Unter den Linden, unfortunately now known among many capital cynics as Unter den Lobbyisten – “among the lobbyists.” For €10 per person (cheap!), one of Lobby Control’s guides will take a group on a roughly 2 1/2 hour tour through this territoriy, stopping at 15 different locations to give a brief presentation (probably only in German) about each: trade association offices, PR agencies, and think-tanks, of course, but also such places as eateries and beer-halls where the heavy political back-slapping really goes on – such as the Ständige Vertretung restaurant on the River Spree, where the tour starts out. (more…)