food / travel

Oktoberfest Digs: Strange New Ways To Drink Beer And Crash Out

They look like a cross between a prison cell and an office container, but go by the fancy name of “Wies’n-Loft” -- or “Field Loft.” They’re not cheap, but it’s better than nothing if you can’t get a hotel during Munich’s Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest revelers (uLe @ Dortmund)
Oktoberfest revelers (uLe @ Dortmund)

Worldcrunch NEWS BITES

MUNICH – Ahead of the upcoming Oktoberfest, a new kind of lodging is being touted as "cozy, weatherproof and mobile-home-like." To some, the "Wies'n-Loft" (Field Loft) units will look more like a modern prison cell.

Still, the lodging offers two guests a double-sized bed with fresh bed linens, two hanging wardrobes, lighting, and electrical outlets. Most of all, if you've just spent the day and night downing frothy (giant) mugs of Oktoberfest beer, you know you have a place to crash.

For Airbnb, the US startup that brokers impromptu vacation rentals around the world, renting the containers marks a departure from their usual business model. Normally, they only broker private vacation rentals, but for the Oktoberfest the firm has signed a contract with camp management to the effect that it will not only market the accommodation but pay part of the costs.

"We want to become Germany's biggest provider of private holiday rentals," says Gunnar Froh of Airbnb Deutschland. "Oktoberfest is known around the world."

Each container is 7 square meters large, and costs between 129 and 169 euros a night to rent. From September 15 through October 4, 2011, the brown metal units are clustered at the Olympic Horse Riding Stadium Munich-Reim, offering Oktoberfest goers a relatively reasonable lodging option during Munich's most expensive season. The accommodations have access to two restrooms with shower and toilet facilities, as well as a small patio outside with a table and two chairs where guests can eat their breakfast. Or drink more beer.

Read the full story in German by Jan Knobloch

Photo - uLe @ Dortmund

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Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.


Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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