'Live like Merkel', says rental ad for former flat

 'Live like Merkel', says rental ad for former flat

BERLIN - After Angela Merkel's election triumph, visitors to the German capital have the chance to live like she did under communism before her rise to the top by staying in her old East Berlin flat for just 55 euros (US$74) a night.

"Live Like Angela Merkel (previously)", says the advert showing photos of the two-room apartment in the city's trendy Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood on rental accommodation website Airbnb.

Merkel, who romped to her third term as chancellor Sunday, lived in the 55-square-metre (about 590 square feet) flat from 1986 until 1990, the year of German reunification, while she was a Ph.D. student, Bild daily said.

Pictures show a light and airy flat that has since been renovated, with wooden floors, high ceilings and tall windows facing a quiet interior courtyard.

Bild quoted resident Claudia Winter as saying that as a neighbour Merkel was "very nice and helpful".

"I never would have thought that she'd become chancellor," the newspaper quoted Peter Winter, a pensioner, as saying.

Merkel famously went to the sauna on the night the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, sticking to her Thursday evening routine while history was made around her.

Her apartment on Schoenhauser Allee was just a few hundred metres from a key border crossing between East and West Berlin that opened up that night.

After her steam bath, Merkel went for a beer with a friend and only afterwards, when they left the bar, did they find themselves swept up in the huge crowds pouring into West Berlin.

In 1990, after German unification, Merkel joined the conservative CDU party and won a parliamentary seat in the east. As a protege of chancellor Helmut Kohl, she quickly rose to become minister for women and youth, moving to the former capital Bonn.

Since becoming chancellor, the famously low-key Merkel, 59, has continued to live in central Berlin, in a different flat but also in a former East Berlin district.

Her previous neighbourhood of Prenzlauer Berg has become a fashionable magnet for young families and well-off singletons.

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