4874 kilometers

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Map of where I have been these past 4 weeks. It isn’t even accurate because it didn’t understand I went through Fraknfurt to get to Leipzig…

These past four weeks, I have travelled almost 5000 kilometers. I had to calculate the actual distance to make myself understand that it is reasonable to be exhausted and to be looking forward so much to just being at home. While other people anticipate going to nice places (because undeniably, the places I went to were nice), I’m super excited to be home and go about my regular life. To finally be able to participate in those Rhine picknicks, barbecue evenings and party nights my friends keep inviting me to.

But right now I am still on a train – going home from Leipzig where I went to the Bach Festival with my mother. So cultured, right? And you thought I was all about schlager. Like last year, when I first went to Leipzig, the city managed to charm me once more. It truly is the jewel of the German East – you just have to go there. Not only is the train ride there absolutely picturesque with its lakes and soft meadows passing by in the sunlight, the Leipzig people seem exceptionally friendly to me, the buildings breathe history and the city gives off this pleasant vibe that just makes me want to hang around there. If Leipzig wasn’t so far from where I feel somewhat at home, I would put it on my list of “cities I would move to”.

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Transfer in Frankfurt – a station to impress

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Thought-provoking Leipzig

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Mom: “Fettbemmen is the bruschetta of Eastern Germany”

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Behind the scenes of “Oh, we’re both wearing stripes, let’s take a photo”

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Bach Concert in St Nicholas. Bach’s music sometimes sounds like film music, Harry Potter-ish. Which is a good thing. Also, I brought down the age average by 30 years.

Next stop Gothenburg

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I got to the airport 15 minutes before take off and made it. We were only ten passengeres going to Dizzel.

Actually, I was thinking of giving you a third Leipzig post but life has just been happening all the time since I returned…I’ve spent a substantial part of the weeking working on a secret project that I can’t talk about yet (yet!) and I’ve also had a far-travelled guest: Gerrit, who just spent a year in Tanzania and now speaks fluent Swahili. It sounds really cool!

The two last picture show: a very interesting selection at the street market, and one of the impressive locations I looked at, my second favorite

But let’s pay some more tribute to lovely Leipzig. I managed to pop into the two most famous churches. Saint Nicolas is not only gorgeous, it is also where the Peaceful Revolution of 1989 started. Cabaret artist Bernd-Lutz Lange said about the events which started in the St. Nicholas Church: “There was no head of the revolution. The head was the Nikolaikirche and the body the centre of the city. There was only one leadership: Monday, 5 pm, St. Nicholas Church“. If I understood correctly, the Monday prayer is still held today,  5 pm.

The other important church is Saint Thomas where no lesser than the great Johann Sebastian Bach worked for nearly 30 years, and where he is also buried. Of course, it is also home to the world-famous Thomaner Boy Choir. Actually, it seems that every important person in history has been hanging out in Leipzig. Mendelsohn, Goethe, Schiller, and I guess/hope some women, too. Goethe’s studies in Leipzig even inspired him to set parts of his “Doctor Faustus” in the Leipzig tavern “Auerbachs Keller”.

In town, I came by a crowd with headphones and upon looking closer, I saw that it was a silent concert. There was a band playing without making a sound and the bystanders listened through their headphones. That’s a pretty neat way to not disturb anyone.

Mostly I was checking out locations for work though and among others, I was guided through the hotel. They really wooed me. They put Swedish stuff on all the screens in all the hotel and even set out a real Dala horse! Also, they have really nice wallpaper.

A very pleasant surprise upon coming home was finding my tax refund statement. I will finally get a wardorbe! You can tell, my dreams are flying high. Other people want to travel the world, I just want to store my clothes.

Tomorrow, I am flying to Gothenburg and as usual, I haven’t packed yet. But I’m looking forward!

Gerrit and me reunited, my dream, and a book I acutally bought (never buy books #library) for the holiday week

 

 

Pile them high

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One of the locations I looked at today was very close to one of Leipzig’s most famous landmarks, the Völkerschlachtdenkmal, the Monument to the Battle of the Nations.

It commemorates the soldiers who lost their lives in the battle of Leipzig in 1813, the Battle of the Nations, which was the the biggest bloodshed in history before the World Wars. More than half a million were on the battlefield, 92,000 were killed or injured. This battle was the decisive one in defeating Napoelon. Even though parts (or most?) of the Leipzigers were fighting on the French side, they built a monument. It made me think that maybe the whole thing is more about honoring the losses than who won. But that’s just me speculating, I didn’t have time to go inside.

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The pond in front of the monument is called, “Pond of Tears for the Fallen Soldiers”

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Around the monument, there are other little monuments for different anniversaries. This one says, hard to translate, “The voice of your brother’s blood screams to me from the earth”.

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work—
                                          I am the grass; I cover all.
And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
                                          What place is this?
                                          Where are we now?
                                          I am the grass.
                                          Let me work.

Hypezig!

 

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I didn’t have time to go eat so it was brought to me. By young man in  a livery. Like in a movie!

Up till now, I have always stated that my hypothetical children will have to study in Uppsala. From today on, I am adding Leipzig to the list as well. My yet to be born offspring is allowed to study in Leipzig.

Or Hypezig, as it is also called, as I learned today. Because the city is so hyped and constantly being called the other Berlin, it acquired this nickname. But hello, the other Berlin? I would choose Leipzig over Berlin any day! I am smitten by this Eastern jewel.

Maybe it’s because when I arrived to the hotel, they told me that despite having booked a standard room, they upgraded me to a suite. A personal guide followed me up, carried my bag, and stood by the window on the 25th floor overlooking Leipzig with me, informing me about everything there is to know. Then, I was personally greeted by the key account manager. They do know that I am the one who decides which venue is picked for our events and they guessed right that the hotel I recommend usually gets booked by our network. And now I am definitely recommending this one. I mean, you can even change the colors of the bathroom lightning!

The view / ending the day in the huge bath tub / trying out different light settings

I don’t know what it is with me and Eastern Germany. I have no relations whatsoever to this part of Germany, I haven’t lived here, I don’t aim to live here, and yet, I have this timid tenderness for “the new states” as Germany still calls the former GDR that we reunited with more than 25 years ago. I almost cry whenever I see the videos of the Fall of the Wall. And it makes me so happy to see that Dresden and Leipzig are thriving. Because they really are – Leipzig is buzzing with young people, everyone is sitting outside in the beer gardens and outdoor serving areas, there seems to be lots of cultural stuff going on as well, and the Leipzigers have all these monumental castle-like buildings everywhere. Not to mention the forest that they have just in the middle of town.

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I also worked of course. Just that my work consists of looking at gorgeous locations.

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Paris? No, no, Leipzig!

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A former sauna that is now being used as a party location.

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Oriental Ladies’ Sauna

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The advertising in the East is…weird, though.

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My favorite so far even though I realize the photo is unglamorous.

 

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Cute green cars please park here.

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Milk Bar Penguin. Who wouldn’t love a city that has a bar called that?

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In this beer garden, you can find Friede (peace). When you exit, it says “Heimweh” (homesickness) on the other side.

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Gustav Adolf, King of Sweden, is a thing here. He died in the battle of Lützen not far from here, in 1632.

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On the train from the airport, they printed maps on the tables for orientation. Multi-purpose furniture!

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Green. It’s so green!

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And colorful.

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Leipzig still has the Eastern traffic light men that we all love. Also, they have stickers saying “Be a role model for children! Red: stay! Green: Walk!”

P.S.: I shall not surpress the information that half of the service staff I meet is unfriendly in a way that lives up to Berlin standards – but with a Saxonian accent. That’s tolerable though because the other half is very courteous! Good night, I am now going to sleep in a giant bed and I am sure it will cure my insomnia.

 

Go East

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Leipzig’s Skyline, photo: Leizpig Tourismus

I should really be sleeping now instead of writing this. But a) I have to wait for my laundry to be done and b) I can’t fall asleep anyway. I know that. It’s been going on for weeks.

Tomorrow I have to leave the house at shortly after 5 a.m. Maybe I won’t go to sleep at all? And perhaps I will survive anyway (even though I’ve learned there is such a thing as co-morbid insomnia and I am not even too surprised.) because adrenalin will keep me awake. Why? Because I am flying to Leipzig tomorrow! It’s a business trip and I’ll look at lots of locations but I am still psyched because I have been wanting to go to Leipzig for many years. Leipzig is the ‘other city’ (besides beautiful Dresden) in the East, it’s the ‘new Berlin’ and it’s where the Fall of the Wall started with the Peaceful Revolution.

It is a university city and a city of commerce, the largest city in the state of Saxony and home to one of the most important book fairs. It’s more than a thousand years old, Bach was active in Leipzig for many years, leading the Thomaner Choir , an internationally renowed boys’ choir from Leipzig that has been around for 800 years. Eight-hundred years. Switzerland hasn’t even been a country for 800 years! That choir also produced the famous German band Die Prinzen that my generation grew up with (Du musst ein Schwein sein, anyone? Ich wär so gerne Millionär, remember? Küssen verboten, huh? Or Alles nur geklaut?)

Leipzig is young, old and different, they say. I am looking forward.

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Leipzig’s trade fair – so cool! photo: Leipzig Tourismus