I've been thinking about Leipzig - it's a large city in Saxony,
(one of the Länder of East Germany).
The theme music for this entry is the song of the
same name from the early 1980's by
My usual modus of walking around until stumbling across a viable hotel was not working out, so I returned to the Bahnhof area and threw myself upon the mercy of a chunky Frau at the Tourist Bureau, who fixed me up at the modern Hotel Deutschland, for over a $100! (Way more than I usually pay.) But this was where the Party apparatchiks stayed, across the central square (the Augustusplatz) from the Universität and the Opera House, and it did have some nice charms - like a wonderful Frühstück buffet in the morning, and cable TV! (The cheap hotels I migrate towards while Euro-traveling never have an in-room television; which doesn't bother me - I have my small radio for distraction if necessary.) Two things I recall from watching - one was German porno, whose speed I found amusing - definitely the male's fantasy, every scenario depicted was enacted more rapidly than in American films of this genre, including the disrobing, foreplay, and actual sex-acts. Second was a report on extreme weather on the East Coast of the USA - views of storm damage at the North Carolina Outer Banks! This was rather alarming, as they showed beach houses collapsing under the waves' onslaught, and one foolish reporter/photographer actually being swept away by a sudden surge. I was on the verge of calling P & L to inquire about their safety; touching base later I learned they'd seen this same footage & reacted with amusement and scorn at this media type's foolhardy behavior, which got him into his predicament (he was rescued). And of course their house is a safe mile from the beach.
After I grew weary of the screen's offerings I went out for the evening walkabout. An interesting feature of this city (to me) is the big clock mounted high up on the façade of the Rathaus - its face was illuminated with a strong blue light source, which made it very difficult to read. Although the song mentions "the sound of taxi brakes", the screeches I recall from Leipzig were from the many trams sliding back & forth outside my hotel window. One observed frequent sparking from where their superstructure came in contact with the overhead cable (or actually, from when that contact was momentarily broken) - this was rare in the streetcar-intensive towns of the West, like Düsseldorf (due I guess to better-maintained rolling stock). A very European sighting, nonetheless - if you're close enough you can hear the "Pop!" noise the spark makes.
But the reason I'm thinking about Leipzig now is the current issue
I've received of this free monthly "Deutschland" publication I get.
A big article describes how renovation of the Bahnhof
interior is complete - they turned it into a three-level mall! (Oh, the
humanity.) Says it's the biggest Bahnhof building in Germany, very
grand and historic looking, I thought. My impression was Hamburg's
was of the same magnitude, and when there a week before I'd noticed
and disliked this same "renovation" which had occurred there - when comparing
with my memory of my previous visit a decade before, it seemed like the
whole structure had been added onto, on one side, to accommodate this
new multi-level shopping plaza. But at Leipzig they've hacked up this grand
concourse, to insert the requisite levels subterraneously. They love it,
of course - many jobs created, easier shopping (correcting somewhat the
situation I was complaining about a few lines ago) and it gives their
idle youth a place to hang out in - but it's just so appallingly
American... (sigh). I'm glad I saw it before. We go to Europe to get away
from the mall, to visit little intimate shops in winding, narrow
streets. But like a lot of the charming, older world, it's
being swept away.
Yesterday evening I took my new specs back to the shop in the Stanford Shopping Center, and finally got what I wanted. My eyes are so bad I wear what people call "coke-bottle" glasses <1>, and I've found it very difficult to get the lens edges filed down to minimize this "look" - most places can't or won't bevel the edges near enough (their jargon term for this is "rolling"). But finally a real technician of an optician was there, and he did the grinding (to my satisfaction) on the spot - complete with polishing. Rose, meanwhile, flirted shamelessly in an attempt to make another sale - and it may just work, too - this place has real polaroid prescription sunglasses (Revo H2Os). Unfortunately the prescription of my new glasses is strange - I can't focus normally for reading unless I push them way down my nose - I suppose bifocals are required now, for your aging narrator.
Länder - divisions of Germany - sometimes, former kingdoms; like the states of the U.S.
Bahnhof - train station
Frühstück - breakfast
Rathaus - city hall
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<1>"Coke-bottle-bottom glasses" would be more accurate, I think. The expression may have become truncated over time, like "Happy as a clam at high tide" Back