Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
Trip End Sep 30, 2010

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Where I stayed
Hostel Absteige

Flag of Germany  , Saxony,
Sunday, September 19, 2010

So we found ourselves travel ling via Munich during Oktoberfest... question is would it be a crime not to have a brief stop to check it out?
Turns out the correct question to ask actually was: if we stop, will we make our train back out? Well yes we made it, but only just (thanks to Bevan as I was a little oblivious by then). It was the day before Bevan's birthday so people were buying him beers and somehow we ended up with 5 litres between us for the 4 hours we were there.

Anyway, we made it to Leipzig and slept off the beer. Leipzig is in former East Germany and you only have to cross the road to be reminded of this by ampelman - the unique traffic light man, a cute and harmless reminder of the difference between East and West. The Stasi museum is a far lass harmless reminder of the constant surveillance and paranoia of the East German state security police. Another museum has panorama photos of peoples reactions as the Berlin wall came down and people flooded into West Berlin.

The city centre is a collection of beautiful architecture, although up close you can see that some of it is a post war rebuild in concrete. Many buildings are connected by covered arcades, lavishly decorated by stained glass and paintings. Wander a block from the historical centre though and the surroundings instantly change to the identical grey apartment blocks, a communist vision I don't normally associate with Germany.
Also in this architectural style, but predating Communism, is the monument to victory over Napoleon. A concrete monolith, it was built in the early 1900s when using concrete on this scale was newfangled and not yet thoroughly understood. That, combined with the fact that the earthworks involved dumping rubbish on the site to build it up, meant that serious renovations and rework have had to take place to keep the thing standing. They have also built a new shop, where you can buy your own pose able Napoleon figure with different sets of clothes, complete with a warning 'not suitable for children under 14'. Hmm.

On the other side of town is the Arabic street - grocery shops, net cafes and, conveniently, hairdressers. Bevan had a long overdue haircut and we practiced our very rusty Arabic with the two delightful Syrian men running the place. After asking if we were married, I was scolded for not fattening Bevan up enough.
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