an idiot in germany

September 2001

Wednesday, 26th September 2001.

The InterCity Express deposited me in Leipzig in the afternoon, and I walked to the tram stop and tried to give off the air of someone who knew exactly where they were going. It didn't last long, the lady at the information booth pointed me in the right direction, and I headed out to the 'burbs to find the youth hostel.

The centre of Leipzig was bustling, clean, western. The further out I went, the more decay and disorder I found. I trudged from the tram stop through a despressed area to the hostel, which was desperately DDR. I was face-to-face with the old East Germany. I presented myself at reception, and the blokes there looked at me like I didn't know what I was letting myself in for.

The area was a hole, no two ways about it. After a few minutes sitting in my room despairing of the spartan surroundings, I pulled myself together and went back down to reception to ask if there were any lockers. I was met with more looks of incredulity. Hmm, that would be a no, then.

What kind of a place is this? I thought to myself as the tram took me back to the centre of town. It was striving, like Berlin, to reinvent itself post-1989, but it had yet to escape it's grey humourless past and emerge into the colourful humourless present.

So what's in Leipzig? Well, apart from a youth hostel which is straight out of the Communist era, and stacks of good-looking sheilas, there is St Nikolaikirche. St Nikolaikirche is the church where the Peace Prayer Services were the trigger for the amazing events of autumn 1989 that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. A story alas which is too long for me to retell here. And J.S. Bach lived and worked in Leipzig for many years, as I'm sure did many other less famous people.