Saturday, October 29, 2005

Loving and Leaving Leipzig

While driving around Leipzig was more than a little bit of a chore, walking around without any real purpose has been a joy. Leipzig was originally recommended to me from one of the Conference Assocates during the last Game Developers Conference. She said it had a very strong youth culture. She was not wrong at all.

Leipzig calls itself the "Little Paris". I haven´t been to Paris so the best comparison I can make is to call it the "Big Berkeley". There is a range of hippies, street punks, hipsters, students and goths (called dark culture here) along with the business folks and blue collar workers when they aren´t building new streets, new streetcar stations and restoring whole buildings. There´s a lot fewer "fashionable" types and so people seem a little more down to earth than what I have had a chance to experince in Germany so far. I think the main reason is that, like Berkeley, it´s University in right in the city center.

Now all Berkeley needs is an Absinthe bar. Last night, I found my way to Sixtina where they have a lot of Absinthe. I didn´t count bottles, but I would guess over 40 varieties lined the top shelf of the bar. They had a handy chart of the top ten with or without anise and I ordered a Mr. Jekyll. After that I settled down with a beer and watched the regulars interact (I was clearly not part of the group so I was largely ignored). I had so much fun that I missed my last street car home and wound up hiking about 2 miles until 2AM. Walking, even drunk, even in the dark, is easier in Leipzig than driving.

Oh and my only picture of Leipzig. In Europe, there are a lot of things called "Mc" something. There are "McPaper" office supplies, "McNet" internet cafes. Let´s hear it for Europe not letting McDonald´s bully them around. The oddest "McSomething" I have seen yet is on the third floor of the Leipzig Main Train Station. The Station also houses a large shopping mall which my guide book called "a joy to shop in". Well, I guess they don´t have many malls in Europe so they don´t carry the same connotation. Plus, we don´t tend to build malls in 150 year old buildings. But back to the picture. Yup, the McClean are clean and safe toilets. Okay, to give them some due, they look very spa-like on the inside and you can nab a shower here for 7€. I´d have killed for something like this in Rome.

I know the city will hate me for representing them this way, but there was so much going one and so many layers of buildings, people and activity that pictures just could not do it any justice. And for that reason I love Leipzig even though I only just explored it (I rode street cars all day to the lake on the west side and the more funky south city). In less than 12 hours, I will be on my way to Berlin and in 36 hours, I will be taking my various flights toward home.

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