Es regnet. It rains.
First, however, let’s talk about Leipzig. My preconceptions about Leipzig were along the lines of a gray, east-german style place with no character. But seriously, it’s been twenty years since the fall of the wall, and the sun has figuratively been shining pretty brightly here, despite the bleary cold skies.
It’s Monday, so almost all of the museums and attractions in the city (as in most cities) are closed. I found a few things that were available to visit: a statue of Goethe as a law student, the Nickolaikirche, the Thomaskirche and the Stassi museum.
The Thomaskirche is famous as the burial place of Bach. The inside of the church is okay, mostly timber-beamed with a few stained glass windows. The alter contains the grave, adorned with fresh flowers, and is fairly plain. A small shop sells t-shirts and hoodies, and a large statue of Bach stands outside the church under which a local plays classic Bach compositions on an accordion.
I was looking forward to the Stasi museum (the former east german police), but since it was one of the few places open today it was full of tour bus groups. I waited about thirty minutes in the hot waiting room before I decided to move along.
I found a Starbuck’s (I know, hard to believe!) and parked outside with a cuppa and utilized the wi-fi to check e-mail and upload some photos. The weather cooled and the wind came up a bit, so to stay warm I took a walk around the Swan Pond and the Opera House before heading back towards the train station. On the way, I did something very brave (or very foolish) and had a lunch of currywurst. Luckily, it did not come back to haunt me on the three hours of train travel to follow.
Did I mention that when the day started I put my backpack into the luggage lockers at the train station? Well, the lockers are over on the side of one of the platforms, in an area that would probably be off-limits in the states. On this platform, obviously unused, were several old east german locomotives and rolling stock. I snooped around and took many photos.
Eventually it was time to head for Hirschaid, outside of Bamberg. Another ICE train took me through some very lovely rolling hills and valleys (worth the trip alone) but I noticed the rain had followed me from Berlin. There were puddles in the fields as the train passed. When I arrived in Bamberg I had to connect to Hirschaid via bus. Since all of the busses had the same code (SEV) on them, I had to trundle through the pouring rain having the following conversation:
Gehen Sie zu Hirschaid?
Wo ist Hirschaid?
Soaking wet, I climbed aboard and rode to Hirschaid. Something I had not anticipated was that the bus would not stop at the train station in Hirschaid. My directions referenced a starting point of the station, so I was a little bit lost. I went into a restaurant to ask directions and the woman managed to tell me the exactly wrong way to go. I’m also sure, from the reaction of the people in the restaurant, that they were soon on the phone alerting the entire village: “There’s an American in town!” I got the feeling that tourists are rare in Hirschaid.
Luckily I happened upon a building with a town map and I oriented myself so that I could find the Braueri Kruas Gasthaus. I walked up to the door to find a sign that said (in german) that they were on vacation. Eventually I found a back door near the loading dock where people were working in an office. Through my bad german and their complete refusal to speak any English, I managed to inform them of my reservation. A worker showed me to the room and as I unloaded my gear I noticed everyone leaving for the day. Some of the workers were grabbing a bottle or two from the loading dock to take home for dinner. Since the guest house was closed, there was no dinner at the brewery and NO BEER! I walked around the village for about an hour in the rain looking for any restaurant that was still open (apparently Mondays in Hirschaid are the local closing day) so I ended up finding the only person in the village willing and/or able to speak english… at the SubStop. I took my salami sub and a Coke Zero back to the room. Bonus find at 3 am: mosquitos in the room that bit me in the face. Awesome!