Sunday, July 6, 2014

Leipzig City First Impressions

LEIPZIG- Well, once I arrived in Leipzig I had a taxi take me from the Hauptbahnhof (main trainstation) to the apartment where I’m staying the next month. The University has rented out a room for me in the home of an older lady (they are putting all of the 17 American teachers participating in this program up in private homes for a better immersion experience). My landlady, Frau Strube (I’ll introduce her more in greater detail as I get to know her), lives on the fourth floor of a 5-story apartment house. I absolutely LOVE my neighborhood. It looks like something right out of the Victorian Era (actually, the architecture has a German name that eludes me at the moment but refers to the German Emperor Wilhelm I believe). All the streets are lined with 4-5 story apartment houses with elegant, stately facades, with several of the streets being tree-lined as well, which only adds to the charm. There is an elevator, but I have a feeling I’ll be using the stairs more often than not, which is great because I’ll take any extra exercise I can get. 

Once I got settled and cleaned up, and once I’d made the requisite calls home, I went out for several hours to explore the city. Where I am staying is only about a mile and a half from the city center. About a twenty-minute walk, give or take a few minutes. There is also a streetcar (Tram) system that has a few stops fairly close to the apartment too that I can also use (and definitely will when it rains). Also found out that the University paid for my public transportation pass, something I thought I would have to do on my own. That was a nice surprise. One of the things I loved about my last visit to Germany five years ago was the abundance of public transportation. With where I’m at in the city it’s not quite as crucial, since the city is smaller and more compact.
I made my way to the city center fairly quickly, and whereas the neighborhood I live in is almost purely residential and relatively quite, the downtown area, centered on the August Platz, the Leipzig Opera House, and Leipzig University, is quite lively. There’s also a fairly large pedestrian only street that goes through the heart of one of the older parts of the city, and it was busy with people shopping and eating and listening to live music.

I walked around and looked at all of the buildings in the area, and in Germany there is such an interesting contrast. On the same street, standing side-by-side, you can have a building from the late 1800s, with it's onramental exterior showing the years, right next door to a an ultra modern steel-and-glass structure that went up five years ago. This fascinated me on my last visit, and the same holds true this time around.

After walking around for a bit I grabbed one huge slice of pizza and a fanta and ate a small dinner while sitting on the edge of the Augustus Platz, watching people play in the fountain. It was very relaxing. 

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