Herbst – autumn. That word will always remind me of this video, which is hilarious regardless of whether you speak German or not:
Anyway, I’ve just finished my first week back at school after 2 weeks off, not a bad deal when you’ve only been working for 3 weeks! I figured I should probably get out and about in Germany so the blog could actually be worthy of its title; no use calling it Der Reisende when you don’t travel anywhere! Because I try as much as possible to avoid having it as a “this week I did this and this and this” kind of thing, I have missed out some of the stuff I’ve done recently, so therefore I present to you a quick guide to the things I’ve been up to over the past few weeks!
Football x2: RBL! RBL! RBL! (Red Bull Leipzig)
There was a derby the other week between RB Leipzig (the highest-ranked team in the city, sponsored by Red Bull and hated by everyone except its fans for being sell-outs) and Lok (in the 4th tier of the German league system but more akin to the Conference and with a reputation for being neo-Nazis) in the German equivalent of the FA Cup. It was certainly an interesting experience; both sets of fans were pretty vocal throughout the match despite RB being the dominant side for the majority of the match. Towards the end, the Lok fans started throwing firecrackers that sounded more like mini-bombs onto the pitch, and they also threw stuff (thankfully not firecrackers) at the RB players when they were trying to take a corner. Nobody seemed particularly bothered by this though, except the stewards who were casually holding up umbrellas around the corner taker to protect him. Must be a regular occurrence!
The other match we watched was with one of the assistants and his twin brother who had come to visit, and was between RB and Borussia Dortmund’s 2nd team, in which RB won 1-0, putting them in 2nd place in the dritte Bundesliga (third division). It wasn’t quite as exciting as the derby the week before but it was still nice to see the local team doing well! The revelation that I’ve been something of a regular at RB matches was met with a lot of groaning in one of my year 8 classes though, as well as a rather intimdating stare from one kid who happened to be wearing a Lok scarf that day!
Battle Reenactment and Sunset at Markkleeberger See
Apart from being a hotspot for the revolution in 1989, the other thing that Leipzig is really famous for is the Battle of the Nations. It took place in 1813, 200 years ago, and marked the point at which Napoleon’s seemingly unstoppable march through Eastern Europe began to be turned back. To celebrate its 200th anniversary, the city staged an absolutely enormous battle reenactment which I went to watch with one of my flatmates and his girlfriend. Despite having to stand on the same spot for 5 hours it was quite entertaining. My pictures were rubbish, so here’s a link to the BBC’s coverage of it.
Just down the road from the battle site is Markkleeberger See, a really nice lake which also has a white water kayaking centre in it, which was built in case Leipzig won its bid to host the 2012 Olympics. On our way back we caught an amazing sunset – I’m a sucker for a good sunset photo so here you are!
I and a few of the other assistants went to Weimar for the day. Home to famous German writers such as Goethe and Schiller, it was a cultural hotspot in 18th century Germany and was the namesake for the Weimar Republic between the two world wars. It’s a nice little place, and thanks to the Deutsche Bahn offering really cheap deals if you travel on slower regional trains, it only cost us €7 return each!
Lübben, Straupitz and Berlin
I’d been looking forward to this one for ages; a reunion with some of my friends from university, who are scattered all over Germany. Our first stop was the town of Lübben in Brandenburg, plus the neighbouring village of Straupitz where Vicky is doing an assistantship. Having only ever been in big cities, it was really strange to be in a provincial German town but interesting nonetheless. We then moved onto Berlin (with, of course, the obligatory picture in front of the pregnant oyster) where we met Emma, who’s doing an exchange year at Humboldt University. It was a great weekend, but for the first time I didn’t see Berlin in an entirely positive light. British people are so rare in Leipzig that normally when I hear a native speaker on the street, I really have to restrain myself from bursting into their face with a OHWOWYOUSPEAKENGLISHTOOWHEREAREYOUFROMWHYAREYOUHERE kind of conversation, but in Berlin English is absolutely everywhere. Great if you’re a tourist and can’t speak German, not so great if you’re trying to reach fluency.
For every silver lining…
There’s a cloud, which in this case took the form of some excruciatingly painful wisdom teeth problems. This meant that my second week off was spent being a miserable bastard and feeling sorry for myself. As anyone at uni (or indeed just away from home) will tell you, ain’t nothing worse than being ill/in pain and away from home! It was good for my German though, I now know the phrases for antibiotic injection, pericoronitis and I MUST SEE YOUR INSURANCE CARD, AND QUICK BECAUSE ZERE IS A QUEUE FORMING BEHIND YOU.
So that was my holidays. Sorry it’s so late, and look out for the next instalment to follow shortly about my brother’s visit!