Monday, April 8, 2019

Planes, Trains, & Willi Orban

The last time we went to Germany it rained for six straight days. Seeing as how we're only going to be there for nine days in total this time around, we're hoping for something a little different.

Welcome to this year's adventure, where we are heading to Berlin and Leipzig on a quick little adventure. We'll have no car, relying on feet and on trains, and we have one main reason and one main reason only for going.

For these guys--

We visited both Leipzig and Berlin back in 2013 on a bit of a whirlwind trip, and always wanted to go back. Then, after becoming fans of a certain German fussball team, we found ourselves with the perfect reason—to watch a match just a few days after our 30th wedding anniversary.

That's right. We got married when we were ten.

Because of all that this will be a much different trip than the kind you usually read about—in the spring instead of fall, only nine days instead of 12 or 13, and with us visiting exclusively urban areas, which means, sad to say, no cows (however will I survive?). We'll get between cities by train (something new) and get around in the cities by foot (something we do all the time).

And yet we'll still have time for football. And, of course, chocolate.

Stop one is Berlin--

Where we're finding ourselves ensconced in the Tiergarten neighborhood for a night. The Tiergarten is a huge city park--

That sits right near the Brandenburg gate, the Reichstag, and the Ritter Sport store--

So the chocolate part of the trip is, rest assured, taken care of.

We then hop on a train and find ourselves an hour later in the fair city of Leipzig, a place where we slept for three nights in 2013 but really didn't get a chance to explore. A pity, too, because aside from being a really cool place just to visit--

It has this church where, in 1989, college students began the protests that eventually toppled the old East German government and the Berlin wall.

There's a whole walking tour you can take to commemorate that era, plus parks and great food and all kinds of other things we didn't get to do or see last time we were there. After all, the place isn't referred to by some as “Hypezig” for no reason.

Of course, the reason for the trip will be when we set foot inside of this holy shrine the Saturday we're there--

This holy shrine is known as Red Bull arena, home to the RB Leipzig Bundesliga team. We started watching RB Leipzig a couple of years ago, when they made it up to the Bundesliga from the German minor leagues, just to see if they had any beauty shots of Leipzig during game coverage. After a while we stopped looking for the beauty shots and started concentrating on the team. With a core group of young players they finished in the top six of the league their first two years, and are on pace to finish third this year, so maybe it's not too surprising that it took us two mornings of getting up at 5 am to get tickets for the match.

But I have the feeling it'll all be worth it. Especially because they're playing SC Freiburg, a team from what might be my favorite German city. Sad to say Freiburg's soccer team isn't quite as good as RB Leipzig (although they did tie Bayern Munich, the [evil] New England Patriots of the Bundesliga, a few weeks ago), but that just means that by the end of Saturday the 40,000 of us packing Red Bull Arena should have big smiles on our faces.

With the exception of one other day the rest of the trip will just be exploring and seeing what we can see, but that one day should be quite fascinating. Long-time readers of these blogs may recall back in 2013 when we visited the town of Weissenfels, so Loraine could present a copy of her first book to the town's mayor (the subject of that book, Marquette's Elwood Norr, was shot down in Weissenfels), and we found ourselves at a press conference with him, the end result of which you could see in the newspaper the next day

We thought it might be nice to see our old friends again, so Loraine got in touch and said that, among other things, she'd like to give the town a copy of her second book, which mentions our visit the first time around. Well, we were invited back, and soon found ourselves with an itinerary for the day (these are very organized Germans, after all). We get to have a catch-up lunch and a tour of an historic building, and we also get to give someone from the city a copy of Loraine's second book complete with, according to the itinerary, a “press availability”.

That's right. You go to this part of Germany with Loraine, and you find yourself in the newspaper the next day. Everyone needs a travel companion like that.

So while we won't be gone as long as usual we will be doing a whole bunch of stuff we've never done before. You're more than welcome to come along. Just promise you won't bring any rain with you. We had enough of that last year.


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