Friday, April 26, 2019

The Jerseys Were Hung By The Mirror With Care...

FRIDAY, 4/26:

There's another accordion player plying his trade right underneath our hotel window tonight. And it's a different one than last night, which means that the Leipzig Accordion Players Guild has at least both a president AND a vice president!

Greetings again from our sixth floor room in Leipzig, where the accordion player has just launched into his version of the theme from “The Godfather", if you're curious. We spent a full day exploring this wondrous city. I promised you a history lesson yesterday and you will receive it—in three parts, no less, because, well, you know me & history—but first, it was market day today.

Market day is always an amazing thing in Europe. This is the first spring-time one we've ever been to, which means that while there was not the ginormous selection of fresh fruits & vegetables you usually associate with a farmer's market, there was plenty of this German delicacy--

 White asparagus is a springtime treat here. It's among the first plants to burst forth after winter ends, and asparagus “season” is prized by cooks & consumers throughout the country. For a couple of weeks dishes featuring the vegetable are offered at restaurants everywhere, and people eat as much of it as they can before it's gone for another year.

It's so German and so revered, in fact, that our old friend Tony the Tour Guide, who grew up in Germany, said he didn't even know asparagus could be green until he moved back to the U.S.

Since we didn't rent a car this time around, and since we're in a place with an amazing mass transit system, we picked up a couple of multi-day passes and spent most of the day riding around in one of these--

Trams can take you just about anywhere in the area, including just a short ten minute ride to this, the largest monument in all of Europe--

This is the Volkerschlachtdekmal, or the Monument to the Battle of the Nations. It commemorates the spot where Napoleon was finally defeated by a coalition of different nations, including Saxony, which was home to Leipzig at the time. It's HUGE—almost 200 feet tall—and it's guarded by one mean looking dude standing over the entranceway--

You can climb halfway up it, and if you so desire, can pay an extra fee to get all the way to the top. Either way, you're rewarded by views of the city and the surrounding countryside.

It was quite funny going up the stairs and watching people huff, puff, and having to take a break to catch their breath. I have a feeling that if people tried climbing the monument even just once a day both their calf muscles and the cardiovascular endurance would grow by leaps & bounds.

We then hopped back on the tram, and after a stop or two ended up on the other side of Leipzig for this piece of history--

It's called the Capa House, after famed war photographer Robert Capa (whose work you've seen, even if you don;t know it). Capa was photographing American soldiers in this house in April of 1945 when he caught a young American, Raymond Bowman, as he was shot by a German sniper. The resulting photograph, entitled "Last Man To Die" is now a revered work

courtesy Magnum Photos

And both Capa

and Bowman have nearby streets named after them.

The naming of these streets is a recent event in the city's history. Even though the Americans liberated the area at the end of World War II it was in the Soviet occupation zone, and once the war was over Leipzig became part of communist East Germany. And that brings me to the story I promised to tell yesterday. You remember the picture I took out of our hotel window, the one where I  said we're staying right above historic ground?

Well, that's the plaza of the Nikolaikirche, and it was in this plaza in October of 1989 that students from the University of Leipzig started holding nightly candlelight vigils opposing the East German government and its totalitarian ways. Soon, the protests spread to other parts of the Eastern Bloc, and within a month the Berlin Wall fell.

And it all started right outside our hotel window.

Today, the University of Leipzig is a thriving place--

Filled with students gulping down their coffee on the way to class. I'm glad to know that they honor those pioneering young people from the 30 years ago with yearly candlelight vigils--

photo courtesy German Tourism Office

As does the hotel we're staying in. Above the bar you see lights that, when you look at them long enough, represent the candles the students used to help bring a country down.

photo courtesy Motel One/

Okay; that's it for the history today. Long time readers of these ramblings will be happy to know that Loraine and I had our traditional Italian restaurant date at a place called the Ristorante Valentino, where Loraine had a gratin with turkey, broccoli and cheese, while I was barely able to down a huge bowl of gnocchi al quatro formaggi, or gnocchi with four cheeses. Why that particular restaurant, you ask? Well, I answer, they had “liked” a couple of comments Loraine had made on the RB Leipzig Facebook page. In fact, our server was apparently the very person who clicked “like” on those comments. We just figured we'd stop by and say “hey”. And we did!'s today's totally random picture of lilacs, this time with a little graffiti. Although I do have to give props to one of the artists, who DID use a lilac-colored spray paint in one of the works--

Today's totally random picture of a stormtrooper just chilling--

And today's montage of street musicians, both in picture form--

And in video form, in case you ever wondered what a clarinet player sounds like when you're leaning out a window fifty feet above them--

That's it for now. As I mentioned in the title, the jerseys are hung by the mirror with care...

Because tomorrow, we go see these guys play!

Full details after the game.

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