1 July, 2011
I really like this city.
Leipzig has a population of about half a million, brilliant public transportation (I have a week's pass to take full advantage) and what seems to be about three-fourths of all the people here on bicycles. There are bicycles everywhere. I was planning on getting a bike but the people here don't just ride bikes, they drive their bikes on the roads the way we drive our cars on the interstates when we are running late. It's terrifying, yet beautiful to watch. I don't know if my bike riding is up to it.
I got up at a more reasonable time today, ate my fruit for breakfast and hit the streets. I used the Leipzig transit system's website (http://www.lvb.de/timetable) to see how to get to the Russian Orthodox Church and then successfully made my way there. I got a bit thrown off when I had to change trams at Augustusplatz and couldn't find my connection, but a bit of wandering around and a chance glance showed me where I should be.
I got to the church, which is where the Battle of Nations took place in 1813, a wee bit of a disagreement with Napoleon and the rest of Europe. [http://www.leipzig.de/int/en/tourist/stadtspaz/fotorund/02424.shtml]. I spend quite a bit of time talking with the lady there, who had no English. She was patient, kind, encouraging and invited me back for Liturgy on Sunday. If I understood correctly, it is in both Russian and German. I found myself remembering some of my German and she reminded me of more.
I returned by way of Augustusplatz and the tram and wandered around there for a bit and took a few pictures. Seems to be the city centre and old town. I saw a few used bookstores and despite the language barrier, both verbal and written, bought a children's copy of Grimm's Hausmärchen. Yes, Grimm's. Perhaps before too terribly long I'll graduate to an adult version of the German Grimm's but I figure if I have to learn to read in German, I may as well read something I like and have a bit of a jump on. (Hush up, some of you nasty people. That is not what I mean by "adult".) While ringing me up, the man showed me a very nice, very old copy of Grimm's for €200. "Später", I told him, with a grin. Later. He knew I was buying a children's version because of my baby German.
I bought a Bratwurst mit Brötchen and a coke at a street stand, where the vendor was a bit impatient until I apologized. "Entschuldigen, Ich kann kein Deutsch. Amerikanerin. Ich bin langsam.". Then he smiled even though he didn't want to, so either I said something funny when I didn't mean to, or I said exactly what I meant to. I then met up with an Irish Terrier and her owners and spoke the universal language of "I admire your dog because she is a terrier and terriers are great!" The owners seemed impressed that I knew she was an Irish until I pointed to myself and said "Airedales". The Irish sensed a kindred spirit and got hyper and friendly. The owners must also have been true terrier people because they didn't seem surprised, bothered or taken aback by any of this.
Tram back to Sudvorstadt, and I meandered down the opposite side of the street than the one I've been walking on. I befriended a shopkeeper in a small market where I bought cheese, wonderful German bread and butter. Her English is pretty good, far, far better than my German. We talked and she showed me some sort of memorial to Heinrich Heine in the park behind her shop. I spent some time in a Turkish sandwich shop for early supper and chatted for a while with the owner and some other people in a mix of English and tattered German. I was also given a free dessert and cup of tea there. I'll be going back.
Looked at a flat this evening, but the lady isn't moving out until mid September, so that's no good. Looking at 5 next Monday and Tuesday; one of them will be it.
It was a good day and I am very excited about living here. I'm also feeling pretty good about getting my German back. I'm able to pick out words, even if I don't always understand them, have found people to be very nice, very patient with me as I struggle to make myself understood and have made, if not friends, then friendly contact. Good people. It's looking like this was the right thing for me to do.
I know this is all me me me, but right now, it is all me me me. I posted some pictures that show some of what I saw today.