Just why is there such a vibe and buzz about Leipzig?
As a witness to this for more than a decade, I could say I have somewhat of an insider’s perspective. Being here over 14 years I am, I guess, an old head. But there is a heck of a lot more history and development to this city that I still feel I am learning about every day. In 2002 I started to really feel like I could stay here and embarked on writing a poem as a tribute. Stay till the end of this article for my edited version in honor of the 1000-year anniversary of the city (1015-2015).
Anyone with an inclination knows that there is a history of literature, music and trade to Leipzig, and why it has been called “the crossroads of Europe.” Not only for the previous location of the trade routes at the junction of the North/South and East/West trade routes that some say the Cafe Riquet is situated on. Citizens of Chemnitz may dispute this, but as a cultural crossroads there is no denying Leipzig has this about it, fusing the traditional with the modern. But living here, you really feel the change from a provincial to not only a pan-european city, as in the past, but one with an international flavour and a beat in the streets.
There has been the modern gigging tradition of Tonelli’s and GeyserHaus, since before the reunification; however, recently there has been a cacophony of new sounds. From DJs taking up Rock-a-Billy and Northern Soul, to glocal bands like The Cyans, Roisin and the Beards, Cox and the Riot, producing their albums here, as well as crossover solo artists such as Dolus Mutombo and Mirro Blac. So what is the appeal? Well, to paraphrase Roisin (of previous success in Dublin), it is not as cut-throat as other places, there is a willingness to be in it for the music.
Not only has music thrived but also food. Back at the turn of this century there was no way near the variety of food available as there is now. Maybe leftovers of the fall of the wall. Of course there were Greek and Asian restaurants mixed with the good local fare, but now you are spoilt for choice. Not only for ethnic food but also the vegetarian and vegan market is catered for. Vegetarians were pushed to find a decent eatery back in the day. With the many immigrants moving here, it is only natural that things have spiced up, and the Essen kommt mit. A new discovery for me has been Tuk Tuk, which is giving the other good Thai restaurant Chang a run for its money.
Unbeknownst to most, in Leipzig was the mill of the first coffee houses in Europe, and the Coffe Baum epitomises this with a free museum for those wanting to know more, and cakes to die for after you have fed your mind. These days beyond the usual chains, you have newer cafes like Uptown Coffee Bar and Café Albert, tickling the tastebuds of tourists and locals alike.
An ambling drunk is also merrily on his way through Leipsch. Anyone with any knowledge brewing hops knows Germany is amongst the Kings of Beers and Germans can drink enough to sink a battleship. But in contrast to the Reinheitsgebot, alcohol with mixed ingredients and sources has gushed into the market. As a Brit I cannot say no to a Bulmers Cider on the warm summer days in the ample beer gardens here. But more than that has arrived, Czech beer was only previously found in good alternative watering holes or Irish pubs, such as Prager Frühling and Killywilly. But now the Czechs, despite failing with U Flecku, have been a hit with Wenzel Bierstuben. Even the Polish are giving it a try with Poniat. Both have good food to fill your stomachs as well as their vodka to fire your thirst.
If you are thirsting for more then get on your wheels, as a cyclist I love the greenery and the fact you can get ’round Leipzig on your bike with ease. Go on Safari and either find the waymarking Löwen that are an old tradition of Leipzig or the modern Löwen statues, for……
The Lion roars not far from the Growling bear of the capital.
with a stomach and heart full from fliessend and untapped potential.
The soil is still rich even if no longer there are so many Lime trees.
The brown stone open cast mines freeze
for winter skating, and thaw out for nudist bathing
in the open tradition of the old East.
Feast your eyes from the UniRiese, and your appetite.
For a tasty panoramic view und eine besondere Mahlzeit.
Likewise is there such a scopeful scape,
from Napoleon’s place of no escape.
For he was driven back and into defeat.
A mighty monument now stands at the seat.
To commerate the joining of nations to force a retreat.
Knights stand stone tall and guard a round hall.
They look over music brought from afar,
and they are the watchmen for the souls of the fathers’ fore.
Sentries, in honour of passing centuries,
of one Southern of the many statued Cemeteries.
The deutsche Schreiber Goethe and Schiller laid the cultural ink wells.
The idea of a free state now dwells.
The many Germanic tribes laid waste to the pre-Europa land.
Saxony turned from War like time’s sand.
King Friedrich August III was the last to don the crown.
He abdicated, and by 1918 the Monarchy was down.
In former times Faust scenes in the Auerbachs Keller
were set and cavorted out.
Academics and genii,
daily played there, with their food and doubt.
The flutes of the Gewandhaus orchestra play as high as the regard
the University was held in.
Lowered only by dem hohlen Stampfen of the Neo Nazis trump card.
This baseness is countered
by a beat you feel in the street,
through the cobble stones and like a chill in your bones.
But the Freiheit that nourishes the lefties and students at their roots,
routs out the touristlike Fascists
with an inverted two finger salute.
That turns back to signs of Peace
when marchers go alien
on the decadent politics of policies foreign.
Turkish, Greeks, Vietnamese, Arabs, Eastern Europeans,
see Leipzig as a hit. Das Essen kommt mit.
Bringing spice and new life to the Culinary Palette.
All newcomers look, leap and chance it.
Like the English speakers who take the ESL teachers mantel and adorn it.
Dreams to go far beyond the old fallen Wall and the new underground rail tunnel.
The hole in the market place must hinder the people funnel
Envision die ungeborenen Gebaeude the construction sites rear.
The cosy cobble Market square leads to a Cafe Avenue.
An authentic original for this beverage, the Turkish here did sew.
From the humble coffee bean it grew.
It has grown into
a flourishing boom.
Alcohol is this black bride’s unbekleideter groom.
Likewise are there many eateries, bars, and occasional pubs.
The wine waiter assisted ably by the brewing Monk.
The night life can be as intoxicated as the staggering drunk.
Finding their way home.
Like the Wahlleipzigers and their sanctuary
in the heart of Saxony.
Lip Service to Lipsia
(c) Stewart Tunnicliff 2015