Finding a guide to Leipzig is not difficult these days, especially on the web. A myriad of apps, blogs, websites, and traditional news outlets offer tips on what to do and see in one day or longer stays in the city. Google ranks the most relevant for you. After a short search on Amazon, you can also find a mix of educational games to discover the city and countless travel guides and photo books about it.
In times of a surplus of information and mass tourism, city guides promise to take you to the “most important” spots and give you the “most relevant” background information about one place. Tourists tend to feel they’ve more or less achieved their mission once the pre-established routes have been completed and the cliché-selfies taken for their social media galleries. Often they don’t even realise that their experiences are not that singular.
A new trend in “armchair travel”
We often don’t realise that our journey begins much earlier than the trip itself. It begins while searching for the next destination. “Armchair travel” is not only a form of pleasurable reading, but a real trigger for our wanderlust. But the traditional travel guides feel uncharming in this situation. Typically filled with hard facts and static photos, they might be helpful in the backpack, but they don’t harmonise well with a nice cup of tea or a glass of wine.
In the last years, despite the growing crowdsourced content on the Internet and the many lifestyle/travel blogs, an increasing number of handsome travel guides have been reaching the market. Beautifully designed as collector’s items or coffee table books, they’ve started speaking to a different kind of tourist. Such tourists want to detach themselves from the masses, as well as share and reproduce a more aesthetic lifestyle. They’ve become not only references for travel experiences but also for a rediscovery of home cities: their hippest and hottest spots, designer stores, and lively or up-and-coming neighbourhoods.
It’s probably difficult to recall exactly when this trend began. But for sure, when the Wallpaper* City Guides were first published in 2006, they immediately became a “must have” among certain groups of people. These include young creatives, frequent business class flyers, and regular “cultural” urban travellers. Since then, various other publications (dealing with single cities or as a series) have hit the market with great success. Many a travel guide has covered the metropolises of the world. They each had a beautiful layout, fantastic photos or illustrations, and “secret” insider tips for travellers trying to tackle the big cities and capitals.
Leipzig gets the guide it deserves
While Berlin had been one of the cities covered, Leipzig was yet to be discovered by the glossy new travel guides. That is, until last year, when Stadtschwärmer – “the new alternative travel guide” to Leipzig – was published.
Schwärmen, in German, might sound strange to English-speakers but actually means something nice. It means to rave about or praise someone or something exceptionally. A Schwärmer is someone who is a true enthusiast of something. Babett Börner, Franziska Müller, Katrin Hofmann and Stephanie Schmidt, the editors of the guide, are indeed real Leipzig enthusiasts. Their initiative was meant to be an aesthetic yet informative ode to the city.
They pretty much represent the current creative effervescence of Leipzig. They are young, were educated in the region, but have a broader horizon of experiences. They are establishing themselves with their own design and communications agencies. Not surprisingly, they’re based in Plagwitz.
What’s in it and a chance to win it
The Stadtschwärmer guide is not only nice to look at, but also truly inspiring and informative. It gives the gamut of cultural, dining and shopping opportunities across Leipzig’s quarters. It features interviews and brings “insider tips” from local personalities. It makes readers want to take a closer look at places they may have passed by everyday and not noticed.
It’s a good book for “armchair travelling,” for tourists and residents. The fact that it’s mostly in German provides a motivation to practice the language. Also, it has an English section at the end with key info and texts summarised.
Are you curious? Are you also a “Stadtschwärmer”?