LEIPZIG – TOP ARCHITECTURE, HIDDEN BOOZERS

Once past Braunschweig the German roads became a bit bumpier, and service stations/McDonalds a lot less frequent. Combined with a loss of internet, this produced the sort of search for fuel fun that you really don’t want in freezing fog.

Mrs RM and I had always wanted to visit Leipzig. A city with a league-topping team named after a Formula 1 racing car has got to be good. Our sons were happy to stay in the B&B Hotel eating bombay mix and Haribos from the vending machine.

Actually Red Bull Leipzig is no match for the “Lokomotive” team of my youth, which was rather less hated by German fans nationwide than the current monied success-buyers. I know how they feel.

There’s some money in the centre, as well.

Mrs RM wasn’t quite as impressed by the ornate centre as I was (and Goethe was, so I win that one).

It was the series of interconnecting courtyards in Art Nouveau style that wowed me, reminiscent of Berlin’s Hackeschen Hofe I said. “Pretentious git” thought Mrs RM, preferring the fairy tale squares that Berlin largely lacks.

Despite drizzle, Leipzig was buzzing, as busy and prosperous looking as anywhere I’ve seen of similar size on a Sunday night.

The city retains those funny men you get on old east German pedestrian crossing lights, but elsewhere there were few obvious reminders of the communist past.

My only real target was the “pub” that adorns the Leipzig pages of the Good Beer Guide to Germany, the Brauhaus Thomaskirch unchanged in a decade at least.

Like everywhere we walked past, drinking space was very limited, forcing us into a cheapish soup and salad to accompany a superb reddish Weihnachtsbier, which cleared a simmering cold I’d had since the Hook.

The decor was typical of a good neighbourhood Italian, and our next table put on a bizarre argument for our enjoyment, but it was no pub.

The scenery around Thomaskirche itself got even better, but two neighbouring Guide pubs were a) closed and b) lacking any bar, which is just as bad.

I’m sure there’s better options outside the centre now, and that “craft” is on it’s way, if Red Bull allows it.

If you go, take the tram. I had tremendous fun attempting to put coins into the on-board ticket machine while it careered round corners at 90, and my gallant move to reunite a departing passenger with his dropped hat met with near decapitation.

That, and couples on the point of marital breakdown, are the stuff of BRAPA legend.

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