WHO OR WHAT IS LEVERKUSEN ?

Today’s unwanted WordPress prompt is “What could you do less of ?“. Get my hopes up, watching England, I guess.

On a football theme, back to November’s trip to Germany, who will surely win the cup now.

2nd November 2022.

Mrs RM had agreed to join me in Cologne on condition she could spend Tuesday in our TRYP hotel room sorting IT issues for French people.

Because I’m all heart, I agreed to let her work while I went off on a mystery rail trip. I even bought her some particularly gooey (but probably healthy if you eat them fast) breakfast items from Yorma’s, the Greggs of Germany.

I left Mrs RM with just enough Deutschmarks to buy a currywurst,

took a first, unsatisfactory, shot of the Dom,

and headed for the self-service machine, where I probably bought the wrong ticket.

But where ? The evening before, we’d seen some Bayer 04 Leverkusen scarves on the train back from Dusseldorf.

I thought I knew a fair bit about Germany and its football, but I had no idea where Amenia Bielfield, Bochum and Union Berlin are from.

I imagined Leverkusen was a large city near Trier, the home of a famous German like Nena and with a special honey cake as its local specialty. But no, it’s just a suburb of Cologne. Who knew ?

On the 20 minute journey, I eavesdropped on two German ladies, randomly brought together, who’d worked in Blackheath and Lewisham. What was the chance of that ?*

I told Dave I’d go there, and I did. Got 2 posts worth, too. I wasn’t expecting much, something like Brentford without the Express Tavern, or perhaps Bracknell without that Spoons, and the approach is, unpromisingly, one huge building site.

On the way out I’d read that the high-flying football club was born from Bayer Pharmaceuticals in 1904, so revised my expectation to Harlow without the lads being sick in the high street at midnight.

The view from my drone doesn’t give much away.

Leaving the station you get directed under the train tracks via some rather cute housing on Havensteinstraße and a statue of an elephant. No idea why, but Coventry have one on their club badge, too.

Five minutes later you find yourself, like it or not, in a space age shopping centre.

No Wetherspoons in the centre, but this scale model appears to be a prototype for a yet-to-be approved craft beer bar.

Several things tell you this is Germany, rather than Belgium or Wales. Spotless streets, no dog muck, and everyone wearing sensible coats (except me, it was 16 degrees).

Oh, and there’s a Woolworth. The loss of Woolies, while the Germans kept theirs, is a national disgrace.

In truth, there’s not much to Leverkusen.

But what there is is colourful and cute.

In England it would be considered as big a tourist draw as, I dunno, Nantwich.

In fact, the Japanese Gardens at Bayer is quite a big draw, but that was closed, so I had to make do with a search for weird art and Kolsch.

You’ll get the Kolsch in Part 2.

*3,357,899 to 1.

17 thoughts on “WHO OR WHAT IS LEVERKUSEN ?

  1. I had a similar experience the first time I took a train from Düsseldorf to Cologne. I had a vague idea that Bayer Leverkusen were a Bavarian club, so was surprised when the town’s station sign flashed past. There is a sort of connection: Bayer does mean someone from Bavaria, and the pharmaceuticals company was founded by a chemist with that surname. I suppose there are similar place name surnames in English that don’t indicate a person’s origin: Lancaster, London, York.

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    1. Thanks Matthew, that’s helpful information.

      Leverkusen is a successful German club but I’d never notice the “city” name pop up when I scoured the maps looking for new places to visit, probably because it looks a suburb of Cologne and I’d never heard mention of them as a fierce rivalry to Cologne. I guess Chievo/Verona is similar.

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      1. I reckon Hellas Verona had a bigger gripe with Chievo, being as they came from a suburb with a population of less than 5,000, moved into their stadium, and surpassed them in the league for a few years. I had a good trip to watch them play once & only just realised they’ve gone bust.

        Several years back I visited Gelsenkirchen to see where Schalke came from, instead of a drinking more alt in Dusseldorf. That was a mistake and a dull afternoon – looks like you did much better in Leverkusen.
        Enjoying the posts from Germany – really making me want to get back there.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I wouldn’t say Leverkusen looked a boozy place, certainly not the centre. Perhaps there’s more bars near the ground (though I doubt it).

        Schalke was the other club I could never find on the map. Always odd given the size of their stadium. Real working class support, so surprised it’s not full of corner bars.

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    2. The subtle difference between Bayern München and Bayer 04 Leverkusen, the single letter N, is enough to denote the difference between a club taking its name from the region and the one whose name derives from a former works team.

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  2. Eindhoven is the home of electronics giant, Philips, and claims that to be the design capital of the Netherlands. I knew I’d driven past it at some stage in the past, and looking back, it was during the 2016 Beer Writers Conference, as part of the pre-conference excursion.

    Like yourself and Matthew Thompson, I never realised Leverkusen was a suburb of Cologne. The German Woolies are a disappointment compared to the former UK stores, and offer mainly stationary and hardware items, but at least they have kept the brand name alive.

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      1. If I know what a hypermarket is, I’m not sure that combination became common in the US until fairly recently. Our grocery stores were standalone most of my life.

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      2. Hypermarkets are the vast out-of-centre supermarkets (Tesco Extra for example) where Brits buy clothes and tat as well as food. German, and most European countries, seem to have one purpose shops (notable in Tromso the other week).

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