Volvo, Mark Knopfler, and East German adventures… part seven

A sight for sore eyes.

We left Rostock bright and early on Thursday, July 4th.  The drive to Leipzig took about four hours through the former East Germany.  We were marveling at how unspoiled it is, even thirty years after the Berlin Wall fell.  There are many open fields and the Autobahns, for the most part, are nice and clear.  We did encounter a couple of Staus, which were caused by road construction.

Nice rural East German countryside.

I couldn’t help but chuckle when I saw that the builders had used signs with “emojis” on them to express how long the construction would last.  The first emoji would be a red frowny face.  Midway through, one might see a yellow flat face– with a straight line for its lips.  Then, at the end, there would be a green happy face and the word, “Geschafft!”, which translates to “finished” or “done”, I guess.  I see by Google Translate, it literally means “made”.  I tried to get pictures, but wasn’t so successful.  You can see an example of what I’m writing about here.  I don’t know how I’ve missed these for the past few years.  I haven’t seen them used in the areas where we’ve lived.

The only picture I managed to capture in time.

We finally reached the city of Leipzig at just after one o’clock.  Once again, Bill got turned around and missed the street where the Steigenberg Grand Hotel was.  We had to drive around a bit to finally get to the right place.  Upon arrival, our bags were whisked away and the car was driven off by a valet.  I got an upgraded room, thanks to Expedia.com, which also awarded me gold status again (I had lost it in December 2017, when I used my points in Berlin).  Instead of the standard room I booked, I got a deluxe room.

Here are some photos of the room.

Bathtub… we didn’t use.

Nice rainfall shower.

His and hers sinks.


The shower and toilet next to each other.

This bed was mostly more comfortable than our bed at the Radisson Blu in Rostock… except for one issue, which I’ll get into in a future post.


The room had air conditioning and a mini bar, as well as free Internet and a nice big TV.  There was also a couch by the window, which appeared to be what made this a “deluxe” room.  The standard rooms had chairs instead.  I think the deluxe rooms were also slightly larger.

This hotel has a nice bar area, a restaurant, and a spa.  We used the bar, of course, but only visited the restaurant for breakfast, which I booked with the room.  I probably should have gone to the spa, but didn’t bother.

Since it was lunchtime, we decided to try Dhillon’s Irish Bar & Grill for lunch, since it was very close to the hotel and I was in the mood for fried food.  Lunch at Dhillon’s Irish Bar & Grill was fine.  I had fish & chips and Bill had Cottage Pie.  We also had beer.  Service was fast and friendly, and we weren’t left with a terrible impression.  Unfortunately, we made the mistake of going back on Saturday night and were completely ignored.  I wrote a very foul rant about this on my main blog.  I would not recommend reading it unless you want to read a lot of cussing.  I was extremely pissed off.  But here are a few photos from our successful Thursday lunch visit.  I will admit, lunch there was fine.

Obligatory shot of Bill.

Cottage pie.  Bill said it was good.

I liked my fish & chips.

This was a welcoming sign… however, on Saturday night, they didn’t roll out the welcome mat for us.

After we ate, we walked around Leipzig and found our way to St. Thomas Church, where Johann Sebastian Bach was music director for 27 years.  This Lutheran church is also affiliated with several other well known composers, including Richard Wagner and Felix Mendelsohnn.  Besides a lovely interior, the church has a small museum and a large statue of Bach out front.  A couple of classical musicians were outside playing beautifully.  They brought tears to my eyes with their heavenly music.  Leipzig is definitely a very musical city and a place to visit if music is your passion as much as it is mine.

This was painted on the wall near the church.

St. Thomas Lutheran Church.

One thing I didn’t know when I booked our travel was that this past weekend was also the time for the Leipziger Wein Fest.  We managed to try several wines over a few days and listened to some nice live music in the square.  It was a real bonus to get to taste wines and see Mark Knopfler!

At one point, I saw an adorable young family dancing to the music.  Mom was very pregnant and looked about ready to add to the family.  Dad was dancing with his toddler son, who was enchanted by the music by Benni & Ich.  It made me tear up watching them.

This guy seemed really into the music.

Later that day, we found out that Bill’s daughter, Catherine, gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Clara.  Catherine is Bill’s younger daughter.  Thanks to an acrimonious divorce, Bill hasn’t seen her or her older sister, who was also born on July 4th, since 2004.  For many years, they were completely estranged.  However, in recent years, Bill and Catherine have started Skyping and emailing.  Bill now has a grandson and a granddaughter and, with any luck, he’ll be able to get to know them despite his ex wife’s extreme efforts at ruining his relationship with his daughters.

I’d say our July 4th, despite being devoid of fireworks, was a success.


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