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

Friday morning, we got up and had breakfast.  The Steigenberger has a pretty good buffet offered, though I somehow missed half of it on the first morning.  My only complaint, besides the coffee being kind of bad, is that some of the chairs were a bit narrow.  I don’t have a skinny butt by any means, but I can’t help but think of those larger than me trying to sit down.  Even Bill, who isn’t a large man, commented on the “snug” feel of the mauve colored chairs in the breakfast room.  However, on the last day, we sat in the black ones, and they were a lot more comfortable.

After breakfast, we walked around Leipzig, enjoying the energy of the place.  I wish I had done a bit more research before we arrived in town, since there are some interesting churches and museums there that we missed.

A big day in Leipzig’s history.  Once behind the East German borders, Leipzig is now a freewheeling, vibrant city.  Although the first demonstrations happened the previous month, it started to become that way on October 9, 1989, when there was a huge peaceful demonstration among the people of Leipzig.  It was just after the 40th anniversary of the GDR’s existence.  For two years, there were Monday demonstrations in Leipzig, demanding change for the people.


This was just outside St. Nicholas Church, which is a Lutheran church where protesters gathered.  We didn’t get a chance to look inside the church, since they were doing renovations.

Like Rostock, Leipzig also has a university.  It’s one of the world’s oldest universities and the second oldest in Germany, having been founded on December 2, 1409.  Leipzig University was one of the first in Germany to allow women as “guest students”.  During the Nazi era, many Jews had their degrees “cancelled”.  Some were reinstated during the East German era.


Leipzig’s “Hochhaus”, a 36 story skyscraper…  probably the only real one in Leipzig.  The building, which was erected between 1968 and 1972, was designed by architect Herman Henselmann to look like an open book.  It was originally part of Leipzig University, but was later sold to the city, which then sold it to the U.S. investment bank, Merrill Lynch.  The offices are rented to tenants and the top floor has an observation platform, as well as a restaurant called Panorama.


After strolling through some of Leipzig’s beautifully constructed passages, we had a nice Greek lunch at Alfa Restaurant.


Bean soup… I guess it came with the meal.


Obligatory shot of Bill.




Bill had gyros with fries and t’zatziki.


I had “surf and turf”, which was gyros with fried calamari and tomato rice.  This was a lot of food, but it was well prepared and the waiter was very nice.


The sun briefly came out, so we decided to go back to the wine fest, where we tried more wines… In retrospect, we probably should have gone to museums instead.  But what can I say?  We like our wine.

But soon the clouds were out again…

Most of the wines were German, but some weren’t.  The ones above were from the lone Hungarian vintner who attended.


Although I got us a parking spot for the Mark Knopfler concert, Bill decided he’d rather hire a cab to take us to the show.  We also wanted to get there early, remembering what happened when we saw Elton John in Stuttgart back in May.  I had ordered “special tickets”, which got us assigned seats, a wurst and a beer at the snack bar, and a parking spot.  I didn’t actually know where we’d be sitting, since the seats were assigned by the ticket outlet.  Well… it turned out we were on the third row on the ground floor.  They were AWESOME seats, especially since there weren’t any big screens.  Here are a few pictures from Knopfler’s show in Leipzig.  I see I can also order a recording of the Leipzig show in a few weeks.  Genius!

The arena.

The view before the show started.

There he is…


He had a wonderful band… although Knopfler himself looked a bit tired at first.  He perked up as the show went on and put on a great performance.  


I could not keep my eyes off of these two guys, who were playing multiple instruments so well.  They looked and sounded like they were plucked from some lovely meadow in Ireland or Scotland and recruited to follow Knopfler.  


I did not record any part of Knopfler’s show, but I want to mention that he has no objections to people audio recording or taking pictures, so long as they are for personal use.  I think that is a very generous and ultimately smart policy, because people are going to do it anyway and it’s pretty much impossible to police.  Hell, even at The Eagles’ concert, where they specifically asked for no cameras, people were openly recording.  Knopfler does state that iPads and video recording isn’t allowed.  People ignored that rule.

The sax player was badass, too.  He was so good… especially on “Your Latest Trick”, which is one of my favorite Dire Straits songs.


I loved that Mark Knopfler was showing off the band and obviously really appreciating what they can do.  I also liked that he shared a couple of personal stories about the songs he played… just a sampling of his amazing catalog of Dire Straits and solo efforts.  I’d been wanting to see him for years and this show was worth the wait. 


Security was mostly very good at this show.  I noticed a lot of them sitting on the floor, making sure no one misbehaved or sneaked into areas they shouldn’t be.  This was how it went until the very end of the concert, when a huge swath of people suddenly surged to the stage.  Everyone was forced to stand up.  I can deal with that and expect it… but not this.

This barefoot tall twit got up on her chair…

and started dancing while filming… and I couldn’t help but hope she fell into an open manhole on her way home…  Seriously, I was really pissed.  She could have fallen and hurt someone (namely me), plus who can see when people do this shit?  It’s just very inconsiderate and potentially dangerous behavior.  I was half tempted to yank her chair out from under her.  But while I may fume a lot, I have pretty good control of my physical impulses.

 After the show, Bill was unsuccessful in getting a cab.  We ended up walking all the way back to the hotel.  I was really pissed about that, too, since I wasn’t wearing the best shoes for walking.  My feet were burning and I was still really incensed about the idiot in front of us at the concert.  As a consolation, Bill suggested we go to the bar for a nightcap.  So we did…  We sat down at the bar.  I was still in a crappy mood.  The bartender suggested gin and tonics.  I looked up and…

“Don’t look now, but that’s Mark Knopfler’s band…”

Apparently, they decided to stay at the Steigenberger, too.  I was tempted to tell them how much we enjoyed the show, but decided not to approach them.  They worked hard and deserved a break without someone bothering them.  So we sat there and sipped our gin and tonics…  then…

Mark Knopfler himself showed up.  He sat in the back of the bar and did not call attention to himself. He passed right by me on his way to the elevator after spending about forty five minutes in there, hanging out with his band.  They appeared to be a tight, friendly group.


I said goodnight to one of the vocalists, who said he was on his way out to party.  It was very surreal. Apparently, that hotel gets its share of star guests.  As we were leaving, another well known rock star– Sting– was in the sauna taking a day off from his European tour, even though the star in the sauna hadn’t played there.  I guess he decided to stop in Leipzig precisely for that reason.  This sauna loving rock star is one I saw in Stuttgart a few years ago and has himself appeared on one of Dire Straits’ biggest hits.

Once again… special thanks to my dear husband, Bill, for making this dream come true.  One of the very first albums I ever owned was Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits.  I had it on cassette and used to listen to it on my Walkman as I rode my bike to and from the barn where I boarded my horse back when I was a teenager.  It’s an excellent album regardless, but I have some great memories of it thanks to the association I have of listening to it during my horsey days.  I miss them so much now.


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