I quickly realized in Germany that there is a balance between capturing the moments I want to keep and viewing the world through a camera lens. When I had my camera, I was tempted to take pictures of everything and anything. I wanted a hard copy of every memory, from the mundane mornings to the exciting evenings. It quickly proved to be unsustainable behavior if I also wanted to absorb the culture and fully enjoy myself, so I relented and saved my big camera for more special occasions. These are a few of my favorite moments.
One of the many things I loved about Leipzig was the frequency of festivals in the downtown area. We first arrived just in time for Stadt Fest, which celebrated the 1000th year since the first documented mention of Leipzig. Every night there were outdoor concerts and food carts. What more could a girl want? Later during the trip, we also got to celebrate WeinFest and Sommerfest in Leipzig. During WeinFest, a live band played a hilariously horrendous cover of Oasis’ “Wonderwall” while young Leipzigers sipped Chardonnay and talked politics. The main square was flooded and made into a home for giant rubber ducks during Sommerfest. Naturally, Sarah and I had a few glasses of wine and went swimming one evening.
Though I had the pleasure of hearing lots of live music in Germany, my two favorite concerts were Alabama Shakes and Lindsey Sterling. Alabama Shakes’ new album, Sound and Color, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. They draw massive crowds anywhere in the United States, but we got to see them with a few hundred people at a tiny venue in Leipzig. We were front row, and even got to hang out with the band after the show. They were happy to meet some other native English speakers, so we talked about traveling and language while riding the performance buzz late into the night. The Lindsey Sterling concert was in Berlin. Sarah and I decided to go last minute with Mitch and his girlfriend Lindsey. Lindsey Sterling is a dynamic violinist who put on one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Shortly into the concert, it started pouring rain. The cold drops on the hot summer day electrified the crowd and soon everyone was dancing in the storm.
Amsterdam and Prague
I took weekend trips to Amsterdam and Prague with Maureen. Quick on her feet but also wild and energetic, Maureen was an excellent travel companion. We watched the sun set over the canals in Amsterdam while sipping champagne and sharing a joint with some other tourists. At night we explored the red light district, and found ourselves simultaneously disgusted and entranced by the nonchalant sex and drug industries. The dead-eyed prostitutes beckoned stumbling men to their windows while police casually strolled by a group of dreadlocked teens practicing smoke tricks. It was a celebration of vices. We took some time for reflection the next morning when we stood in line for two hours and finally got to tour Anne Frank’s house. Everything about her story took my breath away, and I walked away feeling more connected to the city’s gruesome history. Prague was a weekend-long party. We decided that with our limited time we should do all the most touristy things, so we went on a bar crawl that took us to the legendary five-story club. Each story featured a different decade of music. We mainly stuck to the oldies floor and danced to “It’s Raining Men” and The Mamma Mia soundtrack with some gay guys. The Ice Bar in Prague was another tourist trap that we simply needed to see. Most of the people we met in Prague were also travelers, so we ended up making some great new friends and lasting memories.