The parking catastrophe

If there’s one thing about Leipzig that annoys my dear husband Craig, it is the constant battle with parking. Leipzigers seem to park anywhere they please, without regard for others. I surmise that this is because parking tickets are so cheap, so the people risk the fees and angering other residence to park their cars in a place that is convenient only to them.

I’m taking about cars parked on sidewalks, cars parked in Craig’s assigned spot in the lot, but worst of all – the one that gets Craig’s blood boiling – cars parked in front of our entrance gate.

Recently, as Craig was coming back from hockey practice, a car was yet again parked in front of our entrance. Despite there being a sign stating no parking, this seems to happen about once or twice per week. It was late, and Craig was tired and angry.

ParkingProblem

There’s no possible way in!

Sign

How could it be more clear??? Translation: Keep clear, exit used day and night.

So Craig sat in his car, outside the entrance, and did what anyone would do in this situation and called the cops…the German-speaking cops.

Craig looked up the phone number for non-emergencies and gave them a call. The conversation went something like this:

Craig: “Hallo. Ich habe ein Problem. Jemand hat in meinem Parkplatz geparkt.” (Hello, I have a problem. Someone has parked in my space.)

Police officer: (Fast, incomprehensible German)

Craig, guessing at what to say next: “Ich wohne auf …” (I live …)

Police officer: “Weiderholen die Adresse bitte.” (Repeat the address please.)

Craig: “Ich wohne auf …” (I live …)

Police officer: “Bitte warten Sie ein Moment.” (Please wait a moment.)

Police officer #2: (Fast, incomprehensible German)

Craig: “Wie bitte?” (Come again, please?)

Police officer #2: (Fast, incomprehensible German)

Craig: “Es tut mir leid. Ich verstehe nicht. Meine Adresse ist …” (I’m sorry, I do not understand. My address is …)

Police officer #2: Lets out an exasperated sigh and then hangs up the phone!

In the end, since the call to police was unsuccessful, Craig had to wait 30 minutes outside the apartment until the inconsiderate ass finally returned to his car and moved it. Needless to say, when Craig got into the apartment, he was exhausted, frustrated, and harboring a new resentment for life in Germany.

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When Legida hits close to home

For over a year now, a far-right political group originating in nearby Dresden have been organizing protests against immigration, Islam, and other policies that, in their view, cause detriment to the German people. The group is called PEGIDA (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes, or “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West”). Though they started as a small group, their numbers steadily increased, at one point boasting over 20,000 participants at their weekly protests.

The protests spread beyond Dresden to neighboring cities in eastern Germany, including here in Leipzig. Starting even before the immigration crisis became a popular topic of conversation, the Leipzig PEGIDA branch, LEGIDA, was shutting down the city center every Monday night for protests. More recently, the protests have slowed to only the first Monday of every month. Luckily, most of the demonstrations have been relatively calm, with only a few arrests. However, there have been issues in the past with rioting and stone throwing both with this group and the counter-protests against them.

We have mostly been able to avoid the demonstrations by staying away from the city center on demonstration days, since we live 10 minutes away by foot. However, this past week’s demonstrations hit a bit too close to home for comfort. As we were commuting home, we saw hundreds of police cars gathered around neighboring Westplatz in preparation for the demonstrations. After we sat down to dinner, Craig glanced out our back windows and noticed some commotion. In the enclosed courtyard behind our apartment, there were dozens of German policemen in SWAT outfits corralling Legida protesters.

Legida

Legida protesters surrounded by Leipzig police in SWAT gear

While I was happy to see that the Leipzig police were prepared for the demonstrations and kept the protesters under control, it’s a scary thought that these protesters were right outside our window, especially knowing the damage they are capable of. It’s also upsetting to see these bigots shutting down large parts of the city and commandeering city resources on a regular basis. Thankfully the group is now only gathering once a month, which I’m sure relieves a large burden from the citizens and the city, but personally I’ll be happier and feel much safer when the number of monthly protests reaches zero.


Have the Legida protests interrupted your life in Leipzig? Share in the comments. 

That time my husband and I became football hooligans at the RB Leipzig game!

This past weekend Craig and I attended our first professional sporting event in Leipzig – a soccer (football) game! We watched the Leipzig Red Bulls (sponsored by Red Bull) take on the Duisburg Zebras!

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This was my first time ever attending a soccer game, and I didn’t know what to expect. Unlike many sporting events I’ve attended, the crowds were roaring the WHOLE time! Not a moment was silent as the Leipzig cheering section waved their flags, sang their songs, and performed coordinated crowd dances. Honestly, watching the cheers was just as entertaining, if not more entertaining, than the game itself.

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Speedy Craigzales

I’ve been in Leipzig for just over a month now, and I was sincerely hoping I’d have some of my own blunders to share with you, but unfortunately nothing all that exciting or embarrassing has happened to me yet. Luckily, even though Craig has been in the country for a few months now, he’s still managing to experience some quandaries.

A couple weeks ago Craig received a little something special in the mail from the German government… Craig Ticket…a speeding ticket!

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The new guy at the office

Craig is working at the Heart Institute in Leipzig and has an office located across the street. It’s not a typical office building, but actually a rented apartment space that has been converted to an office. In his first week in Leipzig, he was working in the “office” alone when there was a knock on the door. He answered the door and was greeted by a German man who started rambling on in German before Craig interrupted him with a “Sprechen Sie Englisch, bitte?” The man shook his head no, and asked for Katrin (Craig’s co-worker). Katrin wasn’t there unfortunately, and after a few more attempts to get his point across, the man, obviously frustrated, held up his hand and said, “fünf Minuten, fünf Minuten.” Craig closed the door slowly as the man walked away, very confused about what just happened.

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