Go East

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Leipzig’s Skyline, photo: Leizpig Tourismus

I should really be sleeping now instead of writing this. But a) I have to wait for my laundry to be done and b) I can’t fall asleep anyway. I know that. It’s been going on for weeks.

Tomorrow I have to leave the house at shortly after 5 a.m. Maybe I won’t go to sleep at all? And perhaps I will survive anyway (even though I’ve learned there is such a thing as co-morbid insomnia and I am not even too surprised.) because adrenalin will keep me awake. Why? Because I am flying to Leipzig tomorrow! It’s a business trip and I’ll look at lots of locations but I am still psyched because I have been wanting to go to Leipzig for many years. Leipzig is the ‘other city’ (besides beautiful Dresden) in the East, it’s the ‘new Berlin’ and it’s where the Fall of the Wall started with the Peaceful Revolution.

It is a university city and a city of commerce, the largest city in the state of Saxony and home to one of the most important book fairs. It’s more than a thousand years old, Bach was active in Leipzig for many years, leading the Thomaner Choir , an internationally renowed boys’ choir from Leipzig that has been around for 800 years. Eight-hundred years. Switzerland hasn’t even been a country for 800 years! That choir also produced the famous German band Die Prinzen that my generation grew up with (Du musst ein Schwein sein, anyone? Ich wär so gerne Millionär, remember? Küssen verboten, huh? Or Alles nur geklaut?)

Leipzig is young, old and different, they say. I am looking forward.

Neues Messegelände - Glashalle am Abend

Leipzig’s trade fair – so cool! photo: Leipzig Tourismus

Mountain + Lake = Awesome

Zürich Lake

Zürich Lake

In Switzerland, it seems that everything is a little finer. The chocolate is more exquisite, the seats in the waiting lounge are more comfortable, the staff is more courteous. The landscape is awe-inspiring and the linguistic confusion is almost complete. I like you, Switzerland.

This Easter weekend I got to spend with my dear friend Michelle who recently moved to Konstanz at Lake Constance. You have to imagine that I basically never see mountains let alone mountains plus magnificent lake so I was rather impressed. I was even more psyched about the border crossing any inhabitant of Konstanz very naturally does. Michelle picked me up by bike at the station and then we just went to Switzerland. Within five minutes. Outside of the EU. The last time that happened must have been ten years ago when I went to the U.S..

It was also the first time I went to Switzerland (people stare at me in disbelief when I tell them that). The last day I spent in Zürich and going there, we were actually stopped and checked for our passport. Somehow the feeling of showing your identity card to board a plane to Sweden feels much different than three armed border control people stopping your bus.

In Zürich where I met with my former co-worker from Stockholm, I experienced a feeling of schizophrenic alienage. The conflicting information “Great, I am still within a German-language area”, “But when they talk I am lost”, “These people give me foreigner looks”, “But now she is speaking understandable German again” confused my brain. It is most amazing to speak your mother tongue while at the same time being so very clearly identified as a foreigner.

Zürich main station art

Zürich main station art

Also, Swiss prices. So I know it is expensive. My friends tell me they don’t do grocery shopping in Switzerland even though they live there. But it is a different thing when you are standing in front of a shop that seriously wants to charge five euros for a bretzel. Five euros. After I had learned that a normal waitress makes 4200 euros a month, I do understand how that works but I still wonder why Switzerland is so off with its monetary dimensions compared to the neighbouring countries. I am positive there is an economic explanation for that and you are welcome to give those in the comment field, thank you.

Only Liechtenstein where you pay 20 euros for four postcards, can compete. Speaking of that little beauty patch that I hold so dear (ever since I made up a ridiculous but extremely convincing story in Uppsala about how I was from Liechtentein), I finally got to go there. It was raining cats and dogs. The people were unfriendly. There was almost nothing to see. But I still was delighted. Few things fascinate me as much as microstates. I also bought a sticker with the Liechtenstein colors saying “Gott – Fürst – Vaterland”(God –Prince – Fatherland) which seems to be the national motto. In one of the churches in the capital Vaduz (there is not only one town! There is also Schaan. Like, right next to Vaduz.), they have a book with a list for each day of the year. The list states those who have died in the parish and it even though it goes back to the 1800s, there are never more than six names on it. Only in Liechtenstein.

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In the Liechtenstein parliament, you ring ring everyone's bell

In the Liechtenstein parliament, you ring ring everyone’s bell

Liechtenstein Government Quarters

Liechtenstein Government Quarters. The little house in the background is the parliament.

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Me and the former prince and princess of Liechtenstein

Me and the former prince and princess of Liechtenstein

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In Liechtenstein, women are allowed to vote since 1984.

In Liechtenstein, women are allowed to vote since 1984.