This photo was taken in downtown Dresden, in the newer part of the city on the train station side of the river. It was a warm and sunny day in Saxony and the scene around the public fountains was either ecstatic play as with these chaps, or chilled sunbaking on the benches flanking the long, rectangular water features. I was on my way back to England after five days spent in Prague, having done what I so often did – booked a Ryan Air ticket into one place and out another – in this case, flying out of Altenburg. This was just a pit-stop in Dresden to have a quick look around, before getting on a train to Leipzig. Indeed, it was this very day on which I coined one of my favourite travelling caveats – “Remember Leipzig.”
Why remember Leipzig? Because I arrived there at 1800 that evening, with the expectation that finding a hotel, as with anywhere in Europe, would be a doddle. It was not. I walked around town for four and a half hours, although not all of this time was dedicated to finding a hotel, it was also a quest to find an ATM I could use. It wasn’t so much that the hotels were too pricey or didn’t have rooms, but rather, there only seemed to be about three in town, and this problem was exacerbated by the fact that Germany was, at that very time, hosting the World Cup.
I did finally find a hotel at around 2030, after walking a considerable distance from the centre, but they didn’t take credit cards, completely messed up the exchange rate when I offered pounds, and wouldn’t let me check in until I paid cash. Therefore, I had to spend the next two hours trying to find an ATM, which involved walking all the way back into town twice – since every ATM in the area seemed only to work with German bankcards. Not much of a soccer enthusiast, I had however, been looking forward to having a few drinks that evening and watching the Portugal v. France semi final, but this was not to be. By the time I got some money and into my hotel room, it was already 2230 and the game was nearly finished. That, however, didn’t stop me from drinking all night with some 60s acid-casualty Californian whose name was officially One Zero Six Nine, whom I met at a bar whilst catching the last few moments of the football.
Remember Leipzig! Don’t ever arrive anywhere without either plenty of cash in your pocket, a reservation, a guidebook or a reliable recommendation. You’d think you can just wing it in Europe, but not always. As to this photograph, I loved the mischievous look of fun on the young bloke’s face as he stands poised to kick or throw the ball. I’ve never been sure whether or not he saw me taking the shot, and whether or not it’s the camera he’s looking at here. I think, however, that he is just looking at his mate with a sense of cheeky anticipation. On a rather random tangent, he’s always reminded me of a happy version of Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.