Germany 2009

Leipzig, The Stasi Museum & A Faulty Alternator – Germany 2009

Continuing to head east, our next stop was Leipzig – specifically the Stasi Museum, which is situated in the former headquarters of the notorious East German secret police force.

Strange pyramid seen by the road en-route to Leipzig
Strange pyramid seen by the road en-route to Leipzig

By luck or good judgement, we navigated our way to the centre of the city, within an easy walk of both the museum and the city centre. Our luck then doubled, as we found an on-street parking space that was free (it was Sunday morning – not sure how lucky you would be during the week).

Having parked, we ambled off to enjoy the sights. First stop was the museum. All the information about the exhibits is in German but the sinister nature of the surveillance and the dated nature of much of the technology that was in use needs little translation and highlights just what a divide had opened up between east and west by the mid-1980s. The photographs of the Monday Demonstrations that led towards German reunification are also worth a look. Well worth a visit if you are interested in 20th century European history…

Stasi Museum entrance, Leipzig
Former Stasi headquarters, Leipzig

After leaving the museum, we spent a couple of hours exploring the city centre and indulging ourselves in two very large milkshakes at one of the excellent cafes. We both really liked the centre of Leipzig – although the outskirts looked a bit run down when we drove into the city, it’s clear that a lot of money and effort has been put into regenerating the centre of the city, with considerable success.

Leipzig city centre
Leipzig city centre


Not really being big city people, we left Leipzig in the afternoon to head towards Meissen, our next stop (we wanted to visit the porcelain factory). The roads were quiet, the sun was out and we were making good progress when a small misfortune stuck –  a solidly illuminated battery light on the dashboard of our van…

Having checked for broken/missing belts and measured the voltage across the battery, I concluded that the alternator was not charging and was possibly knackered. Since we were only an hour or so away from our target Stellplatz and it was both Sunday and daylight, we decided that driving on was the best plan, with a view to finding a garage in Meissen   the next morning (Monday).

We arrived in Meissen without further incident, but were lucky that the day had been both dry and sunny – meaning no windscreen wipers or headlights were required. Had it been dark and wet, the battery would rapidly have gone flat and we might have had problems. A further stroke of luck was that we got electric hookup at the campsite – so I hooked the van’s starter battery up to my charger to ensure that it would get us going the next morning.

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