Gaile's Trip Report – GWFC Day #1
23 August 2006
The journey to Leipzig was, for me, a winding one. I flew into Amsterdam nearly two weeks ago, and from there fulfilled a lifelong wish to take a cruise of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers in Germany. The cruise was a lovely experience, leisurely passing imposing castles such as Burg Rheinstein and Schönburg, the neighboring castles, Burg Katz and Burg Maus (I kid you not!) and viewing such historic spots as the ruined bridge at Remagen and the Lorelei Rock, upon which sailors were said to dash their boats as they listened to the enchanting voice of the siren.
Ambience to love, scenery not to be believed, the only drawback was the food. Not that it wasn't well done. Not that it wasn't expertly presented. But when on Day 4 they put a menu in front of me with venison with chocolate sauce, all I could do was dream of a nice pizza. (And upon completing the cruise, it's a sad truth that I had pizza for three days straight, as I tried to remove the last vestige of "gourmet" from my vocabulary. :)
Today's train trip involved a start in Heidelberg, a connection in Frankfurt, and a longer train ride into Leipzig. The ICE trains in Germany—indeed all German transportation I've experienced—are a model of efficiency and timeliness. The trains leave when scheduled, arrive with planned, and you can set a watch by their comings and goings.
Speaking of watches, I did get down into Switzerland after the Rhine/Moselle cruise. Lucerne is a nice as I remembered it from my childhood. But my favorites of the trip were two towns that I visited for the first time: Bernkastel-Kues on the Moselle and Rüdesheim on the Rhine. Both are utterly iconic of wonderful Germany in my mind, and because they escaped the devastation of the World Wars, they are "old world" in character and appearance. I left both with a tinge of sadness, and cannot wait to return.
Leipzig is a city that has had its share of joy and of sadness. Historic home to an amazing group of artists, including Bach, Goethe, Mendelssohn, Wagner, and many others, the residents take a natural pride in their past. Recently, they were one of the host cities for the 2006 World Cup. But there is a dark side to history, too, in that Leipzig was reduced nearly to powder during WW II, and after that, of course, the entire region of Saxony experienced the privations suffered by all the Eastern Bloc nations. Damaged or destroyed structures were hurriedly replaced with non-ornamental (though functional) buildings that paid poor homage to a noble history. Yet many historic structures still abound; we will see them during tomorrow's city tour, I'm sure. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain and the reunification of Germany—something in which Leipzig residents played a pivotal role—the entire region has seen a rebirth, and the city and region are booming.
Leipzig is home to one of the largest convention facilities in the world, which is where the Games Convention takes place. Ah, yes, that's why I came to Germany! The NCsoft booth is stunning; definitely a stand-out on the busy show floor. It is decorated completely in a Guild Wars theme, and the staging of the various game elements and the lighted images of the characters inspire ooh's and ahh's of appreciation by passersby. We'll be posting images from the booth so that you can enjoy the whole look and feel of the show.
Mike O'Brien and Jeff Strain have already been interviewed several times today, the private early-entry day for trade and press. Tomorrow, the show opens to the general public, and I am really looking forward to meeting the players and watching the expressions on their faces when they get their first look at Nightfall! I hope that a bunch will come to the special day that we have planned for the community on Sunday, too!
Tonight we enjoyed a dinner at the Ratskeller in the heart of the city, just a few blocks from Thomaskirche, one of the most historic buildings in all of Leipzig, perhaps in all of Germany. At the dinner, hungry guild members and guests enjoyed an extensive buffet, and while a few diners were starting to feel the jet lag kick in around dessert time, it appeared that others were heading out to see a bit of the town before they slept. Hopefully everyone will be sure to rest up, for we have an 8:00 bus to the convention center, and the matches begin at 11:00.
We'll be sharing battle reports, interviews, and other war-related articles for you on a daily basis during the show, and I'll keep you up to date on the Leipzig experience from the Community side, too.
Until later: Auf Wiedersehen!