We arrived in Chemnitz on Sunday. This is not a good time to arrive here. Everything is closed on Sundays. Not knowing where tourist Info was (other than it being close to Downtown) we started walking. Past some fantastic old buildings and the church, theatre, and some very expensive hotels.
On making it to the main square, we found that there was a large food market happening. There were wine stalls, sausage stalls and plenty of beer stalls. Summer in Europe is something. Every town seems to be doing things. The Rathouse (Town Hall) is a majestic building that is right on the square. Old and gothic. It is about the only good thing you can say about downtown though. The rest of it is glass monstrosity. Modern buildings that probably looked dated the day they were opened. This is a bit disappointing, as when the wall fell there was a lot of money put into the east, and Chemnitz apparently won awards for how it had developed the area. You can see that they have tried, it just isnt to our taste. There are not that many ould buildings here as most were destroyed during the war, and god knows what happened under the DDR.
Tourist Info was closed (Sunday) and only had a small map on the window of a few hotels. Most of which we had passed on the way in. Looking for accommodation then was not an option today, as we had our bags and no idea on where to go. As Chemnitz doesn’t get the tourists, there is no over abundance of cheap hotels on every street. We ended up going into the Mercure hotel to ask what they charged, and if there was a cheaper one nearby. It turns out they are quite reasonable. 66 Euro a night. Done! They even provided us with a map of the city region.
Feeling a bit better, as we now had a place to dump our bags, we settled down to enjoy the view from our 21st floor window. You could see a long way west of the city. The city seems quite dispersed. Plenty of greenery, and lots of built up streets. It was a good view. Picking out a few landmarks to help us navigate around the city (a brightly coloured smokestack that over a month later, we still dont know what it is for!) The church on the hill, which is the only part of the original castle still standing, and the main park close to the city centre. This should be enough, along with the map to start seeing the city.
We had the catalogue of the buildings going up for Auction in a months time, and set out to have a look at our short list. We had selected three or possibly four that we wanted to look at. These ranged in opening price from 3000 euro up to 22000 euro (more on this later!)
Going for a walk in the city was like walking through a ghost town with people. It did not feel like a city. There was hardly any traffic, few people out and about and very quite. This is due to it being Sunday. The city did liven up a bit the next day. Chemnitz is easy to find your way around. There are a few big arterial roads, with suburbs coming off them.
One of the things we noticed first was the amount of older people about. Chemnitz has the lowest birthrate in the world, and an aging population. This then should not be unexpected. However there were still people with prams about, and the longer we stay here, the more we see young people and families. The second thing was the amount of dilapidated buildings there are in the city. Every street seems to have a couple. If not entire streets. This explains why there are such cheap buildings to be had. They are everywhere!
The ones that have been done up vary in quality. Some have had all decorations removed (If they had any) and look like plain square buildings. Others have had a fortune spent on them. The decorations fixed or replaced, immaculate details in the facade restored, and widened walk-through so that you can park out the back of the buildings. The funny thing is that you can see every level on one street. Places with the roofs collapsing next door to a building that has had millions spent on it. But hey. Thats why we are here. To save one of these turn of the 20th century buildings from being demolished, and find it a new future. Still, it is going to be tricky, as we are seeing a good 20-25% vacancy rate in all buildings. Just going off whether a unit has curtains or plants in the windows. Very scientific.
Still. We have a month until the Auction so we had better get cracking. More about that in a different topic. This is just Chemnitz!
Over the next few days we needed to find better long term accommodation, as we would be here a while. Walking around we found more hotels, and asking in them, we got the daily rate down to about 50 euro, but that is still more than our daily budget. Monthly rates were not that much better. That night we asked at the Mercure, and jumped when they said 600 a month. Perfect. However, she had to call her manager over to make sure, and it turned out to be 850. Pretty good as far as we knew, but we wanted better. It also turned out that the rate for tonight would be 88 euro?!? Apparently they charge on how full they are. New accommodation was now needed. We walked up to a pension we had visited earlier, and booked in for a few nights. During this time we got online and started looking for accommodation. We found some furnished apartments that were a pretty good price, and on ringing them, found out they were booked until the tenth.
Then we found a place at the University. 150Euro a month to stay on campus! We would be students again! Organising everything with Jose. An Indian studying here but going home for holidays. We could rent his room for the time we are here. It is a basic room. about 18m2 with a single bed, shared toilet with the rest of the floor (35 rooms) and showers. Still, we don’t need much, so it would do us. The big point was that it is only 150. More beer money (Well it turns out that although german beer is cheap, you can get 700ml corn vodka for about 5 euro and 1.5L wine for 2! Stuff the beer!) So that is our accommodation sorted. A quick shopping trip for another mattress, kettle and cooking gear and we are set. Still here to. A bit sick of the people that slam their doors every time they go in and out (Usually between 2-4am when they come home drunk) as the hallways are not soundproofed and the noises are amplified. Sharing the bathroom leaves a lot to be desired as well, but hey. I had forgotten what it was like at Uni, so needed reminding!