“It never rains in Halle an Der Saale” scans almost as well as “it never rains in southern California“, but what would one rhyme Saale with? Impala? Trouble is there are no African antelope in this part of the former East Germany, to the best of my knowledge. It turned out, however, that this impressive city would be just the place for us to visit next because it is often dry when the rest of that part of Germany is wet (as was forecast), and Vroni can’t play her piano in the streets when it is raining. Another reason to go there was that a friend of Vroni’s had kindly offered us the use of his spacious flat – he and his family were away on holiday.
It was almost 10 p.m. when we arrived and Vroni retrieved the key from a friendly but apparently very under-dressed neighbour (almost naked, I was told). Although we were tired, Vroni was keen to meet her friends in a nearby bar, and I soon found myself in very warm company in the charming Alten Postamt, where I met a tall air hostess who seemed strangely immobile but was an excellent listener. Much beer was consumed.
The next day Vroni played in the busy main square, moving into a nearby pedestrianised street when the market packed up. She positioned her piano in front of a fountain next to church, and was received by the good burghers of Halle with as much warmth and enthusiasm as I’d seen anywhere.
After this one of Vroni’s various friendly and talented friends showed us his furniture-making workshop. I was impressed not only by the interior of the shop itself, but also by the abstract patterns formed by the variously shaped and coloured pieces of wood hanging on a wall outside it.
That evening we were invited to a friend’s flat for a meal. We eventually had to tear ourselves away from what turned into very convivial soirée (at which some stunning pictures of a trek in the Himalayas were shown), as we planned to get away early the next morning for the long drive to Copenhagen. Halle, goodbye! (Hmm – that’s almost another lyric, isn’t it?)