úterý 26. května 2009

Leon de Baviera - Isle of German culture in Cartagena

On saturday, 23rd May, we have visited famous local bar called "Leon de Baviera" (i.e. "Bavarian Lion", or "Der Bavarische Löwe"). This bar was founded and has since been run by a German (as the name suggests). It won a mention in lonely planet (http://www.lonelyplanet.com/colombia/caribbean-coast/cartagena/entertainment-nightlife/454745) and it has a facebook group.

What may be surprising for a Czech is that, in this particular situation, the clear singularity and strong difference of German culture in predominantly Latino environment turns such a venue into something "in", "cool" and "posh". Therefor it became a hangout for "smart" Cartageneros, who have money to spend on beer in prices that would be rendered hardly acceptable in beer relishing Germany. Secondary, the place becomes natural focus point for Germans and, sometimes, other Europeans, hence becoming somewhat of a German cultural embassy along with the "Casa Colombo Aleman" perhaps.

As many AIESECers study German language, they happen to come here as well at times, also in order to enjoy the different culture and great rock music playlists. But, if one can afford it, one can also purchase "true" German beer (Erdinger in first place) and some samples of food, like pretzel, but also wurst and other,more refined delicacies. The beer, offcourse, is tapped, and served in typical beerglasses, which otherwise can`t be seen here too often.

The reason for our visit laid within the fact that there was a "Beer fest" announced for saturday, which stirred curiosity. So after (an interesting) AIESEC meeting we met there at cca 10pm. The place was already getting crowded and we joined our friend Eduardo and his company at one of the last available tables. There were waitresses in German folk costumes ( its kind of funny to see dark Latino girls in fluffy skirts and tops with corsets and open decolts:). There was even a waiter "mit Lederhose", i.e. leather shorts,who looked like having arrived straight from some village in the Alps.

During the evening we consumed only a few beers, and besides that Colombian of brands, as the prices of German brands are unsupportable for students. But, it was well worth sipping one´s beer slowly and even letting it become warm in order to observe the vivid and different atmosphere of the place. There were competitons, that periodically drew attention of the visiting public. Again, this was something completely out of the general "latino" culture concept, as these competition included "speed drinking" of 1 liter of beer and holding a 1 liter of beer in one´s extended arm, and it was really amusing to see Spanish and Colombian men and women competing in these with great effort and pleasure.
There were also two large screens projecting old-school rock videoclips, going as far back as Elvis Presley, Beatles and the Doors, but not leaving out "harder" genres as Led Zeppelin (whole lotta love), AC/DC, The Clash (Should I stay or should I go) and Steppenwolf, and mixing them with perfectly recent stuff like "The Killers" and "The Calling" (Personally thanks to this I have experienced somewhat a revival of interest in rock music, as I had often listened to these performers before I turned 19 and scarcely ever after).

Altogether, these things brought the atmosphere somewhat closer to a true German Bierfest, as far as the limited conditions of a small bar permitted, even thought it was far from being weird mass event as the one I have experienced in unnamed former US Army base in Germany in 2000. And altogether, all this amounted to a truly wonderfull evening.

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