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Kaiserslautern: Americans will feel at home in German shopping center

Going to the mall is a quintessential American experience that you can’t have in Kaiserslautern, where shopping indoors feels more like wandering around Walmart, courtesy of Globus and real.

But there’s a new mall open less than an hour’s drive from Kaiserslautern on the autobahn — or a ride on a Deutsches Bahn train — that will satisfy most mall rats’ shopping itches.

The Europa Galerie, a modern shopping mall in Saarbrücken, the capital city of neighboring Saarland state, opened in October. With 110 stores spread over three floors, Europa Galerie is spacious but modest by American standards: There are no gigantic department stores or indoor roller coasters (think Mall of America).

But unlike typical American strip malls, Europa Galerie has character. The mall’s facade looks more like a European art gallery, reflecting the building’s 19th-century history as the former home of the directorate of a Saarbrücken mining complex.

The mall’s manager, Serge Micarelli, said the concept of the Europa Galerie is to combine past and future, shown in the architecture of the building and throughout the gallery in individual shops. As an example, he mentions the Café Lux, where a modern-styled interior meets the classical cafe-and-cake tradition.

A plethora of cafes, including a Starbucks, with an array of espresso drinks and small meals is one of the galerie’s draws. A champagne bar with couches decked with shaggy lavender pillows sits out in the open on one floor. There’s also a milkshake bar.

Clothing stores dominate the Galerie shopping scene, with 28 in all. Many are the familiar staples of German downtown shopping districts, such as H&M, Vero Moda, Street One, Espirit and s.Oliver.

A few stores offer some unique fare, such as Wajos Essig and Öle. Vats of a variety of cooking oils, from lemongrass to sesame, and liquors, such as cappuccino cream and dark whiskey orange chocolate, beckon from the shelves. Customers can purchase small glass bottles with cork tops to fill with the gourmet items on display.

Another store is devoted entirely to tea from around the world. There’s oolong from Thailand, Japanese cherry from China and rooibos from South Africa. Flavors range from the exotic, such as red chili chai, to the unusual, such as cocoa bananas.

If the Europa Galerie doesn’t provide enough shopping for one day, just step out the door onto the Bahnhofstrasse, which has even more shops.

svanj@estripes.osd.mil ; kloecknerm@estripes.osd.mil

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