Thursday, 30 July 2015

Ein Tag in Leipzig

Oh Leipzig, I'd heard so many things about you. You're supposed to be the new Berlin, because, y'know, Berlin is so over. (This is said with heavy sarcasm. If you think questions like these concern me, you are reading the wrong blog.)

Believe it or not, this was my first excursion into wider Germany since moving to Berlin. This marks a sense of stability for the first time since living here: before, I guess I just didn't travel due to being in a precarious money situation, or simply working too much and not having the time. But my friend Simon was visiting from Amsterdam and we wanted to do something spontaneous.

Bus tickets cost a whopping 8€ each way (and on a Saturday!) with MeinFernbus. It took about two hours to get there. I slept for most of the way, but in my waking moments, it was indeed nice to see a bit of countryside. We hadn't actually made any plans about what we were going to see or do in Leipzig - this was also kind of nice, not to be rushed.

First stop was the Nikolaikirche, which is basically just a walk up the hill from the bus stop. It's famous for being where the Monday Demonstrations took place in 1989, starting the Peaceful Revolution in the GDR.

The interior of the Nikolaikirche is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen in any church - I was particularly into the pastel nave detail.


After having coffee and cake at the nearby Veganz and being disappointed at how little visitor information was available at the main train station, we decided not to buy any tram tickets and to instead just wander around. We couldn't have done this without investing in a small map, though. Walking around the city centre, it was pretty easy to find classic monuments such as the Thomaskirche, where Bach is buried.

The museum in the former Stasi HQ was a great accidental find. It was one of the strongest museums I've been to: very DIY, very critical of the regime, amazing contemporary artefacts, just brilliant. I still wonder almost every day that it is such recent history, yet feels so dated when you look at photographs.

Afterwards, we continued our walk into Lindenau, which my friend Fiona had described as a more chilled Prenzlauer Berg. It was astonishing how quiet the streets were. In fact, they were almost deserted. For a while, it looked very leafy - almost suburban - before eventually descending into an area where people were sitting outside having drinks. Still, a lot of the stores seemed to be very closed, but I don't know whether I'm just too spoilt by Berlin opening hours.

For lunch we went to the Vleischerei, where I had a seitan burger, fries and Rhabarberschorle (which has become my very favourite German drink).

We did find a nice second-hand store where I bought some shoes and sunglasses, which was right opposite vegan café süß + salzig, as per Fiona's recommendation, but didn't go in as we had just eaten. I'm keeping it in mind for next time though!
This part of the city reminded me a little bit of Graz, Austria - I guess it was the "German-looking" buildings and the burgeoning alternative/DIY scene.

Finally, something I enjoyed about Leipzig and the surrounding region was the jagged place names. See above: Zschochersch?! To my relief, when I asked a local for directions, even she couldn't get her tongue around this name. On road signs, I spotted Delitzsch, Zwochau... a penchant for the letter "Z". Is this a relic from some extinct Saxon tongue?

It was a good day. I hope this will be the first of many trips I make to Leipzig!