After a lot of stress and things going on – I’ve really been a hot mess for the past couple of weeks – I’ve finally gotten this post done! Part 2 of my Leipzig Travel Diary!! For part one click here! This was the day of my birthday this year, a very educational, eventful, hence a little exhausting day, that ended with a fun adventure and good food 🙂 Let me tell you the story of my birthday in Leipzig!
Even though it was my birthday, I got up super early. I wanted to see as much of the city as possible in one day, since we were leaving again the next day. But all that time I got up earlier didn’t get me much more time in the city, as the breakfast was much too relaxed to leave. Those two hours I got up earlier we spent eating, talking and enjoying the view!
The morning was just wonderful. With a full view over the city and a wonderful buffet we let the early morning begin veeeery slow. I got two books for my birthday, as well as the actual trip to Leipzig (all part of the present), which were/are for me the perfect gifts! (There are three areas where you can never go wrong with gifts for me; those are travel, books and sport… I’m so easy to get happy..)
And I was so happy being in Leipzig and the books were perfect as well! Memory Wall by Anthony Doerr (I read his Pulitzer prize-winning book All the light we can not see with great passion and huge interest. I highly recommend it. Now I’m curious about the other one!) and How to kill a mocking-bird by Harper Lee (I’ve always been interested in it, but haven’t gotten around to reading it, let alone buy or borrow it… now I have no further excuse but to read it!).
After breakfast we walked downtown, just like we did the night before. We started off with history (who might have suspected it otherwise) in the Nikolai Church and I was very pleasantly surprised! From the outside this church for me looked like any other very old roman church (which does in some way have its charm 🙂 ),
but when you walked into it, it blew you away. Literally. The inside is so full of ornaments, pink and green pastel colors and lots of white. Ornamented benches, multiple stories, absolutely going over board on the embellishments of the balcony.
I had to sit down and let my eyes rest. Even though I was being bombarded with what I thought paradox and extreme aesthetics, I kind of liked it. In fact, the more I sat there, the more I enjoyed it. What wonderful lesson did I learn from this building?
Never judge a thing from the outside!
Because the beauty of the inside could just blow you away!
(deep, I know ;-P)
But it really was beautiful. I sadly don’t have pictures to show you as I wasn’t allowed to take any, so you’ll have to take my word. Or go see yourself!
Another thing I found so fascinating about this church, was all the history that started there. The Reformation by Martin Luther, Bach’s career, the end of the GDR… If you’re curious to know more about the history I have a little summary here, just scroll down to Nikolai Church and learn something new today. 😉
After spending quite some time in there, we went on to walking through the passages. These are located down-town, starting right opposite the Nikolai Church. Once inside you come from one breathtaking sight to the next. In between the passages, there are lovely bookshops (and cute cafés) and it took me a lot of strength to not buy five books in the first hour I spent downtown Leipzig. So I distracted myself by taking photos of all the architectural beauty. When we came out of the passages, – you could have easily described them as a maze, we walked down the street where we landed after having lost our way inside. On this street, we saw a lot of seemingly paradox architecture. Let me show you.
On the one had you had the absolutely stunning café Riquet, which by the name made it sound french, but by the architecture looked like a mixture between something asian and Paris. (Or how would you describe it?) Just a couple of meters further down the street, there was a gigantic “hole” between two buildings. The big empty wall that was left, was used for street art, which I personally found absolutely amazing!
From there we went to look into Auerbachs Keller, where a scene of Goethe’s Faust plays, which is a play you work on so long and excessively in high school in Germany that you remember it for a long time after.
But we couldn’t get into the actual part where the scene is played, ’cause of course it is used as a tourist attraction for tourists who pay a lot of money just to see it. For us, we just had a short look into the restaurant and took some pictures from outside. I mean we were there. We were also in Auerbachs Keller. Just not in the actual room… the last part is not part of the official story;-P
After being there we walked a loop, going first over the giant place in front of the old city hall, then behind it, passing by this building..
and saying hi to the statue of Goethe himself. This is also the place where the Naschmarkt is, a lovely place for a snack and some coffee.
But since we had so much for breakfast we were still satisfied and therefore walked on into the giant, pompous shopping street, that starts right where the place of the old city hall stops. And this is exactly where this happened: My birthday in Leipzig got ruined by a Fraud! Well for the next couple of hours, yes. I wrote a whole post just on that story, so please have a read, it explains a lot of what happens next. I’m just going to go right onto what happened after that incident.
We all agreed on that calling the police wasn’t the best idea, as he was probably already so far away and gone that it was no use hunting him down. It still kinda bugged me. And it did the next couple of hours, because I couldn’t get over how unethical it is to use people who’ve had misfortune in their lives to fraud other people in order to make money.
In the back of my head I was still upset, but we decided to continue on with the day and not let it be ruined.
Make the best of it.
We invited the guy to join us for a while. So he did. For which turned out to be a very long time.
First thing we did was have a look at St. Thomas and the grave of Mr. Bach. For anyone unfamiliar with him, he’s a very, very famous composer of the 17th century Germany, who remains a huge celebrity even today! Come listen a bit to his music. These are not his absolutely most famous works, but I find them to be the most beautiful. Tell me in the comments what you think of them!!
The following melody of the song is actually the only thing I am able to play on the piano. I never learned piano, but I taught myself this, because I find it quite beautiful and the melody is probably the most known one by Bach.
In fact I play the violin (I’ve played for quite some time now and I really love it!), on which I’m able to play this piece as well. But the original version on the piano is more beautiful, as the bass notes just add that little something.
In St. Thomas we were fortunate enough to hear a wonderful choir practice.
We didn’t go into the Bach museum, as we wanted to see more of the city in the short amount of time we had. But we said we’ll come back to Leipzig and then we’ll go visit the museum. For my grandmother, as she’s a giant fan of Bach!
Walking along I couldn’t stop myself from taking pictures of
Beautiful flowers so unnoticed next to the sidewalk.
Our next stop was the new city hall. And was I taken aback by the size and splendor of this thing! It’s so abnormally huge and pompous… I just had to stop and stare. Take a look yourself.
By the way, if you want to know the historical background to everything I’ve seen in Leipzig, just click here! I have an absolutely gigantic post on everything you need/want/should know about the sites in Leipzig, plus I have tips for places to eat and things to do, when you choose to see Leipzig yourself!
Right when you cross the street diagonally you come to a lawn that has been installed there in the shape of waves.
This leads to the Bundesverwaltungsgericht, which we had a close look at from the outside and read all the descriptions and info on the boards standing outside. For me it also lead to a bit of running up and down the lawn waves. Just letting the child in me come out a bit;-) before the cultural education went on. Just by walking a bit on, taking streets right and left, we came by this church.
When you look at it you see, well this black gothic church and when you turn around on the spot, you see this.
Fascinating, isn’t it?
You see time pass just by turning around once.
From there we walked on through a bit more of the streets that looked like the old GDR streets. And they actual were the old GDR streets!! Who would’ve thought? We were flabbergasted when we found out! (okay that wasn’t funny…sorry…I just wanted to use the new word I learned – Flabbergasted is such a funny one.. oh boy, I am definitely not funny. My apologies.)
We took a turn left and with that we stood right in one of the most known streets of Leipzig. The KarLi. Find out why it’s called that way, here!
This was also happening…and I couldn’t help myself from taking a photo.
Opposite this there was a street market in the old buildings of the GDR “VEB Feinkost”.
The GDR was a communist state with a planned economy (five year plans!). All the parts of economy and industry were merged together in one for each aspect, which then were the “property of the people”, aka. the property of the state. These were called the VEB (Volkseigenerbetrieb). They existed for all kinds of things like a VEB for steel, one for agriculture and well one for Feinkost = delicacies, which is the one we saw (and you can see on the picture).
We walked along the shops, took a look in the back of a building and I was really pleasantly surprised!
The atmosphere was really relaxed and friendly. Perhaps even a bit exuberant. At the same time somewhat zen. With all the smoke and smell from the BBQ in the air, the scents from faraway african countries coming out of the shop at one of the sides of the square patio, happy children with ice cream smeared in their faces and hipsters sitting on the ground, in front of a brick wall, smoking and eating freshly made wraps… made it feel like..
..a really special atmosphere.
I stood there taking it in a bit, but the others urged to go on, so we did. A little further down the road we found an ice cream store, where we rested our strained feet for a moment and everyone had ice cream, except for me – I’m lactose intolerant.
We sat there for a while and talked about medical stuff, operations, rehab of severe health conditions. It was very interesting, but also made my stomach turn at some points. Good thing I didn’t have ice cream…
After we finished, the paths of us and the medical guy, from the incident with the fraud, separated. We said our goodbyes.
Then strained out feet again as we walked through now very pompous streets, in search of the park I’ve been wanting to see the whole day.
After some time we found it, but had absolutely no idea where we were at the moment and therefore decided to just first take some pictures, then walk on a bit.
After some time we found our way to the river and along we walked, watching kayak clubs pass us by, absorber in their training. We watched soccer fans pass by bellowing their club’s songs… well I think you get the picture 😉
When we came to a rather wide road, which separated the park, I had the brilliant idea of crossing a thing of my wild list on my birthday. (If you don’t remember or are new to my blog, it’s a list of very unconventional things I want to do, fun/weird/scary/little things that are not exactly the social norm.) This was the perfect moment to cross off the point
Get on a bus/train and get out, whenever I feel like getting out
So we did! We actually did that.
We got on the next train that was crossing the river and just looked out and enjoyed the view. It was actually quite interesting as we got into parts of town where locals lived. Parts we would have never seen! We got to experience even more history. But not those big political things, no, small and everyday life kind of things. We drove through streets, where the houses looked all somewhat identical, most of them not in the best condition. But life was buzzing in these streets. People were going in and out of buildings carrying groceries, pushing buggies, coming home from work, going out to meet friends, working on construction sites…
We decided to get out randomly at a station that had a weird name. When we actually arrived, what we saw were train tracks and nothing else. There was literally nothing going on out there. Practically no buildings, hardly any people, construction sites and rail tracks. Yep, that was it.
In German you would say “Da war tote Hose” (meaning translated word by word, there was dead pants, but meaning figuratively something like there was absolutely nothing going on. This just as a little insight into the language;-P) The crazy thing was, that the stop before was located in one of those buzzing streets and we didn’t even drive that far away! But everything changed. This literally happened in like a kilometer that the city stopped and the rail track jungle began.
There was no one interested in staying longer than was necessary for the next train in the opposite direction to arrive. Meaning we only stayed at this place for a couple of minutes.
Which was enough to get a whole different point of view of Leipzig.
We drove a little farther back than from where we started, since we wanted to get a look at the University of Leipzig, just out of interest. From there we took the train again to the Völkerschlachtdenkmal which is pretty much at the other side of town. (We had a ticket for the whole day in case you’re wondering – very convenient btw. as it’s super cheap and it get’s you everywhere!)
It was well worth a visit though! First of all the memorial itself is giant and very impressive, secondly the story behind it is highly interesting and of high importance in history and thirdly, the view from the top is magnificent! We were standing above the city.
Well after we’d been sporty enough to walk all the way up. But then we spent a good amount of time marveling at the view! The climb had really been really worth it! Up there we took a few pictures and then asked a bunch of nice guys standing around to take some of us.
We ended up having a very amusing conversation. The four guys were like the perfect human scale from outgoing to immensely shy – all of them were super nice! The more timid ones in addition to that rather gentle, the outgoing one very funny and the fourth one a mixture. He was very reserved, but making hilarious jokes, in a low tone, without grimacing at all. But when we laughed he actually glanced at us and had to smile, too. How would Maugham have said: “Very pleasant acquaintance.” (Yes, I’m reading Somerset Maugham – The summing up at the moment, as well as a few other books… like Ionesco – La Lecon or Gaarder – Sofies Welt .. if it interests anyone. What are you reading at the moment?? – comment below, I’d love to know!)
We had to say bye at some point, ’cause I was near to starving and my feet hurt from all the walking we did today.. plus we still had to come to the hotel somehow! So we just walked through the museum quickly – but it was worth it never the less! I highly recommend going there, if you ever have the chance.
From there, we walked to the hotel, past the Russian church, very pompous thing, that is! But really impressive. You somehow have the feeling that in this little part of Leipzig, you’re not Germany anymore, but Russia. Or at least that’S how I felt!
On we went, through a wonderfully long park. I bet this is wonderful for relaxing and having picnics if you live here! Or if you’re visiting. Either way, it was very beautiful and I enjoyed the presence of a lot of dogs 🙂
Just before the hotel we took an early turn right and ended up in absolutely stunning streets. Some were super pompous, but when you walked on you got to brick buildings like these!
In the middle of Leipzig! I bet you could do amazing photo shoots in them..but only if they are empty of course, no photographer would want to trouble residents…
What the photographer in me did do, was take a few photos on the brick wall that was guarding the brick buildings and a lot of pipelines. Like I said, astonishing in the middle of Leipzig!
When we finally arrived at the hotel – the scenery had changed abruptly after turning a corner – we’d walked for approximately 6 hours straight (the breakes already subtracted, as well as the train rides.. ;-))… which is really quite some time and quite a long distance. My poor feet had to cope with it and now they weren’t too happy. So they got a deserved break. But not a particularly long one, ’cause next it was my stomachs turn of growling and stating his disapproval of how empty it is.
So my feet had to be silent again and we decided on finishing my birthday off by going out to eat. I was really feeling italian food, so we asked for a recommendation. Once we got one, off we went. Or at least we started. Out of the hotel, we realized that the weather had changed dramatically. It was storming now, the sky was dark and black clouds created an adventurous and exciting atmosphere. It couldn’t have been better. That was only my opinion. The rest was not so exhilarated by the idea of walking to the italian restaurant, when a thunderstorm was about to sweep over the city. That was just about when we heard the first thunder. For me there was no turning back now, I wanted my birthday to finish with an adventure.
The day had been a bit too exhausting, I needed some more action.
Sound paradox to you. To me it made perfect sense. 🙂
Doubt hitting me almost as hard as the now very strong wind from all sides, we stayed on our way,
the goal being to find the place before the thunderstorm finds us.
And the thunderstorm was actually nearer to us than we were to finding the place. We counted three kilometers which still separated us from the lightning. And we also counted a couple of tiny streets we couldn’t locate on the map…
It started raining a bit, but not hard. That was when one of us finally saw the street we were looking for and running, we made it to the italian place in time. No lying – just as we entered the restaurant, it started pouring cats and dogs outside! (Speaking figuratively of course;-) I wish one day that metaphor could come true though!) When we took our seats, the thunderstorm was right there! Lightning and thunder followed each other and the giant windows of the restaurant -La Trattoria Amici (for details, just go to the bottom of this post!) – were blurry due to all the rain masses pouring down.
We were cozy inside. Do you know that feeling when you look outside when it’s thunderstorming and you’re all cuddled up inside? I love this feeling! It was almost the same as then, just the blankets were missing…but you can’t have it all ;-P
As an entrée we got my favorite – grilled veggies! Then the server found out that it was my birthday and I got rosé-champangne for free! (All you TIU girls, can you believe that!? Oh how happy I was.. My two favorites in one? Rosé and Champagne!
Needless to say, with a little more pure Rosé and a good Pizza, the day took a wonderful end and we slept very soundly, as soon as we got our now satisfied belly’s into bed.
That was it. My birthday in Leipzig!
Stay tuned and subscribe for Part 3! For Pt. 1 click here and for the full guide to Leipzig click here (everything included from architectural infos, to history, to places to eat and run, to things you should do… short: everything ;-))!!
Plus don’t forget to comment the books you’re reading and whether you know/like the feeling of the thunderstorm outside! I’m curious!! 🙂