Erfurt – right in the middle of Germany

Listen to your heart…

Erfurt is the capital of Thuringia and just about the most centrally geographically  part of Germany you can find yourself in – so it’s often called the ‘heart of Germany’. I’d heard of this city before, but only really the name. We were recommended it by some friends and after a wonderful day in Leipzig we thought it would be rude not to pop in and check out this place, especially as it’s famous for sausages!!

This city is typically German, there were few tourists even in the peak summer season and those visitors we saw were German, so there were no English-language tours. The city (town?) is tiny – very quaint – and you can see the whole place in a couple of hours. It was perfect for us to just wander around the cobbles streets, the market square, the grandiose buildings, statues of Martin Luther and the magnificent cathedral. Plus we were recommended the best sausages, so it was a perfect trip! Here are the photos for you to dribble over…

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OMG it was SO HOT!

OMG it was SO HOT!

Sausage stand!

Sausage stand!

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Our group eating noms!

Our group eating noms!

Cathedral at the top of the hill :)

Cathedral at the top of the hill :)

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LOVE this window sill!!

LOVE this window sill!!

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DSC_0325*The sausage stand is right outside C&A (Grafengasse 20) and you can feed the ducks in the river if you have any leftovers too :)

Leipzig – a wonderful day out

Das Essen soll zuerst das Augeerfreuen und dann den Magen [feast the eyes before feeding the stomach] .
– Goethe

My Japanese grandmother spends around two summer months in England every year, as Tokyo is just too hot and humid to breathe in, let alone live in. Once again she came to visit us in Berlin and this time we wanted to grab a car and see a new part of Germany, so off to Leipzig we went.

We actually accidentally timed our arrival at 13:30 perfectly, as it was the beginning of the English-language walking and bus tour. It was around 35 degrees and blinding sunshine, so a quick one hour walk around the main sites in the city was just about enough. The town is tiny. There is the typical city hall in the middle of the market square (although it was too small so now they have a newer, bigger one) and the beautiful baroque stock exchange building off to one side.

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Historically, Leipzig was full of traders and they would host huge trade fairs where manufacturers would show off items – and the purchasers would walk through these big buildings in one direction looking at one thing at a time. Apparently this is where the whole ‘arrows on the ground’ idea came from at IKEA.

Where the whole IKEA walking routes began...

Where the whole IKEA walking routes began…

The Nikolai Church deserves a quick pop inside, especially if you’re a traveller, as he is the patron saint of travels and merchants. Around the church on the ground you will notice small white squares. This is a very important place in German history. In the 1980s, a peaceful revolution was started here. From 1982 on Mondays people would turn up and hope and pray for peace in Germany. Slowly the numbers increased until on 9th October 1989, 70,000 demonstrators turned up and brought down the SED regime. A month later the Berlin Wall toppled down. Every evening, the white stones on the ground turn on in three different colours, one after the other. The process takes half an hour and symbolises more people slowly joining the peace movement in Leipzig.

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Here you can see the white stepping stones that light up in the evenings.

Here you can see the white stepping stones that light up in the evenings.

A famous man who spent time in Leipzig was Bach, giving the city its other name ‘the city of music’. He led the boys choir at the Thomas Church and this world-famous choir is over 800 years old! Bach had 20 children, of which 10 survived, many of which followed in Bach’s musical footsteps. When Bach’s music was almost forgotten, another famous man, Felix Mendelsohn Bartholdy, came along and reminded the people of Bach’s wonderful music.

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Bach's grave stone

Bach’s grave stone

There are musicians playing all over the city!

There are musicians playing all over the city!

We saw all of this in an hour’s walk and then hopped on a bus for another hour, so we got to see the parts around the city from the comfort of an air-conditioned bus. If I’m totally honest we were all so hot and tired that all four of us had a little nap, but from the window we saw the main train station, the Volkerschlachtdenkmal (memorial) and the library.

Do look out for people walking without shoes – this seems to be a thing here… so we joined in :

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We even had time for a delicious afternoon tea break at Riquet Haus – the entrance has two elephant heads, so it’s hard to miss. They used to trade in chocolate here, so there are lots of chocolate-flavoured cakes and drinks to choose from.

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Jason went for chocolate of course :)

Jason went for chocolate of course :)

I went for the 'healthy' apple cake!

I went for the ‘healthy’ apple cake!

We are beyond obsessed with chocolate drinks with ice cream!

We are beyond obsessed with chocolate drinks with ice cream!

You’ve probably heard of Goethe (I had to study him at school all the time) and he studied in Leipzig for almost three years. He spent lots of his time in Auerbachs Keller, old wine cellars that have been here since the beginning of the 16th century. Here he would listen to conversations around him and they would feature in his writings. We of course had dinner here (OMG the boar just melts in your mouth!!).

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If you touch his toe it means good luck :)

If you touch his toe it means good luck :)

We had a lovely day in Leipzig and I have to say you really don’t need more than 24 hours in this town. We stayed at a lovely AirBnB and then sped off in the morning to Erfurt for sausages… You can read about that tomorrow :)

One last thing, as I know my grandmother is reading… here is a photo of her!

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Grand Café Breitenbach Tomasa

Coz ya gotta have faith…

It was the middle of the week and Jason and I were just chilling, listening to our bellies rumbling. Too hungry to even go to the kitchen and make a slice of toast, we grabbed some money and headed to our second-closest restaurant. We’ve been here before with an AirBnB guest and they have a lovely roof terrace – perfect on a sunny day. The staff is friendly, the food is pretty normal and I guess it’s a little pricey for Berlin, but compared to London it’s proper cheap.

I don’t really know what kind of food type they are going for, last time we had American burgers and this time tapas, although the Spanish tapas included Malay chicken satay. I’m going to be honest, the chorizo is amazing. Mouth-wateringly nom! We were both trying to pretend we were eating the other stuff, but deep down we were both trying to eat more chorizo before the other one noticed. MMMMMMMM! The rest was a bit ‘meh’ really, the chicken of the satay was nice, but the sauce was far too sweet. The chips were good chips, the nachos and avocado was good and the fish sticks not so amazing. The pickled breaded chilli was disappointing too – so basically I would say to you all GO GO GO and get ten portions of chorizo! EACH! No, make that 20… haha!

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The roof terrace – the big concrete block at the back is the highway – not such a great view… haha

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Address: Grand Café Breitenbach Tomasa, Breitenbachplatz 8, 14195 Berlin

Friday Links

And then I stop… and say ‘alright’…

I LOVE THIS!!

Japan delivers whisky to International Space Station – for science, obviously.

Best article I read this week: The Secret Doctor: people would use the NHS less if they knew the true price tags – yes, yes and more yes! Spread the word people!

If you have just four minutes to spare – watch this about why the US has 800 military bases around the world.

A man looks at his possible future self.

I Was Raised As A Racist: 6 Weird Things I Learned.

We will be in Newcastle in November and if you find yourself there, here is a present for you: 10 OF THE BEST BREAKFASTS IN NEWCASTLE.

10 Things Every College Professor Hates.

America Has a Rape Problem.

Dream of living in Sweden?

Best idea ever!

And here’s one for Jason: What’s your favourite ever board game?

A balcony full of nom…

Green fingers…

I have been checking out German balconies recently and noticed yet another ‘reason’ I’m not German – they seem to fill their balconies with beautiful flowers of all colours. My balcony has food, food and a little more food. My friend bought me a flower for my birthday (she is also the reason I have one batch of flowers on the balcony – something needed to be bright and pretty apparently) and an AirBnB guest bought us a flower in a pot too. During college I even worked in a posh flower shop, but… I’m still all about the food. I want to be self-sufficient one day.

When I was a child, I would help my mum out a bit in the garden. I even had a patch for carrots (which I don’t even like) and a few other bits ‘n’ bobs. I even remember getting my first even tomato plant, when my first ever best friend Megumi moved back to Japan. But I didn’t inherit those green fingers and even after many years of practice my fingers are still pretty white…

This year has been my most successful however and I’m dying to tell you all about it!

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My first ever home-grown cucumber!

Almost every day we get a fresh tomato to go with our breakfast. [No need to mention the tomatoes are small and we have to share it – so only half a tomato each -but organic is organic people!!] We also had a handful of cucumbers that grew. I’ve been very confused about cucumbers, as there were some pretty smashing ones growing at the bottom, then the entire one-meter stem in the middle died and then, just as I was about to put it in the compost, the top sprouted all over again, so we are back in business! The salad is a mix of Asian leaves and I’m going to start harvesting that tonight! Coriander is growing alongside some other herbs, even though I’m not a fan of it and I’m going to give beans a try once it gets a little colder. And did I tell you we had a continuous crop of cress? Probably the easiest thing even to grow if you’re a beginner and are looking for something easy that’s probably impossible to kill.

I cut lines into a soil bag and planted salad - possibly the most genius way to create a garden ever!

I cut lines into a soil bag and planted salad – possibly the most genius way to create a garden ever!

Our lovely tomato plant!

Our lovely tomato plant!

I’m not particularly good at this stuff and I often forget to water the plants, but I’m learning… Anyone else out there trying their luck at gardening (or balcony-ing in my case)?