Das Essen soll zuerst das Augeerfreuen und dann den Magen [feast the eyes before feeding the stomach] .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :
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.
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!!).
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!