Tag Archives: Bach

Let loose in Leipzig (Part two)

Next on the list was the St. Thomas Church – place of “faith, spirit and music”. I hid my horns under my hood and walked in.

Thomaskirche
Thomaskirche

While the church itself, built in 1212, is very impressive, there’s more than a little history behind this building. Martin Luther preached here in 1539, bringing the Reformation to Leipzig…

Not to be confused with Martin Luther King
Not to be confused with Martin Luther King

Bach was Cantor here from 1723 to 1750, Mozart played the organ here in 1789, Mendelssohn conducted the first performance of Bach’s “St Matthew Passion” after the latter’s death, and Richard Wagner was baptised here in 1813. Not bad, eh? It’s also the final resting place of Bach, whose grave was moved here in 1950.

In addition, there’s a prayer cross which I thought was a really nice idea. It started out as a prayer board in 1989, when unrest in the GDR was at its peak, and reflected people’s thoughts, hopes and fears, and was replaced by this prayer cross in 2001.

20150125_140739[1]I didn’t leave a prayer as I’m a heathen now, but I did drop a few euro in the donation box on the way out. Money is money, after all. I then spent another €0.70 on visiting the ladies’ toilet. I used a lot of soap afterwards to feel like I was getting my money’s worth.

After walking around a little more, I decided that it was time for more refreshments, and found a cosy little place that fit the bill.

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I had planned on getting a nice cup of tea, but when I saw that they had Glühwein, that plan went out the window. I flicked to the cakes section. While the first item on the menu caught my eye, it didn’t sound terribly appealing, so instead I opted for the Apfelstrudel.

Shame they didn't call me before this went to print
Shame they didn’t call me before this went to print

It turned out that they didn’t actually have Glühwein either so the menu lied to me. Instead I chose an alcoholic hot chocolate with Jaegermeister in it. While I’m not normally a fan of Jaeger, this was really quite delicious – and very warming.

The couple in front of me looked a little startled when my flash went off. I think maybe they thought I was trying to take a photo of their baby. Seriously. Why would anyone want to take a photo of a baby when they have lovely, photogenic cake on their table?

Feeling ready to face the world, and the rapidly dropping temperatures again, I continued walking around for another while, snapping a few pictures of eye-catching buildings as I went – not babies – until my face started to feel numb and I made my way back to the history museum (or “Das Stadtgeschichtliche Museum”, as it’s known in German).

This was really the highlight of the day. I hadn’t known that much about Leipzig before visiting, but after spending some time in this museum, you get a fantastic picture of the city, from its origins in the middle ages right up to the present day. The only downside was a “phantom farter”, who seemed to be one room ahead of me all the time, dropping little bombs for my olfactory pleasure.

Little Leipzig
Little Leipzig

When you see what the city looked like after the war, it really is remarkable to see it now.

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You can also sit and listen to Bach’s music, while looking at the only known original portrait of him. Previously, whenever I thought of J.S. Bach, images of Sister Roisin banging away on the school piano invaded my brain. Now I feel that I will have much more positive associations .

The man himself
The man himself

With the museum closing soon and my bus due in around an hour and a half, it was time to get a drink for the road. Having tried and failed to find a proper German Kneipe (bar), I came across an Irish pub, hidden away down a side street close to where the bus stop was. Disappointingly, there were only around four other people in the bar but I still managed to while away an hour or so, reading my book and mixing grape and grain.

A few days later, I met Dietmar for a few drinks.

Me: I was in Leipzig on Sunday. 

Dietmar: Did you see the Monument to Freedom and Unity?

Me: Um, no…

Dietmar: Then you have not been in Leipzig.

Me: Sigh. 

Next time, before I go anywhere, I’ll ask a German what to see and do instead of asking the internet. Stupid internet.

 

Useful links: 

http://meinfernbus.de/ – bus tickets from Berlin to Leipzig from €8

http://www.stadtgeschichtliches-museum-leipzig.de/index_en.php

http://www.cafewaldi.de/

https://www.thomaskirche.org/

 

Let loose in Leipzig (Part one)

The problem with Berlin is that it’s just too much fun. Not that that’s much of a problem most of the time; it just makes leaving it, even for a short time, very difficult. However, I’m determined to start seeing a little bit more of the country over the next few months, and until the summer, this will probably take the form of some day trips, or weekend breaks.

First on the list was Leipzig and amazingly, I made it there last Sunday, only one day later than originally scheduled. (Blame Friday night for that one.) At 9.15, the bus rolled up at Alexanderplatz, our tickets were checked by the jovial driver, and at 9.30 on the dot, we were off.

Unfortunately, this is where I fail a little as a “travel writer”. I’d love to give you a flowery description of the scenic landscape we passed but I fell asleep and only woke up as we hit the outskirts of Leipzig. Instead I’ll say that there were probably some fields and trees and villages and let you visualise that in all its stunning glory…

Done? OK, moving on. After a 2.5 hour nap, there’s nothing I like more than a good feed so I took a stroll into the city centre in search of food. It was dry, if a little overcast, but I figured if it stayed like that all day, I would be pretty lucky, this being the end of January and all. My second breakfast decision was made as soon as I noticed an option on the chalkboard outside Central Café…

20150125_121931[1]Because, you know, sometimes you just have to…

Am I right?
Am I right?

The café was cute and cosy, and the service friendly and efficient. To my delight, they had Flammkuchen on the menu, so I ordered that, a cup of tea, and a white wine – because I was on holiday.

Though a little on the small side, the Flammkuchen was delicious and everything was going down a treat – until I noticed the couple sitting not far from me. Every time she spoke, he stared so intensely and lovingly at her lips, I thought he was going to eat her. It was slightly off-putting to say the least. Luckily, the drunkest man in the world walked in at that point and I kept myself entertained with the thought that he’d have to pick up his breakfast with his face, as his arms were firmly bound behind his back in the jacket he was struggling to take off. As I was leaving they were playing the song, “Lick my neck, my back, my pussy and my crack…”, which I thought was a little inappropriate for Sunday brunch but hey, this is Germany.

Unfortunately, the Leipziger I’d met in the queue for the loo at a hippie/hipster (who knows?) commune the weekend before had bailed on me, so I was on my own on the mean streets of Leipzig. I managed to take one cheery sunny photo before the sleet/hail/snow/rain that would last the rest of the day kicked in.

Sun. In Germany. In January.
Sun. In Germany. In January.

Leipzig is yet another of those cities that is dubbed the “mini-insert random city here” – in this case, “mini-Paris”. But don’t judge me – it was Goethe who said it first, back in his student days at Leipzig University. For a relatively small city, Leipzig actually packs quite a punch on the famous dead guy scene – Johann Sebastian Bach was a choirmaster here, Mozart and Mendelssohn both performed here, and Wagner was born here in 1813.

I first passed Nikolaikirche, but there was a service going on at the time and I’m banned from those now so I couldn’t go in.

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In the absence of my hippie/hipster buddy, I’d printed out a page from the Frommer’s website which said that one of the best things to do in Leipzig was explore the Art Nouveau arcades that thread the old part of the city. As that sounded warm, I was convinced.

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The most impressive of these passageways, by far, is the Mädler Mall, adorned with chandeliers, and home to the famous Auerbachs Keller, the setting for one of the scenes in Goethe’s Faust. Sculptures of some of the characters pique your curiosity about visiting the restaurant downstairs.

A quick look at the price-list, however, confirmed that I would not be eating there. Maybe it was cheaper in Goethe’s day.

I exited into the market square, which was market free on that day, but still very pretty, even in the gloom.

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The Old Town Hall is now home to the City History Museum, so I made a mental note to come back and visit a bit later, and carried on. I was not disappointed.

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YES! It was just what I’d always wanted! A shop selling eyes – and more! Thankfully, it was Sunday and the shop was closed. Otherwise I fear I would have purchased a load of eyes I really have no use for – and possibly more. Thank you Germany for your sensible Sunday shop closures.

Part two coming soon… (unless the Leipzig Tourist Board stops me)