Guten Tag! It’s that time of the year again and there’s no place better than Germany to join in on the fun that Oktoberfest drafts in. Already buzzing with tourist all over the country’s hotspots for the annual affair, I decided to visit some place off the tourist radar and found myself in Leipzig, Germany’s largest city in the federal state of Saxony.
It’s an odd adrenaline purchasing a one-way ticket to a foreign country, not knowing what to expect or even what to do but I guess that the beauty of traveling. The flight from London took about 2 hours and when I got to immigration, I had quite an awkward time being questioned about my purpose entering the country especially because I was a single lady traveling on my own, and the language barrier did not help. A little note to self for future travels plans, the further away you are from the big cities, the lower the chances are that the locals speak or understand English but also, the friendlier they are (at least in my case). Anyway, ‘post-immigration situation’, I managed to get an Uber to my AirBnb which was approximately half an hour from the airport and was well on my way.
The next day, I took a tram into the city center with a free city map I got off a bookstore nearby my accommodation. It is quite easy to get around the city with an array of tickets available depending on what you had planned for the day and since I had nothing planned, I bought a day ticket. The next day I bought a regular return ticket because I found walking much more exciting, talking to the locals and discovering hidden, cool places. First stop….
- Thomas Church
I chanced upon this place by accident because of the statue of Johann Sebastian Bach, a famous composer and musician erected right next to the church. The interiors are adorned with rich information about his role in serving the church then, which is how I discovered he was in fact a Kapellmeister (music director) since the early 1700s till his last days and is buried in the sanctuary of the church among other distinctive individuals like Martin Luther, the reformer. At the altar, there are a few steps that would lead you into a hidden hall where some of Bach’s original music sheets and instruments are displayed in a glass-framed display. Besides that, the church is also home to the renowned St. Thomas Boys Choir which is also the oldest cultural establishment since the early 1200s.
- Bach Museum
- Nicholas Church
If you’ve been around the United Kingdom, you would realize by now that there is a historical church in every city you visit and the last thing you want to do is spend an entire day church-hopping.. unless that’s your thing. By this time, all the churches look the same to me, it almost has a uniform design to it; dark, stained-glass, statues, altars, candles and etc but this was different. St. Nicholas Church is one of the brightest and prettiest church I’ve been to, with blush pink walls and pastel green accents decorating the ceilings and pillars leading up to the altar. Did I mention it is the largest gothic church in Leipzig too?
4) Community Garden
Community gardens are huge in the area I live in and it so happened that my AirBnb host was a member in one of the gardens behind our flat. Essentially, the garden is operated by a few members around the residential area and they would host open-dinners every Wednesday using ingredients produced from the garden itself. You can pay however much you want and after that, they would sit around the campfire drinking and watching an independent film. However, since it was Oktoberfest season, everyone was drinking (obviously), dancing bare-footed and just having a good time. I made some friends that evening who insisted on taking me around Leipzig with the remaining days I had left before heading back to London.
- Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei
According to the locals, Leipzig is a smaller version of Berlin and if you’re looking to truly immerse yourself in the creative culture this artsy city is so rich in, then a visit to the spinnery should definitely be on your list of places to visit when in Leipzig. What was once Europe’s largest cotton mill is now a transformed hub for the creative scene with approximately hundreds of artists showcasing diverse artistic outputs ranging from abstract graphics, contemporary paintings, prints, photography, art installations and more. The compound has a small open-air cinema and hosts an array of workshops as well that you can sign up for on the spot depending on availability, for a fee of course.
- Wildlife Park
Unlike the zoo, the park is more of a reserve so you have to be really lucky to spot the native animals in their native living areas. Entry into the park is generally free so bring a picnic basket like I did and have a fun day out with friends or family, surrounded by nature. Guided trails are available for a fee but if you want to get closer to the animals, you can enter a deer enclosure for only €2. I cycled with a couple of locals I befriended at the community garden to the park so if you can, I highly recommend cycling to the park too. It was a bit of a challenge crossing the roads and cycling through unpaved roads and strategically maneuvering around with oncoming traffic which I failed at. Literally 10 seconds into our journey, I crashed on the curb of a sidewalk and into a tree trying to avoid another cyclist but that aside, the ride along the way will leave you in complete awe as you pass through the canals, forest reserves, bridges and the White Elster river.
What is a trip to Germany without visiting the pubs at least once.. or thrice or more. If you are looking for an old school fun night out with affordable drinks, then head to Flowerpower and the rest is for you to know and others to find out. Have fun!