Leipzig in a Day

I mentioned before that I’d eventually get back to writing about our trip to Leipzig when I wrote about our trip to Dresden. So here it is:

Petra and I had a limited budget and limited amount of time for our barely spring vacation, and so we spent a few days In Dresden (which has a lot more as far as sightseeing), and only one day in Leipzig.

We arrived in the evening of March 16th, so we basically had dinner and hit the hotel. We stayed at the Holiday Inn, which is DIRECTLY across the street from the train station, making it just about the ideal location. However, the windows seemed to be about as thin as physically possible, so the noise from the street was quite substantial and also there was a very clear draft from the windows which are directly over the bed. We had stayed at the Hilton in Dresden, so it was a clear step down.

Anyways, so we really had just one full day to see Leipzig and so we got up and out as early as we could. We had done out research on things to see mainly using Fodors Germany and Wikipedia. I love my Fodors Germany and our copy is very much showing it at this stage.

The first thing on our list to see was the Battle of the Nations Monument (Völkerschlachtdenkmal), which is supposedly the largest monument in Europe (although I would be interested in how they qualify this statement). It was the only thing on the list that was outside of the downtown area, so we thought we’d take care of it right away. After a short tram ride, we were there in maybe 15 minutes. I think the pictures speak for themselves:
We went all the way to the top and it was pretty cool. Before researching this trip, neither of had ever heard of the Battle of Nations. My current excuse is that modern history and specifically battles and wars are not my thing. End results and the stories around them are more my cup of tea…also, like I said, modern history is always last on my list.



The second thing on the list I wasn’t so sure about since Fodors mentioned that everything was in German only. It was the Stasi museum, which is basically about how closely the DDR watched over its citizens. The building served as the Stasi (secret police) headquarters in Leipzig until 1989. It’s an interesting museum, free, and definitely worth a look. However, I will say that the entire museum appears to have been done as a class project for a class of 6th graders.



Next up was St. Thomas Church (Thomaskirche). This is best known as the Johann Sebastian Bach church, if you couldn’t tell from the large statue out front, the fact that he’s IN the stained glass windows, the small museum of his instruments, or that everyone inside is hovered around the altar snapping photos of his grave.




The old city all (Rathaus) was built in 1556, houses the city museum, and is definitely worth a visit. We spent a couple hours in there and it was excellent. Also, relatively cheap…especially for how well it was done.



The Church of St. Nicholas (Nikolaikirche) came next on our list, which was absolutely beautiful, and possibly the only church I’ve seen that invites visitors up and around the altar area. It has been a protestant church since 1539. I love the palm tree effect.


Now, since we were visiting on St. Patrick’s Day, of course we stopped for a couple pints of Guinness before our journey home to Munich. If you plan on visiting Leipzig, I highly recommend it as a one or one and a half day stop doing something along the same lines as I posted above…including the beer.

Frühlingsfest 2009

As many visitors to Munich seem to be interested in flea markets and beer, it’s that time of year again. Last year I wrote a bit about it and posted a couple of pictures, which you can see here.

This year it’s running from, well, yesterday (April 17th) until May 3rd. So…although I’m really not sure if I’ll go at all this year or not, if you’re new to town or just want to check it out, it’s going on right now and it’s free…so might as well. Maybe I’ll go just to find something to eat that I don’t have to cook myself. Pasta daily gets to be a bit boring, I’m told.

….Just talked to my wife, Hong Kong/China seems to be going well for her.

This last week I’ve had it pretty lazy, just a few city tours and smoked beers.

Next week is a little more active…trips to Neuschwanstein and Salzburg…the end of this month looks very busy with Neuschwanstein, but now the tours have an extra hour (the tour starts at 9:30am rather than 10:30am), so that helps a lot. Probably going to get into shape pretty quick here.

[Listening to: I’m Not Tim – NOFX – (2:27)]

Easter

Yesterday I had the feared Neuschwanstein Easter-weekend Saturday tour. It was beautiful weather and not bad, actually. Except of course for the three girls from Hong Kong, but that’s a long story.

Petra leaves for Hong Kong & China tomorrow. *sniffle*

So, I’ll try to keep busy with tours and maybe attempt to get Brendan to head out for a beer later in the week. We work too much.

Happy Easter everybody.

[Listening to: Delirious (1983) – Eddie Murphy – (49:02)]

Salzburg in April 2009 … also, a great new lunch option for guides!

Today I’m sitting here with all the windows open, sweating a bit, soaking up the sun. It’s a beautiful day in Munich. Last week I had a couple tours to Salzburg and had similar days there (a little colder than today, but not much). In the winter I tend to hibernate indoors reading books while the tourists are running through their sights. However, with the beautiful weather…I tend to just walk around most of the time. On recent tours I hiked up the Kapuzinerberg for a great view over the city as well as a good place to just enjoy the weather in peace. Here are some pics from last week.

With this first one, can anyone tell me what type of tree this is?

For lunch, I’ve gone to a new place called Frauenberger’s burger corner. Frauenberger’s isn’t anything new, but their burger corner which is self-serve with a great terrace area on Linzer gasse, is a great location. Their burgers are 5 euros each and are pretty damn big. Below I have pics first of Frauenberger’s burger corner which I’ll be eating lunch at quite often I figure.  (please read the edit below the pictures)

EDIT:  I had one very negative experience here…but after a few e-mails to the management, it seems to have been an isolated incident and I’m willing to give it another shot.

Dresden in March

Last month we went to Dresden (& then Leipzig, more on that later). At the time, for whatever reason, I was quick in posting the pictures from our trip to photobucket and facebook, but felt too busy to post them here. So today, since I have the day off, I thought I would get back to that and give a few thoughts on the trip.

Dresden was much different than I expected. What did I expect? To be honest, everyone talks about East Germany like it’s a bunch of run-down former factories used as squats, cold war era housing complexes that make Einstürzende Neubauten sound like a great idea, and according to news reports, no jobs.

Now, I’ve been to East Germany before, but only really to Berlin. In Berlin there certainly is some of what I mentioned above, however there is a bit of everything there…like any major city really. With Dresden (& Leipzig), I thought I’d see a little more of what those news reports go on about….but the fact is, I just didn’t see it. Dresden is a modern city, to be sure, but some things have been restored quite beautifully. The biggest surprise was the sheer cost of Dresden. Coming from Munich, which is always ranked as Germany’s most expensive city, I thought Dresden would be slightly cheaper. Dresden was very expensive.

Why don’t we make some comparisons, I’ve picked three top choices:

Munich

The Residenz in Munich: (massive palace downtown Munich) costs €6 which includes an audio guide, €9 combined with Treasury

Alte Pinakothek (large art gallery, world-class): €9, €5 on Sundays

Munich city museum (MASSIVE city museum): €4, FREE on Sundays

Dresden

Residenzschloss Dresden: €12 for the “historic green vault” and €6 for the “new green vault.” These are basically two sections of their treasury.

Zwinger “Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister” (major art gallery): €10

Dresden city museum (rather small, really): €4

Conclusion: We went on a Sunday, which is usually the day we do museums as churches are a bit awkward on Sundays, and nothing else is open. If we went to the three sights in Munich, our total cost would be (per person) €14. If we went to the three sights in Dresden, our total cost would be (per person) €32. In my opinion these are very comparable sights…and as you can see, over double the cost in Dresden.

With all that said, we had a great time in Dresden and saw a lot of beautiful things (which you can’t take pictures of, they’re evil like that). However, what is meant to be the highlight (according to the city’s tourist board), the Frauenkirche, I found to be pretty…but soul-less…worth about 5 minutes of your time.

Now, what you’ve all been waiting for, the pictures:

There is a lot to see in Dresden, but it can be done in just a couple days if you plan ahead. The city has a very new feeling to it, but the area around the Frauenkirche and the river is very nice.

If any of you have questions about Dresden, we’ve now seen and done about everything there…so ask away!

[Listening to: Bad Blood Better – Bob Mould – Life And Times (3:46)]