Who could ever imagine going to Leipzig in January – the peak of winter? It was quite unexpected that hubby was selected to present at the Leipzig Interventional Course that took place at the Leipzig Trade Fair (Leipziger Messe). With the temperature dipping as low as -7°C, it surely wasn’t the most ideal season to be exploring Leipzig. On top of that, the course was supposed to end on the eve of Chinese New Year, which is the single most important day in the Chinese culture for families to get together, for a reunion dinner. It was for this reason that this trip had to be cut short by two days, just so that he could make it back in time for the dinner.
All in all, the duration spent in this city, which was once part of the former East Germany, was only 4 days and 3 nights. Needless to say, the frigid weather precluded a more adventurous exploration of Leipzig, not to mention its surrounding cities. A mere 30-minute walk outside would have rendered your extremities painful and numb afterwards, if you’ve not already turned to ice by then (ok, i’m just exaggerating, but it’s really almost that cold although some days are slightly warmer). Having said that, there are still attractions within the city centre (Zentrum) that would be worth your while exploring. No pain, no gain, huh?
Just like most German cities, Leipzig is a great place to indulge in the Yuletide festivities, which occurs when winter starts. If you ever plan to visit this city in winter (December – February), be sure to pack sufficient and appropriate clothes to keep you warm. Your luggage is definitely going to be heavier, but there’s no two ways about it.
Air tickets were booked via Kayak (my favourite site – read more here) for RM5083.89 per person inclusive of taxes. The journey from Kuala Lumpur to Leipzig through Singapore and Zurich was via Swissair. However, the return journey was through Istanbul via Turkish Airlines. You aren’t wrong to think that the air tickets were pretty costly, but that was the price to pay for wanting to arrive home at a specific time – for Chinese New Year’s reunion dinner.
Arrival at the Leipzig/Halle Airport was at 9:55am in the morning (perfect time in my opinion). It was a less busy, unassuming airport and the Porsche Cayenne that was displayed in the middle was the only outstanding thing in the airport. For your information, Porsche actually has a huge plant in Leipzig.
Hubby booked 3 nights accommodation at B&B Hotel Leipzig-City via Booking for €214 (RM1002) inclusive all taxes. It was a modern, decent-sized hotel equipped with all the basic amenities and was right smack in the middle of the city centre (Zentrum). Thus, walking around the city centre was all the more convenient.
Getting to the hotel was extremely easy. A 20-minute train ride (Deutsche Bahn – DB) from the airport to the central train station (Hauptbahnhof) costs €4.50 (RM21.45). From the central train station to the hotel was another 5-minute walk (350m).
As the extreme weather would only allow for very restricted exploration of the city, to be able to cover the city centre (Zentrum) itself would already be an achievement. As such, walking would be the preferred mode of transportation. If you want to take the risk and venture out a little, try the tram. Be it train or tram, don’t forget to validate your tickets at the Entwerter (a small, blue box-like device located beside the ticket machine).
Sightseeing In Leipzig
You definitely must not miss the opportunity to try out different varieties of German bratwurst when in Leipzig. Usually, they are placed inside a roll, topped with various condiments, quite similar to hotdogs. They are found at almost every corner of the city, some of which are sold as street food (even during winter). Obviously, those sold on the streets are cheaper – about €2.50 (RM11.90) each.
What about restaurants? Well, time spent in this city unfortunately, was too brief to recommend one that serves excellent German cuisine (had free meals at the conference hall). However, if you’re looking for budget meals (besides fast foods and takeaways), you might want to try out Kokospalme which is within Promenaden Hauptbahnhof Leipzig – shopping mall inside the central train station. This Vietnamese restaurant offers buffet dinner for a price as low as €4.90 (RM23.40) and you are allowed to fill up one plate with as much food as you can.
Among the non-anglophone countries we’ve been to so far, the Germans seem to have the lowest proficiency in English. In fact, many of them can’t even speak a word of English. I’m not entirely sure if this phenomenon is specific to Leipzig alone or to Germany in general. Therefore, to avoid feeling frustrated while struggling to get your message across, it’s advisable to learn a few important words and sentences in German. Trust me, this would make life significantly easier for you.
The single most important asset when travelling is none other than drinking water. Rest assured that tap water in Germany is safe for consumption. In spite of that, restaurants will not serve you a free glass of tap water. You’ll only get bottled water (of course then you have to pay). Interestingly, wanting to charge for drinking water wasn’t the reason for not serving tap water. What I found out was that tap water is called leitungswasser in German and it literally means plumbing water (just slightly better than sewer water). Now that you know, be wise when you think of ordering tap water in Germany.
If you’re a classical music aficionado, you’ll surely love it here because this was where Johann Sebastian Bach spent the last 27 years of his life. Many aspects within this city have been influenced by Bach, especially souvenirs. You’ll be completely blown away!
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