Day 37: Leipzig - Grampies Go in Circles - CycleBlaze

August 24, 2013

Day 37: Leipzig

Back from the early(ish) morning bread run.
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Morning found me sitting at the dining room table, trying to write the story of yesterday while the family still snoozed and nothing had happened yet today. However I was not all that early, and soon Birgit and Jurgen were up and about. Leaving Dodie for a deserved longer rest, I joined Jurgen on the necessary jaunt to the bakery for fresh brotchen.

Our mission included bringing exactly one to Jurgen's mom, and a bunch next door to Jurgen's sister. This journey for fresh bread is one I enjoy thinking about, whether here, in France, or in the only other great bread places, like Montreal or San Francisco. The elements I like are #1 fresh bread and then the concept of the gentle short trip and the leisurely breakfast.

Sitting then with our quality bread, quality cheese, quality jam from various berries, etc, I realized that these things (where I mean the quality versions) are truly European specialties. You will not really find this is Asia, Africa, or Central/South America, and you sure have to search to find it in Canada/USA. So then, what unique Canadian breakfast could we offer at home? Aha, fried eggs, fried bacon. fried potatoes, and fried pancakes. Well, that's something, anyway.

You can find these foods on other continents, but this is where the arts of making them are done at the highest level.
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We are on easy street, for a couple of days anyway.
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I turned Jurgen and Birgit's dining room table area into a jungle of wires. This what happens if one tries to charge our eight USB front and back lights, tablet and keyboard (now, 2 keyboards), camera, power monkey, and phone (14 USB items) all at once. Hey, at least the regular battery powered strap on headlamps have stayed out of it!
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Even as we moved through Leipzing in the dark last night, we could feel a vibrancy about it. Now, in daylight and with Jurgen and Birgit as our guides, we found a city that had mostly jumped out from under the GDR years and was taking off. We saw buildings beautifully restored, walking streets filled with people, a good mix of population - not just old folks, historic churches, wall to wall cafes, many bakeries, and so forth. Yes, mixed in were me abandoned buildings where the owners have long since left for what were greener pastures and yes there is a whole city of GDR era ugly apartment blocks on the east edge of town but overall it was great.

Take for example the train station. This is the largest in Europe and the interior is in qa grand style. It's what I imagined Union Station in Chicago would be, but wasn't. Inside there is shopping that rivals or exceeds London's main stations. This shopping, now, includes KFC, Dunkin Donuts, and the like, including many other multi nats. If you take this to be crass commercialism, then you will not like our positive assessment. But if you want fresh fruit juice or Thai food, then this is the place!

Something the Grampies did not know was that Leipzig was where J.S. Bach lived and worked. From 1723 to his death in 1750, he was at the St. Thomas church here. So we were there today, and sat by his grave, moved there from a war damaged church in 1950.

Bach is only part of the musical bent of the city, and ings in the sidewalks lay out a circuit of a dozen or so musical sites around the central core.

The photos, when they get uploaded and captioned, will show more of the various sites and sights from our visit today. But a couple more warrant a few sentences here:

The Nikolai Church. Not only is this place gorgeous inside, with unique grass or reed like orations on the columns, but this is the plac where democracy in the GDR got kick started, on October 9, 1989. Now, on the anniversary, the church is surrounded by crowds with candles, commemorating the events.

Auerbachs Keller. Downstairs in the Madler Passage (see below) this is the best known and second oldest restaurant in Leipzig, dating to at least the first half of the fifteenth century. It was already one of the city’s most important wine bars by the 16th century and is described in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's play Faust I as the first place Mephistopheles takes Faust on their travels. In fact, as I understand it, Goethe wrote part of Faust in the restaurant. So this is where Jurgen and Birgit took us for lunch. We chose totally traditional dishes - mine was wild boar with red cabbage, croquets, and a weird gluey ut firm, round potato dumpling. We sat surrounded by old panelling and paintings depicting scenes from Faust.

The Madler Passage, kind of an early shopping mall concept, this is one of several passages through buildings, that start and end outside at streets, with shops fronting on the passage. The Madler passage as been there for 100 years.

The Monument of the Battle of the Nations (Volkershlachtdenkmal). This thing, which commemorates a battle against Napoleon which was won at Leipzig. The thing is truly colossal - Egyptian scale, and features jumbo sized figures. The main structure, at 91 metres (299 ft), is one of the tallest monuments in Europe. It is composed of two storys. On the first story, a crypt is adorned by eight large statues of fallen warriors, each one next to smaller statues called the Totenwächter (Guards of the Dead). On the second story, the Ruhmeshalle (Hall of Fame) features four statues, each 9.5 metres (31 ft) tall, representing the four legendary historic qualities ascribed to the German people: bravery, faith, sacrifice, and fertility We took a slick modern elevator up partof the distance, and walked the rest on a narrow spiral staircase. This is definitely a one way traffic situation, so traffic light tell you when it is ok to go up, or down.

At the top of the monument there is a 360 degree view of the city, which helped us understand the layout a lot better We then walked down the over 500 steps. You need to go slow, or you can get dizzy going around and around the spiral.

Leipzig zentrum
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Leipzig zentrum. In the central square Hare Krishna guys have set up shop. It's strange, because not only have we not seen them in North America for a long time, but they are the only such operation in the square. Maybe they belong in the category with Tupperware and Amway - semi defunct american retailers. Anyway, they have updated their "song" - same four words but a new tune!
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Leipzig zentrum
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This map of Leipzig shows that it is quite a big place. Looking back over the route we followed in, and out, it seems a pretty decent feat.
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Leipzig zentrum
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Leipzig zentrum. The circle tour of musical spots includes 23 locations!
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These newe buildings have a facade that pictures the buildings that formerly stood in that spot. Birgit says you can see it better at night. In this shot, you can also see the reflection of the buildings that stand behind the camera.
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Thuringer bratwurst. Brat - wurst merely refers to the wurst beung broiled. The actual flavour is variable. One year, Christian brought home to our place some Thuringer spice mixture.Thuringia is the state just south of here that contains the towns of Erfurt and Gera.
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Ths pastry is a local speciality. Lerchen means "larks", not sure why.
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More strawberry slices. Somehow I got fixated on these.
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Red Orangina, never seen that before.
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Jurgen and Birgit walked us to the train station to secure tickets for us and the bikes to Ulm. Though the ticket lady spoke a little english, our two German speakers were instrumental in getting a booking that was actually workable. There are two train changes involved, and adequate time is needed to shift the loaded bikes from one to another.
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Only because I had Jurgen on my team, Dodie and Birgit got dragged into the Saturn store. Saturn is a huge electronics retailer - we were briefly in their giant store in Hamburg. This day I bought another bluetooth keyboard, trying to get rid of those douuble letters. Tge new one also has its own quirks, so you should start seeing a refreshing new class of typos!
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As in Hamburg, the selection of automatic espresso makers is impressive. Jurgen is having none of it, because of the cost of the various one shot coffee pellets.
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The impressive, huge, main train station. In the background you can see a bit of the retail stuff that is all through this area.
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Here is the hostel that Catherine Croucher referred to in the guestbook.
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This church is being constructed anew. The GDR destroyed the previous one as an anti-religion measure.
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Happy crowds on the main walking street.
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The Nikolai church, where the ceful revolution of 1989 started.
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A Leipzig manhole cover. I am still walking with my head down!
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The unique columns of the Nikolai church.
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Another of Leipzig's passageways, with interesting decoration above.
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In a shop of wooden knick knack for kids. Not exactly cuckoo clocks, but cute.
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Inside Auerbachs Keller.
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Jurgen and Birgit ended the day with a BBQ, that featured even more family members. It's a little hard to keep them all straight, but the summary is that a lot of family members live in the near vicinity. and that they seem a close knit and supportive group. We felt immediately welcomed into this and everyone did their best to communicate with us.

Tomorrow we expect to get together with the family again. We accepted an invitation to stay on a bit, and bought tickets for Ulm only for Tuesday. In the meantime. we may be able to visit Dresden, which will fill in a big gap in any visit to this region.

From Ulm we will start our next phase, to and through Switzerland. In the meantime, we are recharging batteries. That includes our own, plus the up to a dozen USB lights and devices that are part of our kit. We also bought yet another Bluetooth keyboard for the tablet. It has its quirks, but at least it does not douuble letters, which was driving me really wild!

Staying up late, with a fire, in the garden. These are not marshmallows but rather a sweet dough, molded with the hand onto the stick.
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***** BONUS *******

Jurgen´s take on Leipzig and our visit. This is actually because I used up my camera battery and these shots got taken with Jurgen´s phone. The captions are Jurgen´s descriptions with me typing, since though he speaks Englush well, writing is a bit daunting.

A snack for steve and dodie around midnight
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Breakfast in our garden
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It's a bit of a pun - a Lord of the Rings bag with Bach´s face. The ring, by the way to us is really the Ring cycle of the Niebelungen!
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Inside the Aurbach keller. Here we see the Dr. Faust and Mephisto riding on a wine keg. The next nine or so shots are paintings depicting scenes from the book.
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Hexenkuche means witch´s kitchen. Again, a allusion to Faust.
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Steve with traditional dishes of our region
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Steve and Dodie seem to appreciate the traditional food of this region
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I ordered the special house torte - Mephisto cake - for Steve, since I know he is powered by pastries
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And for Birgit, the overwhelming sampler of sweets
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steve and dodie by the Mephisto and Faust statue in front of the restaurant
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The construction of a new church - with a decorative wall
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The bach memorial in front of the Thomas church
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The story of the church
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The story of the church
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The story of the church
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Inside the church - the stained glass windows- including the famous Bach window
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Inside the church - the stained glass windows- including the famous Bach window
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Inside the church - the stained glass windows- including the famous Bach window
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Bach´s tomb - moved here in the 1950´s
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Inside the church
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These overstuffed guys (ok. Steve-ism) are the choir masters, presumably from Bach´s time. Bach was the head, or Cantor.
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The cafe Kandler, the best place to get Lerchen!
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Just as in Vienna you have Mozart confections, here we have Bach ones!
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Commerzbank - gold plated!
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In one of the many walking streets, with so many cafes
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Wall to wall cafes
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Barfußgässchen
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In front of the monument to the defeat of Napoleon
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Inside, around, and on top of the monument, with views down to Leipzig
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Inside, around, and on top of the monument, with views down to Leipzig
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Inside, around, and on top of the monument, with views down to Leipzig
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Inside, around, and on top of the monument, with views down to Leipzig. At each of the compass points a map shows the main visible landmarks
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Inside, around, and on top of the monument, with views down to Leipzig
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Inside, around, and on top of the monument, with views down to Leipzig
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Inside, around, and on top of the monument, with views down to Leipzig
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Five hundred steps (91 metres) to the top (we took an elevator part way)!
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Inside, around, and on top of the monument, with views down to Leipzig
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Inside, around, and on top of the monument, with views down to Leipzig
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Inside, around, and on top of the monument, with views down to Leipzig
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Inside, around, and on top of the monument, with views down to Leipzig
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This giant depiction is of Sanct Michael. There are very artistic ladies on the side!
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Steves "Power Station" in our living room
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BBQ in the evening with sausages, steaks, and BBQ cheese!
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BBQ in the evening with sausages, steaks, and BBQ cheese!
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My mother and sister in law Petra came too.
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Knuppelteig - it means sweet bread on a stick (Knuppel is stick)
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My sister Anita (right to left) and her husband Hans, with grandson Kevin.
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The party is getting wild!
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Egbert, Birgit´s elder brother and his wife Petra
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Even in Germany we have campfires - but here neatly contained
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A great end to a great day!
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