Just before catching my train back to Berlin, I had a hot chocolate in Cafe Riquet, I mainly went in because it’s a gorgeous art nouveau building and interior, and I wanted to sketch it.
On January 14, I had to check out of my B&B by 10 a.m. and my train back to Berlin left at 2 p.m., so minus the tram ride, I had almost 3 hours to do a self-guided tour of the nicely compact old centre of Leipzig. Unlike Berlin, where everything is very spread out.
Overall, I very much liked Leipzig, and could even see myself staying there for a while. It would be cheap but still offer a lot of cultural inspiration, and it has a bit of an introvert feeling compared to the party animal that Berlin is. One could actually get work done here in Leipzig. And Neo Rauch and Rosa Loy live and work here. They get a lot of art done because they work hard and don’t party, I say with admiration, but also incredulity.
The breakfast room at my pension in Leipzig.
The Leipzig neighbourhood where my hotel was.
The old centre of Leipzig. The Nikolai Church where in late 1989 meetings of concerned citizens were held who were forming a resistance to the DDR regime, is here. Only a few months later, the Wall came down.
Leipzig rooftops near the City Hall.
Shop window with Meissen porcelain. Gold is the sign of the times, right? Meissen porcelain is famous. This set costs a lot of money. I have to say, porcelain, crystal, silver, curtains, linens — all those emblems of domesticity are completely uninteresting to me. Sure, I like it when they’re well designed. But do I want to waste my time to wash them, iron them, polish them, store them, and worry about breaking them? Not.
Leipzig building facades.
Leipzig, Mädlerpassage, a nicely preserved fin-de-siècle covered shopping area. Goethe also traipsed around here as a young law student, and built a bar that he frequented here, into his “Faust”.
I like this decorative flower box — a good solution for winter, until you can fill it with live plants again.
Augustusplatz, Leipzig. This used to be Karl-Marx-Platz during DDR times, and I was “admiring” the socialist architecture.
Berlin, and clearly Leipzig and other former East German cities, are famous for their “Ampelmann”, the little man in the traffic light who wears a jaunty hat and looks like he’s straight from the 50s. And indeed, I think he was introduced in the early 60s, and this popular graphic has survived the DDR.
Apparently there is even an “Ampelfrau” but she was only used in a few places.
Riquet Chocolate Cafe, Leipzig. A chocolate cafe? With 3-D elephant heads? And art nouveau? How could I not go in and draw the place. But I was rushed, I only had 30 minutes for my hot chocolate and sketch before I had to catch my train.
Riquet Chocolate Cafe, Leipzig, interior. I normally have a great aversion to anything wicker, but in a place with elephant head decor it seems acceptable.
Back in Berlin, the new Hauptbahnhof there is pretty impressive as well. Unlike the Leipzig train station where all tracks are spread out on one level, the Berlin one has three levels where trains are arriving and departing constantly.
I arrive back in Berlin and find it has snowed while I was in Leipzig. This area of restaurants with large outdoor dining areas at Hackescher Markt looks like it could be a fun place to have a drink in the warmer seasons. Not now.