Even though it seems like I was in Germany not that long ago, I anxiously anticipated this trip for a few reasons: First, I booked an apartment for the week in Leipzig, a city I hadn’t visited for a long time. Second, Germany in December with the Christmas Markets is always magical. Third, I’m visiting places I haven’t been before, including Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Weimar, and Eisenach. Finally, I was able to secure tickets for several concerts during my visit.
Wednesday and Thursday, 14 - 15 December
The trip from Rome to Decatur and onward to the airport went smoothly, as did the flight across the pond. The only hiccup on the trip over was having to wait for an hour in Frankfurt for luggage. Fortunately, there are many options for rail service between Frankfurt and Leipzig, so I was able to catch a train after getting some food for the journey.
I got to Leipzig at around 4PM – the main train station is enormous and includes a two-level shopping center and 26 tracks, making it one of the largest stations in Europe. It was an easy walk to the apartment, and the instructions the owner provided were easy to follow. It’s a cute one bedroom apartment about 10 minutes by foot from the rail station.
There were three objectives for the rest of the day: unpack and get settled, find somewhere to eat, and get groceries. All three objectives were met. It’s nice to be able to unpack and settle into a home base for a week; I found a decent Italian restaurant on the edge of the pedestrian zone downtown and had a delicious pizza; and I made my way around the Rewe supermarket and got things I need for breakfast and suppers – and, most importantly, coffee! I made it back in time to watch the 8PM news and unwind a bit before turning in for the night.
Friday, December 16
I got up early and enjoyed coffee and breakfast in my apartment. After getting ready, I headed to the train station to catch a train to Lutherstadt Wittenberg, birthplace of the Reformation and home of Martin Luther. It’s only about 30 minutes by train, and I made my way to the central part of town on a brisk but sunny day.
Wittenberg is charming and brimming with numerous historic sites in a fairly compact area. I visited the two main churches, the Castle Church where Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on October 31, 1517, thereby beginning the Reformation, and the City Church (Stadtkirche), the site of the first protestant service and where Martin Luther gave many sermons.
After browsing around the small Christmas market and enjoying a bratwurst, I then visited the homes of two prominent leaders of the Reformation: Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchton. Both residences are larger than I anticipated, especially given that they lived in the 16th century.
The train for the return trip was late (a typical thing – gone are the days of trains that always depart on time), but I had time to grab a coffee and snack. Got back to the apartment in time to have some supper and then departed for the Leipzig Christmas Market and the first of several concerts.
The Christmas market was huge, crazy busy, and packed with people. Evidently everyone is excited that the markets are back after a two-year hiatus. The market went as far as the Gewandhaus, where the Gewandhaus Orchester had a program that included the Grieg piano concerto and Tchaikovsky’s 2nd Symphony. It was an incredible concert: I had forgotten how fun it is to see and hear a world class orchestra in a world class venue. My seat was behind the orchestra, so it was especially fun to watch the conductor.
Walked home after the concert (about 25 minutes) and reflected on a full and exciting day.
Photos - left to right, top to bottom:
1st row: Gewandhaus concert hall inside; Gewandhaus concert hall outside
2nd row: Welcome to Leipzig; Luther Haus in Wittenberg
3rd row: Bronze doors with 95 Theses; Reformation Altar in City Church (Stadtkirche); Castle Church (Schloßkirche) in Wittenberg
4th row: tower of Castle Church; Leipzig train station; market in Wittenberg
5th row: market in Leipzig; Melanchthonhaus in Wittenberg