Shilpa’s weekender in Leipzig
Published: 31 May 2017
The thing about moving country as an adult means you tear yourself away from your urban family – the people who raised you on a robust diet of good (and often unheeded) advice, nights out, 2am conversations, and hugs during hard times. So now I’m in London, I try to see my Dublin friends with weekends away, and that’s why myself and my lovely friend Gill headed to Leipzig. An hour south of Berlin, it hadn’t much been on my radar before I found out it was supposedly the vegan capital of Europe. That was enough to pique my interest, as it indicated it had a distinct mindset compared to the rest of Germany. I wasn’t wrong.
Miraculously, Gill and I arrived in Leipzig train station at exactly the same time – she from Berlin airport, me direct from my Luton to Leipzig flight. Our home for the weekend was the InterCity Hotel, a standard and well-located business hotel almost adjacent to the train station, and right on the city centre’s ring road (called Martin Luther Ring, I kid you not).
That evening was inevitably a catch-up night, so we paused our desire to explore the city and rolled into the nearest bar – ironically, Dhillon’s, an Irish pub. The rest of the weekend was dedicated to the city itself, with visits to the art area of Spinnerei, a look around the Bach museum, the former HQ of the Stasi, and even a classical concert at the celebrated Gewandhaus. A purpose-build venue, it supposedly has one of the best acoustics in a hall anywhere in Germany. Though I'm more of an aficionado of gigs rather than concerts, I couldn't fault the sound from the impressive house orchestra.
The walking tour of the city was the highlight. The centre is small enough to walk around, and crammed full of detail that was pointed out by our knowledgeable, passionate and straight-talking guide. From the shopping centre, whose façade is designed to resemble the notes of a musical score, to the staggeredly-lit bulbs outside St Nicholas Church, to represent the swell of support for the peaceful protests that inevitably led to the fall of the Berlin Wall, there’s plenty about this characterful place that is best explained by a local.
And the vegan food? Well, it was no Cookies Cream (Berlin’s gourmet vegetarian star) but places like the historic Auerbachs Keller and the buzzy Café Luise offered more choices than veggies are used to back in the UK. As if the culture and company weren’t wonderful enough, that alone made the weekend worth the trip.