For a last-minute Valentine’s get-away with my hubby, we tried our first Blindbooking trip with Eurowings. Now, I hope we have many more to come… this time it was lively Leipzig, Germany. If you haven’t taken a BLINDBOOKING trip yet, do it! The excitement itself in waiting to find out your destination is quite a thrill. If you are a cavalier traveler, like me, it won’t matter anyway. I had no idea about Leipzig, so this was a trip of faith.
The way Blindbooking works:
- Visit the site – Eurowings blind booking
- Pick a departure destination (depending on your departure city, destinations change)
- Pick a “type” of trip example include, party, culture, metropolitan, etc.
We were able to get our flights for about €120. Additionally, we paid €39 extra for larger luggage. **NOTE** we were allowed one small carry-on with this ticket. We could have easily taken our little luggage for overhead and been fine without the extra cost. We flew right into Leipzig and took the train to Zentrum (city center.)
Sometimes when I book the last minute I can find good deals. First, we tried a few search engines, but when the hotel rooms were over €130/night, I knew I could do better. We sure did! This time of year is not a high tourist season either, so I knew we could find something a little better. We booked through Airbnb.com and found an apartment right in the heart of the city for about €100/night, with a kitchen, internet, huge living room, and bathroom. Plus, our views were amazing. We were able to take a short walk, just a few blocks from the train station to our apartment. We arrived around 8 a.m., so we stowed our luggage in a locker at the train station for €5/day. This is a great service since most train stations (Hauptbahnhof) are centrally located.
Walk the City of Leipzig
We had a few hours to kill before check-in, we decided to walk the city. After finding our apartment, we discovered St. Nicholai’s church was right around the corner from our place. Opened to the public, we found a Leipzig Tourist Book (€5), “Leipzig, in a Day,” which was great and had a detachable walking map included. These are a few shots we discovered in just a few short hours of walking. By the way, we earned 17,000+ steps on our FitBit’s on our first day.
Leipzig is famous for its “Passages.” These walkways through the old-time buildings are unique with shops and courtyards and vaulted gothic decor. One of the famous passages, the Mädler Passage was built between 1912 and 1914 as a passageway for a fair trade manufacturing house. Today, it is one of Leipzig’s noblest shopping malls, this is where we found Auerbach’s Keller, the oldest winestübe and cellar in the city.
The decorations and setting are amazing before you head downstairs to the cellar, you’ll pass two bronze statues from a Goethe play depicting one of the scenes from the “Faust.” They were pretty funny. Our food and service were spectacular and we enjoyed one of Leipzig’s famous dishes the “roulade with red cabbage.”
ST. NICOLAI AND ST. THOMAS CHURCHES (KIRCHE)
One of our favorite spots was St. Nicolai’s church built-in 1165 this revolutionary church was the beginning of the peaceful revolution that helped bring “the wall” down. Beginning in 1982, a small prayer group gathered to begin praying for peace with the nuclear arms race. However, over time the prayer meetings began to focus on human rights and eventually led to prayers for peace ending with a bishop’s blessing and urgent call for non-violence.
Every Saturday night at 5:00 p.m. St. Nicolai’s Church hosts an organ concert for a few Euro donation. I can’t describe this awe-inspiring experience with words, but it was heavenly. We were able to be in a church where Johannes Sebastian Bach played and where the peaceful revolution for the downfall of the Berlin wall began. It just gave me goose-bumps.
St. Thomas Church (Kirche)
The church of St. Thomas is probably the most notable in Leipzig because this is where J.S.Bach was the music cantor for over 20 years, taking turns between here and St. Nicolai. This beautiful church was astonishing. There is a €1/person fee and taking pictures inside is permitted as well as touring the grounds. The Bach Museum is right next door and only €8/person and definitely worth seeing, the life and works of this incredible composer musician.
Where to eat
A special note to Leipzig about dining out. Saturday morning we woke up to find very few bakeries or restaurants open. Most didn’t open until 9 a.m. so we headed over to Starbucks. Luckily, we met an American couple teaching here at the International school. It’s always great bumping into ExPATs who love to share especially when they are from Texas and us, Alabama. Gwen shared some great tips about dining in Leipzig.
#1) Make a reservation – we learned this the hard way (even in the offseason) restaurants tend to over reserve so even if you see empty tables, they won’t seat you if it’s taken for 30 minutes away.
#2) Menu research – Depending on your cuisine preference do a little research ahead of time. We saw no doner kiosks but plenty of pizza and curry stands (wurst and sauce). TripAdvisor can help with this…if you’ve followed me before you know I think Yelp is useless in Europe.
#3) Breakfast and buffets – our favorite for breakfast was Café Riquet, simple breakfast and what looked like beautiful cakes for later. We also ate at the Stein Cafe on the Marktplatz Sunday morning. They had a great buffet, with meats, cheeses, bread, yogurt, eggs, and apple pie! They were able to seat us even though we had no reservation but we did see them turn others away.
#4)Even with a reservation – so one of the experiences that were a little let-down was the Panorama restaurant. The Panorama building is architectural amazement and we had reservations for Valentine’s Dinner. A set menu with what was supposed to be an unparalleled view of Leipzig. Unfortunately, there were only a few seats that got that view and the dining room was awkwardly set. Our food was great, however, but the restaurant was understaffed for a full house. At €120 for two for dinner, I just think expectations didn’t meet reality. We also didn’t find out about the upper deck until afterward, it turned out we could’ve seen Leipziger views that were included in being restaurant customers. So although it was neat to mark off, I think next time we’ll pay the €3 and just go to the upper deck.
Thanks for joining my journey. Been to Leipzig? Want to go? Leave your comments and questions below~