Beer, food & parks.
That pretty much sums up our vacation last weekend to Bamberg & Leipzig! As I said in my post the other day, Alex had four days off work for Easter so we took advantage of it by escaping the hustle and bustle of Berlin for the countryside.
First we headed down to Bamberg, my new favorite Bavarian town (not that I’ve been to many, but still). Bamberg is a popular destination for beer lovers and tourists, who enjoy it’s ‘romantic’ super-Bavarian appearance. The atmosphere of the town reminded me of our beloved Old Town Alexandria; both have that certain charm that comes with old-fashioned buildings, small cafés and beautiful waterways. And lots of ice cream!
The Old Town of Bamberg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of it’s medieval appearance which has been preserved throughout the years and World Wars. It is really cool to see an authentic Bavarian town rather than those that were destroyed and later rebuilt. Bamberg is also home to a large cathedral, a sprawling abbey, and an old castle perched atop the highest hill.
Due to intermittent rain showers on Friday the town was pretty dead. The people who ‘braved’ the rain, ourselves included, huddled inside the nine breweries to keep dry (or should I say wet?). Bamberg is known for having great beer, especially for its Rauchbier which has a smoky flavor reminiscent of bacon! We first enjoyed Rauchbier from a bottle here in Berlin and the delicious flavor concreted our decision to travel to Bamberg. Large beers & large plates of food kept us warm and occupied until the sun returned in full force on Saturday – bringing a lot of tourists with it.
We were eager to enjoy the sunshine while it lasted so we spent most of the day finding new parts of the town we hadn’t seen the previous day. We spent some time walking along the river, admiring the row houses known as “Little Venice”, exploring the Natural History Museum, and taking a mini-hike up the hill to the Altenburg castle.
After two wonderful days in Bamberg we moved on to Leipzig, a city about two hours from Berlin. The people who drove us, and our Air BnB host, thought it was funny that we were going to Leipzig. We likened it to someone stopping in Richmond or Pittsburgh for a “vacation”. Although the locals might not think there is much to see in Leipzig, there are a few main sights that are worth seeing.
We may have gotten lucky, though. Because we were there on Easter Sunday there were events going on like an outdoor music concert in the park and a medieval festival downtown. One of Leipzig’s main tourist attractions is the very large Völkerschlachtdenkmal (Battle of the Nations monument) which was built to commemorate a victorious battle against Napoleon in Leipzig in 1813. Another popular spot is the Leipzig Zoological Garden which we didn’t go to because of the threat of thunder storms (which never came) but I would love to go back and see it someday! It’s supposed to be really awesome and has the world’s largest primate exhibit. There are also a few famous churches in Leipzig where Bach once worked and where his remains are laid.
We aren’t really into seeing “touristy stuff” though so we were happy when the guy who drove us told us about an open-air music venue outside of the downtown area. There we discovered why we had been told that Leipzig is going to be the “new Berlin”. The ‘venue’ looked more like a backyard frat party – complete with a large Corona umbrella, a hammock, and ping-pong – but the relaxed atmosphere made for a fun time. We spent a few hours there chatting with our driver and his friends until I got tired, which was right about the time a new slew of people were arriving (approx. 1 am). Germans, they love the night life.
Although Bamberg and Leipzig are quite different places they made a good combination for a short Spring vacation, and I would gladly revisit either of them! It was nice to get away for a bit but we were happy to get back to Berlin where the beer might all be Pils, and the streets littered with cigarettes, but no one ever calls it boring.
Click below to see many more pictures from Bamberg & Leipzig!
Above: The Old Town Hall in Bamberg that was built in the middle of the river.
Above: Various sites from around Michaelsberg Abbey in Bamberg.
Above: The best part of the Bamberg Natural History Museum was this room filled with taxidermic animals, insects, and plants.
Above: A delicious cheese plate (left); the main alter in the Bamberg cathedral (center); the entrance and courtyard of Altenburg castle (top right, bottom)
Above: The park in Leipzig where we relaxed on Easter Sunday, enjoying local beer & sausages
Above: Leipzig has a nice mix of large green spaces and large, ornate buildings. I’m not sure what the building on the left is but it may have been part of a university…?
Above: The Völkerschlachtdenkmal
Above: Mäddlerpassage, one of Leipzig’s passageways with shops & restaurants (left); a large cemetary near the Völkerschlachtdenkmal (middle); Conne Island music venue in an off-the-beaten-path location in Leipzig (top & bottom)