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By train from Zürich to Leipzig

Zürich HB   10.09.06 ab 19:44

Leipzig Hbf 11.09.06 an 06:57

The front door of the house is closed. I don't have a key (another few grams of weight saved). I get on my bike, which is quite heavy with saddle and handlebar bags, and ride the first 10 metres away from home. "Where are you going?" asks the neighbour. "To Leipzig".

It had long been my wish to visit the place where Johann Sebastian Bach worked and to stand at his grave in St Thomas' Church, as I had just read the book by his second wife: The Little Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach. A few years ago, I would have turned up my nose at Bach. But the trip with Susi Huber to Erfurt, Weimar and Eisenach - on Bach's trail - and the chorales we rehearsed there taught me to appreciate the old master. A branch of the Way of St James leads through Leipzig, the 'Via Regia'. There I was able to combine several passions: Bach, pilgrimage, cycling. After long and detailed planning, the itinerary was fixed down to the last detail. The foot pilgrim simply follows the Way of St. James. But this is not always suitable for bicycles. So I had to look for alternative routes with the help of cycle tour maps and still follow the Way of St James as far as possible. This is how the project of a bicycle pilgrimage from Leipzig to Switzerland came about with my fellow pilgrim Hans.

Finally, the time has come. I am on my way.

The S-Bahn is overcrowded and it's difficult with the bike. At Zurich main station I load the bike into the luggage wagon of the City Night Line. I chose this train because it goes directly from Zurich to Leipzig and changing trains by bike is tedious (note: that was in 2006, since a few years you have to change trains at least once). Here comes Hans. In our narrow cabin there are two beds on top of each other and hardly any room for the luggage. We make our way to the dining car. The journey with the City Night Line takes us via Basel to Germany. At some point we go to sleep, one after the other, because only one can move in the cabin. Whether I slept? Maybe. At some point the train stands still for a long time. I look and read FULDA on the station sign and think of everything I read about Fulda during the preparation and what to expect there. After an hour, the train starts moving again. Even before the sleeping car conductor wakes us up, we get up - roughly after Erfurt - and have breakfast.

City Night Line Luggage waggon with bicycle compartment

Leipzig Central Station