furtech: (Eurofurence)
After having a late breakfast at the Marketplace, I headed out to the Leipzig Zoo. As much as I might mock the teeny size of the Best Western Room, the second best part of this hotel (after price-- cheap!) is location. Five minutes to downtown Leipzig and under a ten minute walk to the zoo.

LeipzigZoo2013
Full Flickr Set Here

I try to get to any zoo at about 1pm: this is about the time most zoos feed the animals. If there is any time that they will be awake and active, this is it (the sweet spot is 2-3pm). So if there is an animal you love to watch and won't be satisfied with a furry, snoozing lump-- ask the keepers when that animal is fed. They will be glad to tell you and you will see them pace, eat, food-politic and then some.

I was hoping to see the maned wolf out and about-- but it was a lump. Visible, but just a reddish bump of fur behind a tree. Apparently they feed them at some odd-hour, because this creature did not move an inch the entire day (I kept checking back-- first thing in, during the day and on the way out after 5pm!).

I then bee-lined to the hyenas. After African Wild Dogs, hyenas are my favorite animal to watch. One nice thing about going to a zoo alone: you can dawdle as long as you like without driving friends crazy because you want to spend hours just watching a certain animal...

The hyenas did not disappoint! They had just gotten their food and the hierarchy politics were in full swing: there were two animals who were clearly dominant, plus a shifty-looking third who was not. Of course, this latter animal was the most interesting to watch. She (or he) had a nasty wound on her neck: clearly she had transgressed at some point. She would sneak down to the food pile-- which at this point was mostly turnips and other vegetables-- and, after giving the other two a quick scout, would nose around and triumphantly skitter off with a turnip. She was especially triumphant when she found an unclaimed caulifower. Love her.

Hyena

I had lunch at the restaurant at the back of the zoo, which overlooked the Savannah area of the park. Very relaxing meal except for having to share with the local wasps (what is it with all these wasps in Germany? The locals just ignore them as they bodly eat their food!?!).

I walked through the new, big exhibit, Gondwanaland: this is a huge greenhouse of a habitat that houses open-air tropical plants and animals under a gigantic dome. Humid, but very nicely done. The catwalks are pretty cool.

When I passed by the hyenas again, they were napping. Two of them had decided to snooze right up against the big glass wall, to the excitement of passersby. They acted like they *enjoyed* the attention: they would stretch luxuriously and ignore the many snapping cameras and glass-tappings. Best zoo hyenas I've ever seen! What hams!

Hyenas

About this time the zoo was closing, so I headed out. I walked past the still-sleeping maned wolf and back to the hotel. After all that walking, I took a rest. I ended up not going out to eat, but rather eating all my snacks and fruit from the marketplace: most of it I could not take on the plane the next day anyway.
furtech: (Eurofurence)
I'm not a good traveller. I love to explore and walk-- but left to my own devices I would just as easily slouch in my hotel room all day watching foreign television and reading my books. Having travelled with someone more spontaneous last year (Hi, Tracy!), I vowed not to slouch this time.

Leaving Magdeburg was sad: I went one last time to my favorite deli and had my favorite meal there: watermelon, spiced raw pork sausage and a Coke Lite. The train was efficient as ever and I got to Leipzig in the early afternoon.

Leipzig2013Monday
Full Flickr Set Here


I stayed at the Best Western Leipzig, which was literally across the street from the train station/mall. Very convenient! I have to say, though, that this was the smallest hotel room I've stayed in outside of Japan. You can see in one picture the narrow entrance hallway...and then realize that the room-proper is not much wider than that! Plus, teeny bathroom. The toilet had to be angled such that you could actually sit on it and close the door. They were -almost- successful. Still, the room was both clean and cheap-- I'd much rather spend the money saved on good food and cheezy souvenirs!

I have been to this city several times, but never explored it much. Mostly sticking to the Bahnhof (train station) and the attached mall. Honestly: the city never looked very interesting, even on travel sites. Still, it was certainly convenient and warranted a day or two. At the very least there is a nice zoo in town.

Surprise, surprise: Leipzig is wonderful. I can't believe we never explored before-- a mere five minute walk took me to the city center where there were even bigger shopping areas, a lot of restaurants and a beautiful market square.

I spent the afternoon shopping for snacks and fruit, plus exploring the music/dvd section of the local Saturn store (kind of a German Best Buy). I love foreign versions of Broadway musicals and was able to find several: Mamma Mia; Der Konig Der Lowen (Lion King); Wicked (Der Hexen Von Oz); Starlight Express. Somehow they all sound more martial sung in German...especially the Lion King!

The DVD section was interesting as always. Often, films are released in foreign territories that never see release in the US (even some US-made shows!). There was a live-action Marsupilami; a live-action Ace Attorney (Phoenix Wright!); a lot of schlock...and Polizehund Muchtar! (<--for Tracy!).

The one boggling thing I saw in the DVD area was a whole section dedicated to Terence Hill and Bud Spencer . I am familiar with both actors...but I had *no* idea they were so popular in Germany! I also had no inkling that they were long-time partners, best-friends and directed/produced/acted in over twenty films together! Fascinating!

After a short nap (and more Wool), I fought down my agoraphobia and went out for dinner. Good move, too: I tried a well-known place called Barthels Hof . Oh, my. Everything was superb: the basil soup was creamy and tasted of fresh basil; the pork was tender and flavorful; the dumplings were (typically) plain-- but perfect for soaking up the delicious gravy; the saurkraut was excellent. Even the dessert was unique and wonderful (so much so that I completely forgot to take any pictures).

I wanted to get a few activity points to work off some of that meal, so I wandered the city center. For a Monday night, the place was surprisingly active.

The highlight of my evening was coming upon a busker playing the saxaphone. He picked a perfect location: the mellow tones echoed down the street. His music was freeform-- yet seemed to set a mood and paint a aurel picture. I am not usually a fan of free-form jazz, but his music was magical-- the best I can do to describe it is to say that it sounded like the soundtrack to every noir film ever made. He even had a CD for sale and I bought it. I'm used to CD's from buskers being nothing like what I hear in the street-- they are usually studio jobs with pop songs and such. I was thrilled to find that this was not the case with Winfried Vollger: the CD was recorded on the street-- and sounded *exactly* like the performance that had so mesmerized me that night. So excellent.

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August 2015

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