furtech: (Eurofurence)
Finally!

I finished packing and eating (read: stuffing into me) the last of the fruit and snacks from the trip and wandering over to the train station. I think one reason this trip felt so relaxing is that I planned for extra days to arrive and leave, so there was no frantic rushing around. Best vacation I've had in years and one of the first I can remember where I actually got back home feeling refreshed.

returnflight

The flight back was wonderful: I lucked out by having an empty seat next to me, so I could spread out my stuff and really enjoy the trip. As you can see above, I had everything I needed for a twelve hour flight: a great book (the Wool Omnibus), tunes (my ancient iPod) and snacks galore.
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
Thanks to a Really Useful Post by a Trip Advisor user (great travel site, BTW), I knew that Tuesday would be market day in Leipzig! (The other day is Thursday) Open air markets are one of the great pleasures of the German cities I've visited. You wander them and snack on fresh fruit and bread. One more reason I think Los Angeles is just too darn big.

Leipzig082613Tuesday
Leipzig2013Tuesday

Leipzig's market is wonderful: plenty of beautiful fruit and vegetables; cheeses and meats; plants and flowers. There were baskets of mushrooms, too. Oddly, they looked like a type of boletus mushroom, which I thought were (as a species), "edible, but not palitable." I'm guessing this variety is delicious, from the amount they were selling.

The highlight of the market (also pointed out on Trip Advisor) was one vendor selling fresh bread. Really, really fresh: they had a portable iron oven that her husband was baking country bread in. As you would imagine, bread hot and crisp from the oven is *amazing*. I got a loaf of steaming bread, stopped by the salami vendor and got some European ham (for my American friends: it's more like prosciutto than American ham). Bit of cheese from another vendor, raspberries from a nearby stall and a Coke Lite from the curry shop and I was set for lunch.

Lunch

Near the market, I saw an interesting breed of dog: he was gorgeous! He looked like a large, black schnauzer, but with a smooth coat. His owner was very proud of his dog and happy to let me snap pictures of him. Friendly and intelligent dog. Any guesses anyone?

Leipzigdog

I wandered over to Thomaskirche: this is the church were Bach spent his last 25 years. The acoustics are reportedly amazing and groups and singers book time in there just to experience this sound. While I was inside, there was a soloist practicing. I consider myself lucky to have heard him: heavenly. I think more churches and cathedrals should have music playing during the day: organ or singers or choirs. These structures seem to come to life with music! Transformed from dusty shells to living structures. The soloist was higher than a tenor: I am thinking that there are not catratos any longer...what would he be called? (<--I am counting on readers being sophisticated and not rude-- thanks!)

After this I wandered through some of the malls and ogled at the stores. One toy store had a great selection of Schleich figures. Plus, the great Irish explorer, "Marc O'Polo" had a shop, too!
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.
furtech: (Eurofurence)
festival by day
Flicker Set- it's my photoblog!

T and I went back during the day and discovered that the area we wandered around in the other night was just a small part of the faire! We had seen only about a third of the whole area. While most of the other sections were much of the same, it was still fun to wander around and see everything. There were hot air balloons in the sky, adding the the majesty of the cathedral and its grounds.

Most amazing was the food! It was -very- good and extremely reasonably priced! They also do not have paper cups: they give you your drinks in an earthen mug and charge a 3euro deposit. You can then either return the mug for your deposit or keep it as a souvenir. That alone really reduces the amount of trash at the fest.

One thing that intrigued T and I: a cotton candy maker who had to twirl around the swarm of wasps that were crawling all over the floss. We kept imagining the horror if he missed one...spicy!

I also saw -3- border collies at this event! Including a very cute one that reminded me of Tass.
furtech: (Eurofurence)
festival by day
Flicker Set- it's my photoblog!

T and I went back during the day and discovered that the area we wandered around in the other night was just a small part of the faire! We had seen only about a third of the whole area. While most of the other sections were much of the same, it was still fun to wander around and see everything. There were hot air balloons in the sky, adding the the majesty of the cathedral and its grounds.

Most amazing was the food! It was -very- good and extremely reasonably priced! They also do not have paper cups: they give you your drinks in an earthen mug and charge a 3euro deposit. You can then either return the mug for your deposit or keep it as a souvenir. That alone really reduces the amount of trash at the fest.

One thing that intrigued T and I: a cotton candy maker who had to twirl around the swarm of wasps that were crawling all over the floss. We kept imagining the horror if he missed one...spicy!

I also saw -3- border collies at this event! Including a very cute one that reminded me of Tass.
furtech: (Eurofurence)
festival by day
Flicker Set- it's my photoblog!

T and I went back during the day and discovered that the area we wandered around in the other night was just a small part of the faire! We had seen only about a third of the whole area. While most of the other sections were much of the same, it was still fun to wander around and see everything. There were hot air balloons in the sky, adding the the majesty of the cathedral and its grounds.

Most amazing was the food! It was -very- good and extremely reasonably priced! They also do not have paper cups: they give you your drinks in an earthen mug and charge a 3euro deposit. You can then either return the mug for your deposit or keep it as a souvenir. That alone really reduces the amount of trash at the fest.

One thing that intrigued T and I: a cotton candy maker who had to twirl around the swarm of wasps that were crawling all over the floss. We kept imagining the horror if he missed one...spicy!

I also saw -3- border collies at this event! Including a very cute one that reminded me of Tass.
furtech: (Eurofurence)
EF2012

Complete Flickr Photoblog Set
[This is the picture set of the convention. I've separated out the costumes (mostly) and food pics again. Those will be in their own sets.]

The convention was fantastic. Every year it gets bigger and every year they manage to pull it off and run the most enjoyable convention I attend.

The charity this year was "Far From Fear", a German organization that does for the Spanish Galgos dog what Greyhound rescue does for greyhounds over in the US. I had never heard of the Galgos dog breed before: they are a Spanish sighthound that is actively used for hunting and coursing. After a few years, they are either killed or bred to death. This organization works with their Spanish colleagues to have "retired" dogs shipped to Germany, where they are found permanent homes. The dogs are very much like greyhounds or whippets in form and personality, but sized somewhere in-between those two breeds and with very long, slender tails. They had several at the convention: while a couple of them got uneasy at the noise and crowds, they were all very shy and (if you were gentle) friendly dogs.

The GoH was Peter S. Beagle! It was a pleasure listen to him speak about himself, his writing and his love for music. Small cons like this are ideal venues to hear your heroes speak: the panels are intimate and cozy. He was very approachable and enthusiastic about everything around him.

Best sign at the con:
sign
(On the door to the fire escape.)

Check out the photoblog to get a better idea of what the con was about.
furtech: (Eurofurence)
EF2012

Complete Flickr Photoblog Set
[This is the picture set of the convention. I've separated out the costumes (mostly) and food pics again. Those will be in their own sets.]

The convention was fantastic. Every year it gets bigger and every year they manage to pull it off and run the most enjoyable convention I attend.

The charity this year was "Far From Fear", a German organization that does for the Spanish Galgos dog what Greyhound rescue does for greyhounds over in the US. I had never heard of the Galgos dog breed before: they are a Spanish sighthound that is actively used for hunting and coursing. After a few years, they are either killed or bred to death. This organization works with their Spanish colleagues to have "retired" dogs shipped to Germany, where they are found permanent homes. The dogs are very much like greyhounds or whippets in form and personality, but sized somewhere in-between those two breeds and with very long, slender tails. They had several at the convention: while a couple of them got uneasy at the noise and crowds, they were all very shy and (if you were gentle) friendly dogs.

The GoH was Peter S. Beagle! It was a pleasure listen to him speak about himself, his writing and his love for music. Small cons like this are ideal venues to hear your heroes speak: the panels are intimate and cozy. He was very approachable and enthusiastic about everything around him.

Best sign at the con:
sign
(On the door to the fire escape.)

Check out the photoblog to get a better idea of what the con was about.
furtech: (Eurofurence)
EF2012

Complete Flickr Photoblog Set
[This is the picture set of the convention. I've separated out the costumes (mostly) and food pics again. Those will be in their own sets.]

The convention was fantastic. Every year it gets bigger and every year they manage to pull it off and run the most enjoyable convention I attend.

The charity this year was "Far From Fear", a German organization that does for the Spanish Galgos dog what Greyhound rescue does for greyhounds over in the US. I had never heard of the Galgos dog breed before: they are a Spanish sighthound that is actively used for hunting and coursing. After a few years, they are either killed or bred to death. This organization works with their Spanish colleagues to have "retired" dogs shipped to Germany, where they are found permanent homes. The dogs are very much like greyhounds or whippets in form and personality, but sized somewhere in-between those two breeds and with very long, slender tails. They had several at the convention: while a couple of them got uneasy at the noise and crowds, they were all very shy and (if you were gentle) friendly dogs.

The GoH was Peter S. Beagle! It was a pleasure listen to him speak about himself, his writing and his love for music. Small cons like this are ideal venues to hear your heroes speak: the panels are intimate and cozy. He was very approachable and enthusiastic about everything around him.

Best sign at the con:
sign
(On the door to the fire escape.)

Check out the photoblog to get a better idea of what the con was about.
furtech: (Eurofurence)
Nightmarket
Here's the complete, annotated Flickr set!
Running concurrently with (but separately from) EF was a "historical" festival called the KaiserOttoFest Magdeburg. The event is touted as a seriously historical affair, but really is about as historically accurate as a typical American RenFaire.

What set this event apart from its American counterparts is the Nightmarket: the faire stays open until about midnight and is lit almost exclusively by candles, torches and braziers. I can't describe how cool it is to wander in the near-darkness and visit the stalls selling their wares lit only by that golden flame-light.

The food was equally amazing: fire-roasted lamb, sausages and pork and savory turnovers and all manner of beer and wine.

beersellers

All of this happens in the shadow of the great church and cathedral buildings, which add to the atmosphere.

music
furtech: (Eurofurence)
Nightmarket
Here's the complete, annotated Flickr set!
Running concurrently with (but separately from) EF was a "historical" festival called the KaiserOttoFest Magdeburg. The event is touted as a seriously historical affair, but really is about as historically accurate as a typical American RenFaire.

What set this event apart from its American counterparts is the Nightmarket: the faire stays open until about midnight and is lit almost exclusively by candles, torches and braziers. I can't describe how cool it is to wander in the near-darkness and visit the stalls selling their wares lit only by that golden flame-light.

The food was equally amazing: fire-roasted lamb, sausages and pork and savory turnovers and all manner of beer and wine.

beersellers

All of this happens in the shadow of the great church and cathedral buildings, which add to the atmosphere.

music
furtech: (Eurofurence)
Nightmarket
Here's the complete, annotated Flickr set!
Running concurrently with (but separately from) EF was a "historical" festival called the KaiserOttoFest Magdeburg. The event is touted as a seriously historical affair, but really is about as historically accurate as a typical American RenFaire.

What set this event apart from its American counterparts is the Nightmarket: the faire stays open until about midnight and is lit almost exclusively by candles, torches and braziers. I can't describe how cool it is to wander in the near-darkness and visit the stalls selling their wares lit only by that golden flame-light.

The food was equally amazing: fire-roasted lamb, sausages and pork and savory turnovers and all manner of beer and wine.

beersellers

All of this happens in the shadow of the great church and cathedral buildings, which add to the atmosphere.

music
furtech: (halloween)
Shenandoah National Park
Complete Flickr set here

My flight out wasn't until the evening, so we had time to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains (as Tracy had wanted to when I got in, but not in the pouring rain). We visited Shenandoah National Park, which is really just up the road from her house. I liked the name-- "Shenandoah" was the nick of a friend of mine. Saw some fall color, but it was really "meh" this year. In fact, near the top of the road most of the trees has already lost their leaves.

We stopped at the visitor center at the top of the hill (er, "mountain") and walked out into the meadow (willfully defying the advice of Bambi's mother). Gorgeous! This almost had me fooled, too: no ticks, no heartworm mosquitos, little poison ivy. The day was crisp and clear with a tiny breeze. I was able to get my dogwalk-fix with Cody who, even at his advanced age, was as dainty and chipper as ever. Once he saw a deer, he was ever-alert for more of the unsavory characters. It was fun to watch him be alert-brave-watchdog again.

There was much adorableness with Tracy's kid and woolybear caterpillers (and trying to remember the old saw about width of the brown ring and severity of the coming winter-- fyi, thin=harsh; thick=mild). Also, milkweed pods: she became fascinated with releasing the fairy people to float away on the wind.

We had lunch at the cafe in the visitors center: surprisingly good fare! Plus, the fudge in the gift shop was of that rare variety that I -love- (it's got some tooth to it and doesn't have that completely smooth, "buttery" texture that is so prevalent these days). I got some. Trip back was filled with wonderful views of the Shenandoah Valley.

After that, off to the airport and home. Unremarkable flight: it got in at just after midnight-- but that was after 3am in EST-time. The drive from LAX was a sleepy blur. And the best thing about coming home: getting the boys bright and early the next day. Stinky, but otherwise unharmed!
furtech: (halloween)
Shenandoah National Park
Complete Flickr set here

My flight out wasn't until the evening, so we had time to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains (as Tracy had wanted to when I got in, but not in the pouring rain). We visited Shenandoah National Park, which is really just up the road from her house. I liked the name-- "Shenandoah" was the nick of a friend of mine. Saw some fall color, but it was really "meh" this year. In fact, near the top of the road most of the trees has already lost their leaves.

We stopped at the visitor center at the top of the hill (er, "mountain") and walked out into the meadow (willfully defying the advice of Bambi's mother). Gorgeous! This almost had me fooled, too: no ticks, no heartworm mosquitos, little poison ivy. The day was crisp and clear with a tiny breeze. I was able to get my dogwalk-fix with Cody who, even at his advanced age, was as dainty and chipper as ever. Once he saw a deer, he was ever-alert for more of the unsavory characters. It was fun to watch him be alert-brave-watchdog again.

There was much adorableness with Tracy's kid and woolybear caterpillers (and trying to remember the old saw about width of the brown ring and severity of the coming winter-- fyi, thin=harsh; thick=mild). Also, milkweed pods: she became fascinated with releasing the fairy people to float away on the wind.

We had lunch at the cafe in the visitors center: surprisingly good fare! Plus, the fudge in the gift shop was of that rare variety that I -love- (it's got some tooth to it and doesn't have that completely smooth, "buttery" texture that is so prevalent these days). I got some. Trip back was filled with wonderful views of the Shenandoah Valley.

After that, off to the airport and home. Unremarkable flight: it got in at just after midnight-- but that was after 3am in EST-time. The drive from LAX was a sleepy blur. And the best thing about coming home: getting the boys bright and early the next day. Stinky, but otherwise unharmed!
furtech: (halloween)
Shenandoah National Park
Complete Flickr set here

My flight out wasn't until the evening, so we had time to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains (as Tracy had wanted to when I got in, but not in the pouring rain). We visited Shenandoah National Park, which is really just up the road from her house. I liked the name-- "Shenandoah" was the nick of a friend of mine. Saw some fall color, but it was really "meh" this year. In fact, near the top of the road most of the trees has already lost their leaves.

We stopped at the visitor center at the top of the hill (er, "mountain") and walked out into the meadow (willfully defying the advice of Bambi's mother). Gorgeous! This almost had me fooled, too: no ticks, no heartworm mosquitos, little poison ivy. The day was crisp and clear with a tiny breeze. I was able to get my dogwalk-fix with Cody who, even at his advanced age, was as dainty and chipper as ever. Once he saw a deer, he was ever-alert for more of the unsavory characters. It was fun to watch him be alert-brave-watchdog again.

There was much adorableness with Tracy's kid and woolybear caterpillers (and trying to remember the old saw about width of the brown ring and severity of the coming winter-- fyi, thin=harsh; thick=mild). Also, milkweed pods: she became fascinated with releasing the fairy people to float away on the wind.

We had lunch at the cafe in the visitors center: surprisingly good fare! Plus, the fudge in the gift shop was of that rare variety that I -love- (it's got some tooth to it and doesn't have that completely smooth, "buttery" texture that is so prevalent these days). I got some. Trip back was filled with wonderful views of the Shenandoah Valley.

After that, off to the airport and home. Unremarkable flight: it got in at just after midnight-- but that was after 3am in EST-time. The drive from LAX was a sleepy blur. And the best thing about coming home: getting the boys bright and early the next day. Stinky, but otherwise unharmed!

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