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)
Sunday is wind-down day: there are no panels, people are checking out...very quiet after the wildness of Saturday with the Pawpet Show, the big dance, Panels.

EF2013Sunday
EF2013Sunday

Sunday is also a great day to finally get a chance to slack out and talk with people. I love this low-key day. In previous years I've gone to the zoo, explored the city, visited Kaiserfest.

For the first time I joined the big expedition to the Schnitzel Temple! This is supposed to be the best schnitzel in town and a large group makes a trek there on Sunday for lunch. Schnitzel Temple serves a 1kg (2.2lbs) schnitzel that-- if you finishi it and the sides-- gets your picture on the wall. I was amused by the several dogs that were on the wall: did they eat an entire schnitzel to get this honor? Very amused.

The dead dog party was well-attended and, again, a fine time to sit back and catch up with friends.
furtech: (Eurofurence)
This was my second year of the EF Snack Exchange. Outside of the Pawpet Show, this is easily my favorite event. People are encouraged to bring their favorite snacks (or even just weird food) from their country. There is an amazing amount of variety: you get a good idea about how many different countries are represented at the convention!

ef2013snackexchange
Fully Annotated Flickr Set Here

This year I brought Skittles, XXX-hot Cheetos, Pop-rocks and Butterfingers. Next year I will be earlier and more organized (instead of just throwing the food out in any available space! Embarrassingly sloppy!).

The Finns win again for having the least-palatable snacks: Pantteri and its nastier brother, Leijona. These are bitter-licorice "treats". When I asked what flavor it was, he simply replied, "Road". And yes- it tasted like what I imagine licking a freshly tarred street would be like. He was kind enough to give me the leftovers so I could show my friends back in the states. He also brought a bottle of the pure element that is one of the main ingredients of these candies: Ammonium Chloride. I dipped a finger and tried it this year (wasn't brave enough last year): it tastes like what I imagine licking a dirty cat box would taste like. The Finns have a good sense of humor about all this and I love them for that.

It was interesting to compare snacks made in different countries. For instance, American Skittles are distinctly different from British Skittles (American skittles are intensely sweet, while the British version is more pleasantly sweet).

There were cookies galore (mostly wonderful) and some new-comers: dates and treats from Saudi Arabia (omg dates) and canned Dolma.

The Italians (or were they Hungarians? I need to take better notes) were my favorite: rich, sharp cheeses and salamis. He served the cheese (kind of like an aged Parmesan) with a dollop of honey. Incredible. He also brought a jar of a home-made cabbage-ish-something. Despite it's Kim-chee appearance, it was mild and almost (but not really) sweet. I really liked this. I think his mother made it...

The photos in the set are annotated or have cards identifying them, so take a closer look!

The Austrians brought a bottle of a beerenauslese wine that was -very- nice. They also pointed me to the grocery store across the street where they bought it. I went over and found the same winery also makes a trockenbeerenauslese that I bought and brought home (can't wait to try it!).
furtech: (Eurofurence)
Wednesday was opening ceremonies: the con is official! Before that happened, though, I took a walk to the mall across the street and bought more stuff. Saw a beautiful English (Rough) Collie- her owner was quick to point out that English collies are smaller than their American counterparts. Very cute: almost mid-way between a Shetland Sheepdog and a (American) Rough Collie.

efweds
Full Flickr Set Here

Back at the hotel, things were gearing up and more people arrived. I hung out in the Pawpet Show backstage area and generally tried to stay out of the way as I watched the crew made silk out of sow's ears.

Opening Ceremony was fun: leis were generously handed out to all-comers. Some found creative ways to make use of the extras...

That night I watched an amazing spectacle: the last rehearsal for the Pawpet Show, "End Tide". As I've come to enjoy: I love watching things I've made be brought to life on-stage. Definitely a highlight of the convention for me.

I am in awe of this crew: on top of big convention duties (virtually all of them had committee-level positions), they do a last rehearsal on Wednesday night. This set a new record-- ending after 8am Thursday. Yes-- they rehearse all night, catch a quick nap and then they resume doing their convention duties. Such a Herculean effort!
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
I managed to scrape together the money for Eurofurence again. Love Germany, love this con. This time I tried something different: flying out of SFO and staying at my sister and BiL's place for a few days before and after. Big difference: much less stress because anything I forgot I could still get in SJ. Also, dogs stayed at dog-sister's place, so were less stressed than if they'd just been boarded (their regular boarding place is great, but still a boarding place).

latosj

Full Flickr Set Here

The trip started well: food and more food. A friend highly recommended a place in Buttonwillow, CA to stop and eat at. A bit early in the trip, but he raved about this place. He was right. The pulled pork was delicious on its own...and the salsa that came with it (served on the side!) was also perfect-- a pleasant burn, deep flavor. But the PIE! Oh, the peach pie was the best I've had in decades. Crisp texture, deep flavor and a perfect crust. So good we're making a roadtrip -just- for this pie. 100 miles and worth it!

Same friend also got tickets to the Ikea Crayfish Party . I'd never heard of it, but they sell out fast. Thank goodness there was more than just crayfish- which has too low a ratio of reward-to-effort. Eat, eat, eat.

A big bonus was getting to meet Don Knuth and his wife, Jill (who were part of the group). He wrote the seminal book, The Art of Computer Programming. Anyone who has taken a college-level computer class has seen this book; it is so far out of my ken that I have to take their words on this. Not only is he a really nice guy, but he brings a unique take on current events. I could listen all day, week, year to him. My friend was also able to get him to autograph another seminal work: an early writing sale-- to Mad Magazine. Read his Wiki: wicked sense of humor!

I also got to visit a friend who's back to working at Apple: like most large, hip tech companies, they have wonderful food-services. The seared ahi sandwich is...wonderful. It's no wonder I gained four pounds even before leaving the country. This, despite a bunch of hikes with the dogs in the hills around SJ.
furtech: (halloween)
The greatest food innovation of the last ten years (or more!)-- the Naco-- is going to be given away for free from 2pm to 6pm, Tuesday October 30th!!!

FREE NACOS!

All courtesy of a stolen base by Angel Pagan of the San Francisco Giants! *GIANTS!*

And for all of my horrified foodie friends: the Naco (aka, Doritos Locos Taco) is only 5 calories more than a regular taco and only 4 Weight Watchers points each! (about 175 calories). So goood...mmmm. /HomerSimpson

(and they're going to have alternate dates for areas where the Taco Bells are closed from Hurricane Sandy).

Plus, Tuesday is Fat Tuesday...so it's a perfect day for this!

NACOS! Giants! Yay!
furtech: (halloween)
The greatest food innovation of the last ten years (or more!)-- the Naco-- is going to be given away for free from 2pm to 6pm, Tuesday October 30th!!!

FREE NACOS!

All courtesy of a stolen base by Angel Pagan of the San Francisco Giants! *GIANTS!*

And for all of my horrified foodie friends: the Naco (aka, Doritos Locos Taco) is only 5 calories more than a regular taco and only 4 Weight Watchers points each! (about 175 calories). So goood...mmmm. /HomerSimpson

(and they're going to have alternate dates for areas where the Taco Bells are closed from Hurricane Sandy).

Plus, Tuesday is Fat Tuesday...so it's a perfect day for this!

NACOS! Giants! Yay!
furtech: (Fireworks)
donutprince

My apple diaries gave a friend a craving for apple fritters. She is a top-tier foodie: she even takes pictures of her food -before- she eats it. Her research pointed her to a small shop in Burbank, Donut Prince. Both of us were still riding a creative high from a conference we'd attended the previous day. So we celebrated. A lot.

The first thing I noticed was that I had driven past this place a hundred times or more in the past! This is the donut shop in the same shopping center where I bought my pin-head crickets at Scales-N-Tails (when I owned poison dart frogs).

After a nice meal at Zen Cow (aka, Zankou Chicken), we indulged in peanut-butter-filled chocolate bars, apple fritters and my two favorites: a Homer Simpson pink donut and a white-with-black-sprinkles cake. OMGAMAZING!

I love this place. I have an adoration for people who are thorough and passionate about what they create. It is clear from the apple fritter alone that the owner (an Asian immigrant) is one of those people who is determined to Get It Right. I can picture her buying this donut shop and then researching the hell out of what a "donut" is. What is this strange thing Americans like so much? And then taking it a step further by making the absolute BEST donut in the world. The apples were minced perfectly-- not too big, not too small. The seasoning was even and throughout the dough. Not too sweet, not too bland. The glaze kept the outside crisp, the inside moist and fluffy. I'm not a big fan of apple fritters, but this experience could change me!
furtech: (Fireworks)
donutprince

My apple diaries gave a friend a craving for apple fritters. She is a top-tier foodie: she even takes pictures of her food -before- she eats it. Her research pointed her to a small shop in Burbank, Donut Prince. Both of us were still riding a creative high from a conference we'd attended the previous day. So we celebrated. A lot.

The first thing I noticed was that I had driven past this place a hundred times or more in the past! This is the donut shop in the same shopping center where I bought my pin-head crickets at Scales-N-Tails (when I owned poison dart frogs).

After a nice meal at Zen Cow (aka, Zankou Chicken), we indulged in peanut-butter-filled chocolate bars, apple fritters and my two favorites: a Homer Simpson pink donut and a white-with-black-sprinkles cake. OMGAMAZING!

I love this place. I have an adoration for people who are thorough and passionate about what they create. It is clear from the apple fritter alone that the owner (an Asian immigrant) is one of those people who is determined to Get It Right. I can picture her buying this donut shop and then researching the hell out of what a "donut" is. What is this strange thing Americans like so much? And then taking it a step further by making the absolute BEST donut in the world. The apples were minced perfectly-- not too big, not too small. The seasoning was even and throughout the dough. Not too sweet, not too bland. The glaze kept the outside crisp, the inside moist and fluffy. I'm not a big fan of apple fritters, but this experience could change me!
furtech: (Fireworks)
donutprince

My apple diaries gave a friend a craving for apple fritters. She is a top-tier foodie: she even takes pictures of her food -before- she eats it. Her research pointed her to a small shop in Burbank, Donut Prince. Both of us were still riding a creative high from a conference we'd attended the previous day. So we celebrated. A lot.

The first thing I noticed was that I had driven past this place a hundred times or more in the past! This is the donut shop in the same shopping center where I bought my pin-head crickets at Scales-N-Tails (when I owned poison dart frogs).

After a nice meal at Zen Cow (aka, Zankou Chicken), we indulged in peanut-butter-filled chocolate bars, apple fritters and my two favorites: a Homer Simpson pink donut and a white-with-black-sprinkles cake. OMGAMAZING!

I love this place. I have an adoration for people who are thorough and passionate about what they create. It is clear from the apple fritter alone that the owner (an Asian immigrant) is one of those people who is determined to Get It Right. I can picture her buying this donut shop and then researching the hell out of what a "donut" is. What is this strange thing Americans like so much? And then taking it a step further by making the absolute BEST donut in the world. The apples were minced perfectly-- not too big, not too small. The seasoning was even and throughout the dough. Not too sweet, not too bland. The glaze kept the outside crisp, the inside moist and fluffy. I'm not a big fan of apple fritters, but this experience could change me!

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