i spent the first half of my birthday busing to leipzig via prague and dresden. i’m not sure at what point i thought that booking 5:40am bus tickets outta ČB was a good idea, but on the morning of my twenty-eighth birthday, it did not feel like one. (fortunately a pitstop at starbucks helped!)
i’d never been to leipzig before but because alex and my mutual favorite band was playing there on my birthday night, so the plans were made for us! i quickly settled into our gorgeous flat in südvorstadt near connewitz, a neighborhood that i immediately took a great liking to. it felt strange to be somewhere so like berlin but unknown to me. although i’m positive any leipziger will tell you that their city is nothing like berlin!
we sauntered around connewitz before circling in on the main food event: a fabulous vegan restaurant called zest, nestled cozily on shady bornaishestrasse. they have a FANTASTIC menu for both food and drink, offering a huge array of cocktails and several hard to find belgian beers. the food was positively gourmet and bursting with flavor. we feasted upon appetizers, main course (i had the tofu terrine, alex the curry) and delicious dessert options including a warm gooey brownie made from soy quark and a pleasing selection of soy ice creams… which are way tastier than they sound. alkaline trio played a great set in the hard to find graffitied little hobbit hole that is conne island.
since i’ve been doing this whole “travel thing” for awhile, i’ve experienced what seems like all kinds of travel styles, including super fast country-hopping travel and several week-long slow travel. and when in a new city for only a couple days, one might have the inclination to put the mind into high travel gear and see as much as humanly possible. but the second day, while alex was gone nearly the entire day for work related reasons, i took it easy and switched into the latter gear. strolling along karl liebknect strasse (affectionately called karli), enjoying a kombucha and pelmeni at a fancy cafe (those two things go together… right?). sometimes it’s just nice to go to a fancy viennese style cafe by yourself and eat from huge platters and drink from a wine glass and gaze absentmindedly out the ceiling-high ivy bordered windows.
i stopped into the stasi exhibit at the famous building at the round corner, or the runde ecke, which had been the city’s stasi headquarters for decades. the museum is best described as “a labor of love” and although i saw some interesting artifacts, i really didn’t learn anything that i didn’t already know. because i’m an east-german history fanatic like that, i guess.
after lunch, i sauntered around the leipzig markt/central square area and although i found it beautiful, i was overwhelmed by the commerce and modern office buildings on the other streets. with loads of people, modern structures, and bright neon signs and brand names, a dude in the park blasting ‘the macarena’…. i wanted to escape back to my little hof in the südvorstadt. which i did. pheww, solo travel can catch you off-guard sometimes! it’s been awhile since i spent time in a completely new city by myself. (below, kickin’ up my feet with a mug of fruchttee in the flat, letting in the sunshine and looking at a picture book of leipzig)
although the city center itself didn’t completely capture me, the leipzig nightlife was quite enjoyable. i was in the mood to celebrate– it was my birthday weekend, afterall! one night we found ourselves in a cheesy packed-to-the-gills with bachelorette parties karaoke bar that we eventually had to escape from or we would’ve crowdsurfed against our will. it was that insane. but my favorite was flowerpower… a neighborhood joint with a quite varied clientele that is completely 1960’s themed. i LOVE this place! there was a 70’s coverband playing for over and hour and at midnight, they started playing simon & garfunkel. where the hell else in germany are you going to find a bar playing “the boxer” at 12:00am? this is my kind of hang-out. if i lived here, i’d certainly be somewhat of a regular.
on saturday we (along with seemingly all of germany) went to the famed leipzig zoo. i realize that you don’t see that much of a new city by spending most of the day in an animal park, but dammit, we just like zoos! i’ve learned that there is such an animal that looks like a fox but has long legs like a wolf, otters can really screeeeetch, and flamingos actually seem to have a complicated group hierarchy.
i like that travel can be whatever you want it to be. it doesn’t have to be seeing three art museums in a day or spending all of your time in the city center, although sometimes there is that pressure from other travelers to do these things. not on my agenda, not this time. i could’ve surely spent more time exploring at my own pace, but last weekend was leipzig my way.