Thursday, 13 June 2013

Winter & Christmas Market

 Although Leipzig was to be a getaway for recovery from all the traveling you could never really stop exploring. I mean since you are here right, might as well just take a stroll and see what there is to see.

Walking around during the day was quite a bore on a late November as there was not much to do, though walking along the streets and just watching peoples lives going about was enough to pass two days of my time. Night time though was a different thing altogether. Christmas markets lights up the whole of the town center at night where only pedestrian are allowed with all the mini carts and food stalls and Christmas hand crafted trinkets stalls.

Every stalls are decorated with Christmas colors with Santa houses and candy sticks. The trinkets or gifts could be all kinds of stuff but mainly local hand crafted items and not those that you would usually find back in south east asia such as knock off bulk produced tourist trap goodies. These were locals with almost every stall selling different items.

Christmas Market in Leipzig

I don’t think you would be able to get them trinkets off a chain store anywhere but then again many items were pointless to a backpacker like me who cant carry much stuff. Still it was fascinating to just browse through the many stalls of goodies.  I wouldn’t be able to tell if they have the same things every year but for me it was definitely a new discovery hence the long slow walk sniffing everything.


Food stall however was another story. Almost every three stalls of trinkets you would find a food stall. Most popular of course would be the German Bratwurst Hot Dog Stall from all different types of brands. I choose …. To be the kiasu Singaporean in this matter and just headed to the longest queue I could find. One problem was I couldn’t speak German and neither could they speak English. Good hand sign pointing to the next guy who just got his food and a thumbs up got me my food.

To wash it down came the hot mulled wine sold also every other three stalls in nice clay cups decorated and custom made for Christmas Market 2011. Apparently you would have to pay for the wine and the cup as well about 4 euro. The price also depends on how fancy the cup was as different stand would have different cups but generally only about 3 different kinds in the whole markets. 
Hot Mulled Wine and a Hotdog

So if you wan a souvenir from Christmas Markets in Germany just keep the cups. Some could even make it a yearly tradition I suppose but for poor backpackers like me you could also return the cups and get a refund of 2 euro. Or a refill for 2 euro. Nice system I would say.

Seeing the people prepare the mulled wine out in the open cold no one could resist stopping and buying a cup to sip. Heck it was freezing as well so almost everyone nearly always had a cup in hand even the kids …. Though theirs might had been hot chocolate. You buy a drink at one edge of the town where the markets starts … keep refilling and finally return to another stand at the opposite side of the market as long it’s the same pattern.

I might had missed out German Beer and October Feast but sipping hot mulled wine out in the freezing cold eating a bratwurst hotdog sure made up for it. 

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Hostel in a House & The blue Eye blond hair German Boy

The first hostel that was like a home in a apartment with no one else but me or so I thought. Not a bad pick for a getaway from your own holiday which I now somewhat understand why long travelers just camp out days in the hostel when there is so much to explore.

Its tiring traveling ….

I decided to stay for four days to recuperate and just chill in the quiet corner and catch up in rest and more long awaited journal writing. I had to also planned my next fast track route with no rest all the way to England. So I decided since there was a small kitchen with basic facility to went grocery shopping.

One big packet of German Sausage ( 12 pcs )
One tray of Egg ( 12 eggs )
One packet of cheese ( 12 pcs )
A jar of mayonnaise
A large loaf of bread
A full packet of onions ( 5 big pcs )

That was supposedly my supply for lunch and dinner for four days worth of food.  A bit too much for me alone but there was a reason for it. It was cheaper to buy in bulk even considering throwing away one third of it. I guess there was also always the idea of leaving the balance behind for the next backpacker who’s on a budget. 

Leave a note …. “Extra food for all” … that was my idea anyway …

Then came my housemate in the wee evening checking in and although we both paid for the cheapest dorm room there was, the owner was so kind to give us both our own room since there was practically no one there.

My housemate “Bluey” … somehow the name fits as he was in a blue mood most of the time considering his life situation and his blue eyes.

Bluey was a blue eyed blond hair German boy in the early thirties. His story was like any other … a bachelor in the pursuit of happiness. He came to Leipzig to find jobs and had almost no money left other than to pay the rent for the dorm. While cooking I asked if he would join me and before I knew it I was cooking and feeding a new weird friend for three days. I had the extra food anyway which I had to explain the theory before he would even consider taking my food. A pure gentleman he was trying to make it on his own two feet.

Bluey and I exchanged stories from all sorts of stuff from politics, hobbies, sports, ideology, religion and culture since we basically were just hanging out for dinner everyday and just chatted till late night before sleep.

The one that stuck in my head after nearly a year since the trip will always be of the German culture mindset change due to the WWII. According to Bluey before the world war the Germans were proud people, they had pride in being a nation or country but after the war it was changed. The Germans were still proud in the sense of making good cars like BMW or being technologically advance or still being afloat during the Euro crisis but would no longer show a sense to fight/die for your country. He told me that kids were thought of the WWII and being on the losing side will always have an effect on the people.

Bluey told me of how when young he would be shown on TV the torture and suffering of the Holocaust and kids would ask their parents why did German people did it which was truly difficult to answer. The effect resulted in what I would consider a very kind / overly friendly German people. So much so polite they were that you’ll come to love em more than the rude Italians or Uncooperative Greeks. Then again its just what I felt at that time.

My thanks from Bluey for the food was one shared small bottle of German Whiskey Jagermeister.


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Leipzig My Getaway Town

My miserable days in Berlin due to the cold weather was too much to bear so I was now looking for a place to chill relax and just box up in a warm room for a few days. I ended up in Leipzig by staring at the Germany map after many hours in the hostel dorm.

Why Leipzig …. I have no idea but it seam like the less touristy place of all and it was about time for a recharge pit stop anyway.

Leipzig Train Station

There was not much choices of hostel in Leipzig and I went on to chose the cheapest there was about 10euro a night which was way out of town. It was really far from the train station or main town square in a sense you need to take a bus ride for 15 minutes or at lease an hour and half walk.

HomePlanet-Hostel was the name of the place.

The location was very local … right smack in the middle of the local residency. There was nothing there touristy and when I turn up at the door step ringing the bell I found my self not in a hostel but in a local resident apartment. The owner had improvised the place to become a hostel and with the current internet cyberspace these days it was easy to get an account on hostel world or hostel bookers and he was trying to set up some sort of mini business.

Not a bad idea thou he had lots more to improve since there was no reception hence if you arrive without advance notice and the owner is drinking at the bar … you probably sleep at the pavement since the owner don’t stay there as well.

I was almost left sleeping at the pavement as well ……

Still it was a cozy place very comfortable and best of all during the winter month of November it was practically empty. Cold November plus not so touristy town plus far far away hostel left me with the whole apartment to myself .… or so I thought at first till my housemate buddy showed up later. ( another story on the next post )