After arriving in Berlin, we drove two hours into Leipzig. This first week is a blurr of exploring and work. I’m finally getting my bearings around the city; I can find the grocery store, farmers market, and pub mile (all a girl needs!). For the first few days, we wondered aimlessly or would pick something interesting in the skyline and walk that way.
During our explorations, we saw many people walking around in elaborate gothic outfits ranging anywhere from dark woodland creatures, corseted dresses, or fishnet shirts. Turns out we arrived in the middle of Wave-Gotik-Treffen (WGT), the biggest gothic music festival in the world with more than 20,000 people flooding Leipzig. We paid to go into the market area of the festival, but didn’t buy tickets to the shows themselves. It reminded me of a renaissance fair I attended a year ago, just with a primarily black dress code.
We joined these fellow visitors in the medieval torture museum. The man at the ticket counter commented on how American museums are expensive. I love going to small museums in Europe, they can have nice collections, don’t take all day, and are cheap.
We are in the middle of festival season in Leipzig. We’ve already attended three this week: WGT, the Irish festival, and Bachfest. Just walking the streets we found carnival rides, food stands, and, of course, alcohol stands spread out through the city.
A group of us took a zoo day. Having not done my research, I thought the zoo would be rather small. However, we ended up taking 6 hours to see all the animals (even with the aquarium closed). It is the best zoo I’ve ever visited. The animal exhibits look great, vultures jump out of bushes right next to you to pose for a picture (or maybe for a more menacng purpose?), and squirrel monkeys roam free on their little island as you hope one will jump onto your shoulder. We were probably more tired from our zoo day than from working.
Finally, on Sunday we visited Buchenwald Memorial. This concentration camp was used during World War 2 and later by the Russians. It was haunting to see the area then recognize those places in photos inside the memorial centers.
Outside the grounds of the camp are two mass burial sites that were used by the communists after the war. The camp was still active after the war, but this time filled with communist political prisoners and nazis. Families of those in these graves (some 7,000+) put crosses up, but these areas are kept separate from the memorial inside for respect of individuals killed by some of those same individuals or people like-minded to them.
Back in the camp the museum houses possessions of individuals who were forced here and allows you to hear survivors’ and family members’ stories. We tried to find a word to describe this visit. Definitely not fun, somewhere between important and neccessary.
I’m still trying to fall into a balance of work hard and play hard. I want to explore as much as possible because “we’re already here, might as well,” but also realize that I have a lot of time to explore the area as I’ll be here until early July.