Leipzig and 34c3

December in Leipzig is cold. The bus from Sarajevo was 20 hours, mostly overnight. The bus arrived at the airport an hour late, and I promptly got on an express train in the wrong direction. Eventually I made it into the city, and checked into the hostel which had entirely to myself for three days. I didn't even see any staff; I was given a door code to get in. Apparently people have other things to do around the 25th of December.

So do restaurant owners. None of the veg*n places I'd noted were open. I ended up spending the 25th in the central train station eating pretzels and drinking coffee, and enjoying the bubble of non-festive activities which managed to continue.

I'd thought about going to 34c3 buildup at the conference center, but never quite made it.

In between checking out of my hostel and checking in to a shared airbnb, I spent a few hours hiking around Clara-Zetkin park. It was cold but clear. Leipzig has a lot of green spaces, and I probably should have made time to explore more.

A coffee and a pretzel on a plate, on a wooden table with some blue and silver christmassy paper in the corner A woman walking through some trees by a river, with the sun glowing in the center Blue sky with tree silhouettes in the background; green grass and a pointed small hut in the foreground

I went to the Congress Center on the evening of the 26th for the first time. Food options were not exceptional, but there was a vegan food truck on premises (Vegan Spirit). The food they served was really good, but as with everywhere else in the vicinity, overpriced. I alternated between this and supermarket supplies.

The Congress Center is huge. It has a rocket.

I signed up to be an Angel, went to some intro meetings, and registered for some Speaker Desk and Subtitling shifts. But when I went to pick up the first Speaker Desk shift I was told they were not and had never been recruiting (so the 30 minutes I spent there the day before being signed up to a thousand wikis and stuff were apparently a waste of time). When I went to do subtitling, they weren't expecting so many people and I waited around for a while before being assigned anything to do. I did one shift, but gave up with helping with anything after that. I got the impression you really have to be part of an in-crowd to actually do anything useful.

I went to some talks. Ones that stood out were BGP and the Rule of Custom by Caleb James DeLisle and The Ultimate Apollo Guidance Computer Talk.

But mostly I hung out in the Teahouse, chatting, drinking tea, meeting random lovely people from Mastodon (thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hi! This was great actually, I just occasionally tooted where I was and people just appeared. My favourite question of the week was "bist du rhiaro?") In between human interactions, I read Isaac Asimov's Second Foundation. I finished it as the teahouse was being torn down around me on the last day, reaching the last page in time to drop it in the top of the final box of books that had been packed up.

A blue rocket statue on the left, with the interior of a domed conference center lit in yellow and blue to the right A black badge with 'engel' printed in red and 'rhiaro' handwritten on a white label A blue tray with a white teapot, strainer, and three green/blue cups, from above

I'd been skeptical of the schedule before I went. I've developed a pretty normal sleep cycle over the last 6 months of having a Real Job. But I ended up giving in and staying until 2-5am in the morning every day. I sucessively had 6, 5 and then 4 hours sleep each night. Somehow, everything was fine. I did nap in the Teahouse. I love a conference where it's both acceptable and expected to find people napping all over the place.

34c3 did not have a Code of Conduct. I may have reconsidered going if I'd known that before, on principle. I just assumed.. I mean.. I thought everyone has a CoC these days. I thought it was common sense. I don't know what they're afraid of. At one point I heard a dude yelling at another dude "if you don't want a conference witout a code of conduct, don't come!" as if that solved everything. Wow. I hope the organisers get their shit together on that.

I got carried away the first time I went into a real (German not Bosnian) dm and bought a mountain of chocolate. I ate vegan currywurst (except with peanut sauce instead of curry), twice at Burgermeister (the kidneybean burger is 100x better than the seitan one) and had a fancy and very delicious not-quiche at vegan restaurant Symbiotica. And lots of pretzels. I spotted lots of kebab places which advertised seitan kebabs and vegan pizza, but didn't get around to trying any.

A shopping basket containing vegan cookies and chocolate A white plate with greens and a yellow quiche Coffee in a blue cup, and two pretzels on a plate

Leipzig's public transit is pretty good. The airport is small and pretty dead. Wouldn't recommend for long stopovers. The bus station is the side of a road, also no good for sleeping or hanging around. But it's near Hauptbahnhof, which is a wonderful place. A week tram/S-Bahn ticket is not particularly good value unless you're going to be using them three or four times per day. Otherwise you might as well buy the 1.90/4 stops or 2.80/1 zone tickets. I got a discounted 16EUR 4 day 34c3 ticket though, which was definitely worth it.

Anyway overall it was a good time.

I stayed at Congress past tear-down, then went into town for dinner. We ate mediocre Indian food at India Gate because I thought I'd read a recommendation of this place, but I think I got the wrong restaurant. Then I took a night bus to Munich, obviously went straight for a burger at Hans Im Gluck, and caught a plane (the last one I swear) to Malta.

All photos are here.

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