Monday, May 17, 2010

My More Stereotypical Idea of Europe

It's Veronica! :-D

So, yesterday we went to Dresden. Absolutely gorgeous. We had to make the decision earlier last week of whether or not we wanted to go to go or not, because, if we did, we would have to get up at 5:45 to meet at the train station at 7. That was a no-brainer to me. We're in Europe, for God's sake. We need to take advantage of the opportunities that we have while we're here. Anyway, we did decide as a group to go to Dresden. Getting up so earlier was also completely worth it. It was actually better than I thought it would be (not that I thought it wasn't going to be good).

We woke up and got to the train station to meet Helmut (our guide for the day). He gave us a paper with the history of Dresden on it. I was really glad that we got it because I love history with a flaming passion. I thought that that was a good way to start off the day. Helmut was just a cool guy in general. He was born in Dresden in 1943, two years before it was bombed in February of 1945. He lived through many different forms of government too. I don't know how he's as upbeat as he is. He never once got tired yesterday. It was pretty awesome too because Helmut seemed to love what he was talking about. I think that is very important when giving a tutor, lecturing a class, or just teaching in general. Not only was I impressed with his attitude, but I was also impressed with myself. I got a little worn out yesterday, but not much. Most importantly, I could understand Helmut! He spoke in German almost the whole time. Wow, has this trip been great for my German understanding.

The train ride to Dresden took longer than it should have because they were repairing the train tracks, so we had to make a few transfers, but it wasn't bad. We were all so tired that we fell asleep anyway. As soon as we got to Dresden we were ready for action.

The first part was so beautiful. We got to visit the new part of Dresden. It was pretty cool to see what they have done to make it more modern and appealing to people. It was artsy, and like something out of my high school art history class. They had cool drainage things that were similar to gigantic funnels on the wall for some buildings. Basically, I wouldn't mind living there. We were even walking around and saw a U of M flag! Isn't that nuts? Our fans are all over the world. Go blue!

After a little while of walking around the really nice new part of Dresden Helmut showed us this beautiful palace. It is a reconstruction because it (like most parts of Dresden) was bombed. The sole purpose of this place used to be to keep porcelain. Ridiculous. We walked by the set of movie when we left the palace. I don't blame them for filming something their. It was pretty snazzy.

We crossed the bridge after the palace to the old part of Dresden. I really thought the new part was all that there was, and I would have been satisfied with that. Boy, was I in for a treat...


Yeah. I kind of enjoyed being there... I mean, as soon as we stepped onto the bridge it was like we entered a different place, in a different time. This is the kind of Europe that I am used to. Before this trip to Berlin I had only been to Europe once. I took a trip last year to Paris, Florence, and Rome. Obviously big tourist towns, and a lot more what Dresden is like. I don't know what I prefer more. I think that I really like the tourist towns when I am on a tour and can appreciate all the history and why people are so attracted to these places. In any case, it was great to shake it up during our trip.

I forgot what energy big cities like Paris, Florence, Rome, (and now) Dresden have. It's like you're thrown into a big amusement park and told that you're allowed to skip all the lines you want to. Everywhere you look there is something amazing that you want to experience for yourself. All over the place are stands with delicious foods that have the aromas float toward you ini a way that makes you want to go broke on that alone. There are also little booths with the cutest (and cheapest) souvenirs. On every corner are some type of street performers prepared to blow you off your feet. These aren't the ones like in Berlin that sadly get onto a train and recite the only poem that they know for you, these are full blown bands and choirs. They know how to get your money, and are happy when you do your job and gladly give in. I talked to one performer from Canada last year in Rome who said that this was his summer job. I swear, the weather even got better for us just to make sure that we were having fun if we weren't already jumping up and down with the simple excitement of being there.

Dresden has many reconstructions of old buildings. There are palaces and churches galore. The first place we went to when we crossed the bridge was a HUMUNGOUS palace that reminded me a lot of Versailles. There was this courtyard in the middle, and it had many fountains and statues all around. Although I saw a lot of these types of things last year in Europe, I was completely blown away. It is astounding to me that something like this can be built. My favorite part was the inscription on the inside of an entrance telling how the Soviet's liberated the area and were great heros. It was obviously propaganda, but I loved it. There was also a DDR mosaic/mural that was on a building that was in such an obviously DDR style that I didn't have to look at it for more than a second to know what it was. After closer inspection I was pleased with myself that I was able to recognize it that quickly. My suspicions were even confirmed when Helmut mentioned it to Janet.

After the palace we went to a Catholic church. I can't even begin to explain to you how excited I was. This may be a surprise to any of you who know me (because I am NOT religious at all), but it really shouldn't. As soon as I stepped inside the church I was greeted with a very missed sight; a beautifully decorated hall that makes you want to become spiritually if you aren't already. This church in particular was actually the last Baroque church made in Europe. It amazes me every time that people are able to make something so wonderful. I turned to Michelle and her socks were basically on the other side of the city (because they were knocked off). Seriously. For someone who has never been to anything like this it is a completely humbling experience.

The only other church we went to was a Lutheran one. Usually these churches are more simple, but beautiful in their own way. Not this one. This church (Die Frauen Kirche) was made to show off. It was even more fantastic than the last one. I had seen a church similar to this in Rome by Bernini, but I think I may like this one better. It had gold in the front and the color of the church was a sky blue. This was a complete reconstruction from before, and was very debated before being rebuilt a few years ago. I'm very glad that they did it.

The next thing that we did was look at a museum called Das Grünes Gewölbe (The Green Vault). This place was a collection of many beautiful pieces of art. We only had an hour to look and spent in in the area that had gold, ivory, pearls, and other precious jewels. The biggest thing that I got out of it is that I am not surprised in the least that peasants revolted in Europe. How was it fair that people would have thousands of these things that are worth fortunes when normal citizens wouldn't have enough money to buy bread? It didn't stop me from coming to the conclusion that Michelle and I are going to live in die Frauen Kirche and use many of the things within the Green Vault to decorate our place. :-)

We didn't get to do anything else in Dresden, but that was okay with me. I needed time to digest what we had just seen. My conclusion that I drew from this trip was that war sucks. I mean, I knew that before, but seeing what a beautiful place Dresden is just made me feel even more strongly on this subject. There were so many amazing things lost when it was destroyed, and it breaks my heart to know that even more places suffered the same fate. One town is bad enough. I also think that the people that came into power after the destruction of all of these places weren't the smartest. They often tore down what remained of the old times. People need to start appreciating history more. I realize that they want to be modern, but money isn't everything. These places are never going to be able to be made again, even with reconstructions. It is amazing how much survived, but it will be truly a phenomenal thing when we stop allowing things like that to happen.

Peace out until my next post. I've hogged the computer for long enough. To whoever read this post, thank you for your patience. And I really applaud whoever read my last post. Tootles!

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