Parental Visit

The rents arrived for a visit yesterday morning. Fun times! I first met up with them outside the Semperoper yesterday around 2:30 after I was finished with my rehearsals for the day. Being without any form of communication with each other in Germany except for speaking face to face we planned our meeting place the day prior before they had left America. The plan was to meet either outside the theatre or back in the lobby of the hotel. Not knowing which place they would be I came out of rehearsal into the “platz” with my eyes peeled. I slowly swerved my way around hoards of tourists to finally find them standing along the far side of the platz with the same searching eyes. I took them back to see my apartment (and so I could shower) and then we headed to Neustadt to check out an interesting store that the guidebook recommended. It was a quaint wine and cheese store that was decorated wall to wall lovely painted tiles. Along with a large assortment of cheese, wine, and other milk products another room in the store sold random little trinkets and a few gift boxes with strawberry wine and jams. Tasty. They sadly do not allow pictures and, as witnessed, will not hesitate to remind you if they see you pulling out your camera to take one. Before leaving we bought a small piece of Camembert and part of a loaf of walnut bread for a late afternoon snack/very early appetizer, depending on your point of view. It was sublime. After we finished our snack we headed back to Alstadt for dinner at Max. It was a simple restaurant with a simple interior and simple food. Don’t mistake and of the simplicity for lack of quality though. It was all delicious. From the local draft beer, the tomato soup and the pork with potato pancakes to the smoked salmon, the grilled vegetables and the olives everything was quite tasty. After dinner M & D headed back to their hotel for a long restorative sleep.

Day 2: Saturday. I had a short morning at ballet. As we arranged prior to parting the night before, my parents and I met up at 11:30 at their hotel. We had lunch at the Herbstmarkt that has been set up in Altmarkt Platz for almost a month now. I had currywurst with pommes (my first), Dad got bratwurst with sauerkraut and potatoes and Mom got a picked herring sandwich. The currywurst was basically just a cut up bratwurst with some type of curry like sauce poured on it. I added fries on the side. They were made fresh to order too. The bratwurst is cooked at any time and just kept warm if it is not sold right away but they make the fries to order. I had to wait an extra 5 minutes or so before I got my lunch just for the fries. But hey, I’m not complaining!

Our next stop was the Hygiene Museum on the outskirts of the Grosser Garten. Don’t let the name fool you, this museum had nothing to do with soap or handy wipes or hand sanitizer. No no no. The stationary exhibit has features on the human body, inside and out, germs, food, the brain, sex, limb deformities, eyes and ears, and beauty and appearance. The temporary exhibit featured artwork from different time periods of artists attempts to capture human expression and the first few images and artist renderings of the brain and its inner workings. Very interesting indeed.

For dinner we headed to another guidebook recommendation that I have had my eye on since I got to Dresden but never made the trip to. The brenNessel is an adorable little restaurant hidden among houses and the Dresden School of Music. Everything on the menu was vegetarian. And everything on the menu was only written in German. It was an adventure just translating let alone deciding what we were in the mood to eat. We figured most of it out (with a little help from out waitor) and made some very delicious decisions. We all shared two salads to start. The first had a coleslaw type base and was topped with apple slices, walnuts, and the biggest green grapes I have ever seen. The second had a small bed of arugula underneath a generous mound of roast beets and large clumps of goat cheese. The beets had some sort of sauce on them that somewhat resembled the color of Pepto-Bismol but was not in anyway unappealing. For the main course we ordered three entrees that we were all interested in and split them each three ways. Entree number one was a roulade. Cabbage rolled with some sort of grain on the inside topped with a fresh tomato sauce. On the side were large roasted potatoes with rosemary and a small green salad. Yum. Entree number two was a pasta dish. Penne with mushrooms and cubed apples tossed in a creamy gorgonzola sauce. Double yum. Entree number three was rice, chickpeas and eggplant with curry spices baked in a casserole dish with a layer of sheeps cheese and a few cashews on top. Triple yum! All three had such different flavors but not one was any better or worse than the last. They were all exceptional. I’m just sad I didn’t make the trip to this restaurant sooner because I would love to go back! I did take home the part of the rice/curry/eggplant/cheesy deliciousness that we got too full to finish and I can’t wait to enjoy it a second time.

 

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Sights To Be Seen

This weekend was a little different for me schedule wise… I had to go in to the studios on Sunday for an open house of the Semperoper. Because of this, we were given Monday off. It was so nice to walk outside on my day off and have stores to wander through and people all around me on the street to observe. What a privilege. I think I spent at least 3 hours people watching. That wasn’t the only activity I spent my day doing but it certainly was the most entertaining.

Dresdeners really have some interesting fashion. I really can’t smush it all into one generic style. In fact, I think the way I can successfully generalize Dresden fashion is to say there is no fashion at all. Yeah, that sounds about right. I will just let you feast your eyes on a few examples so you can truly understand.

After I had had enough with creeping on innocent people Hannah and I wandered into a part of Alstadt we had not yet been.  We walked a block off the main street and we welcomed by a large courtyard. On the opposite side of the cobblestone expanse stood the Frauenkirche, a gorgeous church that has graced the Dresden skyline over 2 centuries before it completely collapsed two days after the 1945 bombing and was left a pile of rubble. After Germany reunified, the public pushed to rebuild the structure and in 2005 a spitting image of the original was completed. A few pieces of the original building were salvaged and used in the rebuilding and are easy to spot due to their much darker (burnt) color.

The inside of the church was pristine. I could not help but gasp at it’s beauty when I first entered the church. Honestly. I made noise. The whole inside was white with many gold accents. The paint colors used were soft hues of pink, blue, and yellow giving it the impression of a baby’s room (and all of the innocent thoughts that go along with babies).

Not even 5 minutes after we entered a man walked up to the podium and began speaking. We had no idea what he was saying of course but everyone else inside the church began filing into the pews and sitting down to listen. Oops! Time to go. We quietly made our way out and continued wandering the streets. We walked down a small street lined with restaurants catered to tourist (the courtyard had several hotels and also many touristy restaurants), climbed a small flight of stairs and found ourselves in front of another old gorgeous building facing a beautiful view of the Elbe River and Neustadt. Wandering to our right we found a small garden nestled along the river that we strolled through. Once we circled the garden it was time to head back home. Laundry had to be done and point shoes had to be sewn. Plus we were plum tuckered out. Too many beautiful buildings (and oddly dressed people) for one day. Phew!

Double Market Day

What is there to do on a Sunday in Dresden? Not much. Not much at all. Most of the stores are closed all day long and ‘Dresdeners’ somehow remain hidden until the early hours of the afternoon. Where they are or what they are doing is far beyond me. Maybe they all need to sleep off their horrible hangovers from the barrel of beer each of them consumed the night before. I wouldn’t be surprised. (Beer is cheaper than water here. No joke.)

Thankfully as Hannah and I were the wandering around Neustadt (the part of Dresden north of the Elbe River) searching for a café, we came across an outdoor market. On our way home from the café we wandered in to see what goods it had to offer. It wasn’t a particularly large market, about 25 craft vendors and 5 or 6 food carts. It was rather peculiar though. The vendors were all selling essentially the same things: ceramic mugs, dishes, pots, and bowls. The only difference from stall to stall was the decoration and the style of the items.

I wonder if it was a special ceramic festival or something because that truly was all that was there. There were 2 stalls selling beads, but I bet those were ceramic too. Hey, maybe when Germans have had too much beer they turn ceramic making into a party game then just sell off their excess to pay for more beer. (Not a bad idea actually.)  As we were wandering around the ceramics we passed by a food cart selling bratwurst and I decided it was time. Time to have my first wurst. I negotiated the entire transaction in German too. “Eins bitte. Ja. Ja. Danke.” Success. The wurst came fresh off the grill and was nestled into a bun. After asking me for approval, the “chef” then laid a line of mustard along the wurst. The meat stuck out a good 3 inches from the bun on both sides. A perfect way to ensure that the eater will enjoy the bratwurst in is pure, delicious untouched form. That was one of the best sausages I have ever had. The soft and incredibly flavorful inside pleasantly exploded from the crunchy casing when you bit into it. Then add the plain fluffy bun around the outside for the last few bites. Pure bliss.

 

After I recovered from the wonderment of my first (but not only) bratwurst, we headed home for some hydration and a little rest. About an hour and a half later we headed back out to explore market number 2. This market was in Alstadt (the other side of the river) in the Altmarkt. We have seen them setting up for a few days so we made it a destination for our weekend. This market was quite different. Thank goodness. The biggest change was where people were selling their goods. They upgraded from tables under tents to mini buildings. I can’t think of a better way to describe it really.

They were constructed out of wood. Each had a roof, a counter in front where the vendors displayed what they were selling, a room behind where they could stand, doors to get in and out of the back, and shutters to close them up at night. It was quite an ordeal. The items being sold ranged from ornate wood villages and doilies to leather purses and wallets to candy, spices, and dried fruits. There were a few repeats of course but overall the variety of goods being sold was infinitely better than at market number 1. There were also many more food choices at market number 2. The end of each row of buildings had a mini restaurant. There were picnic tables set up all around the plaza where folks were drinking and dining. The food being sold was classic German fare, bratwurst of all sorts, mushroom dishes, french fries (??), beer, some type of German doughnut, crepes (??), and ice cream. Germans eat a lot of ice cream. There are shops all over the streets and it is impossible to walk around Dresden in the afternoon and not see at least 20 people licking an ice cream cone.

I may have figured it out. The staples of a German diet necessary for survival are ice cream, bratwurst, and beer. (In no particular order of course.)

“Rocket”

Today was my first day of official ballet business. The morning started with heading to the Palucca Hochschule for the orientation meeting starting the school year. Throughout the minor 20 minute bus ride from our apartment to the school other students were getting on at nearly every stop. We followed them through the building because, let’s be real, we had no clue where the Green Room was. As soon as I heard the bustling of happy students seeing each other again rising up from downstairs I knew we were soon to be the new fish in the pond. We filed into the room with everyone else and sat down. Little did I realize we were about to get “a full crash course in German.” I was able to understand every other thought that the director spoke about. There was a slide show of students dancing in a field as part of a project, some new students being introduced, and an overview of the school year. I was briefed in English by the director after the meeting and was told my rehearsals would be starting today! He said we should take the class with the bachelor students (that began 30 minutes from then) and then head over to the Semperoper to start rehearsals for Swan Lake. No better way to start then at full speed!

At the Semperoper studios it was a whole different world. Within literally 30 seconds of wandering into the building looking lost we were offered help by no less than 6 dancers. Everyone was so friendly. The artistic director came up to introduce himself to us as soon as he saw us and gave us a short run down of how all the posters were laid out. Although everyone speaks English at the ballet (too many nationalities to keep it all straight) all of the schedules and cast list and such are printed in German. After staring at them all long enough and comparing back and forth I have it all basically figured out. I know where to go and at which time and for now that will do just fine.

Moving on to dinner… since I have arrived to Dresden all of my meals have been created from the small selection of foods at our local grocery store. There is a rather limited option, not only of recognizable foods, but just of food in general. My meals have consisted mostly of meusli, yogurt, trail mix, lettuce, cheese, nutella, milk, eggs, rice, carrots, eggplant, and soy sauce. (For a few nights I sauteed up some eggplant in a pan with garlic and onion and soy sauce if I felt like it and served it over rice or lettuce.) Even though I am trying to be as creative as possible I sure am missing the varied diet I was accustomed to back at home. Thankfully one of the apprentices I met at the ballet today informed me of another grocery store in close proximity to our apartment that is far superior to where we have been going. I believe I will be checking that out tomorrow. For dinner tonight though, I went out with Hannah and the other apprentices to an Italian restaurant  in Neustadt on the north side of the Elbe River. I know, so German right. You’ll just have to forgive me, I needed some variety of any kind at this point. I ordered pizza with fresh tomatoes, parmesan, mushrooms, and arugula. The English translation on the menu translated arugula as “rocket.” Gotta love Europe! It was supremely delicious. The “rocket” was fresh and spicy and the crust was thin and crispy. Just the way I like it. Needless to say I ate it all. Save for one piece that I gave to Hannah.

Over all a day of success.