Friday, January 18, 2013

If we’re south of Berlin now, why is it still so cold?

Annenkirche, Dresden

Weather, schmeather.  Neither sleet, nor snow, nor cold winds in the face will keep us from tromping around cobblestone streets to see things we don’t see at home! 

There is a flashing sign in our snazzy bus – it alternates between the time of day and the temperature in Celsius.  Most of the day today (and yesterday) it alternated between 1 and 3 degrees.  Most of us know that such a temp would mean it was about 33 -35 degrees outside (Fahrenheit).  Oddly enough, 35 degrees at home finds us thinking its pretty wonderful……, well, geez it’s cold.  We just learned that the guage simply doesn’t work.  They can TELL us that it’s 35 but we all know better….we’re from SOUTH DAKOTA for goodness sakes.  After much discussion, we have learned that these signs simply don’t work.  It’s been more like 15 – 18 degrees F.   So it’s NO WONDER why we’re frozen solid after three hours outdoors!  HA!  Tough souls indeed, this group!

Departure from Leipzig this morning about 10:00 a.m. (all robes and people accounted for).  About 90 minutes later we found ourselves in the heart of Dresden.  Our guides, Hans and Liz decided it would be fun for the students to see something other than the “typical tourist sites” of the city, so we lunched and spent some time in the area referred to as “Neustadt” – the “new city” across the river from what most of us see.  It really was fun to get the chance to see “normal life” in a university area – lots of small shops, coffee spots, artsy kinds of places.   At the end of the “Konigstrasse” was the golden statue of Frederick, once the King of Prussia and a pretty amazing view of the “AltStadt”  (Old City) across the river. 
Back on the buses – across the river to our hotel for the night, adjacent to the main Dresden Train Station.   Within the next couple of hours, most of the gang found their way in to the shops, great little restaurants and even Burger King for a bite before our evening concert at the Annenkirche.

The original 1578 church was destroyed by Prussian troops in 1760 during the Seven Years' War. The new church was opened in 1769 and once again nearly destroyed during the Second World War.  The bombing of Dresden was an attack on the city that took place in the final months of the war.  In four raids between 13 and 15 February 1945, allied forces dropped more than 3,900 tons of bombs and incendiary devices on the city. The resulting firestorm destroyed fifteen square miles of the city centre. It is estimated that approximately 25,000 people were killed.   The wonderful thing about the Annenkirche is that 1000 people gathered together in this church, and while the windows melted due the to fires, and bombs dropped within, they all survived.  Our host told us tonight that one woman who survived the attack is still is a member of the parish today and tells of how the firebombs would drop into the sanctuary and women would quickly put out the fire with buckets of sand.  And so it went….for two full days.  What an amazing place to be. 

Andrew Paulson......ready to go!
The Choir one again performed beautifully, in a completely different acoustic than any of the previous concerts.  Crazy.  Hats off to our pianist/organist Andrew Paulson (Jackson MN) who tonight played “the biggest organ I’ve ever seen!” and was able to accompany the choir from the piano three floors above the choir (and at the rear of the church!) because the setting was so amazing.  (And he plays so well, of course!) 

In the words of our host, “Das war WunderSchone!”   (quite a complement!)
Rehearsal at Annenkirche

Tomorrow – a walk throught the Alt Statdt and onward to Prague!