Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Dusting (of snow) in Dresden!


Our day began like the others – a sumptuous feast of meats, cheeses, bountiful breads, scrambled eggs, sausages, yogurts, well, you get the idea.   If one can’t find anything for breakfast on this tour, one simply does not enjoy breakfast!  We gave the gang another late start (10:00 a.m.) with the hopes that the breaking dawn would give way to warmer temps and sunshine. 

Not to be.  Not the time of our departure, but the temps and sunshine.  Yup, another gloomy, snowy, freezing, but terrific day.   How can that be?  

The first reason is that this truly is a happy group.  No complainers to be found around here, and rather than wonder why we aren’t here in summer (although we all think that) we know that our nice hotels, no lines at things we want to see, and lower prices for just about everything are because we are here now.  “Only the hearty need apply” I guess. 

Once loaded up, we drove to a spot where our buses could drop us, and took off again on foot (words of “I actually WORE my long underwear today” and “did you try those footwarmer things? They really work!” could be heard…..)  But here we were, in the midst of “Alt Stadt” Dresden, among the beautiful Baroque buildings of King Augustus the Great days.

Group in front of Dresden Opera House
The Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), Royal Palace, Zwinger, Semper Opera House, surround this main square area of the city.  It seems the likes of Augustus the Strong and his successors built this city with their skill, artistry and determination. They filled the Grüne Gewölbe (Green Vault) and Türckische Cammer (Turkish Chamber) with treasures from all over the world, collected paintings and porcelain, and were patrons of the great composers. No wonder that Dresden ranked as a world-class city of art and culture.  Then of course, came the war and the bombing which destroyed 90% of the city center.  How then, we wondered, did things today look as though they’ve been there forever; those who restored these buildings were the same brilliant artisans as those who built the original structures.
 
Hans and Liz gave us an hour long walking tour of the area, then allowed us an additional three hours to head out on independent exploration.  Some saw the amazing treasures in the Green Vault – others the Meissen porcelain (later referred to as Dresden porcelain) in the former palace – and still others found time to shop.  (Imagine that!)  I’ve not heard if anyone climbed to the top of the Fraunkirche, but if they did, they will sleep well tonight!

After leaving Dresden, we took off for Prague, and arrive about 6:00 p.m. tonight.  Some heavier snow as we climbed the smaller mountains at the Czech/German border, but not so much now that we are here.  Tomorrow, the Choir sings at Mass at Our Lady Before Tyne and has a full concert in the Klementine Mirror Chapel.  You’ll hear more about those tomorrow night (if we don’t get home too late!)

Group near Martin Luther Statue at Fraunkirche
Two other important updates to share.  One is from Potsdam where the Potsdam television station will soon make available the concert tape from our night at St. Nikolaikirche.  We’ll make that link available here.  Dr. Nesheim told me today of a young woman who stopped him during the intermission at that concert.  She told him that the Choir was very special to her now forever as while they were singing at the City Hall earlier in the day, her boyfriend suddenly proposed to her.  Imagine that!

Altar of Fraunekirche
Looking up at the dome of the Frauenkirche
The other comment refers to Dr. Nesheim as well.  Your editor made a grave error in his quote of the conductor the other night……(it was the late hour, believe me)…..when he wrote that “Singing at Bach’s grave was the most amazing thing that ever happened to him (or most exciting, or something like that….)  WELL, with all due respect, these words must be corrected.  “Singing at Bach’s tomb was the greatest MUSICAL moment of  my life,” said Dr Nesheim.  I think Mrs. Nesheim will like me better now.  J    Oh, it’s so easy to get so carried away…………………….

Until the sun doesn’t shine again…….auf wiedersehen!

Our first view of the Czech Republic!