exploring dresden (plus snow pictures!)

I’ve been up to a lot of cool stuff in the past few weeks that I haven’t gotten around to writing about! I’ve gotten to see a bunch of different aspects of what Dresden has to offer, and it has me energized to get out and see even more!

[I have been awful about taking pictures while doing these various things, so enjoy these pictures from our SNOW DAY today! (That might actually be misleading. It was a snow day because it snowed, but life went on as scheduled because it’s not like this is Texas.)]

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The view from my window

If you haven’t caught on yet, I really love Dresden. It is the happiest of accidents that I ended up here! I knew almost nothing about the city before I decided to come here, and the reason I ended up at the university here was correspondence with a professor with whom I’m not even working anymore! The university, the Technical University of Dresden, is one of 12 distinguished universities in Germany as of 2012 (and the only east German school on that list!), so even that was a happy surprise, but as far as cities go, I couldn’t be happier!

Dresden is big enough that there is lots to do, even after several months of being a (fairly) active tourist-slash-resident. But it’s small enough that it doesn’t take 3 hours to travel from one place to another, a la Houston. It’s old enough to have so much fascinating and inspiring history, yet new enough to have a great art, music, and cultural scene. It’s ideally located right between Berlin and Prague (2 hours from each). Basically, I love it here and I’m so glad this is “my” city.

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Our balcony view… the Russian Church is so pretty!

I’ve blogged already about exploring the historic city center, including the Frauenkirche, the Kathedrale, the Christmas markets (when they were there…), and the many museums. (I have yet to make it to the Zwinger Palace! This is my one big, gaping Dresden hole so far!)

Two weekends in a row, some of the “internationals” decided to explore Neustadt. Neustadt (“new city,” literally) is the part of town north of the river where most of the bars/party scene is. I had never really been there… I’m not much of a party gal, but it seems to be pretty much my speed, so I’ve been enjoying getting to know it a bit better.

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One night, Felicitas, Nathaniel, and I got dinner and drinks at one bar where we made fools of ourselves first thing by not knowing how to operate the front door, and then moved on to a magical place called the Schokoladenbar (chocolate bar) where they served wonderful drinks that might as well be dessert! During our wanderings through the Neustadt, we stumbled upon the Kunsthofpassage, where there is a bunch of cool street art and cute little shops. This building supposedly plays music when it rains (though based on this video, that may be an exaggeration… it wasn’t raining when I was there so I can’t confirm)!

The next weekend, a few of us went on an outing to the Erich Kästner Museum, also in Neustadt. The name sounded vaguely familiar to me, but it wasn’t until after we got to the museum that I was reminded that Kästner was the beloved German children’s author who wrote Emil und die Detektive, which I think I read in German 2 or 3 in high school! I definitely remember watching the movie at some point. It turns out that Kästner was born and raised in Dresden Neustadt, not far from the museum building!

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The Lukas Kirche, whose bells wake me up every morning… if you can see the inscription above the door, it says “Glory to God in the Highest” (Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe)

The museum itself was fascinating. It’s an “interactive micro-museum,” which sounds like a strange or hipster-y concept, but really it was the perfect medium for displaying the life and work of a children’s author. It was all housed within one room, which contained 12 “columns” — basically shelves which each had a bunch of color-coded drawers. The drawers contained various items from Kästner’s life… photos, quotes, documents and letters, books… it was a lot of reading and not much of it was translated, so I wouldn’t recommend this museum to people who can’t read German, but for those who can, this museum was amazing, definitely worth 4 Euros and an hour of your day!

One of my favorite artifacts was a letter from Kästner to a children’s theater group in Dresden who were putting on one of his plays and had invited him to their performance. He personally wrote to them to regretfully inform them that he wouldn’t be able to attend, but that he would send his father (the original Emil!) instead! I thought that was so sweet. There were also a few letters of correspondence between Kästner and Astrid Lindgren, who wrote the Pippi Longstocking books (among others).

The trees in front of this house looked like lace.

The trees in front of this house looked like lace.

While we were in the neighborhood, we also popped into a store called “Beyond the Pond” that imports American and British goods — food, beer, books, etc. I didn’t buy anything, it was all pretty expensive, but it was cool to go check out the American things I could easily access if I ever had an emergency Betty Crocker or ranch dressing craving.

As you can see from all these pictures, it snowed basically non-stop yesterday and today. None of that Polar Vortex craziness, just a light little flurry that’s left a blanket of probably 4 or 5 inches all over the place! It’s so pretty! I was such a Texan all day, carrying my camera everywhere to capture the magic before it disappears. I was a little self-conscious about openly taking pictures of things with so many people around… otherwise I would have a lot more.

This is the Schumann-Bau where I have 3 of my classes. I think it's really beautiful. It used to be a prison, which is a little creepy, but also kind of cool.

This is the Schumann-Bau where I have 3 of my classes. I think it’s really beautiful. It used to be a prison, which is a little creepy, but also kind of cool.

But because everything was looking so pretty and magical, I decided it would be fun to go to the Großer Garten before it all melts (hopefully it won’t for a while, but fresh snow is prettier than week-old snow). The Garten (Garden…yay cognates!) is really big and pretty under normal circumstances, but I thought with the snow it would be gorgeous. Unfortunately it was dark before I got there today, but even though the pictures didn’t turn out, it was so beautiful and peaceful to behold! I’ll have to go one day when it’s actually light outside.

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7 thoughts on “exploring dresden (plus snow pictures!)

  1. After a long, stressful (which is very atypical) day at work this post, with beautiful winter wonderland pictures, was the perfect remedy. My favorite picture is of the Russian church…essentially a black and white photo except for the blue onion turrets! Thanks for taking me along on your snow day adventure.

  2. Beautiful pictures, beautiful experiences. I continue to be amazed at how much you’re doing. I’m particularly happy you went to and liked the Kästner museum, which I’ve never seen. We did read Emil und die Detektive in high school, but it was in German IV. Even though it’s juvenile lit, it’s too hard for Level II or III — probably wouldn’t have been too hard for you, but for the masses, yes. Do you remember the web exercises I made y’all do (which I wrote)? http://deutsch.marktylenda.com/ Just made the sad discovery that all the links are now dead because the website I based a lot of it on appears to be gone. Oh well, that’s what happens to 15-year-old websites, I guess…

    I’m surprised you haven’t made it to the Zwinger yet. The interior courtyard is pretty amazing, besides the several museums that the complex houses. Some of them are kind of yawners, but the art museum is pretty impressive and the armor museum, while small, is good. Do you remember a little story we read in German III called Der Zahnarzt about a guy with a toothache who goes to the barber (no dentists in those days) and makes a bet with friends that he won’t make a peep when the tooth is pulled? Barber pulls wrong tooth (a good one), but in order not to lose the bet, he doesn’t say anything until afterwards (and then gets the bad tooth pulled, too). Anyway, the painting that that story (which is not real literature, just some story made up by someone writing a reader for kids learning German) is in the art museum in the Zwinger. It’s actually a very good painting, amazing depiction of light and shadow. I think the artist is Gerhard Honthorst.

    • Oh yes, I figured it must’ve been later… German II would’ve been a stretch for sure. Seeing that website, I definitely do remember it! Conjuguemos.com has also been re-introduced to my memory now that I’m studying for a Spanish test… hopefully there’s something helpful on there as I study!

      I have seen the Zwinger courtyard, I’ve just kind of walked through it a few times and seen the Zwingerteich and everything, but I haven’t seen any of the exhibits. (I have heard that the porcelain exhibit is a little bit boring…) I remember that Zahnarzt story, though, I’ll have to look out for that painting!

  3. beautiful place!
    is the Schokoladen bar anything like the chocolate bar in houston? german-ness exudes even in their movie trailers.
    Just imagining singing “Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe” to the tune i know…haha. and self-conscious of recording/watching while doing it haha. btdubs did i mention i would be in germany soon? (help me, all you cognates!)

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