Blue Skies and Sunshine (Maybe)

When I left Missouri, I thought I was getting away from its trademark weird, temperamental summer weather. But when we rolled off the train the morning of our day trip to Dresden, I realized with a sinking feeling that it must have followed me all the way across the Atlantic. The morning sky was a lovely shade of steel gray, every so often rumbling menacingly and threatening rain.

This is what the sky looked like over the river when we first arrived.

This is what the sky looked like over the river when we first arrived.

As we made our way to the Frauenkirche, dodging other pedestrians and the odd car or tram, the sky finally began spitting rain at us. But of course, when we put on our jackets and pulled out our umbrellas, the rain stopped. This pattern would continue all day, alternating between a cold, windy rain and warm blue skies.

To me, Dresden didn’t feel like Leipzig. It felt newer but also older at the same time, probably due to the fact that most of it had to be rebuilt after WWII. Dresden has a unique mix of obviously new buildings and buildings that are authentic (but also new) reconstructions. For example, the Frauenkirche, perhaps the most recognizable symbol of Dresden, had to be rebuilt stone for stone after it was almost completely destroyed near the end of the war.

The Frauenkirche (and the excavation of some ruins in the foreground).

The Frauenkirche (and the excavation of some ruins in the foreground).

After a lunch of schnitzel (let’s be honest, probably still my favorite German food) at a local shopping center, we set out to conquer the city.

Well, it was actually just the Zwinger, a set of three museums located next to the famous Semperoper (the city opera), but we felt pretty confident that we were still getting the Dresden experience.

The Zwinger is made up of three museums: die Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery), the Dresden Porcelain Collection (who knew Dresden was famous for its porcelain- not me, that’s who), and my personal favorite, the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon (Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments). Remember, physics major here.

So three Americans and a South African walked into a German museum full of paintings by old Italian masters. No really, it was David, Mitch, and I, plus another girl from the same InterDaF course, who happened to be from South Africa. We made a very culturally diverse group as we wandered from painting to painting, shuffling our feet just so to find that perfect viewing point where the glare from the windows would finally be reduced enough to render the pieces visible.

Alas, after spending more than an hour in the museum of old masters, we decided that we should probably try to visit the other two, seeing as how they were included in the ticket price that we had already paid.

Of course it was raining again during the 10 minutes that we needed to be outside.

Of course it was raining again during the 10 minutes that we needed to be outside.

Of course, we ended up getting snared by the gift shop on the way out. After I proved once and for all that I couldn’t be trusted with money by buying a 10 euro glass paperweight (what can I say, I’m a collector), we were on our way again, only a little delayed.

And let’s not forget that by this point it was raining again. Groups of grey-clad Germans flocked in the courtyard, brightly colored umbrellas mixing with more serious ones to form an oddly bulbous shield against the sky.

I, for one, had not known that Dresden was famous for its porcelain, but I could see why after a quick turn through the collections. One particular vase of delicately painted flowers tricked us all into thinking they were real until we got closer.

The view from outside the porcelain collection. I guess the weather just couldn't make up its mind...

The view from outside the porcelain collection. I guess the weather just couldn’t make up its mind…

But then it was back out into the courtyard, where the sky was now a lovely blue with frothy white clouds. At this point, time was getting short, but I couldn’t call myself a physics student if I let us leave without going through the mathematics and physics museum.

I of course went full nerd upon seeing the collections of telescopes and celestial spheres. Not to mention the group of various impressively ornate clockwork instruments. We didn’t get to spend long in the physics museum (I guess we proved that we’re bad at managing time as well as money), but it was still an impressive tribute to the natural sciences, in the same way that the other two museums showcased their respective art styles.

In retrospect I was maybe way too excited about this.

In retrospect I was maybe way too excited about finding a physics museum…

And naturally, when we arrived back at the meeting spot (or Treffpunkt as we say in German), the skies were once again proving their fickleness, with cold grey clouds chasing the white into the corners of the warm blue sky.

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