December 31, 2017

Germany 2017 Post 13

So we parked the car and walked around the side of the building, not exactly knowing what we'd find. We turned the corner to see a courtyard carpeted with cherry blossoms and dotted with cafe tables. We approached the front door and a woman greeted us and asked us if we're there for dinner. mrguy said yes and I bleated "We're lost". She could see my distress, so she looked at her reservations and figured out that she juuust had room for us. Over the next few hours the woman (the owner) doted on us and her son, the chef, gave us directions back to the A-4. Occasionally she'd come by the table and ask "Why are you here from America?" in a bemused sort of way. Explaining that we were coming to spend Easter in Bautzen made it even more perplexing. Who does that?

If you are ever near Dresden, Julius Kost is a true destination. It's housed in the former horse stables of the farm, and it is so cozy. As I said to mrguy, it's like the best of Martha Stewart in the 1980s, but with authenticity and good food.

The amuse. I couldn't even identify the ingredients, except for the pea shoot, but it was delicious.

The specials:
Our visit to Julius Kost settled our nerves for the next few hours of bumper to bumper nighttime traffic to Weissenberg. We vowed to stay on the Autobahn and take no more shortcuts.

Germany 2017 Post 12

On to Weißenberg. I'm glad we were ignorant of the travel we would endure. Note to others: Easter is a big deal in Germany. Easter Monday is a bank holiday and we figured that Thursday would be a good day to drive from Dessau to Tuttendorf. Ha ha ha.

Sooooo...we left Dessau on the Thursday before Easter. In the week we'd been in Germany the trees everywhere were going from sticks, to buds to flowers. I had never seen forsythia before, and it was just about poking my eyes out with its screaming yellow flowers. Wowsa. Germany is beautiful, but getting to watch this transformation was really amazing.

OK, but on to the trip. I asked mrguy if we could stop in Freiberg. This is where my first immigrant ancestor, the one who started my interest in the German side, was born. His father, married to Gottlob's daughter, was Wendish, and he became a famous physician and mineralogist. Freiberg is a mining town, has Europe's first and oldest mining school, and is rock crazy. We went to see St. Petri church where my guy was baptized, and then got a spot of lunch at the Rathskeller. Notice the rock detail around the door?

Next to the table where we were sitting were these cool dioramas about mining. They were created by a man named Alfred Mende, a well-known citizen who made his living carving scenes and displaying them in a cabinet you could view for a price. For more information, see the Wikipedia citation. So cool. I so want one of these mining dioramas.

After lunch, and a brief visit to the local Saxony tourist store where we're *pretty* sure we interrupted a little afternoon delight between the owners, we started our journey to Weißenberg. Uh oh. The traffic made it almost impossible to even get out of town. Then it started to get dark and rain hard and there were many detours. Then we used our navigation system to work around some of the detours. And as it got darker and rainier and took longer, we became more apprehensive. We could no longer see the A-4 during some of these "long cuts" and that was worrisome, also.

At one point after an hour or so the navigation took us down a pedestrian walkway, where a grandfather pushing a child in a stroller was very surprised to see us, and then I had mrguy navigate our car through someone's muddy back yard. Very soon after, mrguy said firmly and rather loudly "I am about to really lose my shit! We are stopping at the next building we see". This turned out to be Julius Kost, in Wilsdruff, where we had one of the most magical dinners of our lives.

Germany 2017 Post 11

From my notebook:

"Love is taking a tour of the Bauhaus in German when you speak no German".


"Almost crushed by large, drunk German man whose wife, Marlena, is a retired teacher with large breasts and a pension. He will inherit a lot of money when she dies".

I just want to say that the noodles, though simple, were delicious. We weren't interested in Greek food two nights in a row, so we went to this tiny restaurant situated next to the bottle store. The only other customers were two men, one old and very large and drunk to that point people get to when they want to talk and are just *thisclose* to picking a fight and being violent. The other was his younger co-worker, who was an immigrant and was slightly less drunk and apologetic. At one point they went out for a smoke and when the big guy came back in he wanted to talk about Trump and started to lose his balance on top of me. You know it's not good when they want to buy you a drink and start saying stuff like "Cheers, my American friend!!" I remember telling mrguy at one point "I think I can take the big guy if I need to," and kinda calculating if I could outrun them back to the hotel which was just a few blocks away.

Friedolf. My boobs reminded him of Marlena. I remember thinking that Marlena is glad he's not home tonight.

Germany 2017 Post 10

If this were MRguy's observatory, there would be much more written about Dessau. We went there in order to visit the Bauhaus. I liked the setting quite a bit. We stayed at a 1950s hotel that had a great East German vibe. Neat, but not too fixed up. It was right across the street from lecturers' houses where famous Bauhaus guys lived. 

The asparagus hut was closed the day we got there, but we scored like bandits on the day we left, what with it being spargelzeit and all.

I drank bananaweisen at the Greek restaurant in Dessau. Somehow the summer's most refreshing beverage of 2012 was not my favorite by Spring 2017. And that's ok. We are moving on, People!

Germany 2017 Post 9

By now mrguy had seen a fair number of old dead white guy paintings and I had to throw him a bone. I had done some research before we left and found that there was a John Cage piece located in the town, also. It was pretty mind-blowing.

Everything about this was a bit of an adventure. To get to the old church where the piece is presented, you drive into a courtyard off the street. We knocked at the door of the rectory. A woman answered the door, grabbed her keys (cartoonishly large for a very old lock), put on her coat and off we went. The church is very old, drafty, tidy and has a dirt and gravel floor. In the middle sits the specially built organ, whose pedal is held down by sand bags in order to produce the sustained pitch required by the world's longest presentation of John Cage's composition, As Slow As Possible, which Cage wrote without indicating the intended length of performance.

People typically complete a performance in under or over an hour, but after contemplating how long the piece could be played with different instruments, a group of people decided to set it up in Halberstadt's  639-year-old cathedral and figure out how to have an organ play the piece so it lasts 639 years. The piece opened with a 16-month rest. The next note change will be in 2020. You can sponsor a klangjahre (year of sound) and dedicate it to someone. They sponsor all sorts of John Cage events in Halberstadt, as well.

Here is the organ:

Next, Dessau

Germany 2017 Post 8

This is always my favorite sight on vacation -- we get a rental car and, wherever we are, I pop in Best of the Ka'au Crater Boys. It is a sign.

So this is us leaving Leipzig and heading to Dessau, via Halberstadt. I took many pictures of mrguy driving the the A-Bahn to the sound of Kraftwerk.

I also took many pictures of the Agip sign during our trip.

We found lunch in the town square in Halberstadt.

Then off to another highlight of the trip: Gleimhaus.

Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim was a wealthy poet during the Enlightenment. He held a regular salon in his home and had what he called the Freundschaftstempel (Temple of Friendship). The walls of his home are covered with portraits of people he either knew or admired, and he commissioned several portraits by Gottlob. In Gleim's writings you can even find him complaining about the quality of my ancestor's work. It's a job, man.

I had an annotated spreadsheet of what I wanted to see, and it was all on the walls. These four paintings below are by Gottlob. The one on the bottom right is my favorite so far.

From Gleim's writings it isn't clear whether he'd actually met Elisabeth von der Recke, below, or just heard that she was beautiful. This image is after an original by Anton Graf.
 The large one below is by Gottlob.
And there was a meeting happening in one of the rooms we wanted to see. One of the employees helped us out. We heard her saying, "Family of the painter Gottlob is here," and they let us wander quietly while we found the remaining painting we were looking for (center).

That was fun! We also talked to the conservator (cool girl wearing Converse) and the manuscripts librarian.

Then off to an installation by John Cage.

Germany 2017 Post 7

The next day we headed to the other side of town (Plagwitz) to pick up a car and visit Blue Velvet Secondhand. I got a dress that I've worn a bunch of times for fancy dress events now. This place reminded me of local second-hand stores from the 90s, with a lady in the corner partially disguised by the clothes she's preparing for sale and a dog sitting in a dog bed in the corner. Was there cigarette smoke, or did I just make that up?

"In the 70s they made good clothes for big ladies," she told me. True dat, Fraulein!

Germany 2017 Post 6

Right. I forgot. After all that Gottlob stuff and Leipzigerie, we also saw one of the famous paintings of Bach, by Ernst Gottlob Hausmann. Prior to Graf, Hausmann was the reigning portrait artist in town. The painting is nice, and all, but it's like the Mona Lisa. It's on every pair of tourist socks in town. Not as interesting as a Gottlob painting of some minor dude that I've never heard of!

After lunch we headed to St. Nikolai Church, which has beautiful interiors but no connection to my family that I know of. And then to St. Thomas Church, where all 11 of the Gottlob children were baptized. I very badly wanted to see the baptismal font, which was contemporaneous to my people, but the choir was practicing awful Easter music and drove us away. The interior of this church was filled with super old paintings depicting patrons of the church in various solemn moments. I could have stayed for hours with my computer, just looking up their names and learning more about them.

We wandered around for a bit and I saw a sign for Leipziger Lerchen. This was a pastry I'd purchased the night before and very much enjoyed. Didn't know that it was a local delicacy. At the bakery in town I found a placard in the window that tells the story of the pastry. I stood over a particularly putrid sewer grate in order to take a clear picture of the card and get the story, which is that the original pastry was a bird pie containing lark meat, egg and herbs. In 1876 the king of Saxony banned the killing of larks and bakers created this substitute pie filled with marzipan, with the strips on top representing twine used to tie the legs of larks (eew) and the single cherry representing the heart of the lark (double eew). Tasty, though. 

And then off on the train for home. Altogether an excellent day.

Germany 2017 Post 3

On Day 3 we made our move.

Mrguy figured out that we were very close to a flea market, and if we got up early enough we could see some of it before heading to the train. It was so great. The day before we'd been in this museum, looking at beautiful stuff. Today, its shrubbery was festooned with really disturbing mannequins.
 I wanted the big brown pot with the geometric markings, but not on the third day of my trip.
It was about 9am when I took this picture, and already people were lined up for lemonade, with or without vodka.
 And the rotating meatisserie was ready to serve you whatever you wanted.
Frisky pigs and the fan art of Donald Duck juxtaposed with someone's Nazi infantry portrait.

This was the prize of the day: rubber Huey, Dewey and Louie heads (Tick, Trick and Track, in German). Mrguy did the haggling for me.

This was one of my favorite sights of the day: a big old fancy frame with people's photos stuffed in it. I'm used to the idea of this with mirrors, but not with art, and they just tore their photos into the right shape. By itself, this is a work of art.

We jetted back home to the hotel, then to the train station, where they have a bookstore with the largest selection of hobby magazines I've ever seen.

The train ride to Leipzig is best not mentioned. This was my view for a big chunk of it, and people kept asking me to move.

Germany 2017 Post 2

Day 2 was the day of many museums. Museum Angewandte Kunst is filled with beautiful stuff. “Elementary Parts: From the Collections” is an exhibition that juxtaposes 75 items from different parts of the collection -- modern, ancient, in-between. I was so into some of it, and beguiled by the names of some of the items and scribbled furiously in my notebook. Reviewing it 7 months later is only marginally helpful in reminding me what some things were. I wrote down "black kitchen mistress", and can't recall why. I think it's the name of a beautiful knife. I'd written it down in my notebook in order to look up later which, as I learned today, is maybe not a good thing to do. I didn't click on any of the links. Neither should you. Do, however, look up the jewellery of Friedrich Becker. Just gorgeous.

We were about to leave the museum when one of the attendants sternly asked for our attention. Gulp. Turns out that she just wanted to make sure that we left via the exit that would take us to the other half of the museum, in which rooms were themed by applied arts of different eras. I really got into this -- crazy wallpaper murals and pretty things. mrguy? Not so much. But we agreed on this chair:

The Städel Museum had something for all of God's creatures. Lots and lots of Medieval stuff for me and lots of modern and contemporary for both of us.
 I loved how this guy looked at me:
And this set of paintings was really crazy:

There was an amazing little exhibit that showed the backs of paintings. That's my idea of a good time.

Pretty fancy for the back of a painting, right?
Jet lag sank in and we drank many Cokes in order to forge on. In Frankfurt there seems to be a strong presence of Fritz Cola, instead, so I wondered if this was a revolutionary act. Don't care.

There was more art to be seen:
The black one, above, was just killing me. It was executed in paint stick and had mad texture. So gorgeous. On another side of this room I was distracted by this annoying sound while I was examining a piece by Anselm Kiefer. Man, that sound was annoying. Really annoying. Oh. That was *my* bad. The annoying American set off the annoying alarm.

After the museums it was still rather early and we were trying to stay awake until a reasonable hour, so we did some more shopping. People were starting to appear on the streets in their team colors. We spied this poster for mispelch, so we went into the shop to buy some, and some apfelwein. The shop owner asked us if we were football fans. And then we tweaked to the idea that soccer hooligans drink apfelwein and mispelch. Oh well.

On the way back to the hotel we found a tiny used record store. Smelled great but didn't buy anything. Passed by a store that made clothing with reproduction fabric designs by Sonia Delaunay:

And clearly we are in the run-up to Easter:
All of this was on our walk over to Zum Gemalten Haus, where I took the obligatory apple doorknob photo. Our stern waiter from last time continues to ply his trade there. In my opinion he's the Sam Wo of Frankfurt.
We ordered more grünsoße and confirmed our earlier opinion that we don't need to order any more of it. And that's ok! We enjoyed the atmosphere, the somewhat risque paintings on the ceiling, and a conversation with some young folks who joined our table.

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