Saturday, June 26, 2010

Detour: Dresden & Prague

I started this blog to share NYC with friends & family (and now a few kind strangers as well), but I've not had much time to explore the city lately.  Mostly for fun reasons-- at the end of May, I spent a week at Kripalu, a yoga retreat center in the Berkshires, with one of my best friends.  Highly recommended if you are looking for rest & rejuvenation at a reasonable cost.
This past week I was in Dresden, Germany, to celebrate the 10th birthday of one of my goddaughters.  L. was born in the US and adopted by my German friends while they were living in Boston.  I try my best to attend each of her life milestones, and it was a treat to join her and her family in Dresden, where they recently bought a home.  Dresden is very pretty, though its war-time past is still present in the hearts and minds of its people.  The city, once considered among the most beautiful in Europe, was thoroughly bombed during WWII.  Tens of thousands died, and the architecture crumbled.  Much has been rebuilt, including Frauenkirsche, the Church of Our Lady.  How it looks today, after it was rebuilt several years ago:

The views from the top were spectacular:

The street scene was pretty cool too:

The people ultimately make a place, of course, and this proved true once again during this trip.  In addition to enjoying the family and friends of my friends, the neighbors were quite extraordinary as well.  The true standout was a gentleman who lived across the street... the first sign of something unusual was the U.S. Mailbox on his property.  Then the Uncle Sam poster on his garage, the American flag waving on the flag pole, and the most impressive and pristine Chevy Beretta I've ever seen.   Who knew that there were Germans who were more American than some Americans?  He proudly showed me his Americana room:

U. has never visited the U.S., but he used to drive big trucks, and was always impressed by the big American rigs.  Somehow that eventually translated into a passion for all things American.  He was both shy and proud to show me his collection.  Most of it has been procured through the internet.  It was sweet, and touching.

U and his wife hosted an outdoor World Cup viewing party for the neighborhood.  It was great to be with a group of Germans, listening to them yell at the TV and swear while watching their beloved team play against Ghana.  A memorable evening!

Dresden is just a two hour drive from Prague, and my friend S and I made the trip on Thursday.  We were as excited as little kids as we approached the city.  Few things make me as happy as experiencing something completely new.  I loved seeing the signs in Czech, a language totally  unfamiliar to me.

We first took in lunch at an outdoor cafe near the river, within sight of the most famous bridge in town:

We stopped by the Kafka museum, and were immediately entertained by the outside courtyard with its rather unusual fountain:

Yes, the water is coming out from where you think it is.  The hips of each of the male statues swivel, thus spreading out the splash.

What really got my attention, though, was the sign in the background- "Children Friendly Restaurant":

I imagine the sight of the statues are highly amusing to the kids as they eat their lunch- !

I leave you with a few more images of Prague:

The lettering on the bike reads: "Sons of David" "Prague" "Our Hogs Are Kosher".  It was parked outside of King Solomon, a well-known Kosher restaurant in the Jewish Quarter.

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