Returning to Dresden is like my home away from home. I have been here five times in five years, to soak in the grossly unknown treasures of music, architecture, and art available in this restored city.
First we reconnected with our friends Hanne and Jens (shown above), who are residents of Germany. They just returned from world travels snorkeling in Thailand on a private junk and tours of Kweilin, Suzhou and Shanghai. We went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant to continue our research on the Chinese diaspora and to compare Chinese-German food with the real thing.
Our next highlight was meeting Vladimir (above, with me), one of my classmates from the Goethe Institut last year. We lamented our lack of progress learning German, discussed Bulgarian history and politics, and future plans. The time was too short but we made the most of the afternoon. We walked to the Blaue Wunder Bridge and back.
In the late afternoon our friends Helena and Hans arrived from Switzerland. (Gee Kin met Helena over 40 years ago from the Beijing Foreign Languages Institute). After Helena and I met in Dresden last August, we made plans to attend the Musikfestspiele together this year. It was really exciting to attend the Opening Gala together at the Dresden Messe.
Our short visit to Dresden was topped off by a meeting with Meilina (photo below, an der Frauenkirche), another dear friend from the Goethe Institut.
She is studying Forestry here in Dresden and is a foreign student from Indonesia. I admire her dedication to her studies as she is away from her husband and two boys at home. She told me a very moving story about how each of her family members supported her studies in Germany, and thought that it would be a good thing for Mommy to do to further her career.
I will miss all my new and old friends, and especially BFF Dresden. In case you were wondering, Dresden has beat the contest with Prague. This was of course a completely subjective approach to favoring the known and emotional attachment to the little city that could.
An example of this amazing city is the performance we attended last night at the Dresden Messe. Simone Kermes, an operatic solo, performed with the Dresden Festival Orchestra, followed by L’il Buck. Nothing could be culturally further apart. Jan Vogler, the cellist and festival director, played the Swan Lake solo while L’il Buck did his amazing interpretation of a Swan.
I admire both the director immensely for his visionary approach to blending classical and modern forms of music and performance, as well as L’il Buck for entering into a completely new audience. I challenge any other American or international city to provide this breadth of entertainment in one concentrated music festival period or single performance.
Prague is a major city capital and can offer many handsome historical and cultural activities to visitors. While being only a provincial city, Dresden offers a more intimate and simplified experience. Along with its great new airport, safe and spotless transportation system, access to a wealth of cultural activities, and a language that I feel comfortable in, Dresden wins hands down.