Blog Entry 6 - The Resurrection of the Blog.
German Phrase of the Week: Was Hänschen nicht lernt, lernt Hans nimmer mehr = You can't teach an old dog new tricks (literally, what little Hans doesn't learn, Hans never learns)
Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, extra-terrestrials wandering through the depths of cyber-space - in short, anyone who happens to read this - I have an apology to make. It has been months since I have updated my blog, and for this I can only offer my deepest and most sincere "sorry". I know that many of you will have been refreshing my site every week, hoping, wishing, nay, praying, that some day soon I would bring the old girl back to life, and to those, faithful few, I tell you that today your prayers have been answered. For those of you who turned to other blogs in the lack of your intrepid Year Abroader's, I offer you my understanding, and hope that you will not feel too hurt by my absence to skim through the following few lines of catharsis.
As you can imagine, much has happened since I last updated this, and there really is not enough time to give it all the attention it deserves. In short, the highlights: I went back to Hannover, I went back to Bonn (where I met my estranged wife on one occasion, and my honeybun and her Wray on another, and of course Miss Liebermann on both), Kari came to Oldenburg and watched some rugby, my namesake also came to Oldenburg and there was much mirth and merriment, I went home for Christmas and slept in my own bed for the first time since August, I became old, I was given many wonderful Birthday presents, and Rosie came to visit me on my Birthday weekend. All of these events would have deserved a blog in their own right, and I must once again apologise for my failure in this respect. However, my most recent adventure, namely the trip with Adam mark 2 to Dresden last weekend, will be covered in full (with the normal lad-rules of "what goes to insert town name here stays in aforementioned town offering the odd exception to this full account).
A preface to this trip: I have wanted to go to Dresden for quite some time. During a Eurotrip following A-levels, we passed through Dresden on our way between Prague and Berlin (I may be wrong here, it was some time ago), and the brief glimpse I gained of the city from passing through stayed with me. Everybody who has ever mentioned Dresden to me has spoken of it with stars in their eyes and has finished their description with a heart-felt recommendation to visit the place myself.
With this background in mind, it made sense, of course, for your intrepid Oldenburger to use the opportunity brought by a Year Abroad in Germany to finally realise this dream. As it happened, last weekend the school I am working in had "Zeugnisferien" - a few days holiday after the end of the first half of the school year, once the pupils have received their notes for this part of the school year. As a result, Monday and Tuesday of last week were free, and my normal timetable meant that I had Thursday and Friday off - so I had a long, long weekend, and the perfect chance to go travelling. The question then arose of whom to travel with. With the Zeugnisferien not happening simultaneously throughout Germany, but rather being different in every state, and with some states not having any at all, this was not a simple question. Fortunately, there was one weapon in my arsenal which stood in my favour - language assistants have long (and by long I mean often longer than the week) weekends. Therefore, when I contacted Adam the lesser, he informed me that was aware of no such thing as Zeugnisferien, but had Fridays off, so would be more than happy to spend a weekend in Dresden with me. And so plans were set in motion…
I travelled across to Dresden on Friday morning - or, more accurately, I started to do so on Friday morning. It is a 6 hour trip, although there is a direct train, from Oldenburg, so I had plenty of time to read, listen to music, and generally figure out some of the deeper problems of life (with a surprising amount of success - anyone interested in any of my more profound revelations, please, feel free to get in touch). I arrived mid-afternoon, a couple of hours before Birminghadam was due to arrive, and I spent the time finding our hostel and wandering around the Altstadt. The hostel proved to be fairly easy to find, and was much more of a hotel - were it not for the fact that I have sworn never to use my blog for evil purposes, such as advertising, I would give it my whole-hearted backing here and now. However, much more impressive for me were my first impressions of Dresden - a beautiful city, with no end of stunning architecture - ravishing building after ravishing building appeared round every corner, and in particular the entire river bank on the side of the Altstadt took my breath away. The bank is lined with many of the aforementioned buildings, and, to top it off, a tasteful and elegant terrace ran along the entire bank, allowing a very pleasant promenade with the highlights of the city in view at all times.
I only had a couple of hours to take this in for the first time before I made my way back to the train station to greet my surname-disadvantaged companion (who has just requested to be called the Titchenator - dream on, buddy, the Bridginator was here first), and both of us made our way back to the hostel, dropped off our stuff, and had a brief wander round town before grabbing a meal (which was very nearly zebra, but unfortunately once we realised the meat would probably not actually be stripy, we lost interest). We then formulated our plan - a cultural day around Dresden on Saturday, followed by a lads' night out in the town, followed by a second day in Dresden recovering.
Our plan got off to a great start the next morning, when we climbed to the top of the Frauenkirche (ok, I admit it, using the stairs provided rather than scaling on the outside, which would have been much cooler). The interior of the Frauenkirche is very reminiscent of an enormous theatre, with layers of stalls and brightly decorated walls. As we climbed inside, the view from above, looking down onto the floor of the church (which I have just written three times in a row with an "I", refusing to believe my spellchecker each time…been here for too long) was impressive in itself, but was nothing compared to the view of the city we got once we arrived at the top - it was a freezing but clear day, and we could see everything. We drank in the view, waved at passers-by, were successful in encouraging some of them to wave back, chatted with a nice couple from Frankfurt, and then made our way back down to see more of the city.
We wandered through the streets for a while, making our way to the terrace, and took in more of the atmosphere of the city, whilst playing "wave at passing trams". Fun (yet unsuccessful) as this game was, we moved on from seeing the Semperoper, the Church and Castle and the Art Museum, and decided it was time to cross the river to the other side, where we found the Japanese Palace. In this palace was an exhibition about Ancient Man, and The Bishop of Breitungen and I found the concept of meeting our ancestors simply irresistible. A couple of hours (and many new pieces of vocabulary - words I am likely never to use again in my life) later, and we left the museum feeling enlightened and very much cultured. We had wanted to stop off at the Dresdner Verkehrsmuseum, more on which later, but felt that a lads' nap was in order before we began our massive lads' night. We were, however, distracted on the way back by a pack of cards (which were to be an essential part of the evening) and some shirts. Being lads, the prospect of new shirts at discount prices was simply irresistible, and we returned to the hostel ready for the night to come.
Having napped off our culture, we turned to the plan for the rest of the evening - namely, to visit a pub in the vicinity of every pleasant building we had seen (in Dresden, no mean feat). Shirted up, we headed to the Semperoper, the site of our first bar - only to be met with a lack of beer-vending establishment. We searched in vain for some time, until we spotted a boat moored at the side of the river, with an Italian restaurant. Despite the romantic nature of the restaurant (I mean, there were roses on the table, for crying out loud!), we decided our ladness could take the hit for the sake of some food and some beer. Having entered the boat, however, we were met with a surprise of the pleasant variety- there was a bar below deck. We made our way to the bar, which was practically full, and ordered a beer, thinking it was a shame that this place was so packed, as it really was a gem - rustic, cosy, with port-holes showing a view of the river, a piano in the corner (Titchen had been itchin' to play piano all day) and a friendly staff.
Imagine our joy, then, when all at once, and without any immediate indication of a reason, our fellow guests gathered their belongings and exited the establishment. At first we assumed that this bar must close ridiculously early, but then we spotted the real reason - the boat was also host to a theatre, and everybody else was off to see a show, leaving the bar to us. We ordered another round of beers, and started to play cards. Our grand plans of a pub tour slowly slipped out of our minds, as this bar was simply perfect, and as the evening progressed, we picked up our courage, and Titchy asked if he could play piano - to which the answer was yes. Whilst he was playing, the bar owner surfaced, and asked us a question in his strong local accent, which neither of us could make sense of - to me, it originally sounded like "gibt es noch einen Wünsch" (essentially, "can I get you anything else?"), and so we replied "Nein", as our beer glasses were not approaching empty at this stage. However, having seen the sunken reaction on our bartender's face, we realised we must have misunderstood him, and it became clear that he had actually said "darf man sich was wünschen", or "are you taking requests?". At this point, Little Ts decided it was time to explain that we were "not from around these parts", and that was the reason for our comprehension difficulties - as a result, much to our surprise (and after a brief history lesson about the Beatles), the bar owner announced "die nächsten Biere gehen auf meine Rechnung" - the next beers are on me.
From that point on, we decided it was best to stay in our wonderful bar, and played cards and took the nice man up on his offer. At some point, I began performing magic tricks, and enticed some the waitresses over with a few, at which point we began chatting and had a chance to get used to the local accent. Eventually, we realised that we were keeping the staff working just for us, and decided to leave before we outstayed our welcome - we made our farewells, and went to find another bar, so that we could at least give some credence to our attempt at having a pub-crawl. We did succeed in this venture, but in all honesty nothing was to live up to the success of that first bar we found.
Before telling the story of the Dresdner Verkehrsmuseum, a brief anecdote from that night must also be revealed - namely, that between us, we two Adams saw to 10 cheeseburgers (on top of our evening meal). Adding these to the 4 we had "enjoyed" on the previous day, we arrive at a number that one should not be proud of. Yet we strangely were. Oh well.
The next day, ever so slightly (though not all that much) the worse for wear, we checked out from the hostel and headed back into town, to enter the museum that Scampy T (again, his suggestion, not mine) had so wanted to see the day before. I have to admit that I do enjoy looking at old trains, and so the museum was entertaining - but what was much more striking was something that we decided to name the Dresdner Verkehrsmuseumphänomen, details of which can be acquired upon inquiry with myself or my esteemed namesake.
Sadly, our trip had to eventually come to an end, and, after a brief shared leg of a train journey, I parted ways with Adam T and made my way to Hannover, to spend a couple of relaxing days with Kari, before making my way back to Oldenburg for my working week. The week was very pleasant, however, as there was a travelling English theatre group in the school, putting on different shows for different age groups, and so my days were fairly relaxed and definitely entertaining. I met up with one of the group at the weekend, as they were staying around Oldenburg, and we discussed our separate experiences of an extended period of time in Germany.
My fair readers (I'm hoping flattery will assist in making you all forgive me for my long absence), the time has come to conclude another blog entry, and I thank you for staying faithful to me. I realise that there is now a trust issue between us - will he, I hear you ask, once again leave such an unbearably long time go by with no update, or will he be true to us and himself? Well, dear friends, I can assure you that this blog will be updated within two weeks, for we are reaching a rather special milestone in your Year Abroader's adventures - namely, my six month anniversary of life in Oldenburg. So, keep your eyes open for my next blog entry, which will be a special edition, named: Since six months live I now in Germanland…