Friday, May 15, 2009

Arriving in Dresden


I arrived in Frankfurt a little ahead of schedule and a little spacey. My internal clock was hovering around 2am while locally it was about 11am. The flight was nice and uneventful and I even managed to sleep a bit. The route takes you way north, almost to the arctic circle, so the sky glowed orange for most of the evening.
After a three hour layover in Frankfurt we boarded the bus that drove us to the plane. This bus ride takes forever. I think it might have been shorter just to drive to Dresden. After boarding the plane, I zonked out. Next thing I knew we were in Dresden, I had my bags and Dave was there to pick me up.
We drove back to their pad and I took about an hour nap. Then, in order to really cure the jet lag, we took off for a mountain bike ride in a local park. Dave gave me the "death bike without brakes" to ride. Some of the downhill runs got particularly interesting. Especially the one through the sandy trail which ended up with me taking a bit of a spill. Like all bike rides in Germany, we eventually ended up at a local Biergarten to rehydrate. This garden was on the Elbe river and had a Dixie land band playing. The sun was out. It was warm. I had a beer. Very nice indeed.

After the beer, we headed back to town along the river to another Biergarten to meet Lisa. Today was the start of the Dixieland jazz festival and all of the riverboats (about 15 or so) were decorated and had Dixieland bands playing on them. While we drank our beer, all of the boats passed by on their way upstream.
After a quick change of clothes at their apartment, we headed back across the river to a Tapas place. While we were there all of the jazz boats returned and then they started a fireworks show. Not a bad first night.

Dresden w/ Jazz Steamboats at Dock

I slept pretty well considering the timezone difference. Dave and Lisa headed off to work and I decided to work for a bit.
During lunch, Dave came back and we tried to pick up a bike to rent. All of the bikes had already been rented out. Crazy. I guess we should have made reservations. This was not a complete disaster since Dave had a couple of bikes that mostly fit. Next stop a lunch at a local Thai place. It is interesting to eat ethnic food in different counties. The food is always modified to reflect the local taste. So the same dish in the US or Germany or France has a distinctive local flavor. I ended up eating a curry dish that I often get in Bellingham. A little waterier, saltier, and not as spicy. But, overall very good.
I had this great plan to head out for a bike ride after lunch, but the whole jet lag thing got to me and I had to seriously snooze. No worries though, the snooze was only about an hour or so. I hitched up the pony (actually a late model Specialized mountain bike), and headed down the river to Meisen. Okay, I didn't actually ride to Meisen, but I did meander down the bike path, checking out the local sites. One of the most interesting features are all of the "Beach" bars along the river. The concept is simple: take several tons of sand, some umbrellas, a couple of volleyball nets; mix with sun, coconut oil, and tropical drinks; and voila you have an recipe for a great place to hang out on a sunny day. I think I will have to try it out later in the week. I wonder if they have WiFi?
That night we went to a 40th Birthday for a friend of Dave and Lisa's. It was situated in an old church not far from their flat. In Germany the birthday boy or girl throws their own party. This party was quite large. They had sekt for the guests when they arrived and plenty of wine and food. One wall had a large projection of a feather on it (that matched the invitation) that didn't change the entire time. I kind of expected a slideshow or something. On the alter there was a piano and a bunch of blankets for all of the kids.
The party started with the host giving some speach (in German) and then playing the piano for two hours. Some of the compositions were his and some where covers. He never even paused between the songs, so I'm not sure what we were listening to. We were able to chat with some of Dave and Lisa's friend that went to Octoberfest with last year.
About 10pm I was getting pretty hungry, so we walked down the street to a Czech place. I had this interesting pork steak with a lemon-cream sauce and cranberries. Sounds like a strange combination, but it was really pretty darn good.
After that, snooze time.

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