Friday, February 3, 2012

Never Would Have Known

I'm a "do my own thing" kind of person.  Sometimes (ok more than sometimes) to the extreme.  It's not that I don't like to do stuff, I just like to do it MY WAY.  I skipped the Altstadt guided tour, but decided that I should at least try a guided tour of the Neustadt (if only to improve my German, since the tour is all in German).  All I'd heard was that it was full of pubs and was trendy and hippie.  Those two things were definitely true.  There was SO much other stuff, though and I was grateful I'd gone for the tour.  A quick look at what I never would have known:

These houses and courtyards are examples of late-1800s buildings that were preserved throughout the war (bombing did not hit the Neustadt hard at all) and through Communism.  The state was not interested in these buildings (originally the run-down places occupied by the poor, petty criminals, and others that could not afford to live in a facade-building) and they attained an art and character quite their own.  During the Cold War they were the places that anti-state people gathered, where artists lived, and where everything counterculture sprang from.  Today they are trendy apartments, family apartments, restaurants, and stores.  There were several back courtyards and alleys like this one, each with their own theme.

  Reclaimed from an old gypsy man who kept way too many smelly animals on it, this piece of land was designated to introduce city children to animals.  It is now a petting zoo and playground.  The last picture is a sad reminder of old days -it's shows a bomb shelter from World War Two.

Beer checkers!  None of us could remember the name of "checkers" in German -Americans, Poles, or Czechs so we all just remarked on the checkers game with our best German accents.  It was too cold to play.

The oldest Jewish cemetery in Sachsen.  Because Dresden was protestant, they always had a special extra bit of tolerance for other religions, Jews not excepted.  Unfortunately, this did not extend to the third reich. The cemetary was closed (because it was full) long before the Nazis came.  They damaged and defaced many of the headstones, but otherwise left the cemetery alone.  It is a rare (and sobering) sight.

That's what I never would have known.

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