May 13th, 2012



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Our Dresden hotel, the Hotel Privat (AKA Das Hotel Nichtrauscher AKA The Non-Smoking Hotel) is lovely in every way except that it is a little further away from the city center than our previous hotels -- a bit of a hike to the nearest tram stop, and that tram doesn't connect directly to much of anything. But it has the best breakfast spread we've seen yet, including American-style bacon, 2 kinds of scrambled eggs, 3 kinds of sausage, lox, chocolate quark (yummy), and Hildegard von Bingen's Dinkel-Habermus (hot spelt cereal) with a selection of toppings including flax seed, chestnut meal, and "bertram" (Anacyclus pyrethrum, AKA pellitory, Spanish chamomile, or Mount Atlas daisy -- didn't taste like much but it's supposed to be good for you). Google Translate insists that Dinkel means "spelled" and had no idea what "bertram" was -- it took quite a bit of web research to track that one down.

Perhaps because of our slightly-away-from-downtown location, perhaps because Dresden was bombed to bits in 1945 and remained in the loving lack-of-care of the Communists for over 40 years therafter, we've been seeing a lot more ratty-looking buildings here than elsewhere. I've been noticing that a particular feature of our neighborhood is the obviously-closed-for-many-years kiosk (you know, the kind that sells newspapers, cigarettes, and candy), which I suppose is an economic niche that just collapsed some time ago. On the other hand, there is tons of new construction and renovation going on.

Just about everything here, no matter how old it looks, was completely flattened in 1945 and rebuilt afterwards (in some cases quite recently). Dresden raises interesting questions of "what is 'real,' anyway?" and "if they could rebuild the Frauenkirche in four years, why did it take 50 years to finish the National Cathedral in Washington DC?" (I think the answer to the latter question may be "because they didn't have to spend any time arguing about the design.")

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