Winter is now finally over here in Dresden and the morning frost has given way to carpets of daffodils, bluebells, and lilies of the valley. The warm weather and long evenings have coaxed us outside and all of a sudden Dresden has come alive.
April began for me, however, not here but in Bayern. I decided to make the most of the long Easter weekend and visited some friends from my year abroad in Würzburg and Erlangen, two incredibly beautiful cities. If you were to combine all of the stereotypes we hold of Germany and German culture in the U.K., mix them with some good beer and a sprinkling of weißwurst, you’d have Würzburg. It is so typically Bavarian, I half-expected to see the citizens sporting dirndls and lederhosen.
Top on my list of things to visit was the ‘Residenz’. Undoubtedly one of the most remarkable baroque palaces in Germany, the Residenz was built between 1720 and 1744 and enhanced with magnificent gardens between 1765 and 1780. The architecture was decadent, ornate and its beauty imposing, especially the Treppenhaus with its frescoed ceiling. Since the weather was fine, I spent most of the afternoon ambling around the gardens here, before meeting up with my friend and walking up the nearby hill to the Marienburg Fortress to catch the sunset. I then caught the faithful Flixbus to Erlangen for Easter.
Easter seems to be a big deal here in Germany, in the U.K. you eat chocolate eggs, perhaps organise an easter egg hunt if you have children and maybe go to church to appease your gran. Generally, its more a time to relax and catch up with friends & family than a religious holiday, so I was surprised by the bustle of activity that I found on arrival in my friend Jay’s student house. His 12 housemates (yes 12) were all in the kitchen busily preparing for the Easter Sunday brunch. Pretzels were being baked, eggs were being painted and a most spectacular centre piece was underway…the Lammkuche!!!!
A religious symbol of new life and beginnings, the Lammkuche was also simply a thing of beauty. We covered it in icing sugar, gave it a red bow and a bell, and readied it to be taken to the Easter Sunday mass the next day. The mass started at 5am, too early for me, but Jay and his flatmates went and got the Lammkuche blessed by the priest. Even if you’re not religious, it feels rather special to eat a blessed cake!
The weekend was soon over and I found myself back in Dresden and in the office. We’re currently trying to plan an ‘escape room’ as part of one of JKPeV’s projects, ‘You Are Welcome’. It’s a great idea, but escape rooms, it turns out, aren’t easy to plan. There’s a bit of miscommunication and confusion, but we are getting there slowly. The first trials take place in the 3rd week of May so next month’s post will probably include some photos.
I also had my first EVS visitor in April. One of the volunteers I made friends with during the On-Arrival seminar came to stay for the weekend. After four months of living in Dresden, I was playing tour guide and doing quite well. We went to a punk/rock concert with my flatmates on Friday and spent Saturday lazily cycling around the old town.
We also visited the Old Master’s gallery in the Zwinger, a sort of palace in Dresden. The number of famous painters we saw there was staggering: Jan van Eyck, Tintoretto, Claude Lorrain, Poussin, Rubens, Watteau and even a Raphael. By the end, our eyes were exhausted and we cycled home for a well deserved nap!
The rest of April was, well, quite uneventful. Myself and the other EVS volunteers in the office are working hard on trying to organise the ‘You Are Welcome’ project’s escape room and local campaign activities, all of which will take place in May. So more details next time. Until then!