Dresden – what an unexpected surprise! Hitherto my image of this city was born out of the extraordinary Kurt Vonnegut novel Slaughterhouse 5, about the systematic fire-bombing by the British, which ravaged the city in WWII. So, whilst Ruth was teaching a week-end Tango Musicality workshop for the wonderful Carsta and Alex – guest teachers at last Summer’s Mango – I got to explore… and found a thriving city full of grand buildings, museums, cathedrals etc, a lot of which had been painstakingly restored or re-built , before the wall came down, to their original design… such that I was fooled into thinking they had survived the war!
I think it was Friedrich Augustus who first laid out the grand plan and I came across his golden statue on my wanderings. He had the reputation of being a strong ruler, who sired over 200 children !
The weekend also coincided with the quarter-finals of the RWC and I went in search of an Irish pub, proudly sporting my Wales top and red scarf. I found 3, all run and owned by a Londoner who’d settled there 7 years ago. I soon hooked up with a very sociable Dresdener, Günnar, who turned out to be surprisingly knowledgeable about the game – the teams and individual players included! It turned out that the first of the 3 couldn’t get ITV, so we headed off for the second just in time for the build up to the match. Although there were a fair number of supporters settled in for the game, we still had to ask for the sound to be turned up – Rugby is virtually unheard of in Germany and there was a feeling that the management didn’t want to upset the clientele who’d simply come to eat… Anyway, it was a thrilling game which Wales narrowly lost to Australia, in spite of the very loud rendition every 15 minutes of ‘Hymns and Arias’, by the North Walian sat next to me! For the evening game Günnar and I had to de-camp to the 3rd pub, over the magnificent Elbe in the old town, now a warren of cafes, alternative eateries and shops.
There we could only watch the game with the sound off, as there was live music, tho’ they did make one concession – for the Haka! After the game I made my way back to the outskirts, where Carsta and Alex have a beautiful house and Tango studio, via a funky little Indian restaurant in the Old Quarter. It was gone one when I got back and there were no lights on anywhere and rather than wake up my hosts, I decided to climb the rather imposing gates to the property. All went well til the drop on the other side – I hadn’t taken into account the curve on the gate and ended up with all my weight on one wrongly-angled wrist. I vaguely remember a slight click as I let go but wasn’t in any way prepared for the excruciating pain and swelling 24 hrs later. After an x-ray and CT scan at the very efficient A and E unit of the main Hospital, I was dispatched with a wrist support and orders to rest….Ruth too had had her aggravated knee X-rayed and she left with a knee brace and crutches! Our onward journey to Proitze in the North, where Ruth had her next week-long teaching assignment, was thankfully taken care of by Alex and Carsta. They were also attending TangoLab’s intensive course and dropped us off at Emma’s door in Helmstedt, from where we’d caught the train to Dresden. Despite her state, Ines the TangoLab’s organizer, insisted Ruth give her daily Tango Musicality sessions… and so, with our 3 functioning arms and legs, we tackled the last 120km – I steered with my good hand and took care of the pedals while Ruth shifted gears on my ‘cues’ !
For more pictures, go to flikr.
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