Sunday, May 30, 2010

Long weekend in Salzburg Austria - Day 1

Weekend getaway in Salzburg Austria. Salzburg is best known from the movie "Sound of Music" so it is hard not to think of all the locations from the movie when visiting. From Dresden it to Salzburg it is about a 5 hour train ride.

One of many Churches/Cathedrals in Salzburg, this one is near Mirabell Gardens:
David in front of the fountain in Mirabell Gardens (seen in the Do-Re-Mi song from the Sound of Music):

Famous staircase in Mirabell Gardens, think of the Do-Re-Mi song from Sound of Music, as the Von Trapp children hop up and down the stairs to the different notes.

More Mirabell Gardens. Maria and children were seen running through here:
From Mirabell garden with Festung Hohensalzburg on the hill top in the background. The Castle is the located high on a hilltop make it the most visable landmark in Salzburg.

Entrance to Mirabell gardens (again this can be seen in the Sound of Music):


Augustiner brau house in Salzburg, Salzburg's famous brew house:

Inside Augustiner brau house, of course we had to have dinner and sample a beer:

Hohensalzburg castle again with the Salzach river:

Dresden - Mannentag (mens day)

Maennentag (men’s day) is one of those things that just does not translate into anything we do in the US. We heard about this advance from other internationals so we were ready for it, however we were warned to be careful, especially women, to avoid harassment from these groups.

It has few other names are Vaterstag (god’s day or father’s day) or Herrentag (male’s day). Think from all the names you might be getting the idea of what it is.

Here is one definition of what this day is all about:

Groups of male friends or male relatives spend a day together. They often take part in an outdoor activity, such as a walk in the country or a horse-and-cart ride. Afterwards, they have a communal meal.

Here is another (from

Germany's Vatertag began in the Middle Ages as a religious procession honoring "Gott, den Vater" on Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt, usually in May). Although as late as the 1700s Vatertag was a family day for honoring dad, somehow things went sour and in the 19th century the custom reappeared in Berlin as a less refined and very alcoholic celebration on that same date (5 May 2005, 25 May 2006, 17 May 2007). Today Germany's Vatertag is supposed to be closer to a "boys' day out" and a pub tour with the guys (Männerrunde) than the more family-oriented Father's Day in the U.S. In eastern Germany the day is known as Herrentag, but in all parts of Germany, the Herrentag/Vatertag tradition has a bad reputation as a "Sauftag" ("drinking day"). It may make German bar and brewery owners happy, but hardly anyone else. In some regions groups of men (few of them fathers) still go off into the country to have a "Joe Six-Pack" party on Vatertag, but in reality, the German Father's Day beer bust is largely a thing of the past. While in the past a bunch of drunken men may have been amusing, it is no longer viewed as something funny. Besides, German men today hardly need a holiday excuse to have a few drinks with their buddies.

From what I have seen it is more toward the later, and also seem to be in decline, that is not everyone was doing it. That is how it appeared from the city center area where we lived. They pull wagons of beer and supplies or all have backbacks and it starts early, as we started seeing groups at 9:00 am.

We did see some groups that included women with them and even a couple of counter groups of all women. We did go about our normal day, Melissa biked to the institute and she had no incidents, although she did see a large gathering near a beer garden (Johannestadt) on her way.

The most elaborate group we saw (with women) this day, right near the Altmarkt Platz.
The end of the "Train":

Another group:

Wagon in tow, with the German flag, a patriotic group:

Popular gathering area of Maennentag'ers on the Elbe:

Police keeping things in order, no arrests were made just some talking:

To the right:

Another loud group:

Another group, these guys could have been having a bachelor party, on there shirts it said "Game over" and the date they were married, and the guy in the Banana custom could be the groom. On the weekends we see a groups of men and groups of women that we think are having bachelor parties, dressed up in customs like this group:

The deluxe wagon, someone spent some time getting this wagon ready:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dresden - Grosser Gardens - Noah and my Parents

Noah and my parents went to visit the Grosser Gardens, another must see for Dresden visitors. Located right near the Dynamo stadium it also has two real nice beer gardens.

My parents and Noah at the entrance to the Grosser Gardens:

Noah is getting to be a real good photographer and the following pictures are the ones he took (one thing he could have done here, like my Grandpa Pete (Peterson) told me – he was a professional photographer, get people that you are with in some of the pictures – gives perspective and makes for more memorable pictures). Again here are the pictures Noah took from that trip:

Building in the middle of the Gardens:

Interesting part of the building over a window:

Lots of flowers in bloom:

Noahs new freind the horned squirrel:

Dresden - nighttime and Dixieland fireworks

One thing we really like to do in Dresden is walk around at sunset an nighttime as there is a lot going on at night and the buildings are spectacular. Dresden is a very safe city at night and if you do visit you should make sure to walk around the Alt Stadt area at sunset and into the night.

Golden statue of Fredrich Augustus the strong at sunset:

Hof Church (court church, the cathlic church that August build in order to become king of Poland):
Setting up for the Dixieland fireworks display. Yes i said Dixieland, this is the 40th anniversary of the Dixieland festival, they have a lot of Dixieland jazz around Dresden and on the paddle boats. The balloon was inflated right before the fireworks, and it looked really cool, however it was a bit windy so they had to give it up right before the fireworks display:

Sunset over the Altstadt skyline:

Frauen Kirche (showing off some of the nice pictures i got):

Dinner at Watske, beer garden in Neu Stadt, right near the Augustus Golden horse:

Same picture with a flash this time. I like taking shots without the flash, so much more detail however the drawback is that i usually catch someone moving, Melissa this time:

For the Dixieland celebration all the paddle boats went out for a parade at the same time; it is a rare event during tourist season not seeing any boats docked. Then they all came in one after another in a procession, the largest paddleboat parade in the world. As part of the ceremonies when the last boat docked they all blew their whistles at the same time and then the fireworks display started. This was one of the best displays we have seen in Dresden, and that is saying a lot, the fireworks displays here are easily better than in the US.

Whistles blowing...

Fireworks display from the perfect vantage point - Brühl Terrace:

More fireworks:


Noahs exhibition on the DDR

Noah’s class at the Dresden International School has been studying the DDR (German Democratic Republic - GDR) and they had an exhibition night at his school. This included an interpretive dance and presentation at their posters. Noah and his group of three other students presented information about the Berlin Wall. My parents were here and got to learn all about the DDR and it was especially interesting as a lot of people involved with the school lent the kids some of their personal artifacts for display, so we got to see some real unique things from the DDR era. This was a very painful time for most East Germans and still a very sensitive topic.

Start of the interpretive dance, Noah walking to the stage:
The dance was very interesting and thought provoking; they have a great music director who really challenges the kids. It would be hard to describe the dance however it gave you the impression of how the personal expressions and freedoms of the people were oppressed.
Another image of the Dance:

Noah and one of his classmates presenting the English version of their presentation. For each of the topics studied by each group there was a English presentation and a German presentation. My parents and Melissa listening in:

Q and A time:

Moritzburg - with my parents

Trip to Moritzberg Schloss with my Parents and Noah:

Milestone at the front gates of the Moritzburg Castle:
My parents and Noah in front of the Castle:

Nesting swan on the lake surrounding the Castle:

The ramp up the castle (Noah and my Parents):

Another shot of one of the 5 turrets of the castle:

Another shot:

The whole castle, no angles. The castle was actually under repair so 2 of the Turrets were under construction. Last fall when we visited it was also under contruction, i am wondering if it is under a perpetual construction as they just keep going around it fixing it all the time:

Had to time this shot perfectly as the horse was moving, another horse was coming from the other direction, and cars were passing the horses and the Chestnut trees were blooming. Set up and waited and took my one shot, perfect timing: