Friday, August 31, 2012

Mecklenburg/Pomeranian Summer

First, I'm just going to get it out there since you may be wondering from that title.  Yes, we live in the place where these dogs were first bred.  Yes.  Trot that fact out at your next cocktail party to impress people.

And now for a break from our snail's-pace recap of Italy (which happened, I know, five months ago).  Believe it or not, we've actually been doing other things this summer-- more specifically in our particular German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

For example, we went to the beach a few weeks ago.

We laid on our towels and read cheap paperback novels we checked out from the three shelves of English books at the library.  We ate a picnic lunch.  We got in the Baltic Sea up to our chins and paddled around a bit through schools of tiny fish and quite a few moon jellies.  Poked a few of those, just to see if Paul was telling the truth about them not being able to sting people (he was right).  Got a little sunburned (what?  miracle.)  And saw naked people.

So, all in all, a successful visit to a European beach, I'd say.  

Way back in May, we took a twenty-minute train to the nearby city of Gustrow--honestly, just for kicks and the sake of exploration.  

And, as you may remember, this trip and, more specifically, our visit to the Gustrow Cathedral (above)  resulted in our media fame.  By the by, this cathedral may be one of my favorites we've seen in Germany.  It was darker inside since most of the stained glass was still intact (Gustrow wasn't really a WWII target, thank goodness).  When we were there it was decked out with huge, leafy and flowering tree branches decorating the walls and altar which just made all the greens and maroons and navy blues and golds look gorgeous.  

On another whim, we went to a small coastal city, nearer to Poland, named Greifswald, taking a post-it note suggestion from our giant map of Germany.  The northeast coast is the only place we've seen church steeples with this awesome dome-ish top.  It reminds me of the Christmas tree star we had when I was growing up.  They're probably related, what with Germany's monopoly on all things Tannenbaum. 

The church also had these hilarious paintings of bodies that connected to wood-sculpted heads on column capitals.  Way to be creative, medieval people!  

And, though the marketplace had...questionable...Italian food, it was typically adorable.  

What we really wanted to find, though, were the ruins of the 11th century monastery which founded Greifswald (which means "Griffin Forest").  Story goes that there were a bunch of monks looking for a place to build and then a Griffin jumped out at them, probably growled a bit (I like to think in a friendly, mythical way--not unlike a larger, more terrifying Lassie), and led them to this place.

It was really cool.  No griffins...

...but totally had a windmill!


Finally, we used the last sunny day of the year (out of...5) to go up our most-beloved neighborhood Petrikirche's tower and get a view over our old-city and beyond.

 Pretty, we're going to be sad to move away...

We went on another summer adventure yesterday in a slightly further afield part of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, but it was so cool that it will get it's own post later.  As a teaser though, it involved marshmallow fluff.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Read all about it!

Check out who made the newspaper's first page (of the summer insert)!  We did.  That's right.  We're pretty much famous.

Fame is the reward of people who go visit relatively little-known German cities in relatively-little-visited German states.  In this case, we were hounded by the paparazzi the day we took off work to go snoop around the castle and churches of Gustrow waaaay back in May.

They've been holding the story, I'm sure, so they could release it when it would have the most impact...or something.

Pulitzer!  I smell a Pulitzer!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hansa Sail

It's sunny.  It's above sixty degrees.  It's time for the Hansa Sail!

This is a big ol' deal here where hundreds of historic sailing ships, steam boats, paddle boats, and every-kind-of-boat makes its way to our harbor, just four blocks away, for four days of nautical celebration.  We have sea shanties, we have pirates, we have a lot of people with sailor hats walkin' around.  There are techno party boats and dinner cruises and sea plane rides and dragonboat races.

Wanna put on one of those old metal diving helmets?  Sure thing!  Wanna eat some calamari and then go on the bumper cars?  Go for it (but not recommended)!

It's just a big, big, really fun deal.

AND I tried my first Bubble Tea, which I've been meaning to do for years.  Strawberry with passionfruit bubbles--amaaaazing.  

Then being able to just walk home to our altstadt neighborhood and see our Petrikirche waiting for us...we're lucky folks, I think.  

Just such a great festival.  I'm really proud of this little city we live in and its seafaring history.

And yeah, these are all our pictures.  Go super old handheld camera!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Italy Series: Florence and Art

Why does anyone go to Florence?  Other than the bruschetta and ribollita, that is.

It's the art!  I might even go so far as to say that Florence maaaaay be the greatest art city in the world.  And, it's also the place that made me art-cry again.  ("It'!")

We already covered the importance of the Duomo to the Renaissance, but Florence also has the unsurpassed Uffizi Gallery, Academia, and Bargello.  Not to mention all the statues under the Loggia in the main square.

Loggia, with Perseus and (decapitated) Medusa
It's hard to say which gallery I loved the most.

Primavera, Botticelli

The Uffizi had The Birth of Venus and Primavera by Botticelli (they were so much larger than I expected them to be).  It also had Da Vinci, and Michelangelo's Holy Family, and Rafael, and Cranach, and Giotto, and Cimabue, and Martini, and Fra Angelico, and Tintoretto, and Rubens, and and and and and.  It was like watching a show called Painting All-Stars.

Annunciation (Uffizi) by Leonardo da Vinci
The Annunciation, Da Vinci

The Bargello had Donatello's original David (we saw all the big David versions on this trip) and St. George.  It had the original and restored bronze panels from the Baptistery, including the losing panels from Brunelleschi for comparison.  It had a whole bunch of statues.

St. George, Paul, Gelatto
Bargello Gallery

But, the Academia...the Academia made me cry.  Which I didn't expect at all.  Mostly because the Academia is famous for one thing: Michaelangelo's David.  I didn't expect it to be so overwhelming because we'd seen the replica David out on the main square already (see photo above) and it's probably the most recognizable statue in the world.  No surprises.

But, well, descriptions will never be enough, but you turn a corner and you see down a long, high-ceiling gallery lined with Michaelangelo's unfinished Slaves, each one looking like a man struggling to escape his marble block.  And at the very end, a single domed room where David stands 17 feet tall in the center.

Both of us gasped, and not even a little bit ironically.  We couldn't help ourselves. The replicas...I can't explain it...they aren't like the real thing.  There's something special about it, something different.  The eyes or something.

We stared at that statue--at that single statue--for a really long time.

And want to know when I cried?  I cried when we were leaving, because I knew that no memory or postcard or replica would ever be anything close to the same.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Filmpalast: A Story Written in German Grammar

Yesterday were we to our first Movie in German Language going.  We are not big Movie People, in the US either - for most reason because of the Price - so can You imagine, what our Requirements, to a Theater going, a movie in German (!?) to see.

But, when You combine Pixar, Scotland, and a redhair Protagonist...well... me could not away from keep!

Openingnight!  Woo!

Some Differences:  There are different Prices depending on, which Theater and which Seat.  Yes, are the Seats assigned.  The Seats. Are. So. Comfortable!   Also, is it cheaper here.

There are also People selling Concessions as if you at a Baseballgame were.  They yell similarly, "Ice Cream! I have Ice Cream here!"

And when someone Popcorn wants, can you the Choice between sweet and salty Popcorn, or a Type mixed choose.  I think, is it something like Kettlecorn.

The Importantest Thing, that You know must, is: this is the best Film of all Time!

Aaand, I understand could, what was happening!  I am very proud.

So, thanks for the lovely Evening, Merida: Legende der Highlands.

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