Our first full day in Dresden, Miren didn't fall asleep until twenty minutes before our alarm was set to go off, so our morning ended up being a rushed craze to get ready for a 9:30am wedding. Despite the fact that I tried to carefully pack all our nice clothes, I forgot a travel iron, undershirts and belts for the boys, and Robbie accidentally packed a dress shirt with a large yellow stain on it, so we sort of fell out the front door already a crumpled mess. On the drive to the wedding hall, we marveled at the beauty of the city while simultaneously lecturing the kids about the importance of being quiet and well-behaved during the ceremony.
|Some typical buildings in the neighborhood.|
|Fionn does an excellent job of being quiet during the ceremony.|
When it was over, we gathered on the front steps to throw flower petals as the happy couple came down the stairs. I learned that in Germany, it's customary to throw rice and then everyone gets in their car and drives around honking the horns in celebration, but apparently the wedding hall banned both practices. Much to the delight of the neighbors I'm sure.
We spent the rest of the morning letting the kids play at our friends' house, then headed over to a beautiful villa for a gourmet lunch. Of course we forgot our camera for this part of the day, but here is a picture from the web that doesn't do it justice:
Here is a photo our friends took of the inside set up for the wedding party:
We spent the entire afternoon in a sun-drenched room talking, eating one delicious course after another, and drinking good wine (we had enough sense to let other people pick from the thick wine list for us and it paid off well). The kids were offered plates of schnitzel and vegetables, which I tried to pass off to the boys as fried chicken without success. It turned out to have less to do with an unfamiliar food and more to do with not being caught up on sleep. They started to fight over who could sleep in my lap, so our friend's gracious and well-prepared mother brought in some blankets to lay on the floor. (Note to self: you CAN let your kids fall asleep on the floor in Germany...if you bring the right gear.)
At one point during our now undisturbed lunch, a relative sitting next to me looked over at the boys and sighed. "They look like two little white angels sleeping in the corner of a beautiful castle," she said wistfully. I smiled and thought, "Angels are about the furthest thing from my mind when I look at them."
Miren, on the other hand, wolfed down an entire plate of schnitzel and used her brothers' disappearance to put on the "I'm adorable and I know it" show for anyone that would look her way. You would never guess that the child who slept one hour all night would be the one playing peek-a-boo and dashing around the room excitedly for hours on end.
After lunch was over, we made our way to downtown Dresden for a horse-drawn carriage tour of the city. The boys, who had been forced to wake up and get in the car, were of course starving by now. So after this several-course gourmet meal, we had to be the schmucks stopping at Burger King to feed our kids hamburgers. I've never felt so American.
Downtown Dresden was breathtaking. It's difficult to capture, even in pictures, the scope of what you see in real life. Everywhere you turn, the skyline is packed with one incredible building or church or museum or palace after another. What makes the city even more fascinating is the fact that much of it was destroyed by bombing at the end of WWII (mostly out of spite on the behalf of the allies apparently). The ruins were meticulously rebuilt using much of the original material, which is a fact we wondered at over and over again as we compared old pictures of the post-war buildings with the grandeur of what was in front of us.
|Our double-decker carriage awaits us.|
|Freunkirche right after the war...Freunkirche today.|
Fionn spent the entire carriage ride with his face pressed to the glass window, enthralled. Emerson was more interested in cuddling up with the blanket that was provided. And five minutes into the ride, Miren fell into my lap and instantly passed out.
When the ride was done, we piled into the car so we could head back to our friends' house for a light dinner. But we only drove a minute before Fionn announced that he needed to go to the bathroom...right now. Robbie pulled over in front of a large shopping mall and suggested I jump out with Fionn while he circled the block. I raced through the crowded mall as fast as I could in high heels, dragging a little boy who clutched at his crotch in desperation. As I finally rounded the corner into the apparently one and only bathroom in the entire mall, I saw a long line of people waiting to pay an attendant to gain entrance. Say what?!
The attendant must have taken pity on me when he saw the look of horror come across my face and the little boy doing a potty dance at my side. "Kinder?" he asked. I nodded, so he opened a small gate and let us pass through. I'm pretty sure he was waiting for me to give him money, but since I didn't have anything on me, I just uttered several "Dankeschön"s and raced inside.
As I was learning important lessons about peeing in Germany, Robbie was learning important lessons about driving in Germany. I have to say he's incredibly brave to drive a manual car despite not having driven one in years, and to do it in a completely different country. He's mostly survived by following behind other people and doing what they do, but as he circled the block, he found himself in the front and ended up having a little adventure that ended with jumping a curb. When we finally reunited, we had both gained some important cultural insights..and a few new gray hairs.
Thankfully the rest of the evening was relaxing and ended with our first decent night of sleep the entire trip. Ahhhh.....