Archive for the ‘Germany’ Category

Bikelele on the Elbe

31 July 2012

Dresden wasn’t originally on the itinerary but it had to be included after (1) an introduction to Alex via the international ukulele grapevine – thanks Herman! and (2) an examination of the map showing that Dresden was within reach.

This is an amazing city with mixture of old and new. The Frauenkirche combines both, as it has been rebuilt over the last 20 years incorporating the blackened remnant of the 1945 bombs.

It has a great bike scheme that had us on two wheels within 15 minutes of arriving – 8 euros per day. There are hundreds of cyclists and cycle tourists everywhere. The Elbe flows through the city with a wide meadow along one side, equipped with heavily used bike path and beer gardens in good supply. We watched as a man cooked up an enormous pan of fried potatoes to go with the thuringers and bratwursts. There are not many bridges upstream of the city but there are plenty of ferries taking walkers, bikes and cars across.

The Elbe is also popular with canoeists and boating types – there were canoeists hostels and campsites just near Ukulelistan, and presumably many more up and downstream.

On Alex’s recommendation we visited Pillnitz Castle and gardens, summer palace of dissolute King Augustus amongst others.

Alex’s house is right on the river and he gets woken up by the geese in the morning. Across the other side are fields with newly based hay and Saxon church with lidded eyes in the roof.

Our stay in Ukulelistan was a delightful interlude and an unexpected privilege – thanks to Alex for this!

Muses in Dresden and Ukulelistan

30 July 2012

It may have been Carl Maria von Weber that brought us to Dresden but it was George Frideric Handel, the Freiburger Barockorchester and counter tenor Bejun Mehta who entertained us in the Frauenkirche that evening.

Both the church and orchestra were tremendous but Zubin Mehta’s cousin Bejun was the uncontested star of the evening – a marvellous musician and stunning singer. The audience lapped it up. A more deserved ovation at the end could scarcely be imagined.

After a night in a pension and sumptuous breakfast at Kaffee Wippler we cycled up the Elbe Radweg to meet Alexander Wandrowsky, high chief of Ukulelistan where we spent an entertaining day.

Alexander’s neighbour Jurg cooked us trout for dinner and we traded songs into the night before retiring to Alexander’s self-erecting tent in his garden.

The Elbe just keeps rolling along.