Friday, December 18, 2009

Just let's see what happens and get surprised!

Sound the trumpets! Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth, peace and blog entries for all!

I knew that if I didn't get these upcoming posts written before we left for the holly-days, it would never happen. And because one of the main purposes of this blog is so Jason and I can have a record of our trips and adventures to reflect fondly upon at a later date, I have never let a major happening go undocumented. Every holiday we've been on since 2005 is tucked away right here. So I ain't about to stop now.

(Also, I ran out of books to read and I'm looking for ways to procrastinate packing.)

So, without further ado and/or delay, here is the story of how we lived like the King and Queen of Saxony. (Well, for 2 nights and 3 days at least.)

While I was still in Raleigh, sorting the sale of our house and celebrating Turkey Day, Jason took the liberty of arranging our accommodations for Dresden. The Christmas Markets are quite a popular event though and much of the city was booked up already. Except this one pretty nice place. You know the type, popular with heads of state and such. But alas, all they had available was suites.

Now, when I say "pretty nice place", what I really mean is the "poshest joint in town". And when I say "heads of state and such", what I'm really saying is "President Obama stayed here" And when I say "alas", what I actually mean is "HOT-DIGGITY-DOG!!!!!!!".

I told them not to bother with the whole red carpet thing just for me but they insisted.

And it had a beautiful spa. I was pretty pumped.

Sorry about recycling content here but there really is no other way to say it so allow me to do a direct copy & paste of my Facebook status from December 2, the Wednesday prior to our departure:
I just checked the spa menu of the hotel we're staying in this weekend and one of the treatments is called "Floating on Clouds" with the following description underneath: "Just let's see what will happen and get surprised!" Ummm, how about not. How about you tell me *exactly* what you're going to do to me before I get nekkid on a massage table.
To be fair, translations don't always quite work out the way one means for them to. (For abundant proof of this, head to Engrish.com.) Still, I opted for a different treatment. One with a very detailed description of what was going to happen.

Yet, I was "surprised!". I won't go into details but I'll say two things:

1. The Germans are 100% the most-comfortable-with-nekkidness people I've ever come across.

2. Thank heavens I'm pretty regular with the ol' bikini waxing.

Re. item 1 above, I have many examples to back this up. Nekkidness in a spa environment is nothing to them. This is something I struggled with in my early European days. For crissakes, I once freaked out when a seamstress tried to help me out of my wedding dress. But I've gradually grown more accustomed to it. I even went topless on the beach in Croatia two summers ago. (When in Rome, right?) Yet, I was taken rather by "surprise!" about a quarter of the way through my treatment. But once the initial shock passed, I'm proud to say I was able to slip right back into my relaxed state.

It helped knowing what was waiting for us in the room upon return. Earlier, as I was on my way out to go to the spa, the doorbell rang. And what to my wondering eyes did appear? A maid with a tray of goodies! The prime goody being a bottle of champagne on ice! My instant reaction was "Oh sorry but I think you've got the wrong room. We didn't actually order anything." To which she replied, "Oh no! Is for you. Is velcome. Velcome to Dresden. No pay." To which I replied, "Well, what are ya waitin' for sister? Wheel it on in!"

The best part? (I mean, besides it being FREE and all...) The champagne was no ordinary house champagne. Oh no. It was Ruinart. One of the Champagne region's finest champagnes. An 85 euro bottle of champagne. FREE!

So we hung about and enjoyed our velcome gift till there wasn't a drop of velcome left and then braved the elements to get our first taste of the oldest Christmas Market in the world.

In Christmas Market world - this is what passes for dinner:

And behold Striezelmarkt, the first Christmas Market ever recorded in history in the year 1434 - 575 years ago.

It began as a market day prior to Holy Christmas Eve where families bought their Christmas roast. Over the years, additional items were added. First bread and festive baked goods; then dollhouse pottery as gifts for the children in the 1600's; stockings and painted wooden dolls and toys in 1700; and by 1704 the vendor list had grown to include potters, glassmakers, goldsmiths, knitters, weavers, lace makers, iron mongers and wood carvers.

Enjoying another hot chocolate on the ferris wheel...


And a stroll over to Neumarkt before calling it a night. (Sidebar: I'm not sure what's going on with some of these photos, especially this one, because it looks very grainy on blogger but definitely does not look like that in my iPhoto.)

The next morning I woke up to the sound of Jason on the phone inquiring about breakfast. Twenty minutes later, the smorgasbord arrived. There are worse ways to start your day!

After a trip down to the spa to relax by the gorgeous infinity pool, we made off for the Medieval market. This is the only one you have to pay to get into but it's pretty cool. First stop inside was for...

a glühwein, of course.

An old fashioned merry-go-round. By the looks of this thing, there's no way they would let anyone near it in the US without them signing a serious waiver.

The Medieval market is set up in the courtyard of the old royal palace and they try to stay as true to the time period as possible. For example, the christmas tree has no lights and is decorated with only real dried fruit and pinecones, etc.

It was very nice during the day but my advice would be to stay away at night. This thing attracts goths and other various and sundry oddballs like mad. You know the kind of people who dress up and attend Renaissance fairs and wear hooded cloaks even just to run to the drycleaner? Yeaaaaaaahhhhhh....

Prepare the noms...

Appreciate the beauty of the noms...

Nom, nom, nom!

And now, because I'm kind of tired of writing, what I think we need is a montage. (MONTAGE!) So here is a montage. (MONTAGE!) A montage (MONTAGE!) of some of the beautiful and delicious things for sale at the markets around Dresden:







Then, somehow we got stuck in the middle of this swarm of people. It was like a vacuum. We got close and it basically swept us up and sucked us into the crowd. And there was NO. WAY. OUT. You just had to let yourself be basically carried through and deposited out the other side. Not an agoraphobe's ideal situation, let me tell you.

Nothing like tea time at the hotel to warm up and recover.

The skating rink in the courtyard of our hotel.

An unexpected gift left on each of our pillows at turndown service! These wood carved ornaments and candleholders and things are sort of a signature Dresden item. Trust me when I tell you that they get WAY more intricate than this.

The next morning we had short-lived blue skies so we took the opportunity to get a couple of photos of Dresden, minus Christmas.

It really is a beautiful city.

And now, one more montage. (MONTAGE!) This time of the many faces of Dresden's Christmas Markets...

Wood carving guy!

Hand cranked swing ride guy!

Caroling guys!

That montage wore me out. Let's pause for a glühwein.

A trip back to Striezelmarkt for some Christmas shopping and a gratuitous self-portrait.

This was the only time the entire weekend we went to an actual restaurant. The rest of the trip it was all market food, all the time.

Jason made the most of it and got the most ridiculous thing on the menu. Whatever it was called, I'm pretty sure it's German for "Death by Meat".

Though dusk was beautiful, it was a little sad because that meant it was nearly time to leave.


And after a horse drawn carriage ride through the city, we did just that. Auf wiedersehen, Hotel Grand Taschenbergpalais. I'll never forget you.


1 comment:

Meg said...

Seriously?!? Did you purchase everyone of those hand blown glass ornaments for me?? I just drooled all over the keyboard. They were fabulous, as was the rest of your trip it looks like. Thanks for sharing and I hope you have a fantastic holiday! Hugs and well wishes for the new year!

Meg