Thursday, June 06, 2019

"Go Git 'em!"

After one last sticky night in Berlin, we made our way to Dresden. At the Hauptbahnhof, I was surprised to find that our train wasn’t on the lowest platform (as usual), but on the highest. They also didn’t have a diagram of the train posted (so we could know where our wagon car would be).

I managed to find a place on the platform that turned out to be quite close to our wagon, but the crush getting on was intense. After much pushing we found people in our seats. At first, they didn’t want to leave. One problem was that normally when you reserve a seat, there’s a piece of paper marking it, but none of them were right.

After about 15-20 minutes of arguing, I was able to get all the students into their seats. The aisles were jammed with people trying to get from one car to another with all their luggage. People had thought first class would be in the front of the train, only to find it was at the back. In fact, I think the train was reversed, because I had arranged for most of our seats to be facing forward, but most were facing backward.

A group of 8 German college girls were trying to get into their seats in the rows behind us, but the people occupying them wouldn’t leave. Some of them didn’t speak German, so I volunteered to explain in English that the German girls had seat reservations. They only had train tickets, not reserved seats, so they couldn’t sit in seats that had been reserved by others. “Go git ‘em!” one of the students yelled to me.

Eventually everyone found a seat and the heat lessened on the train. The conductor came around and offered everyone bottled water as compensation for the delay and the trouble.

In Dresden, we had a twenty-minute walk to our hotel. I had thought we were staying in one of the Ibis hotels on Prager Straße, but this is the Ibis Budget hotel, just opposite the Altstadt. I was worried about the quality, but it turns out to be fine. Real beds, A/C, a nice shower. The students couldn’t be happier.

After lunch we went to the New Green Vault in the Residenzschloß; this is the tchotchke collection of the kings of Saxony. Over and over I heard the students go ‘wow’! when they saw all the gold and jewelry. They have 41 carat green diamond on display, the only one of its kind in the world.

One of the students noticed the various racial stereotypes displayed in the art (e.g,, the depiction of “Moors”). She thought they should be put in a separate room where their racism could be critiqued.

For several of the students, their favorite part wasn’t so much the various precious objects in the New Green Vault, but the armor on display in the Rustkammer. Then their jaws dropped when the saw the immense chandeliers in the small ballroom.

Around then the rain started. For a while, we could hear it intensely hammer the roof. I was a little concerned because I had tickets for us to be on a steamship cruise on the Elbe for an hour and a half, but then the rain passed.

The cruise turned out to be rather cool and pleasant. A few of the students were actually cold, a nice change from yesterday when we were sweating. I bought them all desserts and non-alcoholic drinks (I cannot be reimbursed for any alcohol purchases by students), and they all seemed to have a good time.

A few of the students asked about where to find an expensive place to eat, so I googled and yelped it, and it turned out to be a currywurst place across the street from our hotel. The food was tasty and the students were pleased. At a certain point, a group of people started filming something in front of the currywurst stand. One of them was wearing a mask and they were doing something with the curry wurst, but I couldn’t tell what. One of the woman came out and made them move away from the stand and then leave.

I asked her what they were doing and she said that it was for the internet. I asked what and she muttered that “das ist nicht koscher!” I later asked if it was something political and she said “no,” that they were trying to make it seem like the curry wurst they sold didn’t taste good. I asked if the mask was of a famous person and she said no.

I’m so tired. Even though I had nearly 8 hours of sleep last night, the last week of poor sleep due to heat and humidity has really sapped my energy. I’m going to go to sleep early tonight (I hope), so I have more energy when we get to Prague tomorrow.

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