Dresden Molkerei, cheese shop

Dresden is a wonderful city in Eastern Germany -- we stayed here for a few days with my old pal Evan Hughes, who's in the opera company there (ahem, this is a very big deal). We really absorbed this "Florence of the East", relaxing and hanging out with an adopted local . . . It's quiet rythms, decadent, rebuilt history, extraordinary opera house, cafes & kuchen (cake!) galore, it was hard not to fall in love.

views for days at outside gates of the Zwinger
Zwinger galore and little cafe by the opera house
We explored the Zwinger, a palace complex completely rebuilt after being bombed at the end of World War II. It had extravagant details, beautifully manicured lawns, a delicious kafe and tons of nooks and crannies to gape over. It was awe-inspiring and certainly had a level of sadness and rebirth -- the history and memory swirl around every laid brick, picturesque fountain and romantic sculpture.
bedraggled rose garden on the river Elbe & broom store
broom store right next to cheese shop in Aldstadt
Another fabulous outing was renting bikes and taking the town on two wheels. The city is fairly spread out, but the Aldstadt and Neustadt (old town/historic center and new town) are within minutes on a bicycle, so all the major destinations are absolutely accessible. There's nothing like taking in the amazing, dramatic architecture by bike as you cross the bridge over the river Elbe, really something out of a fairy tale. It made me gasp with glee, delight and beauty.

We wound up at a broom shop (so comical and gorgeous) near Evan's apartment, checking out the incredible, handmade brooms for every cleaning need . . . The cheese shop, Pfunds Molkerei was next door and is definitely worth a visit! The entire place is covered in painted tiles, depicting pretty girls milking cows and frilly pastoral scenes.
broom shop & interior at Watzke, over 100 year old brewery on the Elbe
We ate a traditional German meal (veggie goulash, shnitzel, and pils beers) at Watzke, an over 100 year-old brewery/dining hall up the river. It had a magical outdoor beer garden, with grumpy waitresses, great beer and hearty faire. I dream of renting out the top floor for a party one day. This is the type of place where time has stood still, the memories of parties and toasts still palpable in the air. A jollyness comes over you as the ale easily slides down the gullet.
upstairs at Watzke
behind the scenes at the SemperOper (opera house) & our rented bikes resting on the Elbe

By far the highlight of our visit to Dresden was the experience of touring the SemperOper with my old friend Evan. He showed us the set-building studio where we watched artists paint the dramatic backgrounds used in the operas (all free hand and amazing!!), then we hung around while he was fitted for his Marriage of Figaro costumes. It was so beautiful, my heart nearly beat out of my chest -- I couldn't believe I was witnessing my friend 1) be an international opera star in Europe 2) the level of care and craftsmanship every part of this production entailed.

When I met the shoemaker, I nearly fell over. Unreal level of quality, attention and artisanship going into operas over there -- what a gift to observe.
costume room at SemperOper

Evan Hughes, Opera Singer in Dresden Opera Company (and my old pal), gets fitted by Jasmin
The behind the scenes situation at the SemperOper was divine, and the opportunity to sit front row for two operas, one of which your childhood bestie plays a large part in, was unforgettable. The opera house itself is the crown jewel of Dresden, opulent and luxurious down to the last detail -- The gold moldings, painted ceilings, velvet seats and reverence for the art form just makes you go a little ga ga.

A lovely aspect of taking in the opera was the age range of viewers -- there were fancy older, well-dressed people and there were also a lot of teenagers and then everyone in between. I loved the non-preciousness feeling of experiencing the art form in Germany. Monday night = packed. Tuesday night = packed again. Everyone smoking and drinking Champagne at intermission, perfect soft pretzels given out as a free snack. Little rain drops skattering about the courtyard as the houselights dimmed, signaling us back inside. It was a dream come true.
the luscious interiors at the SemperOper
a few snapshots from instagram: Evan at his fitting, wonderful cafe where we ate a few kuchens (cake!!), the view from on stage at the Semperoper (pinch me!!), Dave enjoying a glass of bubbles before the opera began
If You Go:

  • SemperOper - Dresden Opera House, book an opera early!
  • Watzke - over 100 year old Beer Hall on Elbe, get a pilsner
  • Zwinger - visit! Art museum there is beautiful as well.
  • Pfund Molkerei - over 100 year old cheese shop, visit the broom store next door as well
  • bike rental - inexpensive and easy returns all over the city

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