A Morning at the Opera (the Semperoper, Dresden)

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November 29th 2013
Published: December 1st 2013
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This morning we started on a high cultural note with a visit to the Semperoper where we bought our tickets to see a performance by the Dresden (?) Symphony Orchestra featuring guest conductor and pianist Rudolph Buchbinder. I felt very underdressed in my sightseeing clothes. Who knew that people got all dressed up to go to the Opera House in the daytime?? Still people were dressed in everything from jeans and jumpers to dinner suits so I guess we weren't that out of place??!

As we left Semperoper Bernie performed his good deed for the day. A lady tripped on the stairs behind him and probably would have had a very nasty fall if she hadn't fallen into Bernie's back. Fortunately Bernie was surefooted enough to stop the two of them from rolling all the way to the bottom of the staircase!

Next on our Dresden itinerary was the old Green Vault or the Historiches Grünes Gewölbe - Baroque treasure chamber - at the Residenzschloss. This museum features more than 2,000 masterpieces of the jeweller's and goldsmith's art as well as precious objects made of amber and ivory, gemstone vessels and elegant bronze statuettes presented in front of ornate mirrored display walls. Extensively damaged during WWII the Historiches Grünes Gewölbe has been restored and partially reconstructed so that visitors can once again see the treasures collected by August the Strong between 1723 and 1730. I have to say that I felt a bit squeamish in the Ivory Room. On the one hand the artistry is incredible and amazing, but on the other hand so many elephants had to die for the expression of that art. I felt much more comfortable admiring works of art featuring amber, silver and gilt and other precious stones and metals.

We stepped out of the Residenzschloss to find some lunch. Oh look there's a Christmas market right next door and more street food!! After sausages two days in a row we managed to find something different opting for crepes for lunch. Virtually everyone who we dealt with in Munich spoke some English, but today we encountered a stall seller who didn't speak any English. We managed to order two ham and cheese crepes for our lunch by pointing at the ingredients and holding up two fingers. The crepe makers are amazing. They use a wooden tool to spread the crepe batter out on a circular griddle about 40cm in diameter and then they flip them onto a second griddle without breaking them to cook the other side. They sprinkle the filling onto the crepe and then fold it up into a parcel that they hand to you on a small paper plate and serviette.

After our lunch we headed back into the Residenzschloss to see the Neues Grünes Gewölbe (New Green Vault). This museum features many outstanding works of Baroque jewellery art, in particular many unique items made by the court jeweller Dinglinger. On another floor we viewed an astonishing collection of Turkish weaponry. It rivalled the collection of Turkish weaponry that we saw at Topkapi Palace in Istanbul in January. In yet another hall we found an extensive array of European and Saxon armour, swords and jousting poles.

All armoried out we went back to our room to pick up our tripods to go out again to try some night photography - at 4.30 in the afternoon! After photographing Semperoper we decided to venture across the bridge over the River Elbe to take some night shots looking back towards the domes and towers of the older section of Dresden. We managed to take a few shots back over the river, but then it started rain. Although we abandoned our photo taking on the other side of the river we didn't pack it in completely; we wandered over to the big night market. Even the rain did not seem to have put dampener on the enthusiasm there is for the Christmas night markets. Maybe its the lure of handicrafts that brings people out whatever the weather or maybe it's just the glühwein!!

After dropping back to our room briefly we headed back out for dinner. Tonight we tried another fairly traditional eating place - Augustiner an der Frauenkirche. Being a Friday night it was very busy so we shared our table again. It is a good way to have some conversation with the locals ... provided they can speak English of course. One of our companions tonight owns a house in Phuket and goes to Thailand annually for his holidays. He would love to visit Australia, especially the Great Barrier Reef, and New Zealand where he has a friend, but he says it's too far. I pointed out that it's only another eight hours from Thailand, but he still shook his head saying it's too far to travel.

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2nd December 2013

avoiding construction zones
Hi I am enjoying following your travels and admiring the photos, all fantastic. Always gives me itchy feet! When looking for accommodation Phil checks the streetview all around for any hidden probs like construction zones, access etc. Of course it depends on how up to date the images are. Anything he deems a problem means crossing the accommodation off the list! Mr Fussy in action.

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