Time for some R and R

Trip Start Feb 21, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Germany  ,
Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Well I apologise for being MIA lately, but after the bug bites and all and three trains later, I've ended up in the small town of Jena, near Erfurt, but basically in the middle of Germany (although it's in what at one time considered East Germany).  Why, you may ask?  Well to visit another friend Uli, who is an absolute gem of a hostess by the way.  First I was going to stay a few days and then that turned into a week, and now due to other events in the mean time, its turned into another week!  I think this is the longest I've stayed in any one place, and after about two nights, I felt right at home.  ahhhhh.....  

Visiting Uli and her best and fascinating friend Katherina aside, this has been a great opportunity for me to start trying to digest all the information swimming in (more likely out) of my head from the past 2 1/2 months.  I still don't know how well that's working out, but you can always try, right?  I have fit in some touristy things though - in Jena Uli and Katherina showed me around the pretty city which is relatively small but spread out through small valleys and surrounded by hills, in what they call the aptly named "Paradies."  There is a Stadt museum which currently is hosting an excellent photography exhibit of Sally Mann (VA - she went to Hollins, Mel!) and a weirdish exhibit of Otto Hofmann's.... a little too geometric for my tastes.  The Stadt Museum also has a large collection of information about the history of Jena as a medieval town, accompaied by numerous pictures throughout the last couple centuries.  Unfortunately it's all in German, which is more my problem than theirs of course, but you can still get an idea of the place.  They have a cool planetarium (also only in German, with a funny German guy pretending to be Kepler on screen), Jen tower (at 29 floors the sore but modern thumb of the town), outdor markets, a street festival with a block-party feel for some holiday, Botanical Gardens.... you get the idea.  It is a cool place to be!

The three of us also made some side trips, going to Wiemar to hear an author give a presentation (in German... hmmm mayb I should just learn the language, eh?) about his most recent book with a photographer about East Germany in the GDR (German Democratic Republic I think) times.  Apparently though this was a time when ignorance of the language worked in my favor, as I blissfully make notes in my journal about other things, Uli was getting nearly bored to tears with his pompous and arrogant attitude about himself.  I took a look at the book later (bi-lingual, yes!) and he writes in much the same way, but at least you get an idea of the everyday life in East Germany.  Sort of.  We also spent a night in Berlin, where I finally got my dance on in a club somewhere around Mitte (I dont' really know I'm just making it up!).  As Uli and Katherina are both studying cultural history, it was really cool to hear their ideas and thoughts, especially on the Checkpoint Charlie museum and talk with their friend Monika (whose apt we crashed at) who is a social worker in Berlin.  Katherina, by the way, is also old enough to have been on the watch-list back in GDR times, so it is really interesting listening to her stories and viewpoint, especially after we watched an apparently relatively inaccurate movie about life in the East called something like "the Lives of the Others" (also only in German!) that supposedly is going to be re-made Hollywood style.

Oh yeah and another day Uli and I drove back to Dresden to check out a Chagall exhibit, and which turned out to be an art gallery sale of his works (€55,000 anyone???) but free to view so heck yeah to that!  It also happened to be the beginning of some Dance days kind of festival in town, so we got to see the Palucca School of Dance have some youngsters perform in the mall jazz-team style (better than nothing though, so I'll take it!), and then went to check out the actual school.  Palucca was a student of Mary Wigman (one of the early pioneers of modern dance, and who happened to like Dresden so much she stayed), and decided to carry on Wigman's legacy in a way through this dance school.  Anyhow, they gave us free rein to a self-guided tour through their sweet seriously $$$$$ new facilities which are pretty freaking awesome.  The offer some graduate programs where oh yeah, you get to work with choreographers like, oh I don't know, William Forsythe anyone????  Ok well I'm impressed....but that was fun.

Now Uli is moving to a new apartment, so I've taken over one of her rooms to dance my little heart out while she cleans (ok it was one day), and now she is allowing me the normalcy of the everyday life by letting me help her move boxes, scrub baseboards, clean carpets.... it's great!!!!  (mom don't get any ideas....)  So I think for various reasons I will be hanging out here in Jena for a few more days at least, and then on to the next place....
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