Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Week Full of History

So come Sunday after the blizzard of the century decided to pass, we packed back up and drove back to Bologna. I spent the next four days exploring Bologna. What a city. The first morning I decided to get my haircut and get pointed towards a hair salon on a corner. I walked in and stamped the snow off my shoes and looked up. I had just walked into this very fashionable Asian hair salon. I dont speak Japanese or Italian.... After a lovely game of charades on what I wanted ( There is really only so much you can do with short hair right? ) I gave up and let them do what they pleased. 45 minutes later I walked out of there 12 euro poorer ( not bad for a wash, cut and style ) looking like I had walked out of a 60's magazine.

Bologna was built in a circle with a wall surrounding it. There are 12 gates still standing around the city from the original wall. That first morning I spent walking through the city, peeping into churches, making my way through courtyards and finding museums I wanted to go to. That afternoon I found a small ballet studio and took my first ballet class in Italian! The teacher was so kind and had a picture of LINES on the wall! The neat thing about ballet is that like math, its a universal language. Movement is something that everyone can understand. Its amazing actually.

The next morning I spent at the Musei Universitari Di Palazzo Poggi. The museum of science and art. The collection was fabulous and so old. The museums are all housed in historic buildings so not only do you see the collections but the history of each room the exhibits are in. The rooms in this museum were all completely different, from a room full of fossils and prints and bones to a room full of wax models showing the process of pregnancy which was used to help midwives. I also really enjoyed the Geography and Nautical Science room, full of huge globes, old maps and ship parts. The next museum I went to was the Accademia Di Belle Arti E Pinacoteca Nazionale. This was stunning. This holds paintings ranging from the 1300's to the 1700's. The amazing things about these pieces of art is not just the painting but the frames. Each frame a piece of art work in itself and at times depicting more beauty in my opinion then the paintings. One room was full of massive stone walls that had been found from a church that had once rested above bologna. The age was apparent and that they have taken a beating throughout time but to see these remains was jaw dropping.

The next morning after tackling another ballet class in Italian, I ran through Bologna to make it to an Art history class at the University Todd and Lorenza work at. It was so neat being able to hear about the certain era's of art I had just seen the day before.

My last morning in Bologna I spent at the Museo Della Musica. The museum holds part of the collection of Giovanni Battista Martini, a friar of Bologna whose passion was collecting scores, portraits of musicians, instruments. Not only did this man have one of the largest portrait collections of great musicians including Christoph Willibald Gluck, Mozart, and Bach but the first book of music ever to be printed. Both Mozart and Bach trained at the music school he had opened in Bologna as well.

That afternoon I took a beautiful ride through the Alps back to Germany to Munich. Munich is a fantastic city. Yesterday I spent my first day walking all through the city with some people I met at the hostel. We went to the English Garden where we saw people surfing in the river ( yes surfing! ) The English Garden is a huge park in Munich, it was beautiful covered in snow but I would like to see it in the spring or fall! Walking through the market we stopped to get Leberkaese, a Bavarian specialty. Germany is split into 16 states and Munich is located in Bavaria. ( Bavaria is known for the Liederhosen! ) Leberkaese is a thick slab of meat which consists of ground pork, bacon, corned beef and onions and baked in a loaf. It is then served on a thick roll with sweet or spicy mustard. My first bite into that sent me right to meat heaven... Walking through Marianplatz we saw city hall, and many historic buildings. I went into a church and was pleasantly surprised by this churches simplicity and spaciousness. You cant come to Munich and not drink beer, so at the hostel we signed up for the Munich Beer Challenge ( don't judge, sometimes you just gotta be a tourist ) It was actually historical as well as fun and tasty! They took us to three famous beerhouses around Munich, the Paulaner, Hofbrauhaus and Augustiners. How can you go wrong with a night full of beer and pretzels?


Today I spent the day at Dachau. I went on the tour. I have read so much about World War 2 and the holocaust and in 2008 when I was dancing at Chautauqua I was able to see Elie Wiesel ( Auschwitz survivor and author of "Night" ) speak. Seeing Elie Wiesel as a real human being began to put all the books I have read into a clearer perspective. Walking through the gates of Dachau and reading "Arbeit Macht Frei" on the wrought iron door put it into a perspective of absolute reality. Terrifying, nerve wracking, grotesque, horrifying, sad. Emotion after emotion was coursing through me.
  Dachau was built in 1915 as a munitions factory. It was turned into a concentration camp by Heinrich Himmler in 1933. Dachau was the only concentration camp to exist throughout the entire 12 years of the Nazi regime. It began as a political prisoner camp transitioning into imprisoning Jahova witnesses, gypsy's and homosexuals as well and near the end of the 1930's it became primarily revolving around Jew's although the other types of prisoners were still there as well. Dachau is the only concentration camp to be named after a town. The prisoners were not taken to the front gates of the camp but to the main train station of Dachau and were then forced to march to the camp. When the prisoners walked through the gate to the camp SS general Baronowsky said to them "You will not find anything to laugh t in Dachau. Only the devil laughs. I am the devil." The original barracks in Dachau were only made to last 15 years so there are only 2 barracks that were reconstructed and can be seen. The Bunker, which was the cell for prisoners still stands. Entering the first building sent a chill through my entire body. I saw where prisoners lined up for roll call, slept, went to the bathroom and were killed. I don't know how to describe most of what I saw. As I walked through the gas chamber and crematorium part of me inside was screaming for me to run away while the other half was even more persistent and telling me to look. The towers still surrounding the camp where the Nazis watched over the camp are the original towers and are not open to the public. When Dachau was made into a memorial ground the survivors insisted on keeping them closed so visitors are only able to see the camp the way the prisoners saw it. The most memorable memorial for me in Dachau was a simple garden with the Jewish star and a menorah built of stone in the center of the garden, the sign read, "Do Not Forget". There are memorials that say "Never Again" but it is happening again throughout the world. Memories are forever, "Do Not Forget".

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Snow, Snow, Snow, and the beach.

So I am in Italy, yes you would think sun, beach, tans etc. Oh no, I am witnessing the biggest snow storm Italy has seen since 1986.  That didn't stop me though...

Sally Still went to the Sea Shore to collect Sea Shells on a Saturday afternoon in the Snow.

Say that as quick as you can 10 times.

Oh yeah, then sold them.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ciao Bella!

As I left Germany Monday morning I was anticipating warmer weather on my arrival in Italy, boy was I mistaken. Italy has been colder and has had more snow this year than in about ten years. Apart from the weather Italy is exactly what you imagine.... My first night I stayed in Torino at a hostel tucked away on a little street. After finishing my first Italian pizza ( yes I ate it all ) I went back to the hostel and coincidentally the girl sharing my room was a dancer as well! Thank goodness she speaks Italian and was able to find our way to the audition because I most definitely would have been lost. That night I took the train to Genova to stay with Alberto! Genova is very small and incredibly old. Everywhere you turn you see the most beautiful paintings on the walls, architecture, fountains and courtyards. We dropped off my things and then spent the night wandering and eating our way through Genova. Our first stop was this tiny restaurant where we had a glass of barbera. During the hours of 4 and 10 in Italy if you go somewhere to get a drink, for free they bring you out meats, breads and cheeses. So for 6 euros you can enjoy a perfect glass of wine and a delicious assortment of food. We then walked through the maze of streets and went to get the famous focaccia that is sold all throughout Italy.  Before dinner ( still more food! ) we took the "elevator to paradise" an elevator you take to the top level of the city and can see all of Genova from. Breathtaking. He then showed me Columbus's house of birth. Yes, Christopher Columbus. That is how old Genova is. For dinner Alberto took me to this little Italian pizzeria which is known for its extremely cracker thin crust. The next morning I met Alberto's friend Camilla who spent the day taking me to see the rest of Genova. She took me through churches and mansions and courtyards. It is so amazing how this architecture and history is part of everyday life and so normal to see.  Peeping through an archway while walking down a street I saw a fountain built like a waterfall in the side of the building, with huge icicles hanging down it making it glisten in the light. That afternoon I hopped on the train to Milan. When I arrived Giovanni ( Alberto's  friend ) met me at the station and we immediately went sight seeing! He took me to see the Gateway to Rome, the Duomo and the Galleria Vittirio Emanuele where on a part of the marble floor there is a mosaic of a bull and it is custom for good luck to put your heel on the balls of the bull and spin around three times. So naturally I did. The next morning I took on Milan alone and revisited the Duomo so I could go inside. The Duomo has just recently been uncovered from renovation. How do you explain something so immense and intricate? A picture - That should help.... the top of the Duomo is the highest point in Milan. A short walk from the Duomo is Piazza Scala with the famous statue of Leonardo Da Vinci.

   I headed to the train station that afternoon to go to Bologna to see the Waller's! I met Todd at the Neptune statue in the main square of Bologna. Expecting a snow storm in Bologna we rushed back to his house to pack up the kids, jumped in the car and drove to their beach house. The storm hit this town as well ( Cervia ) and the people here have not seen this much snow in ten years or more! This morning we drove into town to pick up grocery's for the weekend and made a pit stop at the beach. It was so windy but so pretty. The beach is normally 50 meters from the dunes but today the water was all the way up to the dunes! In town we got coffee and Italian pastry's ( cream puffs, almond cookies ) then I got to explore the Italian grocery. I love seeing what different countries grocery stores are like. The full squid in the fish section and then the frozen clams next to the frozen pizzas were the winners. 

Since I had been in Germany for the majority of my first month in Europe naturally German is what I have picked up and how I respond to things like yes, no, thank you, hello, goodbye, etc. and I keep responding to people in Italy in German... So confusing for everybody having an American girl speak German in Italy.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Frozen snot and broken nails = NEXT

Putting it nicely, negative degree weather where your snot freezes and your fingernails break five minutes after stepping outside is not my cup of tea. I do not think I have ever been more relieved to leave a city then I was to leave Chemnitz. I tried to enjoy the city, I really did, but it was near impossible. And the Ballet... we wont even get into that... The best part about those dauntingly freezing 48 hours was the hostel which was not even in the city but outside of it in the country. The first night I was at the hostel (after getting off the tram and getting lost outside in the middle of no where for 40 min.) I met a young woman named Birgit. She is a teacher who was in Chemnitz for a day for work and is newly engaged and pregnant! The second night I met a group of students who were traveling through Chemnitz and they spent many hours teaching me German swear words. I am a pro at this point.

after an 8 hour train ride through blizzards and mountains and countrysides I finally arrived back into Dusseldorf! I am staying with Suren's brother, (Denise's brother in-law) Lennart, who met me at the train stop and we lugged my stuff to his apartment. This morning after a pleasant breakfast of toast with quirk (yogurt/butter like spread) Lennart went to the barber's and I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art. My favorite installation was this room that had these old portraits all over three of the walls. Each portrait had a dimmed desk lamp shining onto the top of them and a tin cookie box underneath. The fourth wall had six shelves reaching up to the ceiling with folded sheets and pillow cases on them. The same lamps were at the top of the shelves as well. The top of the museum is a huge glass dome where you can look over the entire city of Dusseldorf. After the museum I met back up with Lennart and we walked through the old town's market and Konigsallee, the long street lining the river with Gucci, Prada, Tiffany's etc. Great window shopping! We then walked up to another bunch of museums and went to a new photography exhibit which was great. It was very crowded but the photos were beautiful and there was a very wide range of ideas and genres which was neat to see. I enjoyed looking at a set of photos inspired by 60's fashion. One photo in particular was of a petite girl who had on a dress with huge flowers on it, was holding a large soda cup, had on huge eye make up and was wearing a very big wig. She looked like a doll.

A home cooked meal tonight and tomorrow the Gelsenkirchen audition!