Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Samstag in Potsdam

On Saturday we left the house at 7:15 so that we could make it out to our tour of this: Sanssouci palace in Potsdam.
We met up with our guide who was self-effacing and funny and snarky. Unfortunately the guards were officious and belligerent. Rob just sort of McFarlanded his way through, deflecting, smiling, nodding, doing whatever he wanted behind their backs, distracting with shiny objects, and we managed to get through (the issue was all about picture taking permits, and we paid bank for them so I'm going to post a lot of pictures here. Please feel free to look at them a long time and then re-post them anywhere you want.)
The library
We just had to document this: gilt cobweb on the ceiling complete with gilt spiders. There is just no accounting for taste . . .
Music room. And if you were wondering how we managed a two hour tour of palace and gardens with Joss-Joss . . .
This was our secret weapon. He played dino match, animal match, fruit ninja and watched a couple of episodes of "Binneas and Berb" as he calls it. Nary a tantrum. Didn't make a peep except when he sang along with the opening credits.
The final room on the tour -- the Tiki Tiki Tiki Room! YAY!
It was everyone's favorite.
Here's the front of it. Totally empty this early on a Saturday in July. Dig it.
This is what our guide called the "unavoidable group shot in front of the palace". She knows her audience, though I think it's those four guys halfway up who are unavoidable! Just to prove that we really are shepherding students here. Actually there were a couple who showed up that I don't think I'd ever laid eyes on before!
Then the guide took us to the Chinese Teahouse, which is also obligatory because, I mean, where are you ever going to see Rococo Chinoiserie like this?
Looks like a giant tea cake of some sort. I'll bet Demel's konditorei in Vienna could reproduce it beautifully.
We finished the tour and were wandering toward lunch when these three gentlemen marched by, singing a happy marching song. I don't know what the importance was, but I was there, I saw it, I took a picture of it, so I'm putting it in!
After only five or six months of deliberating, we got reservations for lunch right next door at the Historische Muhle restaurant. We chose well. It was relaxed and everyone ate a good meal and the service was so professional and the setting was lovely.
Ahhhh. And there was plenty of ketchup and apfelschorle so the kids were happy too. We gave the students their freedom and took the kids to the restaurant's playground. Whereupon we decided to ditch them. We put Maddie in charge, left her a phone and took off to the Bilder Galerie which was first on my list of Extra Things To See.
It was totally worth it, don't you think? It's just four rooms, 130 paintings, and a fantastic, cohesive collection of Baroque masterpieces.
But this one is the reason I came. It's Caravaggio's Doubting Thomas and anyone who's studied Caravaggio will tell you that they've seen this one in a book/presentation/slideshow with Thomas sticking his finger in the wound in Christ's side. It's here! It's tucked away in this little side building oozing with Rubens and van Eycks and even copies of Raphaels and Rembrandts.
Rob and I are having to power date on this trip. You take twenty minutes wherever you can.
And we returned to find a bunch of the students playing with the kids in the playground.
We walked up to the windmill, but after watching The Mill And The Cross, I wasn't ready to go on a tour of it.
Just for comparison, this is what Joss is like unplugged. Can you see that playing in a rococo palace? I didn't think so.
We walked over to the Orangerie, which was something else I'd hoped we could visit this time around. It's the palace greenhouse. Maybe that is why these fantastic borders have sweet basil and thai basil and sage and chard and artichoke plants in them. Loooove it!
It's a pretty swank greenhouse, huh!
Love the four cuties! They humored me and wore matching shirts. We learned this from Rob's colleague Cindy. While in Berlin with her four boys, she found that people got after them when they were misbehaving in public (it's a very vocal superego here in Prussia). But if they were wearing matching clothes, then they could behave even worse and people were far more lenient. I think the pictures turn out better too.
After the Orangerie we hopped a bus out of the park (skipping several more interesting buildings . . . ) and rode downtown. This is a building in the Dutch Quarter.
And this is a medieval gate called Nauener Tor
This is Potsdam's Brandenburg gate. It was a lot of walking so we bought the kids ice cream and set them down in the pedestrian zone and took another 15 minute date. Twice in one day!
They were pretty tired and sticky by now . . .
But Rob was dying to see the renovations in the downtown. This is his hobby, his passion, and his job. He wrote about this in his last article so we convinced the kids to humor us with some more walking. The boys are sitting on the Nicolaikirche which was designed by Schinkel and has just been renovated. If you keep reading this blog, you will hear more about Schinkel. It's as unavoidable as the Sanssouci group picture.
And here's a model of the proposed city palace, rebuilt from earlier plans. Right now they just have that little cupola in front built as a kind of teaser, to give people an idea of where it would be. Sort of like they did in Orem with the Midtown development. Except that in Orem it was such an obvious phallic symbol and hence the development flopped.
Then the kids were hot, sticky, tired, thirsty and we pretty much went wee wee wee all the way home. Phew!


Brenda said...

Mary Ann, you are HILARIOUS, as usual. I will look at the pictures lots, but I can't think of where to repost them...

Nedra said...

Love the matching shirts. I guess Grandma's like them as much as German fraus do.
Wonderful post. Memories and lots of new things, too. I loved the day we went out to Potsdam with you.

Heather said...

I just want to be in Europe too, is that so wrong! Your second cousin is living vicariously through you. I know it's a huge responsibilty, but your doing a great job.

Kennan said...

wow! amazing stuff! i'm thoroughly jealous of the beauty all around that you are absorbing. thanks for including Doubting Thomas. we are missing you guys but so glad you're having a real European Vacation.
Kennan and clan

scott davidson said...

What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LT475.
The image can be seen at wahooart.com who can supply you with a canvas print of it.