It’s raining cats and dogs. This is maybe the best description for the steady rain which happened to follow us throughout the whole trip in Kassel. Even if “the rain could have been even stronger” – quoting one participant obviously always seeing half of the glass full and not empty – the weather was giving us a hard to time to follow the plans we had for our “summer trip” to Kassel last weekend. But since we are already in the mood of sayings: “We are not made out of sugar” and enjoyed our days regardless. Maybe it was a modern art interpretation of sun? ?
Friday afternoon we met at the train station in Dresden, some came with German punctuality, others interpreted the clock a little less strict, but we arrived safe and sound around 11 p.m. at our destination, the youth hostel Kassel in the area “Vorderer Westen”, one of the rare lucky areas in town not being destroyed by the 2nd world war.
Breakfast was quite early, but it gave us more time to discover the “Documenta”, the biggest modern art exhibition in Europe, only taking place every five years. The introducing tour around the main hall and the Friedrichsplatz showed us the vibe of modern art: Crazy, different and open for a lot of different personal interpretations. The tour was a so called walk, everybody was invited to share their feelings or point of view on the art pieces, sometimes even in a playful way. After the tour everybody was free to discover what they wanted to see. Big parts of the city and a lot of museums are part of the exhibition, giving the city a really special artsy vibe. Sometimes it was even more interesting to look at the visitors, than the exhibition itself. A lot of the art pieces covered recent political issues like civil wars, the refugee crisis, new understanding of democracy or omnipresent topics like global warming, destruction and taboos in society.
After a long day full of different impressions and ways to look at modern art we met in the oldest beer garden in Kassel, “Lohmanns”, to discuss our opinions over a beer (or two). The majority of the group was still energized enough to join the water features at the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, the largest hill park in Europe, being UNESCO world heritage since 2013. We were lucky enough to even see it lightened up. Water first runs down gothic cascades followed by a romantic path through the whole park, accompanied by hundreds of people.
On Sunday morning breakfast was again quite early, but we started the day relaxed with some free time which everybody used differently: Some had another look around different areas of the city, others visited an art or satiric cartoon exhibition. Around noon we started our tour around the Berpark Wilhelmshöhe to get more information about the Landgrave Wilhelm IX of Hessen, his megalomania, and the lion’s castle, which served not as a fortress, but as a leisure palace. The park is topped by a big statue of Hercules, the best example for a lot of allusions to Greek culture and Gods within the landscape architecture.
Unfortunately Poseidon was way to motivated to show his power over water: Our walk through the park was slowly turning into a hide and seek game under trees to find shelter from the rain. After that we deserved our delicious lunch at a restaurant way up in the park. It was so nice to see so many different cultures sitting together, trying regional food and toasting with beer and hot chocolate to warm up again. Maybe the fresh waffles were too good, maybe nobody was in the mood to go out in the rain again; the way down to the train station was more a light run than a walk. In the end we were lucky and reached all the trains in time bringing us home safe to Dresden in the late evening, all tired but with a lot of new impressions, good talks and all grateful for the invention of umbrellas.
(Text by S.Blackert, Pictures by S.Alamri, M.Radi, I.Arbert and S. Blackert)