Day 7, Tue 8/30: Dresden, Germany


Frauenkirche, Church of our Lady, Dresden

[Wow, this internet is so much faster than the one in Prague!…actually the one in Vienna, too…]

We set the alarm for 6am, packed up again, headed down for breakfast a little before 7, and were out the door about 7:40am.

These were photos of our room in Prague that I took last night.

 They upgraded us to a suite, but it was just adjoining rooms where one of them was a living room. Nice enough to be sure, just an awkward layout. For as little time as we spend in our rooms, we don’t actually care about it that much. But Dan’s hotel’s status kicks in when they have the rooms available and they often upgrade without him asking.

 

 The view from our room, taken this morning. There was a decent sized tennis complex across the river. The river, by the way, is the Vitava.
 The Prague Hilton had this huge courtyard, with the rooms 8 floors up around it, to allow for more rooms with natural light I guess. That space there behind the staircase on the first floor is where we had breakfast. This was taken from a glass elevator that looked out into the courtyard.
All that effort to make it to the train station on time and the train was 45 minutes late. Notice the “45 min” in the bottom right corner of the sign. We got there about 8:05 for an 8:27 train; they didn’t announce it was late until 8:21, and then it was only 5 minutes, which kept expanding. They finally announced the platform around 9:05, in the mean time we were just standing in front of the monitor in the station, watching the board. With about 100 others!
 The train wasn’t full; we had a compartment that sat 6 all to ourselves.
 Some pretty views from the train. It was a 2 hour ride to Dresden.

 

We got to Dresden around 11:30am.  Why Dresden? It’s a good question. The primary thing we knew about it was it had been bombed to hell in WWII, and that they had done a nice job of reconstruction, especially since Germany was reunified. Dresden was in East Germany when they were split. We were originally only going to spend 1 night here but Dan’s colleagues at Bayer encouraged him not to rush it. There are a fair number of tourists here, but the vast majority of them are German. (Unlike in Prague and Vienna where we saw folks from all over the planet.)

Dresden’s bombing became somewhat controversial after the fact, but at the time it was considered an important strategic target for the Allies. Dresden was the 7th largest city in Germany at the time. (Today, with a population of just over 1/2 a million, it’s #11.) It hadn’t been touched by the Allies despite being a major industrial, transportation and communication center, with lots of connections to other parts of Central Europe. Over 3 days in February of 1945, the Allies dropped 3900 bombs and incendiary devices, destroying 1600 acres and killing 22k-25k people. The Nazis propoganda machine blew that number up about 10x, and downplayed the importance of Dresden to Germany overall, which led to some of the controversy. After the war, Dresden became part of East Germany and was Communist until reunification.

Dresden has been around for over 800 years and before Germany was unified in 1871, it was the seat of power for the Duchy of Saxony (Kingdom from 1806-1918), and Saxon royalty ruled here for many centuries.

We walked to our hotel, about a mile. The entire way we hardly saw any traffic because there was a pedestrian mall that stretched essentially from the train station into the Centrum (downtown) and our hotel is right there in the center of the city. We can see the church below from one of our windows, because it’s at the end of the block.

This is Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady. It’s the predominant building in the main square. That’s a statue of Martin Luther in the middle of the square, although in the photos above and below it looks like it may be right in front of the church. It’s not. Notice how small the people are by the church compared to those by the statue and you’ll see what I mean.

 

This is almost the entire square and you get a better perspective of size, with the now small Martin Luther in the middle.

This is of the back of the church. Notice the darker blocks here. And if you look again, and in the photos above, you’ll notice some dark blocks spread throughout the building in seemingly random places. Here’s the story:

This church was destroyed in the bombing described above. After the war, it was left in ruins – literally, just as it was after being bombed – as a war memorial. And it sat that way for over 50 years. After reunification, they decided to have a go at rebuilding it, and used the original plans from 1720 which had been kept all this time. Where possible, they used actual material salvaged from the ruins. Hence the black blocks.
Wild, eh?

Here’s what was left of it after the bombing. The Martin Luther statue stood there all this time.

Reconstruction started in 1994 and took 10 years.

 

 

 We, of course, took the option to go up, which you had to pay to do; the church itself was free.

This hole here in the floor? The same hole in the middle of the dome 3 photos above.

Dan having fun with the camera….

 Some pretty views of the town from above.
 See the awning in the shadows of the street towards the bottom of the photo? That’s our hotel.

 

 Martin Luther again from above. Those yellow tarps top left next to the red ones is where we ate lunch after. See the table below. (Although we sat at one farther in.)

 

 

 Dan kept saying “I can’t believe we’re eating at a burger joint in Germany” but he admitted more than once it was pretty good. He had an Italian burger – with Gorgonzola cheese among other things.
 Mine was French with Brie, and sweet potato fries. Both kinds of fries were delicious. The red sauce was a spicy something like you’d get with Asian appetizers. It was weird in that setting but worked well.
 Take note: Ketchup, and Fried Potato Sauce. Never get them confused. (And I love that the mayo bottle is bigger in a disgusting kinda way…)
 This is called the Procession of Princes and it literally outside out hotel door. It’s a mural painted on the wall of the royal palace showing all of the Saxon princes since around 1300. That’s not history I’m familiar with so didn’t recognize any of the names.

 

 This is a square around the Catholic church below, which we were going to visit, but we couldn’t figure out how to get in. The steps I’m on lead up to “the balcony of Europe.” (More on that later.) There was construction tape around the only entrance to the church we could see so something is going on. This was also destroyed in the war and reconstructed based on original plans.
The full church, and that’s the opera house in the background.
 It was about 3:00 by this time and we went and checked into our room. They also upgraded us to a suite, although this is the real deal. We will be very comfortable. Too bad we don’t spend too much time in our room! The photo above is the first floor. There’s a half bath to your right.

 

 

 

 That’s where I’m sitting right now as I type 🙂
 We left about 3:30 to do the only museum we were going to today: The Albertinum, a nice little museum with a wide range of art (including a little modern…).
 Those stairs in the background also take you to the Balcony of Europe….
 This wasn’t a great museum, we were only there an hour. But there were a few pieces we liked. Especially this sculpture made of plywood.
 Dan thought she was whimsical.
 This was the huge entrance hall. You can see how crowded it was! Notice the baby on the floor on the far right just below center.
 Roman mosaic, probably around 200 AD.
 Dan likes it when we come across art of ancient civilizations that isn’t Egyptian, Greek or Roman. In this case, Assyrian. This stuff is about 2500 years old.

 

 

 Careful, we are entering the modern art arena. Dan thought this was whimsical as well. The upside down text is: No Rejection, No Annual Contract, No Credit Check.
 This was called Freedom.
Dan couldn’t resist. Complements the black one from the Albertini in Vienna. (I keep wanting this museum – Albertinum – to be named after the same guy, Albert of Saxony, Maria Theresa’s son-in-law. But it was a different Albert of Saxony who was King about 100 years later. There was probably a relation there somehow, I just couldn’t track it.)
 This was a photo of Dresden after it was bombed. Dan ended up liking his reflection overlaid on it.

We left the museum by the back door and took some steps up to Bruhl’s Terrace, AKA “The Balcony of Europe.” We thought that was an incredibly lofty nickname so kept making jokes about it, but it’s been used since the 19th century.  This was a pretty garden. You can barely see me standing on the other side if you look hard enough.

 It’s grainy because Dan used his zoom feature. This section by the river used to be the private gardens of the Count of Bruhl, hence the name.

 

 Elbe River.

 

This is all still considered Bruhl’s Terrance.
 The Augustus Bridge is the oldest bridge in Dresden, built between 1907-1910. We crossed it to get to Neustadt below.
 This section of town was destroyed by a fire in 1685, and was referred to as “new town” when it was rebuilt. So not exactly new anymore, but it was adorable.

 

 Lots of shops and restaurants lined this park.
 There were several big fountains like this.
 We came into Neustadt to find a specific artsy area known as Kunstofpassage. On our way, we found ourselves going along this street that had a funky vibe that we really liked. Reminded us both of the strip on Telegraph in Berkeley. A pretty wide variety of ethnic food, including Italian of course, several Vietnamese, also Spanish and Turkish. And pot stores, despite weed still being illegal here. That image dead center is Mickey Mouse with pot leaves all around him.
Lots of walkers and folks riding bikes. We love that.

This is kind of blatant for weed not being legal.

 

 We found our destination.
 It was definitely funky, but we liked it.

 

 

 Gutters made into a water feature.
This was opposite that, across the courtyard.
We walked back to our hotel after that. We were pretty tired – walked over 11 miles – and had thought about getting a light dinner in the lounge and going out for dessert. We scratched the dessert part because we just didn’t want to go out again, despite getting back at about 7:15pm. The food in the lounge was good, we hung out there a bit while I prepped the photos and wrote some. (And thank god for high speed internet: So Much Faster than last night.) We came back to the room about 9pm, headed down to the spa area around 9:30 for sauna, hot tub and steam room. It’s now almost midnight and it’s bedtime. We have a full day in Dresden tomorrow, leaving for Berlin Thursday morning.
PS: I don’t remember getting these notifications from TripAdvisor before this trip. Borders somewhere between cool and creepy….

 

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