Thursday was our last full day in Dresden, and we made it count. We started off with a tram ride to Pfund’s Molkerei to get our dairy on — you can see the details if you click on that link. Another plus: it was located right next to a mustard store, from which we purchased a tasty mustard made from Bärlauch. We got out there and back and still had plenty of time to hit the Zwinger and check out the porcelain and historic weaponry collections. It was also nice to just sit down and get some fresh air, since the weather permitted it:
One bummer about the Zwinger: the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon is closed until 2010. I was hoping to check out antique scientific/measurement instruments. I am hoping that I didn’t pay full price for an all-day pass to the various collections since the one I was most interested was not available. It might have been better to pay separate admission to the weapons and porcelain sections.
I shouldn’t have been hungry so soon after our cheese brunch at Pfund’s, but I guess the museums really took it out of me. We stopped for a local Sächsische Bratwurst and it was good. I snapped the photo at right while pausing my chow-down.
After that, we finally buckled down and paid our €16 for the trip up to the top of the Frauenkirche. €8 per adult head seemed like a lot and it would have been better had the clouds not rolled in while we were eating, but I knew it would be my last chance to get an aerial shot of the city.
After that, we were pretty wiped out, so we headed back to the hotel for a nap. After a healthy crash-out, we were hungry, so we consulted our trusty travel guide and gave the local flavor (click that for the review) another shot.
This morning, we got up, checked out of our fantastic hotel (click that for the review), and went back to that French-themed restaurant around the corner from it — their prices were quite reasonable considering the high quality and location. After that we indulged our inner materialism and did a little shopping. If you follow the Tram #3 or #7 line on foot back toward the Hauptbahnhof, you’ll end up right at the shopping area on Prager Straße. Sarah got a new perfume and I stopped into a department store to use the restaurant and ended up buying a new tie (almost got the whole ROY G. BIV thing done now).
Wherever we were in Dresden, some ambitious construction project was not far away. I was admiring the construction at one end of Prager Strasse when Sarah and I noticed this gem:
This was a great trip, and actually pretty cost-effective, despite staying in a swanky hotel (thanks Expedia). I came to Dresden hoping to find the dichotomy of old and new with at least a touch of “the East” mixed in.
The “Old + New = Dresden” formula is more complicated that that, though. The “old” stuff is more “conceptually old” than “physically old,” owing to pretty much everything old being rebuilt following World War Two. And I looked pretty hard for evidence of socialism and communism and pretty much the only trace I found was in the form of a shop specializing in wine and gifts from the Caucasus region.
It was a little unsettling though: I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the obvious age of the city juxtaposed against all the high-rise office buildings and rebuilt churches. Which raises an important question: does “old” count for something that has only existed in more or less its current form over the last 50 years? My instinct is to give the people of Dresden a pass on this one.
“Yes, Dresdeners, your stuff is still old, even though you just finished building it two years ago, since it had been old prior to February, 1945. You’ve obiously put forth a monumental effort* and have thus earned the title ‘old.'”
But old as it was styled, it just still didn’t look old and it definitely didn’t feel old to me.
A wrap-up of yesterday’s activities and a couple reviews are still forth-coming.
Today we got our arts on. We checked out the Staatliche Kunstsammlung Dresden, which was featuring an exhibition of photographic art called “Humanism in China” (here‘s the link if you’re interested) shot by Chinese photographers over the last fifty years. We both noticed how shots from the 50s were side-by-side with shots from the 80s, and if they were in black-and-white, they were awfully hard to discern from one another. I guess that says a lot about most of China over the last 50 years.
But we started our day scouting around for a nice place for breakfast, taking these pictures along the way:
But in the end, we came back toward our hotel and found a great French-themed Brasserie with good coffee and well-priced breakfast offerings, because I couldn’t bear the thought of an eleven-Euro breakfast option out on the square pictured above.
Having recharged (and getting the much-needed caffeine fix), we headed out again, got our art on as mentioned above, and took these while hunting around for water at non-exorbitant prices:
Weather note: the wind is killing us here, much like the wind on at the other end of the Elbe back in December 2005. But at least it’s not terribly cold if you can stay out of the shadows. Unfortunately, with all these tall buildings and narrow streets between them, there are a lot of shadows.
Tonight: B and husband take us farners out for some local flavor. I hope it’s similar to the Pupen-Schultzes Schwarzes we had last night.
After taking a neat shower, we consulted our travel guide and hit the road in search of something to eat (and we found something, but it wasn’t all that thrilling). Along the way, we got a glimpse of the night skyline through the tram windows, and I knew we would have to come back on foot (much to Sarah’s poor cold body’s chagrin).
But I got these to show for it:
Tomorrow’s task, after finding some coffee and maybe some breakfast, is to visit these during the day and be able to name them.
We stumbled around Albertplatz in blinding snow whipped into our faces by the wind and were really disoriented for a few minutes until we could look at map and re-orient ourselves. Then it became pretty easy. We headed toward this restaurant on the recommendation of a travel guide for the city of Dresden. We liked the layout of the travel guide, but I’m questioning the authors’ taste after tonight. This place wasn’t bad, but the service definitely was hit-or-miss, and the food didn’t wow us. It was fine, but we’ve come to expect better from restaurants recommeded by travel guides.
It might be worth it to spring for the extra bucks and longer train trip to ride (for longer) in style next time on a higher class of train. The trains themselves were pretty modern, but there were only two cars per train and the engine was diesel. And they were crowded! If you spring for the better class of train (IC or EC, as opposed to RB/RE/IRE), you can reserve your seats. That would have been helpful today. We got stuck standing for a good portion of the trip packed into the flop-down seating area with families with stroller kids and toddlers and a smelly (but cute) German shepherd…and Germany’s smelliest train passenger (to date) — the The Human Ashtray (or so we called her). Between her and the standing-room-only and the terrain of the Erzgebirge, we got a little motion sick (and I strongly suspect we weren’t the only ones — everyone looked progressively greener until Zwickau). Fortunately, no one lost their lunch and we managed to snag proper seats for the duration of the trip starting at Zwickau.
I took some pictures this morning outside the Regensburg Hbf and on the train to Hof (where we changed trains and headed to Dresden):
Regensburg stuff, including wildlife confused by the weather:
Annoyed cat on the train:
After a quick freshening up (we just had to try out the AirPool and the beautiful shower), we’re off to explore Dresden and get something to eat while scoping out our breakfast options (not included at our hotel) and planning tomorrow’s activities.
Sarah and I have nailed down our vacation plans for the coming week. We’re headed to Dresden for 4 days of exploring a new (to us) place that used to be a separate country without having to change currencies, language (much), or even get on a plane.
We’re doing it all via public ground transportation. Dresden’s pretty famous for that.
We head out Tuesday morning early on on a train to Hof, where we transfer to a train to Dresden. Oddly, connections on local/inter-regional (read: slower, older, noisier) trains were faster (not to mention cheaper) than connections on new, modern, clean, quiet ICE trains. Go figure.
When we get there, we’ll be staying at the Radisson. Sarah found a deal on Expedia.de. Let’s hope this works out better than the last one of those we tried — we booked what looked like a sweet room at the Le Meridien Russell Square in London and found out the the hotel was in the process of becoming worthy of the Le Meridien name. In other words, the room was pretty much a dump. Our pocket guide to Dresden puts the Radisson in the “Luxus” class though, so our hopes are still pretty high.
While we’re there, we plan on our usual exploration and reporting activities. But this time, we’re meeting up with pseudo-locals: B., the webmistress over at eurotrippen.com, who has lived there for some time and has already given us numerous tips.