Alexandra off-handedly mentioned that it was easy to take a day trip to Dresden, Germany.
After that Andrew and I thought it would be a good idea to take another day trip. It is about an hour train ride in cars that reminded Andrew and me of those depicted in the Harry Potter Movies. We were not able to ride together because it took us a while to figure out how the reserved/non-reserved seating-system worked. And once we figured it out, most seats were filled. Andrew and I joined a Korean couple and a man with his two children. It was a very pleasant ride.
I found a walking tour guide online and we decided to download it onto Dad’s iphone and use it as our guide of the city. To check out the guide, please visit this link: http://www.dresden.de/media/pdf/dtg/stadtfuehrer_englisch.pdf.
Although not a bad idea, constantly looking at the phone is not the best way to see a city, especially when no one has any bearings of the different buildings. We followed the general masses of people from the train station, passing by ultra modern buildings until we arrived at the Market Square (#3 on our journey). Comically, we were supposed to start at city hall, the green dome that you see in the distance of the third photo. It was built within 1904 and 1910.
(Below: The first two photos are views of Altmarket, Old Market, which according to the guide is one of the largest squares known for its markets. The square was destroyed, along with more than half of the city in 1945, I will discuss this at a later point, but it is important to know that it was fully reconstructed in 1953-4.)
After visiting City Hall we ventured towards Kreuzkirche, the Church of the Holy Cross. It stands upon the remnants of the Church of Saint Nicholas that was built in the 13th century. The church displayed an exhibit discussing World War II. Many of the images were of the travesties of the war, including those who were killed in battle. In 1945 the allied forces, GB and USA bombed this small town with more than 3,900 tons of highly explosive bombs and incendiary devices. According to estimates between 22,700 and 25,000 people died during the attack. It does not serve us any purpose to enter into the debate as to whether the bombing was just, unfortunately, it is yet another example of the cruelties of war.
The raids clearly left their imprint upon the history and vision of this city, which were further exemplified through a series of photos taken before, and then in incremental periods after the destruction.
To get a better handle on the city and to see the view my Dad and I climbed the church’s tower:
As faithful tourists we left the church in search of the Landhaus, passing through the Altmarket once more. I must admit it was in search of this building that we were led a little astray. Although in the general direction, we found another impressive square, Neumarkt, that holds Germany’s most important Protestant Church shown below. Fascinated by the church and famished, we chose a restaurant on the plaza for lunch. That is about as far as we made it on our self-guided tour.
Since our lunch caused us to detour, we decided to make our own path and walked towards the river that separates Old and New Town. From on top of the bridge you can see buildings of New Town. Given our time constraints, we did not visit New Town, but happily stayed in Old town.
Since we were ad-libbing, we are under the impression that this is a building dedicated to the arts, since on the wall are the statues and names of famous artists.
Looking back towards the river we had a phenomenal view of the Theater and Opera House, which led to a desire to explore this portion of the city.
Personally, I was fascinated by the architecture of the Cathedral, former Catholic Hofkirche. Although built between 1739 and 1755, it was not until 1980 that it was elevated to the status of the bishop’s residence.
We continued to the left under a large portal, where we came across this courtyard below. At one point, we had slightly separated and I offered to grab the boys, in an effort to reunite the family.
Crossing under the elevated path from the Palace (currently under renovation) to the Cathedral I came across the square containing Semper Opera House and the Zwinger Gardens. I, obviously, could not keep this a secret and after snapping the following photos headed back to grab my family.
We attempted to book a tour of the Semper Opera House, but they had sold out for the day and so we continued walking lazily throughout the city of Dresden.
In many ways, the lack of tours gave us a chance to appreciate Dresden not for what we were “supposed” to know and see, but rather what we actually saw and felt. We were able to find this Communist Mural on a wall during our walk back towards the train stop as well as had the opportunity to watch people running around the city in preparation for a festival the following day.
Finally, nearing the end of our stay, we accomplished Andrew’s number one goal: Apple Strudel. The whole trip we have discussed where we will find Apple Strudel, and when it generally is on a menu, it comes after a heavy meal when no one wants to eat. Fortunately, we just happened to pass by a cute shop that specialized in desserts, providing the perfect place for Andrew to get his strudel fix.
I am beginning to learn that you can find references to “Mills” wherever you go. Here is a large window display dedicated to Mills & Brothers and so we had to take a photo of the boys in front.
For me, one of the best examples of the city’s growth can be seen through this ultra modern district that borders the edge of Old Town. It is almost jarring the juxtaposition of glass high rises next to the 20th century buildings.
Above is a sculpture that we passed on our way back to the train station that highlights this transition. On the ride home, since we understood the seating arrangements, we all were able to find a car and sit together. While Mom and Andrew snoozed, Dad and I picked a restaurant for dinner. Of course, food is always of utmost importance in our family!
We picked one of Alexandra’s favorites, that was gluten free! I most definitely was in heaven and the rest of my family throughly enjoyed their meals, which were packed with flavor.