September 30 Dresden

Aug 27-05 Budapest, Sopron
Sep 06-15 Vienna
Sep 16-25 Brno, Prague
Sep 26-29 Wroclaw
Sep 30-06 Dresden, Leipzig, Stadthagen
Oct 07-16 Berlin
I arrived by train today, Wroclaw, Poland to Dresden, Germany.

Not my pictures, but here's what happened. The Dresden football team, the Dynamo had just won a match against Aue 3-1 and the train station was packed with a huge crowd of giddy beer drinking fans (a beer for each hand and a six-pack in a bag) and an equal number of police.

It was crazy to be so crowded, but not at all scary since the police were not brandishing weapons or wearing riot gear, and the fans were not being particularly loud and, thankfully, they weren't pushing.

I'm settled now in a very interesting room in a property of a large business hotel chain, more to follow because it's just a room but an interesting one.

(internet pictures)
1945 after the two day fire bombing by the Allied forces left 90% of the city center in ruins.

(internet pictures)
1984. The reunification of Germany was in 1990 and subsequently the city was able to put more into rebuilding with both public funding and private donations.

(internet pictures)
2004, still not all rebuilt but now in 2012 there are only a very few empty lots left.

(internet pictures)
October 1

I did the Hop On-Hop Off bus today and a couple of the tours that came packaged with the ticket. I learned waaay too much to digest.

Right across from my hotel is one of the grand plazas...
...all set up for another version of the Harvest Festival.
I got a good fish sandwich and took a seat with these two adorable people (all the tables are shares). Soon after...
...the man in this group joined us and we had a great long talk. His son is in college here in Dresden attending the same school he himself attended. He'd grown up entirely in the GDR and had so many interesting stories.

Later his wife and daughter joined us. Wow, what fun.
The ride around the monuments on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus was interesting, I did the whole ride without getting off though because everything is close enough to walk back to.

Then included is a walking tour...
...around the palace complex and since I was the only English speaker who turned up it was a private tour.

The guide was a Syrian guy who had come to the GDR in 1984 from Syria to study and had stayed on, taking up tour guiding when he couldn't get a job as a physicist. I talked to him at some length about his family members who are still in Syria and he was very upset and very concerned.

He said he couldn't reach his mother for weeks but now he has talked to her and knows she and the rest of his family is ok. He had plenty of ideas about who should be helping and how they should be doing it!
The Katholische Hofkirche, The Catholic Church of the Royal Court of Saxony, and since 1980 also known as Kathedrale Sanctissimae Trinitatis, Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.

Augustus The Strong converted from Lutheranism to Catholicism in the early 1700s in order to become the Hapsburg's King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. His son had this cathedral built.
From UNESCO: "The 18th- and 19th-century cultural landscape of Dresden Elbe Valley stretches some 18 km along the river ...

"The property, which features low meadows, and is crowned by the Pillnitz Palace as well as numerous monuments and parks from the 16th to 20th centuries in the city of Dresden, was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2006 because of the planned Waldschlösschen Bridge."
And then the city built that bridge and became only the second site ever UNESCO delisted as a World Heritage Site.
Clip clop.
My favorite story when told by the guide. It really looked awesome too. Here is boring old Ms Wiki's version:

"The FĂĽrstenzug (English: Procession of Princes) in Dresden, Germany, is a large mural of a mounted procession of the rulers of Saxony...
"...It was originally painted between 1871 and 1876 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Wettin Dynasty, Saxony's ruling family (the longest ruling family in Europe).

"In order to make the work weather proof, it was replaced with about 23,000 Meissen porcelain tiles between 1904 and 1907. With a length of 102 metres (335 ft), it is known as the largest porcelain artwork in the world. The mural displays the ancestral portraits of the 35 margraves, electors, dukes and kings of the House of Wettin between 1127 and 1904."
The city went through a phase after 1990 of tearing down the old Soviet era buildings but decided to save this performance space. I like it too.
The Dresden Frauenkirche, the Church of Our Lady, is the Lutheran landmark church in Dresden, Lutheranism being the vast majority religion.

You can see some of the other reconstructions here most finished (other than the grand historic structures) after 2005.

They've done facades where it will look like there are several different buildings on a block like there used to be but behind the facades the whole block will be taken up by a hotel or a shopping center. You can see a similar square of reconstructions at the beginning of this day, the square just outside my hotel is all new.

I'm not sure they did such a wonderful job of this but maybe that's because huge sections were all built at the same time and it has a suburban housing tract feel, so we'll have to wait - and time will tell.
October 2

What made the little bitty room at the Ibis Hotel so interesting: you could clean that baby with a hose. The toilet is mounted on the wall and all the floors are easy-clean laminates.

Just as an example the shower door doesn't have a handle to get dirty and then need cleaning. The reading lights are mounted flush into the wall.
I have this picture here to tell about the bricks and I'll be doing that, at some point...
Along the newly built promenade from the railway station into Old Town.
I was thinking 'hmm, what do I want to eat?' and I thought where will I find a nice tuna fish sandwich with lots of tomatoes.

That's what I was thinking and while I was thinking that I looked up and there it was, Subway, just what I was thinking. Which reminded me that there are Subways everywhere too along with the McDonalds, the KFCs, and the Starbucks. There was even a Subway in Lusaka Zambia.
Not so much nature going on this trip but here's a pretty place.
I wanted to do something entirely different today so I went for a tour at the VW assembly plant where they put together the Phaeton mostly by hand.

All the pieces are made somewhere else, loaded up into a computerized delivery system, and then screwed together here although the robots also do some of the screwing.
A picture of a poster from the gift shop. I don't think I'm going to get one of those hand-made cars. It looks like a Toyota Camry.
October 3 Leipzig

First view of the morning. Starbucks.
I haven't read what this is yet but it's good, and there's a mini-farmers market down there by the church.
Most of the shops were closed for Reunification Day and all the folks were on the streets enjoying a nice day although I didn't seen anything at all making reference to Reunification.

This bandstand and entertainment was about 'Interkulturelles Fest: Intercultural Festival "Unity in Diversity"'
And these were some great entertainers. I was visiting with a woman who spoke six languages and she couldn't make out what they were singing and proposed the language might be Romanian.
Cafes, bookstores, retail shops, all the town things.
By the University.
See that little blue street sign. I was walking along, caught a glimpse of it, and thought oh my, Martin Luther King, how did that happen?

And then I thought oh, Martin Luther, he's the big dog around here. And as these thoughts passed through my cloudy brain I got closer to the sign and read it more carefully. Oh, Martin Luther Ring .. the Ring Road .. got it.
St Thomas Church and Johann Sebastian Bach.

From the plaque at the church: "Ever since the foundation of St Thomas Church, St Thomas Boys Choir and St Thomas School in 1212, the St Thomas Boys Choir has regularly performed at St Thomas Church.

"The most famous cantor at St Thomas was Johann Sebastian Bach. His St Matthew Passion and many of his cantatas were premiered here...
"...The organs of St Thomas Church have been played by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Max Reger."
Leipzig University "...formally opened on 2 December 1409 in the presence of the Wettin rulers, Margraves Frederick and William, in the refectorium of St.Thomas' monastery."

This addition to the campus, designed by Erick van Egeraat and completed in 2009, seems quite controversial based on what I could find out about it.
"Mende Fountain, which stands in front of Gewandhaus, was built by Adolf Gnauth from 1883 to 1886. Pauline Mende, a rich widow, donated the Neo-Baroque figures and the fountain was named after her."
Once again, a pedestrian Old Town, and here with a modern twist.

I ate Indian food for dinner tonight. I very much like sausages and schnitzels and sliced meat on tasty rolls but I hadn't had Indian food for more than two months and ummm it surely did taste good.
October 4

Ahh, I really really like big windows full of sky. I looked out that window pretty much all day today and watched the dark heavy clouds, the blustery wind, and the intermittent rain. So I took the day for laundry and watching tv. Always nice to have a rest day.
But bummer that I didn't get to do my plan which was to visit the Leipzig zoo. I've taken a pass on all the other zoos, every city has one, but this one seemed recommendable.

It's the number one Leipzig attraction on TripAdvisor and all the rave reviews made a visit an intriguing idea.

The b&w photo is from 1973 and the zebra is from their website.
October 5

Meet Danny from Leipzig with whom I enjoyed an entirely delightful train ride.

The train was delayed by a serious accident earlier in the day and Danny kept me appraised of the pubic address announcements. Thank you for that and for all the interesting and entertaining conversation!
These are Danny's pictures of Leipzig taken out the windows of his apartment. Wow, Great job, thanks for sending them!
Arriving in Hanover we had made up enough time that I did not miss my connection to Stadthagen where Angelika and Pierre (friends from last year's safari) met me and took me to their lovely home.

This is the railway station in Stadthagen, population 20,000.
October 6

Good Morning! A breakfast feast with Angelika and Pierre at their home in Stadthagen.
We went into town for a little look-around and it was Apple Festival day.
Angelika and Pierre have been living in this town of 20,000 for so many years they know everyone. These are their favorite vegetable guys.
Some walls of The Castle "...built between 1534 and 1538 on the site of the previous castle, and is one of the most notable examples of an Early Renaissance castle in Lower Saxony."
For the festival there was live music and folks in costume and a lively crowd despite the rain.
We climbed up to the top of the church steeple for the views.
The nuclear power plant just over there.
Then we moved on to a bigger community with a similar core of an Old Town.

Where are we? Hamelin! As in the Pied Piper of.
The rats theme was all around...
...including a Pied Piper to lead the tourists off.
We stopped in here for a treat at one of Angelika and Pierre's favorite places in Hamelin...
...and then moved on for a castle tour...
...and views of course of their beautiful valley.
More views.
It's been a fabulous day!
October 7

It's Sunday, my last day with Angelika and Pierre, and as a change of pace we decided to take a nice country walk at the deer park.
They had a cool bird show...
...and here are the deer. We had a picnic lunch out in the sun, watching the animals, and enjoying a great visit. Our paths will cross again I am sure.
We drove into Hanover where I will be taking the train on to Berlin.

In Hanover we did a quick tour of Old Town. This is Town Hall, one of the very few buildings to survive the WWII bombings.
Holding up Town Hall.
Inside the lobby there are four very large miniatures (large miniatures...that's fun) showing the whole area of Hanover, one for 1689 and one from the 1930s.

This one from 1945 when, according to Ms Wiki, 90% of the central town was destroyed. Looking at this thing was a powerful experience, stronger than a similar photo because you could walk around it, peer into it, and be overwhelmed by the destruction.

And to imagine what a small small piece this is of the overall loss of property and the overall loss of life is beyond imagining.
And here we are, rebuilt.
The church did largely survive.
Martin Luther, again. We are very much in Lutheran country.
Views in the Old Town.
They've left this church in its bombed out state as a memorial.

With many fond farewells and Bon Voyage, I'm off to Berlin.
HomeEurope • Germany • '12 Oct: Dresden, Leipzig, Stadthagen, Germany

© 2014 •