The end of June saw Bel and I take advantage of one of the last long weekends for the year, and we headed off to spend some time in Dresden and surrounds. We had been toying with the idea of camping in Dresden, but decided relatively last minute that we wanted to find a Ferienwohnung (holiday apartment) to rent instead, and ended up finding an abolute gem within walking distance to the Altstadt. Ferienwohnungen are one of our new favourite things, as they give you a certain amount of freedom (no set breakfast time) and the ability to cook for yourself if you want.
Dresden and the Elbe River by night
Now, Dresden pretty much had the living bejeezus bombed out of it at the end of the second world war, and still finds itself in an ongoing state of reconstruction, but is still a very impressive city none the less. Especially impressive is the reconstructed Frauenkirche which was rebuilt using as many of the original stones as possible. You can still see which of the stones are the originals today due to their discolouration, but this will slowly disappear with time, which is kind of a shame, IMHO.
As is typical on our holidays of late, Bel and I managed to:
- Sit in traffic jams for ages on the way there and the way back (thanks to the economic stimulus package that has resulted in road works all over the country); and
- Get rained on...a lot! (Luckily we had a few days to play with and could reschedule our planned hike to a sunnier day)
The Neustadt is the newer part of town, though it is barely older than the older part of town - the Altstadt. This part of town is really the heart of the alternative scene and is full of interesting shops, restaurants, punks, graffiti, etc., all of which are completely harmless (my impression anyway).
As far as the language goes, the Sachsens don't speak Hochdeutsch like we learned, but rather their own Sächsisch dialect. This resulted in many false starts, misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and funny looks from both sides, and it generally took us a couple of sentences before both sides had found the lowest common denominator and were able to progress with a conversation with a relatively acceptable level of understanding.
The Sunday saw Bel and I take the train out into the Sächsische Schweiz (Saxon Switzerland), which is the playground of all outdoor sports fanatics, offering hiking and mountain biking trails, outdoor rock climbing possibilities, and much much more. We chose probably one of the most popular hikes and did it in the reverse direction (less people that way), taking us from Stadt Wehlen up to the Bastei (pre-medieval fortress) and back again in a leisurely 13k loop. If only we had have realised how much up and down was included in those 13k...
The final day of the long weekend saw us head out to Schloß Weesenstein before piling back into the car for what turned out to be a hell of a long 5+hr drive home. And boy did we need a holiday after that long weekend...
PS: Sorry for the long post...