Saturday, January 5, 2013

Jewel Box on the Elbe," eating in" and a trip to Meissen

We arrived in Dresden after a day of driving over one hundred twenty miles from Berlin, stopping in Leipzig (see Wordless Wednesday post and watching the weather turn into a wind driven snowstorm.
This is the view out of the huge front window of the bus. The windshield wipers were on the bottom and they were working overtime.
I caught a picture of two tired but agreeable ("Smile for the camera!") California girls in the seat behind us.
Our traveling companions always had a smile for us.
We picked up our key cards in the lobby of the Maritim Hotel Dresden and went to our room.
This was the view from our hotel window.
Yes, the snow was blowing sideways. There were no screens on the windows so I had a clear view of the street below.
The beds looked so inviting. The down comforters were calling our names, but we cleaned up and went down for dinner before messing up all this loveliness. The pillows did not have candy on them, as many hotels have. Those are cough drops. Kind of tells you something about the practical nature of the Germans. You have to buy the wonderful chocolate in this country but they give you free cough drops on your pillow.They were actually very good... kind of like gummy bears... so I guess it was suppose to be cough drop/candy.
We both dived into the beds after dinner and slept like dead people all night.

In the morning we were bused to the old city center of Dresden which is on the Elbe River and is the capital city of the free state of Saxony.
There has been a lot of upheaval in this city's history but the largest, most controversial, horror was the bombing of Dresden in February of 1945. In the final months of  World War II, the allied forces bombed the city center and destroyed 15 square miles of it. To this day there is still discussion about the lack of moral discernment for this bombing by English and American forces and whether it was justified.
Is this ever "justified"?
In this postcard that I bought, the statue looks like she is asking "Why?" It is still a question that is being asked. If you are interested, here is a site that talks about the bombing and some of the history. When you read this link or this one, you will have some idea what the meaning is of the expression "War is Hell!" and why Winston Churchill distanced himself from the horror and the reality of this part of the war.
Some of the most historic building were not reconstructed until 2007.
The 18th century Frauenkirche, the Dresden Lutheran church, was destroyed in the bombing.

This is how it looks today with Martin Luther standing, again, in front of this beautiful church and its magnificent dome.
During reconstruction the Germans used as much of the original building as they could. You can see the darker pieces of brick that were burnt and blackened from the firestorm in 1945. They cleaned and used as much of the old rubble as possible when reconstructing these buildings.
Quite a few of the statues and buildings in the area have burnt pieces mixed with the reconstructed sections .
The city center fire created temperatures over 1500 °C (2700 °F). 25,000 people were killed in the firestorm.

This is the Swinger palace.
August the Strong, elector of Saxony, had returned from a tour of  France and Italy in 1687–89, He was so impressed by the rococo beauty of the great buildings he saw that, on his return to Dresden,  he decided to build something similarly spectacular for himself. This is an amazing series of buildings that now hold many different museums.
We had a tour group photo taken in the center of these ornate.buildings.
 
 It was wet and very cold, with a slushy snow falling, now and then, but we all smiled for the camera.  It was a good group of people. The tour gave us each a copy of this picture. That's me, on the right, with the red hat on... looking cold, as usual. In my defense, the couple from New Zealand looked cold too. I was using the scarf that should have been around my neck to cover my camera. Priorities, priorities...
The guy that is squatting in the middle of the photo is Carl, with a "C", our intrepid tour director. He was always smiling... and never looked cold.  But, he lives in Austria. He probably thought that this weather was balmy.
From the palace, we walked to the Semperoper ( the opera house) and then down the Stallhof (Stables Courtyard) of Dresden Castle.
(Please excuse the snow flake on the lens. This was a common problem throughout the trip.)
The Fürstenzug (English: Procession of Princes) 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. In order to make the work weatherproof, it was replaced with about 23,000 Meissen porcelain  tiles between 1904 and 1907. With a length of 102 metres (335 ft), it is 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 Fürstenzug is located on the outer wall of the Stallhof (Stables Courtyard) of Dresden Castle.
There was so much to see and we saw so little of it. The weather and the amount of time given to us before we had to be back on the bus made it very difficult to see this beautiful town and the amazing buildings and museums.
They did give us options. We could stay there and walk back to the hotel... in the icy rain... later on...down some long and empty streets along the river. Or get a taxi (did that in Berlin). I decided to go back on the bus. Sis stayed with the other ladies.
I ate "in" that night. I ordered a salad. They brought it up to me under a silver dome. Never did that before.
 I ordered a Chicken Ceasar salad that was really good. I won't even tell you what it cost me to order food up to my room but it was worth every bite. Sometimes you just have to treat yourself to the finer things in life. Maybe I was starting to feel a bit under the weather, but I felt comforted by this one splurge. I sat and watched the BBC news. It was the only thing on TV that was in English. Then, I got into my jammies and read until Sis came home. She took a taxi back to the hotel. Smart girl.  She said that some of the others decided to walk back.
 She looked at my empty food tray, looked over at me and smiled. Then she went strait to bed.


Dresden is a town of survival. A beautiful place first settled in the Neolithic era by the Linear Pottery culture tribes ca. 7500 BC. and its mining in the Ore mountains, and much later as a city for technology and art. Mostly, it is know for its destruction in WWII. The bombing raid on Dresden destroyed almost all of the ancient center of the city, but since the reunification of Germany, Dresden has undergone significant reconstruction.
There is a sadness that seems palpable in this town and it wasn't just the weather. It's there in each of the blackened stones that were used to rebuild the city center. It is a city of perseverance and suffering. One that payed a high price for a war that was lost.

The next day we took a optional excursion to Meissen.
Meissen is a town of approximately 30,000 people about 16 miles northwest of Dresden on both banks of the Elbe river in the Free State of Saxony, in eastern Germany. Meissen is the home of Meissen porcelain and  the Albrechtsburg castle, which looms over the little town like a huge sleeping giant.
Meissen is famous for the manufacture of porcelain , because of local deposits of kaolin and something called  potter's clay (potter's earth). Meissen porcelain was the first high quality porcelain to be produced outside of the Orient.
The drive was not too far and the scenery was beautiful.
We went on a tour of the Meissen porcelain factory. We saw how the porcelain is made and decorated... and, of course, there was a store that you could buy anything you wanted. A small trinket, like an ornament, was hundreds of dollars. It is very expensive china that is ornate and hand painted, but not something that I would want to buy. My sister felt the same, so we chose to go to the cafe and drink tea out of beautiful porcelain cups and have a quick bowl of soup.  Sis went for the hot bean soup with toast and I went strait for the ice cream. Let me tell you about this dessert that we shared.
 This was the best dessert that we ate on the whole trip. It had peaches on the bottom with three scoops of vanilla ice cream on top, some whipped creme (the real stuff) and a "local" berry sauce (I forget what kind.) that tasted like heaven. It was all topped with delicious gingerbread wafers. Oh yes, this was a one really fine dessert.
 Some of our California ladies joined us and waited for some tea. These two were the most fashionable dressed on our bus. They were sisters. I have to say that we "California girls" were very well dressed. We did our state proud. One of the sisters, on the right, actually lives in Oregon but we didn't hold that against her.  Oregon is our neighboring state to the north, so she was part of the "West Coast" contingency. Besides, anyone who wears a hat as charming as that has got to be a cool, California type girl.
We didn't share our dessert with them. Not very nice of us but, oh well, sometimes you just can't share, no matter what you've been  told as a child. It was that good.

This was a beautiful town, small and old, with some charming houses.
And one balcony I would love to add to my house. I don't have a second or third story but I would just love to have a balcony like this... maybe as a free standing tree house... or I could add a second and third story on top of my house???
Oh this is so beautiful. Look at the third level. I would bet that's a sleeping porch for warm summer nights. Oh, yes. A charming sleeping porch... This is one of those "bucket" list things.

One more stop before we drive back to Dresden.

After lunch we went to the Meissen Christmas Market.
 With its advent calender building where each window was a day of December on blue shutters.
Where building design has a different look, simpler with lovely colors.
And strange roof top windows that look like eyes watching us below. They were a bit unnerving... this one especially.
We didn't walk far. It had been a long day.
We saw a beautiful church that looked very medieval and old.
This market was small and charming.
We bought a few gifts, walked around until we got cold and then returned to the bus.There were others already on the bus. It had been a long day for many of us.
We headed back to Dresden and another good nights sleep. The next day we left for Nuremberg.




5 comments:

Brian Miller said...

wow look at the ice on the window...so cool to travel like that though...and smiling companions def add to it...ha

Madeline's Album said...

This was another fascinating post. Enjoyed reading and seeing all the buildings etc. This trip will be one you will remember. Have a blessed day. Madeline

Mary Ann said...

How did I miss this series... going back to read what I've missed... and your pictures are wonderful.

Charming Baglady said...


Holy c_ _ p! Look at that windshield. This is what leads to newspaper headlines, "German tourist bus crashes with Americans on board . . ."
The Fürstenzug painting being replaced with Meissen tiles is unbelievable. Magnificent!
Dinner served on a tray under a silver dome, how chic!
I, too, love the balcony on that house and you have a fabulous idea of building a free-standing tree house with a sleeping porch. I hope you'll start drawing up the plans soon!
I am almost overwhelmed looking at the architecture in your photos. If I saw it all in person I would probably hyperventilate from constantly gasping at the beauty.
Thanks for the wonderful posts that let us ride along with you! Love ~ Dawn

Debora said...

Thank you for such an entertaining travel journal. I can feel the wanderlust growing within.There are so many fascinating places to go and see!