Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dresden - Neustadt

Ever since I read Slaughterhouse Five, I've wanted to see Dresden. If you don't know why Dresden is so special, you can read about it here. The city was heavily bombed in February 1945 and most of the old city was reduced to ruins. The people of Dresden have used the intervening years from the bombing to the present day to restore the major buildings to look exactly like they did before the war.

We checked with our host whether we could leave the car at the station and he said that would be fine since parking is free and the town is very safe so we drove down, parked the car and waited for the train to Erfurt where we would change to take the train to Dresden. 

The old Bahnhof building. It is no longer used and most people would buy a ticket at a machine. We had a German Rail Pass (approximately $40 per day for each of us).

So here comes our train and there were quite a few people who boarded it. The journey was quite swift through some very hilly country with lots of curves. The train appeared to have the ability to tilt as it went around curves and you can read about this class of trains here.

The ICE fast train that took us to Dresden. It was very modern and very comfortable but only got up to about 100 mph.

Marianne is our hotel booking research expert and she found us a hotel in Neustadt just a short walk from the station. Neustadt is the suburb right across the river from the old restored part of Dresden. Fortunately, Neustadt missed the worst of the bombing raids though numerous buildings were destroyed or damaged. It has developed into a great place for tourists to stay since so much of the old Dresden survived here.

The major streets are lined with cafes, shops and restaurants.

Many of the old buildings had courtyards and these have been converted into shops and restaurants.

Interesting door.

The streets are lined with bricks. Presumably they are supposed to slow the traffic but all they seem to do is to make a lot of tire noise.

Still, it is a very attractive area. In addition to the brick pavement, there are cobblestones. Marianne found these tiring to walk on.

The tower of the Three Kings Church. Most of the church except for the spire was destroyed in the raid but has been rebuilt.

The alter piece from which the church gets its name.

Many of the buildings were really worth looking at. You got a sense of what residential Dresden looked like before the bombs.

One of the courtyards. Some of them had glass roofs, but this one was open.

Interesting sculpture.

The Goldener Reiter. A statue to Augustus the Strong just across the bridge to the old part of town.

We walked across the bridge to the old city and on the way back, noticed these depictions of the old Dresden on the side of the bridge.

The tourist literature mentioned that there was a really interesting old market and by chance we came across it.

To be honest, we were not all that impressed. It wasn't all that big and there wasn't really all that much food for sale. There seemed to be more of the knick-knack shops.

Dresden is a city of bicycles. There seem to be no hills in the downtown area and people of all ages are riding them. Some ride very quickly and can really sneak up on you quickly. Don't do any sudden sideways moves in Dresden or you will get run down.

Not all the buildings in Neustadt are old. Plenty of boring apartment buildings were erected after the war, but people use flowers to soften the hard edges.

This baby was having a wonderful time. Marianne reckoned the dad was going to get a severe talking to by the mother who would have to dry off this sopping wet child.

Apparently Art Deco had an influence.

Our room at the hotel, Hofgarten 1824.

It was very clean and overall we liked it except for the traffic noise from a busy street just up the road.

We went to a Czech style restaurant for dinner and ordered Czech beer. It was excellent.

My devoted spouse eagerly waiting for another scintillating conversation with her adored husband. This was one of those restaurants set up in a courtyard with a roof. 

We wondered what this 1 meter of liqueur would look like. From various photos in the menu it looked like it would be a bunch of shot glasses of the stuff lined up on a 1 meter long plank. I don't think it would make too much difference if the wood was 'best' or just a piece of cheap plywood.

I had a delicious stew with spaetzle.

Marianne's venison stew was even better along with the pear and cranberries. She was not too enthused about the Czech dumplings which seemed to be similar to rounds of bread.

Glassware shop. These always look better after dark.

By this time it was after 9 pm and of course it was still quite light. It was very pleasant to walk back to the hotel from the restaurant.

The courtyard of the hotel. 

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