More of Dresden

Frauenkirche Dresden

The Frauenkirche dome looks intimidatingly high but “climbing” it means taking an elevator up to that lower dome and then trekking the rest of the way. It’s an interesting hike because, like the Reichstag, it’s a ramp that runs around the inside of the dome circling an inner glass wall and giving you a glimpse down into the church far below.

Frauenkirche

After that ramp circling, it’s just one steep long spiral staircase and then the upper dome with views all across Dresden

Views over Dresden

Views across Dresden

The wind was fierce but I had to try for a selfie

Kaitlyn Dresden

Yes, that’s hair in my eye :)

Dresden is a much prettier city from above than Berlin. It’s fun to be in an old school European city with palaces and old architectural styles, even if they are reconstructions or blends of all possible styles.

Dresden

I came down from the tower and finished my walkabout, walking under sky bridges that connect the palaces so royalty doesn’t have to mix with the common folk to visit each other

Sky bridge Dresden

And then went over the Augustus Bridge. The day before I had gone down into the park for a little lounge by the Elbe River, the perfect spring time activity. Look at the difference in the grey sky above and the sky below… That’s changeable springtime in Germany for you.

Elbe River

Elbe River

Springtime calls for ice cream at Eiscafe Venezia

Eiscafe Venezia Dresden

Ok, it’s mostly fruit  – obstsalat – because I don’t love ice cream. But there’s vanilla ice cream underneath there! And a mid afternoon cappuccino like civilized folk do.

I finished my tour with a walk down the Hauptstrasse, the main street in Dresden’s New City.

Hauptstrasse Dresden

Unlike the Old City across the river, Dresden’s New City was mostly untouched by the firebombing but it’s also full of boring Soviet-era architecture so it’s not nearly as picturesque. However, this street is lovely and placid and all the shopping is over here, as are the better restaurants.

And that was pretty much the end of my Dresden day! I was feeling pretty good about this whole Dresden minibreak until I tried to get home and was informed that no trains were running. Apparently the Train Workers union is on strike this week? What the hell, Germany!  And after I just celebrated your labor day too!

I waited for a train that never arrived and thus missed a bus intended to replace the train, got scheduled on another bus, went to bus station but was told my bus was not there (Deutschebahn?? Nein! Nein!) so I missed that bus, desperately wished I spoke German, back to the train station, got scheduled on yet another bus and finally got on it while it was parked in front of a car rental place… naturally. Don’t know why that hadn’t occurred to me.

I eventually got back to Berlin but it took about 6 hours longer than I anticipated. At least i got home. And it seems it wouldn’t be a trip abroad without some kind of bus drama…

Now I’m back in my little temporary home and I have a wine tasting tonight! More about Berlin tomorrow.

Hanging out in Dresden

Dresden Germany

I’d been in Berlin for 2 weeks and was starting to get that let’s-see-something-else kinda feeling. I blame this on touring because for 10 months out of the year I’m moving every week or two. Now it’s engrained and at the 2 week mark I’m all “What’s next?”

Plus I realized I only had a month left here in Germany, which sounds like a long time but in reality will fly by in a blink. So, I sat down, wrote down all the places I wanted to see, gave myself a loose schedule and bought a train ticket to Dresden.

Dresden Germany

Dresden’s Old Town was completely destroyed in World War 2 on February 13, 1945 when the British and American forces firebombed the city and killed 25,000 people. Kurt Vonnegut was a POW here during that time and wrote Slaughterhouse 5 about the experience. You can even take Vonnegut tours here but I didn’t because I’m not really a fan of his and I don’t totally get his angry satiric humor. I realize I’m uncool and now banned from all postmodern book clubs but I digress…

Dresden.

That picture above is of Old Town, which they rebuilt. From wreckage. They used the original masonry as much as possible and painstakingly put together all these historic buildings using mostly donor money. You can see the difference in the old and new stones in the way they weather (and that dome in the middle is nicknamed “the lemon juicer”).

This building, the Zwinger, is across the street from my hotel

Zwinger Dresden

Just a giant baroque palatial extravaganza in the middle of the city. As one does. Especially in Europe.

And how giant, you ask? Allow to me to explain, with pictures, that pictures don’t capture the ginormous complex that is the Zwinger. Here’s one direction

Zwinger Dresden

Here’s another

Zwinger Dresden

Here’s a cherub

Zwinger Dresden

These are naked lady butts

Zwinger Dresden

This might be the best I can do, which is about a third of the whole thing.

Zwinger Dresden

It’s vast. And obviously lovely and stuffed with statuary.

Zwinger Dresden

I could have stayed here all day photographing cherubs and awkwardly posing for strangers

Zwinger Dresden

But why would I just photograph and pose when this is a museum complex? There are three museums here that the guidebooks say are Amazing and Awesome and NotToBeMissed. Ok, here’s my dirty little German confession: I couldn’t be less interested in museums right now.

I’ve been in approximately 500 museums over the past several years all over the US and Europe. I don’t expect any future art experience to ever rival the Museee D’Orsay in Paris, which literally brought me to tears, nor do I ever expect to  be as pleasantly surprised as I was at the Chilhuly rooms in the OKC Art Museum. I think I’ve got museum fatigue. Old Masters and contemporaries can go unseen by me. I’m good. I want to be outside seeing things I can’t see anywhere else.

That said, I might have art fatigue but if I’d had more time or were I ever to come back, I would go to the Mathematics-Physics Salon in the Zwinger or the German Hygiene Museum, both of which seem promisingly intriguing.

Anyway. Do you need another picture of the Zwinger? All you had to do was ask…

Zwinger Dresden

And once I tore myself away from this complex, I took Rick Steves’ walking tour of Dresden, which eventually brought me to the Frauenkirche and Martin Luther

Frauenkirche Dresden

This is Martin Luther country so I refreshed myself on the Protestant Reformation and contemplated this church, which was completely flattened during the firebombing. It burned for 2 days and then collapsed and since has been completely rebuilt to the tune of 100 million dollars, mostly privately funded. This chunk of masonry was left out to show the devastation of the bombing, complete with a tiny metal stamp to show where the chunk originated

Frauenkirche

That chunk is about 3 feet thick. I can’t even visualize what this city looked like in 1945, nor what it was like to jigsaw these buildings back together and figure out what bombed out sections go where.

They rebuilt and repainted the interior of the church to resemble the original, down to the pastel coloring

Frauenkirche Dresden

Once the original cross was uncovered in the rubble, they planted it by one of the doors and made an altar to peace, though I think the entire city is an altar to peace.

Frauenkirche Dresden

And you can pay 8 euro to climb the tower, which I consider a reasonable donation to a church that has undergone as much trauma as this one. Of course I did it. When in Europe, climb a tower.

I’ll show you pictures of that tomorrow.