Monday, July 17, 2006

Dresden (July 17)

No problem at all getting to Dresden. In fact, it was a pleasant surprise to re-discover how fast trains can go. I realized that for the last 5 weeks, I had gone back some 40 years in time, transportation-wise.

My hotel in Dresden is one of the uglier ones I've stayed at, but, besides having air conditioning and a working thermostat, it is very conveniently located: just a 10 minute walk from Dresden Hauptbanhoff.

After checking in and changing, I took a stroll down to the historic center of the city. It turns out that Dresden is celebrating its 800th year, mostly by forcing locals to dress up in medieval costume to sell tourist items at small wooden booths. Think Renaissance Faire.

I headed over to the Zwinger museum complex only to discover to my horror that it and almost every other museum in Dresden in closed on Mondays. Great, I thought, another bone-headed itinerary decision (in my defense, I should explain that I used a guidebook that now appears to be have become quite out of date).

There was, however, one museum open to the public: the Grüne Gewölbe. This is a huge collection of oddities and artistic craftsmanship accumulated by the Elector of Saxony, including the time the family provided kings to Poland. Some really wild stuff. After an hour and a half of being amazed I was exhausted and needed a break, though they saved the best, the garniture collection for last. This is the collection of medals, swords, and staffs all covered in rubies, emeralds, topazes, and diamonds. The full collection is said to be the best outside of the Topkapi in Istanbul.

After a welcome cup of tea and strawberry torte, I went back up to tour the special photography exhibit, and then went back outside to wander a bit more. My general plan was to find this baroque dairy I sent my parents to last year. It took a while, but I finally found it. The interior is covered in porcelain tiles on a dairy theme. They have a restaurant upstairs, while downstairs they sell cheese. You can also buy glasses of fresh whole milk or fresh buttermilk (I chose the former). To see a picture of the interior, go to:

I'm still trying to decide whether to try to visit the Zwinger collection tomorrow morning and just take the noon train to Berlin. I think I'll sleep on it.

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