Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dresden and the Elbe

We had two choices to get to Dresden this morning: 8:36 am and 10:36 am; we took the later train. I ordered a taxi the night before but forgot to specify that our group has a lot of luggage. By the time the trunk of the Prius was filled there was no room for my stuff, so my book bag went under my seat, and my small carry on sat on the seat between Annie and Cherie. We had a nice chat with the Turkish cab driver, who told us one way to tell whether we were in East or West Berlin was to look for trams. They´re only in East Berlin.

Because we bought our tickets that morning there were no assigned seats. The train carriage filled up quick and it was sometimes difficult negotiating the larger suitcases and backpacks through the aisles. Luckily we found three seats relatively close to each other for the journey. We reached Dresden without too much difficulty.

According to the hotel website, the hotel is located in Neustadt, only 300 meters from a tram stop that we could take direct from the train station, but when we arrived, we found a thoroughly beautiful, but residential neighborhood. I asked person after person without success until I went into one of the many clinics on the street and they told me how to get to the hotel. After a four-block walk over cobblestones down tree-lined streets that resembled Charlottenburg, we reached the hotel. We have the apartment in the back. It´s a stand alone structure with one bedroom (one double and one single), a foyer with a kitchenette, a small dining area, and a bathroom. It´s quite nice.

We threw our stuff down and raced back to the Altstadt to find out about the paddle boat steamships. By the time we finally reached the docks it was 2:30, and the last boat up the Elbe to the "Saxon Switzerland" had left an hour before (we would have had to take the earlier train to make it). I hoped that we could take a train to a later stop and then sail the rest of the way, but the clerk said that would be very, very difficult. With time running out I asked about the 1.5 hour round trip tour. There were still places available, but we hadn´t eaten since breakfast so I asked for a menu and then quickly passed to Annie and Cherie to make sure there was something they could eat.

There weren´t three seats together, but we weren´t too far apart. We had gorgeous views of the city from the river and of the estates and wineries near Dresden. Both Annie and I ordered the matjas herring plate, and it was terrific. I also had a 0.5 liter stout beer, which I split. For dessert, some fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream. It was a terrific meal.

The steamboat ride was a lot of fun. Afterwards we walked through the rebuilt Altstadt, stopping for a drinks at the Schinkelwache near the Semperoper and Zwingerpalatz. It was lovely sitting in the shade (the sun had come back) with cold drinks, and beautiful views. A large group of Israelis, but we didn´t talk to the.

Afterwards, I walked them to the courtyard of the Zwinger and tried to sneak Annie into part of the Porcellan collection (at least she could see the part of it by the front door). There was a chamber quartet practicing near the Marmorsaal, so we sat and listened for a while. We then picked up our train tickets for tomorrow (with seat assignments!), arranged for a van to take us to the station tomorrow after we see the Grünes Gewölbe in late morning, and I´ve just e-mailed the pension in Prague to see if we can arrange a pick up. I couldn´t do it earlier until I knew when we would arrive.

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