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Dresden at Easter

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This was our first trip out of Berlin and to another part of Germany. Dresden is only a couple of hours drive away, so we booked a hotel and off we went. On Good Friday we drove down to Saxony and our first destination of Meissen. This town is very famous for porcellain. This is very ornate and expensive, not really my thing. The town centre is rather attractive in an old fashioned German way. There is a large schloss on the hill with a large church built in to it. The Elbe runs through the town and it was flowing strongly. It was very full but not actually over flowing. Even so, a cargo boat was struggling to make way against the current.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny and showed Dresden off in its best light. Dresden has gained notoriety because of the destruction caused by the British bombing in February 1945. Since then an enormous amount reconstruction has taken place. Some good and some not so good.The Frauenkirche, shown here, was reopened late in 2005 after being reconstructed from the rubble. This rubble had been left in place by the DDR regime as a monument to the war. The reconstruction has tried to be as faithful to the original as possible, even to using stones in the same location.

The Zwinger was the pleasure palace for the ruler of Saxony and the result is a very over the top set of buildings. The pictures left and right give an idea of what it is like, overly ornate buildings with lots of detailed carvings and all built on a grand scale. There are also a number of smaller museums in the Zwinger that we did not go into.

We also visited the "Green Vaults" which is the museum of jewellery and ornaments from Augustus the Strong. Some of these are made of sea shells, very exotic in the 17th Century. There were some incredible clocks featuring things like balls rolling down to show the minutes passing. It is hard to describe everything as there was so much of it. The cherry stones with 160 heads carved into it had to be seen to be believed. There were figures carved out of mother of pearl. Afterwards we walked around the rest of Dresden centre. As the weather was warm and sunny we had lunch sitting outside at a local brauhaus. The food was good, the beer was good and the weather was warm, does it get any better.

On Sunday we drove in to Sächsische Schweiz or Saxon Switzerland. This is an area of wilderness featuring large outcrops of rock. One of these outcrops had Festung Konigstein on top. This is a large fortress that has been updated over the years and is a history of fortress developement. It is also a dead ringer for Colditz, which is not that far away as it happens. The views from it were spectacular. However, the cloudy weather meant that the photographs are not that good. After this we drove to Bad Schandau and caught the little tramway to Lilienthal Wasserfal. We then walked up to the Kuhstahl, another large outcrop of rock with good views. The photo to the left gives you an idea of the scenery. You can see what the I mean by the rock outcrops.

This was our last visit of the day and after this we headed back to Berlin. It was good weekend, we saw some very good places and enjoyed getting out of Berlin and in to Germany. It made a nice change.

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