Monday, April 8, 4:00 pm
Today is my last day in Dresden. I’m taking an afternoon break after a short (very short) day trip to Görlitz, a town on the Polish border I’d heard was worth visiting. I found that not to be the case.
I was also told when I asked some folks for input on my itinerary that Dresden was not worth five nights. Again, I found that not to be the case. Of course, that’s because several of my days here were taken up with day trips. But I wish I had stayed in Dresden today, because there are some things I haven’t seen yet. (I do plan a final walk into some other areas of the city this evening.)
Because the weather has been so wonderful (today is the ninth straight day of gorgeous weather), I haven’t wanted to spend much of my time indoors at museums. And while there are some highly renowned museums here, a lot of them are collections of things rather than art, and I honestly don’t find looking at pretty jewels and fancy old costumes and old military paraphernalia very interesting.
Plus, rebuilt Dresden is so lovely. So I’m happy to enjoy it from the outside.
The first day here I enjoyed a group walking tour that turned out to be just me and a couple from New Jersey. It gave a decent overview, and based on that, I selected the one museum I decided I wanted to visit: the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, or Old Masters Gallery. Sadly, the Vermeer works that are usually here are under restoration. But I did get to see some great Medieval and Renaissance painting and sculpture, including this very famous painting:
Unfortunately, my hotel wifi sucks, and it takes forever to upload a single photo. So this is the only picture I’m adding to this post. I’ll look forward to sharing more pics later in my Google photo albums.
Monday, April 8, 9:00 pm
I’m back from dinner and a walk on the other side of the Elbe River, in the area called Neustadt (new town).
Yesterday I took an all-day excursion to Saxon and Bohemian Switzerland. This is a pair of national parks, one in Saxony (Germany) and one right across the border in Bohemia (Czechia).
The first stop was the Bastei Bridge, a beautiful spot with a pretty arched stone bridge. From there we drove across the border. We did a hike up to the Pravčická brána, the largest natural sandstone arch in Europe. Some scenes from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (which I haven’t seen) were filmed there. I’m told there’s a scene where the characters run across the top of the arch, but since that’s no longer allowed because of significant erosion, those scenes were done using green-screen.
We took a much longer route down and then had lunch (at 3:00 pm). Then we hiked some more, down to the Kamenice River, and along it as it passes through a gorge. Eventually the river goes from whitewater to dead calm, and a that point the path ends and a boat (powered by a single guy with a metal pole) picked us up and took us about 20 minutes down the river. It was really very lovely. Then more hiking for a short distance until we met up with our van and came back to Dresden.
The only bad part of the trip was…
…that our guide, a young American woman fresh out of college who’s been living in Prague for just a few months, was completely incompetent at leading a tour. There were seven of us. Three came from Dresden, and the other four came from Prague with our guide; we all met in the parking lot at the Bastei Bridge. She seemed more interested in chatting with us than in providing any context for what we were seeing. She seemed to know nothing about the geology or botany or history of what we were seeing. I got the impression that she is just doing this because it gives here the chance to go on fun hikes. I sent an email to the tour company afterwards and they were very apologetic and offered a partial refund.
In spite of the guide, it was a great day. And my experience in and around Dresden has been just delightful.
Tomorrow: on to Berlin!