We woke up to find a sugar dusting of snow had fallen overnight. It has added a lovely touch to the city. We had breakfast at 8:30 and set out for the day shortly after 10:00. First stop was back at the Strieizelmarkt. The crowds were lighter than yesterday, and we found it easier to navigate in the daylight. There was some good, strategic purchasing done.
From there, we headed back to the Neumarkt that is located by the Frauenkirche. We had hoped to see inside the Frauenkirche, but it had been closed for a noon-time concert and the lineup to get in was quite long, so we moved on. This church is the symbol and soul of the city. When completed in 1793, this was Germany’s tallest Protestant church. It was firebombed on Feb 13, 1945 and smoldered for two days before finally collapsing. The pile of rubble was left on site and was turned into a peace monument. After reunification, the decision was made to rebuild but with very specific guidelines: stay true to the original design; use as much of the original material as possible; avoid using any concrete or rebar; maximize modern technology; and make it a lively venue for 21st-centurey-style worship. The remnants of the destroyed church were fitted together like a giant jigsaw puzzle with about one-third of the original stones placed in their original spots. The project cost $130 million euro, of which over two-thirds was donations from around the world. It reopened to the public in 2005. A heartening story of triumphant.
Our next stop was the Parade of Nobles (Fürstenzug). It’s a mural painted on 24,000 tiles of Meissen porcelain. Longer than a football field, it illustrates seven centuries of Saxon royalty. It was built to commemorate Saxon history and heritage after Saxony became a part of Germany in 1871. The artist, Wilhelm Walther, studied armour and clothing through the ages, accurately tracing the weaponry and fashions for seven centuries.
Before going into another market, we climbed up a set of steps to the Brühlsche Terrase. This delightful promenade that overlooks the river was once a defensive rampart overlooking the Elbe River. Later, it was given as a reward to a Saxon minister named Brühl who had been a really dedicated tax collector, so Frederick Augustus II was happy with his efforts. It the early 1800’s, it was turned into a public park with a leafy canopy of linden trees and was given the nickname “The Balcony of Europe”. Dresden claims to have the world’s largest and oldest fleet of historic paddleboat steamers. We could see several of the nine boats from the 19th century. From the terrace, we could also see Augustus Bridge which has connected Dresden’s old and new towns since 1319 when it was the first stone bridge over the river.
Two street performers (guitar/singer and drummer) were singing in the square. It made our Canadian hearts swell with pride to hear them doing Leonard Cohen's "Alleluia". We sang the chorus loudly and proudly.
Nearby, we found the Medieval Christmas Market called the Stallhof. This market had a distinctly different air to it. I saw a blacksmith, a glass blower, a brush maker and a rope maker and there were artisans dressed in medieval garb. There was a minstrel playing music and joking with the crowd. I declined the opportunity to take a selfie while wearing armour. It was time for a warm drink and a snack so several of the group had warm wine (elderberry, blueberry) to wash down spiral-cut potato chips. We are hitting all the good food groups on these travels.
We hiked over to where the Hop On Hop Off Bus starts its route. The tickets were included in our package. The tour was almost two hours long and covered most of the city. It’s hard to get good photos from the aisle seat of a bus, so I didn’t try. It was almost dusk too, so the lighting wasn’t ideal. We learned more about the resiliency of the city and its inhabitants in the rebuilding after the February 1945 raids that destroyed three-quarters of the old city. Stone by stone, the old buildings were rebuilt. It was eerie to see old style buildings on one side of the road and new buildings on the other side. You could almost track where the bombs had fallen on those fateful days.
We all declared that we were done for the day, so we hiked back to the hotel and hit the grocery store near it. We stocked up on drinks (wine, gin and tonic) and snacks (chips, pretzels, crackers) and met in Sheilagh and Vicky’s suite for predinner socialization because the earliest we could get a table in the restaurant in the hotel was 8:00 p.m. (There are no other restaurants in the area.) But the dining fairy smiled on us, and Angela got a call about 6:30 p.m. that they could accommodate us. It was an Italian restaurant. I had really good salmon, and others had pizza; Angela had a whole fish. We retired back to the party suite for post-dinner drinks with a plan to meet for breakfast at 8:00 a.m. The breakfast buffet gets really busy between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. so we want to get in before the rush.
All in all, a very good day. We are off to Prague tomorrow for more adventures and shopping.Read more