Saturday, June 03, 2006

Germany - Dresden

For some reason I have yet to discover, I have been resistant to writing about our trip to Germany a couple of weeks ago. I am not certain why, but it could have been the weather that had a grave affect on my mood. We took budget airline EasyJet to Berlin. Though the budget airlines have been a boon to air travel, the cost has more than doubled over the last year purportedly due to gas prices.
We arrived at Schoenefeld airport in a timely manner. The metro to the city is conveniently located a couple of blocks away under a protective covering for inclement weather. Within a half hour, we were in the heart of Berlin, but our travel had not ended there.

We immediately went to the new Berlin Hauptbahnhof, now the largest train station in Europe boasting five levels of tracks, shops, restaurants, and services. It was built on land that was once bisected by the Berlin Wall, making it a symbolic gesture of uniting the city. We took a train from here to Dresden using a ticket booked online and printed out with a barcode.

Arriving in evening into Dresden, we walked to the B and B we booked. It was about three blocks from the station. However, Ron wrote down the wrong name for the buzzer and the name he had was not on any bell. He started pressing buzzers one by one to ask if they knew of a B and B in the building. By the fourth attempt, our host came to greet us at the door.

We stayed with Rene Müller at Mary-Wigman-Str. 19, Dresden ( Looking at the e-mail, I can see why Ron was looking for a Rene Glaser on the doorbells. Rene has a very nice comfortable room, but we just dropped our things and went to walk the city in the twilight.

Being Saturday evening, there was not much open other than restaurants and bars, but it was lovely seeing the city at this time of day. The streets were crowded with tourists and residents strolling and chatting in various languages. What struck us the most was that it was COLD. We both had liners under our coats, but we could have used gloves and scarves too. The outdoor restaurants all had their heatalators on to keep the hungry crowds warm enough to sit through a meal.

Dresden was once called the “Florence on the Elbe” being one of Europe’s architectural and artistic highlights. However, much of it was bombed during WWII and much of the city was not much more than a rubble heap. On February 13, 1945, 800 British aircraft showered the city with 2,600 tons of bombs. The Americans followed the next morning with 300 Flying Fortress bombers. It is estimated that 25,000 people were killed, while 13 square miles of the historic city center were destroyed. With temperatures rising to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, the burning city was visible to pilots from 100 miles away. Dresden was a central hub for the Nazi’s and the city remained loyal to them, hence its destruction.

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