This week’s German Holidays post takes us to the former East German city of Dresden. A year ago a family reunion on The Bavarian’s side of the family meant that we got to spend three days in the impressive capital city of the German state of Saxony (Sachsen). This was my first trip to Dresden and only my second trip to former East Germany, so I was quite excited about it.
Dresden has a long and colourful history involving members of the German aristocracy, as we learned during our two-hour walking tour of the city. According to our tour guide, the preferred method of killing off wives, mistresses or older brothers who got in the way of younger brothers’ plans to rule was Pilzsuppe, mushroom soup. Slip one poisonous mushroom into the right bowl and the job is done! Needless to say, we steered clear of mushroom soup during our stay.
We stayed in the Ibis hotel in Prager Strasse in one of theit family rooms – two double bedrooms with a bathroom and luggage storage room connecting them. The boys were thrilled to have their own bedroom (with a TV) and we were pleased to be spared the usual hotel stay business of putting the children to bed and sitting quietly in the darkness for the rest of the evening.
The location of the hotel was perfect for us. We were on the main shopping strip, so the area was quiet at night. The hotel is within walking distance of the old town and the major sights. Behind the hotel there was parking available.
We arrived in Dresden mid-afternoon and, following check in, spent the afternoon strolling around the city. Dresden city centre is absolutely stunning, with beautifully rebuilt baroque and rococo buildings. Almost the entire city centre and its fabulous architecture were destroyed by bombing and fire during World War II. The city is an inspiring example of how to rebuild historic buildings.
The following day we took a guided walking tour of the city centre. The tour was excellent – it lasted two hours and was so informative and entertaining that the children (aged 4 and 6 at the time) listened intently and didn’t once ask when it would be over. The details of how much of the city was destroyed during the second world war fascinated them.
The walking tour ended at the Frauenkirche church, which was among the buildings bombed. The church was reconstructed between 1992 and 2005 and is well worth a visit. It looks as though it has always stood exactly as it was.
After a break for lunch we took the Grosse Stadtrundfahrt hop-on hop-off bus tour of Dresden. This brought us to see the outskirts of the city, the leafy suburbs which were spared destruction during the war. We were enchanted by the castles and villas dotted in among spendid greenery. Many of the pretty shopping streets we passed through were lined with inviting-looking cafes and boutiques.
Unfortunately our time was limited by our evening plans and we couldn’t spend as much time hopping on and off as we would have liked to. On our next visit to Dresden, the bus tour is something we would make more time for. With 22 stops, it would be easy to fill a day touring the sights.
We did, however, make time to visit Pfund’s Cafe and Dairy. It was recommended to me as “an old milk shop that is really pretty”.
I was expecting pretty but I got amazing! This dairy-produce boutique is a fantastic sight, and not simply for of its stock of cheeses. From ceiling to floor and wall to wall there are Villeroy & Boch tiles in the most beautiful designs. Photography is prohibited within the shop but I managed a zoom shot from outside to give you an idea of what it is like.
There is a cafe upstairs – nothing much to look at – which has a lovely, very much dairy-themed menu. We had the peach buttermilk and it was really tasty and refreshing. This is the cover of their ice-cream menu. Just gorgeous!
Next door is a mustard shop with over 200 types of mustard. The Bavarian popped in for a browse and a few tastes and was suitably impressed with what he saw. I was still too wrapped up in the beauty of the dairy to look in. The shopfront was lovely and old worldy, as many of the shop fronts in the suburbs seem to be.
All in all, Dresden is well worth a trip, if only for a weekend. We are already looking forward to our next visit, whenever that may be.