December in Deutschland

Feb 25th, 2016, 10:09 PM
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Another great trip report, Mel! I know you had a great time with Ingo, as I've also known his gracious hosting and guiding help!! It sounds like you've had a really great first visit!! And I am eager to see the rest of your visit!!

I am hesitant to disagree with traveller1959 above -- that poster has been such a wealth of help, information, and kindness for travellers to Germany and Europe. However, I don't think that this was such an unusually warm December, and I really don't think it will be unique.

I've lived in Garmisch for 7 winters, and except for 2 winters with great snow in that time, our ski season has been getting shorter and warmer, too warm even to make snow. A few years ago, they even had to cancel the Kandahar FIS ski race and move it to St. Moritz. At least that didn't happen this year.

And I'm afraid, with global climate change, it will continue to get warmer and warmer. Scientists have said that all the Bavarian glaciers will be gone within 30 years (that was a few years ago, so it might be 25 years now). So I'm afraid that more and more visitors will get surprised with these mild temps in the coming years, unfortunately.

Well, that's one reason why I keep advocating for using the train instead of driving on vacations in this area --

swandav2000 is offline  
Feb 25th, 2016, 10:40 PM
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Agree with Swandav. I spent the month of December 2011 in Dresden and didn't see a single snowflake. Many days it was warm-ish, not at all wintry. I was back in Dresden for several days in mid-December 2014 and it wasn't all that cold then either.
WeisserTee is offline  
Feb 26th, 2016, 02:08 PM
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I appreciate the comments, thank you!
Melnq8 is offline  
Feb 26th, 2016, 02:44 PM
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December 4, 2015 –

Disappointed with the caffeine offerings at our guesthouse, we sought out the Dresdner Kaffee und Kakao Rosterei in the Markethalle (thoughtfully pointed out the previous day by Ingo). After indulging in a couple of good strong cappuccinos (10.40 Euro for four cups of bliss), we set out to explore the Green Vault, aka Europe’s Treasure Chest.

Suspecting we didn’t have the energy to visit both the Historic Green Vault and the New Green Vault in the Residenzschloss, we tossed a coin; the New Green Vault won (12 Euro each).

WOW. We spent the next few hours ogling the incredible collection of gold, silver and enamel oddities and baubles that make up one of the richest treasure chambers in the world and houses the only large naturally green diamond ever found. Mind-boggling is an understatement.

Afterwards we wandered the Old Town in the cold, windy gloom, eventually ducking into Paulaner to sample the Weissbier, Elbtal Landwein (white wine from Saxony, one of the smallest and the easternmost wine region in Germany) and some unsual onion soup, 35 Euro, good cozy and warm.

We continued our aimless saunter, finding ourselves at Viba Sweets for a chocolate sample encore and a hot chocolate with praline in their upstairs cafe. I’d not expected the awesome and abundant liquid chocolate on offer; I made a mental note to slow down (yeah, right!).

Then it was back out to the Striezelmarkt to sample the speckbrot and absinthe gluhwein..and people watch... followed by a brass band concert at the Kreuzkirche, which we enjoyed even more than the violins and soloist the previous evening.

We meandered, admiring Bruehl’s Terrace, “Dresden’s Balcony’, decked out in its evening finery and overlooking the steamers on the Elbe River which were in full party mode. We admired the historic Baroque buildings of Old Town in all their floodlit glory. We had no plan; we were content to just be... to absorb the ambiance and festive atmosphere.

We’d stumbled upon 4-5 Christmas Markets, took countless photos, watched the roasting of sugared almonds (Mandeln), smiled upon Lebkuchen adorned children, and once again ended the day at the Augustusmarkt, seeking out what had become our favorite tube steak, Thuringer bratwurst. It’d been a very full day of eating, imbibing and thoroughly enjoying Dresden.

Up next: Dresden – Fleeing the Dresdner Stollenfest
Melnq8 is offline  
Feb 26th, 2016, 11:53 PM
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Ha ha, what a concidence running into chocolate paradise by chance;-)

You surely caught Dresden's vibe. I like your approach by aimless wandering. You write well, and I thoroughly enjoy both your style and the content of your trip report.
quokka is online now  
Feb 26th, 2016, 11:54 PM
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Didn't know you went back to Kreuzkirche for the brass band next day, excellent choice - it's my favourite for Christmas music, too. Sounds like a perfect Advent season day.

> Fleeing the Dresdner Stollenfest

Hahaha ... I can imagine why.

Btw, yep, I know about Dean & Deluca, and I also laughed when I heard the name of the Dresden restaurant the first time.

Keep it coming, enjoying this thoroughly!
Ingo is offline  
Feb 27th, 2016, 05:52 AM
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Thanks quokka and Ingo.

We visited a few more churches that I failed to mention above, but unfortunately we never did get in to see the Frauenkirche, as it was closed every time we checked.

We were on a quest to find Christmas concerts in every city we visited after Dresden, but we didn't have much luck, other than a couple I'll mention later in the report, one of which was absolutely fantastic.
Melnq8 is offline  
Feb 29th, 2016, 12:26 AM
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Brrrrrr.... sounds freezing and amazing at the same time
Kittydell is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2016, 08:50 AM
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December 5, 2015 –

The Saturday before the second Sunday of Advent is a big deal in Dresden; It’s the Dresdner Stollenfest; the day that Dresden’s bakers celebrate their Dresdner Christollen along with thousands of people from across the world.

As interesting as a giant stollen cutting ceremony sounded, crowds are just not our thing, so as the city of Dresden paid homage to their pride and joy with a parade, marching bands and the Dresden Stollen Girl, we fled.

We walked to the Neustadt station and purchased a family train pass, 19 Euro, good until 4 am the following morning, and boarded a train to Meissen, some 26 km northwest of Dresden.

All we knew about Meissen is that it’s renowned for its porcelain, so we were quite surprised at our first glimpse of Albrechtsburg Castle (thought to be Germany’s oldest) and the adjacent Gothic Meissen Cathedral (Dom) which overlook and dominate the town.

We meandered alongside the Elbe, soaking up the gorgeous day and the beautiful views, eventually crossing the bridge into town. We were stopped twice by locals who genuinely seemed to want to assist us (evidently we look out-of-place, must be the bright red and purple). This led to some interesting mixed language ‘conversations’ embellished with a bit of pantomime. One gentleman pointed at our camera and indicated that he wanted us to follow him, leading us to a narrow alley with a great view of the Dom, a pleasant surprise and a very kind gesture.

We skirted the closed Christmas Market, noticing a Quarkspitzen kiosk, which Google tells me is a pastry made from Quark. I probably would have liked it.

We worked our way up towards the Dom (Church of St John and St Donatus) via a narrow winding street and some steep stairs, popping into a random café for cappuccinos and our first taste of Butter Mandelstollen (i.e. almond - tasty, but a bit dry, a dollop of fresh cream wouldn’t have gone amiss). At the top we wandered through the Dom’s courtyard, explored the imposing exteriors, and took in the fabulous views. Had we done our homework, we’d have allowed more time for Albrechtsburg time

Another wander led us back through town and to the busy Porcelain Factory, where we poked through the shops, trying not to brush up against the 18,000 Euro vases. We admired the largest freestanding porcelain statue in the world, Saxonia, The Saxon Statue of Liberty, toppling the scales at 800 kilos and wearing a dress made of 8,000 handmade porcelain blossoms. Impressive indeed.

The factory has a museum and demonstration workshops, and for those really keen, frightfully expensive combo guided tours (195-225 Euro each), but frankly, our curiosity was more than satisfied.

So, with Loschwitz on our minds, we returned to Dresden, where we proceeded to get thoroughly turned around. We got on a tram going in the wrong direction, so we had to wait for a tram going back, which then led to another tram...or two. We eventually got sorted (I say we, but the truth is, I’d still be there were it not for Bill and his built-in compass) but not before finding ourselves right where we’d tried so hard not to be, Old Town, surrounded by a gazillion Christollen cutting celebrants. Best laid plans and all that.

We finally arrived at Schillerplatz, walked across the Blue Wonder (a cantilever truss bridge over the Elbe River connecting the affluent areas of Blasewitz and Loschwitz) and stumbled right into the center of the small Loschwitz Christmas Market, freshly opened that very day and absolutely heaving with people.

After eyeballing a food kiosk trying to figure out what they were selling, Bill jumped into the fray and came back with a plate of something we’d not encountered before, sauerkraut, speck and Spatzel, and oh-so-delicious. We sipped gluhwein, listened to a brass band, people-watched and tried to avoid being crushed.

Ingo had told us about the nearby Dresdner Bergbahnen, (one of the oldest suspension railways in the world, dating back to 1901) so we investigated, soon at the top of the incline enjoying the 3:45 pm sunset and some fine views over Loschwitz, the perfect place for an early evening beverage; unfortunately, the café was closed and the loo out of commission (5 Euro each return).

Then it was back to the market for our last Dresden bratwurst, back across the Blue Wonder, into Hubler's Ihre Café-Lounge on Schillerplatz for a nice glass of trocken Reisling, then back to the Neustadt for one last walk in the dark to our cozy guesthouse.

Meissen photos here:

Loschwitz photos here:


Dresden left quite an impression. It’s a city of contrasts, thanks in no small part to the destruction of its city center during WWII. Stalinesque architecture intermingling with historic landmarks is something I’ve not seen before and will not soon forget. I suspect I’ll also long associate Dresden with its bells, tires on cobblestones, rumbling trams. And of course we’ll both fondly remember Dresden’s local gem and ambassador, Ingo...and the fabulous chocolate!

Up Next: Annaberg-Buchholz - Second Sunday of Advent, surrounded by Schwibbogen
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2016, 10:17 PM
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I loved Meissen, what a surprising town, glad you got there.

I also love your photos, that you capture not just the landmarks, but street scenes and locals out and about.
Adelaidean is offline  
Mar 4th, 2016, 03:59 AM
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Yes, myou do have a sense for details and atmosphere, both with your camera and in your writing.
quokka is online now  
Mar 4th, 2016, 05:29 AM
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I too like your descriptions and pics..thanks for sharing.
PVR340PLA is offline  
Mar 4th, 2016, 06:11 AM
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Thank you, appreciate all the comments!
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 4th, 2016, 08:31 AM
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Keep it coming, Mel, I love your trip report (and the brilliant pictures)!

Thanks for the praise. Was a pleasure meeting you and Bill.

Totally agree, Mandelstollen is usually too dry. I don't eat it.
Ingo is offline  
Mar 4th, 2016, 11:33 AM
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I'm loving your TR thus far! We loved Dresden and Meissen and hope to get back to both places some time.
Trophywife007 is online now  
Mar 4th, 2016, 12:18 PM
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yes, keep it coming - lovely pics! the bright blue sky against the buildings somehow looks better in the winter.
annhig is offline  
Mar 4th, 2016, 12:19 PM
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BTW, Aldi in the UK sells a great Mandelstollen at Christmas, not dry at all!
annhig is offline  
Mar 4th, 2016, 01:08 PM
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Thank you!

I have a question for your Ingo - in Dresden we noticed several underground passages that appeared to be pedestrian walkways beneath the streets, but in every case they were fenced off. Just wondering if you know what this is about?
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 4th, 2016, 01:09 PM
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We have just had Aldi stores open in Adelaide! Unexpected in this economic climate.
Dislike stollen, too, but some delicatessens here do stock lebkuchen at Christmas (my sole shopping expedition in Nuremberg was for lebkuchen supplies). Maybe I'll find some at Aldi this year
Adelaidean is offline  
Mar 4th, 2016, 01:26 PM
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I think that they do stock Lebkuchen Adelaiden, but I can't stand them!
annhig is offline  

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