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Gabriel's 10 days trip to Prague, Dresden and Berlin - A report

Gabriel's 10 days trip to Prague, Dresden and Berlin - A report

Old Dec 4th, 2007, 06:25 AM
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Gabriel's 10 days trip to Prague, Dresden and Berlin - A report

Here I am finally getting down to write this, after a few hectic months for my wife and I.

This summer we visited Prague, Dresden and Berlin, then, at the beginning of September, we moved permanently to Australia (involving all the worries and troubles of a move to a place where you don't have relatives, but only a couple of good samaritans - sometimes much better than relatives!).

We've now settled a bit, got our lives on track, so I can finally think of this report.

Unfortunately, I didn't take many notes during this vacation, so it will be a little more difficult to put down the details that I usually like.

Also, I still have to sort out the photos, name them, save them on shutterfly so you can have a look (I'll give you the link when ready). Therefore, this report will take a while to complete, but at least I finally got myself to a start.

To be continued...
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Old Dec 4th, 2007, 07:20 AM
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To visit all the three cities we chose to land in Prague the first day early morning, took the train to Dresden in the evening, stayed one night and day in Dresden, train to Berlin, after 5 days back to Dresden for two nights and one day, then on to Prague for our last 3 days.

We left on 30th July and returned on 9th August. The departure point for this trip was Bucharest, just a two hour flight away.

Thus we didn’t spend much time on the trains between the cities, did not feel tired on arrivals, and we could schedule visits to those museums in Dresden, where they close on a Monday or a Tuesday.

To be cont'd...
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Old Dec 5th, 2007, 07:30 AM
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Here are photos from our first day, which we spent visiting Prague Castle:

http://share.shutterfly.com/action/w...1AaNGzly4ZsWIx

After finishing a late evening game of King’s Dice with my wife, we went to bed around midnight. We woke up at 03.40 in the morning and at 04.40 we were in the airport, eyes still struggling to stay open, ready to check-in and fly to our first holiday destination this summer: Prague.

Flying Czech Airlines was fine, friendly atmosphere, quite a lot of shaking however (living up to the rhythm of “Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on”…), while we were going through turbulences.

Still sleepy, after a two hour flight we arrived in Prague, found an ATM in the airport, withdrew some Czech crowns, bought our bus tickets to town and there we were, waiting for no. 119 to come.

Contrary to our expectations, the weather in Prague was quite cold, despite the heat wave across Europe. We had our summer clothes with us, my wife shivering next to me, hugging me so tight to warm herself up a bit. Happy to be in Prague!

We got on the bus and just as we were taking our seats, I noticed that we only had one carry-on instead of two. My wife’s hand bag was missing!! I jumped off the bus and saw it by the bench where we sat, waiting patiently to be picked up. Wow! That was close!

Indeed, we were still sleepy. But anyway, we had fun at this incident, and our holiday began on a good note.

We went first to the railway station to leave our two carry-ons in the lockers, and then went to visit Prague Castle. Walking up the hill, shivering with cold, suddenly the rain started. Just what we needed!

We had short sleeves and no umbrella or anything.
One guy was making brisk business selling umbrellas by the walkway.

We continued our climb up the hill, there was no way a bit of rain would spoil our day. By the time we were inside the castle grounds, the rain had stopped and the sun was bravely making its way through the scattering clouds.

More later...
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Old Dec 5th, 2007, 09:56 AM
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Thanks for taking the time posting a trip report. Very interesting - I am looking forward to the next chapters!

I.
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Old Dec 5th, 2007, 10:12 AM
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Thank you, Ingo!

The crowds were huge at the castle. We bought our tickets with audio guides and began our visit.
Around St. Vitus Cathedral was a long, long line of people waiting for their turn to enter.

We got scared at first, but soon noticed that the queue was moving well. I took a few photos around, captured some gargoyles, menacing looks in their eyes, scary faces, jutting out in horizontal positions, mouths wide open trying to catch something that got too near to the cathedral’s walls and narrowly escaped their fearsome grip.

We finally reached the door. Wow! I mean, WOW!! Richly painted windows, impressive interiors, captivating stories told by our audio-guide, we were enthralled by the works of art inside and the magnificence of St. John Nepomuk’s tomb.

After seeing St. Wenceslas’ chapel and tomb, we went up the 287 steps to the top of the tower. There was the city down in the valley, a beautiful display of red roofs, Charles Bridge and Vltava river.

I kept taking photos, one after another, afraid that I may not be able to take in as much as I wanted, trying to capture the city forever. The views were amazing.

We then visited the Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica and two very good art museums, the Picture Gallery and St. George’s Convent, housing Czech Baroque art.

We walked down the Golden Lane, a picturesque alley with 16th century colourful houses. Before leaving the castle we also visited Lobkowicz Palace.

This Renaissance-Baroque palace belongs to the family of Lobkowitz and houses an impressive collection of old masters, musical instruments and weapons.

The audio guide tour is presented by a family member, fact which gives so much more value to the visit. Their family history interwoven with the descriptions of the works of art and the events that marked them, made this a highlight of our visit to Prague Castle.

We had only one hour before our train left for Dresden that evening, so we went quickly to the station. As it usually happens in such situations, there were queues at all ticket counters and they were moving slowly.

I left my wife waiting in one of the lines and went to collect the luggage from the lockers. After some reconnaissance I discovered another ticket desk, upstairs around the corner, with only two persons in line, and I bought the tickets for Berlin.

We had 10 minutes left till our departure, but the tracks were nearby so we made it in time. We took our seats in the train and relaxed.

The day had passed so fast. We spent a full day inside the castle and we didn’t have time to notice how time flew. When we felt hungry we ate at one small restaurant somewhere inside the castle, probably on the Golden Lane, and we kept on visiting.

This was our first day in Prague, the castle day. On our return from Germany, we would have two days to see more of the city. Until then, on we go to Dresden.
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Old Dec 5th, 2007, 10:54 PM
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Thanks for posting. I'm headed to Prague in May, so I enjoyed reading about your castle day.
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Old Dec 6th, 2007, 12:35 AM
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Thanks for the report.

Except for southern Europe, the rest of us experienced a very cool to moderate 2007 summer. There was no heatwave in Switzerland and I froze my buns off in Berlin in July.

This is why I still can't understand the obsession with air conditioning. I will agree that Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, parts of Yugoslavia and Turkey are very hot in the summer but the rest is much like Seattle in the summer. It can be hot bit it can be cold and rainy too!
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Old Dec 6th, 2007, 01:22 AM
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Hi gabs,

thanks for posting. Dresden is high on my "to do " list so I'm keen to read more.

Schuler - we were in Berlin in July '06 and it was VERY hot and humid. T-shirts at midnight weather. so I would not be so dismissive of those who opt for A/C - we were glad we had it, so we could sleep.

regards, ann
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Old Dec 6th, 2007, 02:44 AM
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Schuler, just because it wasn't hot last summer doesn't mean it can't get hot. The summer of 2003 was very hot. On an unairconditioned train ride we took from Basel through Germany that summer, people were fainting from the heat. Last summer was unusually cool, it wasn't anything like the typical European summers we experienced over the past several years.

Gabriel, excellent report!
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Old Dec 6th, 2007, 03:11 AM
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The hot summer of 2003 was five years ago! We haven't had a heatwave since. There might be a few days in the year where it would be nice to have air-conditioning but that's it.

In my 20+ years of living in Switzerland, the summer of 2003 was the hottest. I can't remember a summer comparable to it.

Of course, it's another story in Southern Europe.

I'm for conserving energy where we can and unnecessary air conditioners are on my list. I'll gladly be the lone ranger on this one.
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Old Dec 6th, 2007, 03:21 AM
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Gabriel, so glad to see another trip report from you ! Keen to see what you did and how you liked it in Berlin, one of my favourite cities.

Where in Australia are you now living ? Must be nicer than the Gulf !
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Old Dec 6th, 2007, 03:22 AM
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Be the lone ranger, but don't be so dismissive of people who like AC on their travels. We don't have AC at home, but do like it when traveling. My mother is sensitive to heat and having AC in the hotel helps keep her from feeling drained on her travels. And didn't annhig just mention hot and humid days in Berlin in 2006? We've encountered very hot and muggy spells in Europe in years besides 2003. Esp. in urban areas which can trap heat.

What I don't understand is the need for some people to put down the way others travel, whether it's the type of accommodations they choose, the size of their luggage, or the restaurants they pick.
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Old Dec 6th, 2007, 03:31 AM
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Schuler, you just go ahead and feel superior to those of us who like to have air conditioning available while traveling--if that is what gives your life meaning. I do like to be able to sleep while on vacation so I can enjoy my time off. Note that just because there is air conditioning in a hotel room, we don't use it unless necessary--e.g., too hot/humid to sleep. It's not like it's going 24-hours a day or that it's turned on when it's only 70 degrees F. outside.
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Old Dec 6th, 2007, 03:50 AM
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Oh man, it's nothing to do with feeling superior.

A lot of European hotels were built before air conditioning was invented. Many hotel owners do not have the money or the infrastructure to put air conditioners in.

Luckily, tourists are a mixed bag and many don't mind staying in hotels without air conditioning so these kind of hotels can exist too.

By the way, I'd like to apologize to Gabriel for going off on this. I hope you'll skim over what was said, take it for what it's worth, and keep posting a lovely trip report.
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Old Dec 6th, 2007, 06:32 AM
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I had fun reading all this about the AC. It's such a lively community here on Fodor's!

Thank you for your kind words, all of you. I'm glad there are some people interested to find out how we worked it out during this holiday.

Caroline, we moved to Perth. One of the reasons behind this decision is the economic boom that Western Australia is experiencing, there are lots of jobs here, and as a newcomer you need that to help settle easier.

Having worked in the oil & gas weighed too into the decision, as this is a big industry in WA.

The weather is nice, friendly people, not much stress, pleasant lifestyle, easy-going, it's good overall. Not to mention the vegetation and wildlife. There are colourful parrots, lorikeets, etc. in parks and in the trees on side streets or in residential areas. Nature is lovely here!

There were some good things about living in the Gulf, but living in Oz is much better indeed.

Well, I'll get to work now on the first day in Dresden and the related photos.

I'll be back later.
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Old Dec 6th, 2007, 09:46 AM
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Sorry, gabriel, I *must* chime in on the A/C issue.

Having lived in Germany for 38 years now I can say that the summers are well bearable here w/o A/C. The summer of 2003 was an exception. Usually we do not have more than 5 to 10 days per year on which even those who do not tolerate heat well (me) would like to have A/C. While I think it's reasonable (almost a must) for cars/trains/buses which *do* heat up I think it is not really necessary for buildings. Especially not for old houses where it would cost an arm and a leg to add A/C. Many new(est) buildings are constructed w/o A/C but with a sort of self-cooling design/technology - very energy-effective.

If a tourist feels s/he needs A/C then there are enough options to book such hotels in big cities.

I was shocked when I experienced the A/C obsession in the US. It was almost always too cold. The temperature difference between inside and outside was totally ridiculous.

Sorry, gabriel - and now you better continue with the trip report which I am looking forward too!

I.
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Old Dec 6th, 2007, 11:04 AM
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Great report -- Looking forward to more.
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Old Dec 6th, 2007, 12:34 PM
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Salü Tonto!

Besten Dank. Ich war ein bisschen einsam.

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Old Dec 6th, 2007, 10:58 PM
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At about 10 pm we arrived at our accommodation in Dresden, not far from Neustadt station. We bought something to eat from a late open eatery on the way, had a beer and went to bed. We had a good day and we were tired.

We didn’t wake up too early in the morning; we took our time to have a coffee, and then went out to mind about our day’s business.

Here’s a link to photos taken during this day, which we spent visiting Zwinger Palace:

http://share.shutterfly.com/action/w...1AaNGzly4ZsWJG

We walked a few quite interesting streets in that area, buildings painted with graffiti, some nice works of art otherwise.

As we were leaving for Berlin the same evening, we went to the train station to leave our luggage in the lockers. Neustadt train station in Dresden is interesting inside, with its walls decorated nicely in a shade of green or khaki.

We went to Albertplatz, sat down on a bench in the park there by the fountain and took a picture. We continued our way on the pedestrian Konigstrasse, shops just beginning to open.

It was cold that morning, rain was threatening to fall, the wind blew cold in our bones, my wife hugging me tight again, shivering and getting nervous at me for telling her that it was going to be hot this summer, thus not having any warm clothes with us.

It was still the middle of summer, however. Hot weather was on its way, just not in time to welcome us there. We entered one shop, dear wife found herself a warm jacket which she put on immediately and then you should’ve seen her happy smiling face. We were again on holiday.

We reached the majestic golden statue of Augustus the Strong, then crossed the street on to Augustus Bridge. That was beautiful! We had lovely sights over the Elbe towards the old town, I mean I had the camera shooting at will as we got nearer and nearer.

The Church of Our Lady was catching my eyes to the left, splendid views with the Arts Academy on the river bank, and Elbe there, at our feet, then the Cathedral at the end of the bridge, the Royal Palace, Semper Opera farther to the right and yes, the Zwinger Palace.

All of these concentrated in a small area, easy walking from one to another, a cluster of precious jewels, and we couldn’t look enough at each sight. “Click! Click! Click! Click!” my camera was going.

We walked around, took more photos, then entered the Zwinger. Wow! The courtyard with its fountains made us realize the size and magnificence of the place: “we’re not gonna leave here all day today”.

We bought a one-day ticket for all museums and set out to visit the wonders that awaited us. But before that, I lost my wife in the museum shop, where she found a splendid blouse, all of it a painting by Jan Davidsz de Heem, a beautiful bouquet of colourful flowers which adorned my wife appropriately.

I just couldn’t say no. On the contrary, I somehow liked it so much, that I insisted she bought it!
Well, what do you say?

We lost ourselves in awe and admiration visiting the Old Masters Gallery. Then we saw an exhibition of paintings by Otto Dix, went on to the Sculpture Collection, took a few more photos around the palace courtyard and fountains and reached the Porcelain Collection.

That was amazing. We were walking among and admiring splendid porcelain objects from China, Japan and Meissen. Delighted after this treat for our senses, we walked on the roof around the palace, took more pictures of the buildings and courtyard, then visited the Armory.

We admired one of the oldest and most impressive collections of its kind in the world. Weapons and armours so nicely crafted and decorated, splendid and colourful adornments on some of the outfits, ornamental swords and daggers, there was so much skill and art there.

We had one more look at the buildings and the courtyard, stopped by the Semper Opera building, admired its architecture as much as we could, took the required photos and left for the station.

On the way I took photos of the little green men and little red men at the traffic lights, known as Ampelmannchen, a symbol of former East Germany.

Only then, on the way to the station, I began to realize that I felt a bit cold on that cloudy and windy day, wearing just a polo shirt I didn’t care all day about the cold. The sights of Dresden captivated me so much.

We were already looking forward to our return there after a few days. We didn’t have enough of Dresden this first day, as we spent it entirely in Zwinger Palace. Dresden’s old town is a jewel indeed.

We reached the station in time and took our seats in the train to Berlin. But about this later, when I’m ready with more…
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Old Dec 7th, 2007, 06:21 AM
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Thank you Gabriel. I enjoyed your pictures. Dresden has certainly changed since I was there in 1995. At that time lots of the places in your pictures were covered with rubble and the Frauenkirche was just a heap of stones.
I noticed quite a lot of tourists in your pictures. Were there a lot or was it just a big group? When we were there way back when we had the place to ourselves.
Yes, the weather does look grey and cold. We were there in March which was absolutely freezing , down to 0*C I think, but bright with beautiful blue sky.
I'm going again in 2008 so much appreciate your info.
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