Hannover – Part 1

Next, we travelled to the northern German city of Hannover. Like Dresden, it was bombed quite heavily during WWII, so it was also a mix of old…

Aldstadt

And of new(ish)…

Around Hannover

They rebuilt much of the new centre as a series of pedestrian malls. And as with all German cities, the transport was fantastic. We came in by train to the main station.

Around Hannover

But got around mainly by tram, which went in all directions.

Around Hannover

The city also had a comprehensive subway network that linked the city to surrounding towns. And of course, a great cycling path network. It made the public transport offerings in Sydney look very meagre indeed.

Eat For Germany! – Part 2

I can say that Germans really loved their schnitzel. It was on our plate most days, with different accompaniments. At the local deli, we had it With chips and cabbage salad.

Freiberg Food

At the Czech-themed pub, we had it With white asparagus (the favourite seasonal spring vegetable in Germany) and hollandaise sauce.

Freiberg Food

The other favourite is the sausage, or the bratwurst. The sausages are usually pork-based, and packed with flavour. It also came with different accompaniments. At an Irish-themed pub we had bratwurst with fried potatoes and onions.

Freiberg Food

And with sauerkraut and mash.

Freiberg Food

The portion sizes as you can see were generous, and we always came away very full. The cooking was generally quite homely in Saxony. I guess it reflected on the taste of the locals. No high-end, modern, experimental cooking here, just firm favourites.

Eat For Germany! – Part 1

In Freiberg, we stayed at a little Art Deco hotel, a former cutlery factory.

Hotel Alekto

It had a pretty good restaurant which we ate at quite a few nights. We got to sample some German fare this way. The consommne with dumplings below was good, more delicate than I expected.

Freiberg Food

And the pea soup with a prawn side was also tasty.

Freiberg Food

Mains generally consisted of meat and veg or salad combinations, with lots of potatoes. There was certainly a lot of pork, either as chops.

Freiberg Food

Or as schnitzel, of varying sizes. The latter certainly could feed several people.

Freiberg Food

Freiberg Food

What we didn’t expect was that the people around town, especially those of middle age or older, had no English. I guess in the Communist era, East German had more ties to the east, hence their second language at school was more likely to be Russian. So our phrase book, especially its menu decoder, got a bit of workout during our stay. Fortunately, German and English aren’t too far apart (unlike some other languages), and with a bit of practice it was relatively easy for us to order and figure things out in general.

Saxony – Part 5

There were some fantastic stone work in the cathedral. This pulpit, called the Tulip Pulpit for its floral design, is completely free standing.

Dom

There were also plenty of reminders of Freiberg’s mining heritage too.

Dom

Dom

This miner remind me of the Disney’s seven dwarves. Perhaps the story of Snow White originated from this area?

Dom

But the highlight was the Golden Gate, which was part of the original 12th Century cathedral. As you can see, this was definitely a medieval extravaganza.

Dom

Dom

I really liked this place. It was certainly a hidden gem.

Dom

Saxony – Part 4

I liked Freiberg. It was a small, quiet but pretty town, easy to get around, and not touristy at all. The Freiberg Cathedral (or the Dom St. Marien in German) and Terra Mineralia (that I described in an earlier post) was as touristy as it got.

From the outside, the cathedral (the white building) seemed plain indeed. Unlike the Catholic cathedrals, the Lutherans obviously weren’t so obsessed with bling, even though the town was rich from the silver mines nearby. You had to get your ticket from an adjoining office, and the lady there kindly opened up the church for you.

Dom

Step inside, and it was certainly a different kind of church. Even though the architecture was gothic, the rendering made the space seem lighter.

Dom

The cathedral seemed to me like a mix of pre and post-reformation. The original cathedral was built in the 12th Century pre-reformation, but was replaced by the current cathedral in the 15th Century when it was destroyed by fire. I’m guessing that the rendering happened post-reformation, but there were still a few statues left.

Dom

Some of them were very life-like.

Dom

Saxony – Part 2

We didn’t stay in Dresden long though, as our destination was the small town of Freiberg, 30km away.

Walking around Freiberg

Walking around Freiberg

This pretty town made its fortune from its silver mines which had been in operation since the Middle Ages. The town’s university still has a school of mining operating.

Walking around Freiberg

Walking around Freiberg

Given its wealth, there was a lot of intricate decoration. The East Germans loved the town so much that they even restored the town to its full glory in the 1980s, when much of the country was neglected.

Walking around Freiberg

Walking around Freiberg

It was our first taste of Germany. More to come.

Saxony – Part 1

From Prague, we made our way along the Elbe River valley to the city of Dresden. Although the trip was less than 3 hours long, it was a very scenic ride as we passed a narrow river valley with interesting sandstone formations and cute villages. It’s so pretty there that the locals call the area Saxon Switzerland.

Dresden itself was a mix of modern…

Central Dresden

And not so modern.

Central Dresden

The modern bits were the parts that were destroyed during the bombings in WWII, and the older bits were the parts that were spared. As you can see by the number of post-war buildings, the destruction was extensive. The city was quickly rebuilt post-war, and then upgraded after the end of the Communism. The modern parts now look like any other growing modern city in Germany, perhaps more well-kempt than most.

What we did not know at the time was that half of Dresden would be under water a mere 2 months later. The long winter caused the biggest floods in a long time and flooded both Prague and Dresden, as well as other places downstream to the North Sea. We were lucky to see both at its best.

A Weekend in Prague – Part 4

In the middle of the castle complex is a rather large cathedral.

Prague Weekend

The facade was decorated with glittering mosaics.

Prague Weekend

As well as beautiful masonary and metal work.

Prague Weekend

Prague Weekend

Prague Weekend

Goes to show that the Bohemian royalty back in the day (around 16th and 17th Centuries) were a pretty wealthy lot. These days, the Czech people have largely found their feet after the Communist era, but travelling from Germany into the Czech Republic, one can see that things aren’t so well-kempt. The Czechs still have some ways to go until the reach the affluence of their old western cousins.

In the end, there were simply too many people around the castle, and after a speedy walk-through, we ventured back down the hill to the elegant squares.

Prague Weekend

I heard from other travellers that Prague is often like this, and actually gets worse during the summer. Perhaps next time I should go in winter when the crowds are away?

Prague Weekend

A Weekend in Prague – Part 3

We are visiting Prague Castle on the other side of the river. It’s where the royal family once lived and where parliament sits. But to get to the castle you had to climb to the top of the hill.

Prague Weekend

Prague Weekend

There were quite a few steps and a view of old and new Prague from the top.

Prague Weekend

There were also some interesting statues.

Prague Weekend

And lots more wonderful masonary work inside. This one seems to be of St George slaying the dragon.

Prague Weekend

Prague Weekend