Sunday, May 17, 2009

Berlin - Rathen - Dresden


I have a new favorite European city. I LOVE Berlin! We spent 5 beautiful days in Germany's capital before venturing south to Rathen for a short hiking trip and taking the train to Dresden.

We saw Berlin from above and below - literally. We went up on the TV tower to get a panoramic view of Berlin and on an underground tour of a defunct part of the U8. The "Berlin von unten" guided tour was unsual in that the 2.5 hour tour led us through dark tunnels of the underground and ended in a WW2 bunker in which part of a hallway was blocked off by an original piece of the wall. For this tour, we had to bring a bright flashlight and wear rubber boots (boots were provided for us).
While many tourists head straight for the museum island, we only saw two museums - the Dali museum on Potsdamer Platz with a large collection of Dali's drawings (no oil paintings) and the DDR museum, which provided a glimpse into what life was like in the former East Germany.
The weather was picture-perfect so we took a boat tour on the river Spree which is lined with cafes and beergardens.

We then took the train to Rathen, a little town on the Elbe river known for the "Bastei", or sandstone rock formations, towering over it. Hiking in this area is just breathtaking and trails of varying degrees of difficulty lead through woods, towns, meadows and - inevitably - the next beergarten. We booked a room in a 13th century "burg" with a beautiful view over the river valley.
Our last part of the trip was spent in Dresden. We went on a special 2.5 hour guided tour that took us to Kurt Vonnegut's famous "Slaughterhouse 5". Vonnegut was a POW in WW2, survived the decimation of Dresden in the meatlocker of this slaughterhouse and later became a celebrated American author. Our guide, Grit, did a great job explaining the architecture of Dresden, its history and its ties to Vonnegut's novel.
Dresden is an eclectic mix of architecture - what's old is new and what's new is old. We were fortunate also to catch part of the Dixieland music celebration on the river. Dozens of dinner boats and a few real paddlewheel steamboats float up and down the Elbe while people listen to the music onboard and from the shoreline. The evening culminated in fireworks over the river.


Al said...

wow it looks so beautiful!!

Danilo said...

Hy Mis and Mrs American,
thank your booking the Slaughterhouse Tour in Dresden. I get the information from Grit, you are enjoyed this tour.
Thant you for blogging of this short moment in our City.
Take care and we will see you and maybe some friends again.

American in Oberursel said...

Hi Danilo,

Grit did a marvelous job of showing us the city and she is very knowledgeable. I would recommend her tour to any Vonnegut friends and Dresden visitors I come across in the future. Please give Grit our regards.

Anonymous said...

The Bombing of Dresden was a U.S.A. war crime! Equal to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Shame on America!

Anonymous said...

Shame he says as Jews, Russians and Poles died in the flames of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen.

scott davidson said...

Nice way to decorate your walls. I have never done that. My effort to beautify the walls in my house was to order big-sized canvas prints from, from images of western art. I use the same angel motifs in all of the rooms painted by different painters, such as this one by very interesting English artist Stanley Spencer,