The Grand Tour: Home away from Home

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July 6th 2019
Published: July 23rd 2019
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The FrauenkircheThe FrauenkircheThe Frauenkirche

All the buildings to the left are new built since I was in Dresden last.
After a brief overnight stop in Wittenberg to see the school my brother has been teaching in and meet some of his colleagues, we trained on to Dresden. When my youngest brothers were still in high school, my family hosted an exchange student from Dresden. He has been back to Minnesota several times to visit, and my youngest brothers and I have all visited Dresden in the last years. So, this visit was the most home-like of all our stops because there were so many people ready and excited to welcome us.

The evening of our arrival, we went to explore Dresden's old town. Since its destruction in 1945, the city has grown back and the old town in beautiful. The center of the old town is the Dresden Frauenkirche, which was rebuilt using both original stone salvaged from remains and new stone. The dark stones are the original ones that survived the fire. The square around has, since I was last there, been finished with beautiful buildings built in an older style and pastel colors. Just off the square is the Furstenzung - a mural made of porcelain tiles detailing the rulers of Saxony. Close by you find the Catholic Church, the Palace and Zwinger. It's an absolutely beautiful city and should definitely be on everyone's to-visit list.

Our second day we visited our exchange brother's mother's 4th grade class. This was special because my mom's class and her class were penpals this past year. The students were very excited to show us around their school and take a hike with us up into the hills behind surrounding the town to look down on the school and have a snack. After school, we drove to see several views of Dresden and our exchange brother's village and a tree where Napoleon supposedly sat under to direct a battle. After a late lunch/early dinner, we headed to Radebeul - the town outside Dresden where we were staying - to climb up into the vineyards. It was a steep, many-staired climb, but the views were amazing and our wine break halfway up was excellent.

Our third day, we headed out into the wilderness of Saxon Switzerland National Park, which lies just outside Dresden. Sandstone rock formations, lakes, caves formed from fallen rock, and one small but old man-made Stone Table (if you read that and pictured the Stone Table from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, erase that mental image. This Stone Table is more like a picnic table - disappointing). The Bastei is breathtaking with long looks out over and across the Elbe and deeper into the wilderness. It used to be part of the defensive ring around Neurathen Castle - a once large rock castle - but now both are part of the park and tourist attractions. The park is, of course, too big for one day's exploration, so this is definitely a place to return to - and also a welcome break from big city exploration.

Our final day was mostly spent with our exchange brother's grandparents, eating lots of cake and having good conversation. We were all sad to leave, but we had one more city on our Grand Tour before returning home.

Additional photos below
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Invitation or warning?Invitation or warning?
Invitation or warning?

Carved above one of the fallen rock caves in Saxon Switzerland National Park

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