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July 6th 2012
Published: July 6th 2012
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Church of Our Lady
Breathtaking...fascinating...just two of the first words that come to mind to describe the feeling of spending these last few days in Dresden. It is filled with Baroque buildings, cobblestone streets, and a rich history. We spent the time strolling through the city that has been termed "the Venice of the Elbe (river) discovering the architecture, taking in the culture, and snapping lots of photographs! I will try to capture as much as I can remember in the photo descriptions but really there aren't words for the beauty I experienced over these past days. For an American traveling in Europe, it's fascinating to imagine how people lived in this area when you have the opportunity to stand in the courtyard of a palace built in the 17th century. Of course, I also had the benefit of the best (and most handsome) personal tour guide in the city!

Another highlight of the trip was meeting Ralf's daughter Ines. She made me feel so welcome, not just through her actions but also because she speaks very good English. She is full of life and energy, just like the city and I throughly enjoyed the time with her. She is very much like her
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Treasury Dept of Saxony
dad, smart and driven, fun-loving, sweet, and they bear a remarkable resemblance to one another. My only regret is that we had such nice conversation that we only got one photo of the three of us together. I am hopeful that we will be able to see her again before the trip comes to an end in a few weeks and then for sure, more pictures.

Yesterday afternoon we left the city center area and drove about 30 minutes to Pilnitz which is on the southeast outskirts of Dresden. We toured Pilnitz Castle and grounds which is beautifully situated along the banks of the River Elbe. In 1720, August the Strong had it built as a pleasure palace and summer residence. You get a very good idea of how the division of wealth was very different here in these times when you see the massive structures that were used by royalty. Learning just a bit of the history from Ralf and Ines has sparked an interest for me to do more reading about the rich history of this area. There is a pride and appreciation that is much greater than what I have seen in the United States in
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Office of the Governer
regards to understanding history. After our palace tour, we enjoyed a beer and afternoon snack on a sunny patio at a traditional little restaurant on the banks of the Elbe. I now have two new foods to add to my list of things I have tried for the first time! Both were lecker (delicious in German)! I will have to get the official names from Ralf when I label my photos but it was a potato pancake stuffed with ham, cheese and vegetables and a traditional German chowder.

From there we drove another 30 minutes or so to Bastei which is considered the Switzerland of Saxony. I never imagined such a breathtaking place. It is a nature reserve which has an area of 360km and stretches all the way to the Czech border. It's terrain is fascinating and uniquely beautiful with lovely forests, bizarrely shaped sandstone rocks, caves and deep ravines. We were able to get a room at a pleasant hotel in a gorgeous secluded spot with great accomodations and an even better view. It's difficult to describe but the pictures speak volumes. We hiked out over the Bastei Bridge, a natural rock bridge with wonderful views of the countryside, the Elbe River, and the massive rock structures. There was a walking path with markers where you could walk down into the rocky cliffs and learn about how ancient civilizations lived there. Last night we enjoyed a lovely dinner literally in the clouds! I haven't downloaded the pictures yet but I really hope I was able to capture the actual clouds right outside the window where we ate. One thing I am certain of, it is probably not possible to capture how truly picturesque this whole area was. It was amazing you could go from a active city center where the churches and castles towered over you at every turn to a place of such natural beauty in a matter of just an hour or so. I have been blessed with this experience and I am enjoying every single minute!

One last memory to share from yesterday. We took another sauna yesterday at the hotel before dinner. For my friends who know how much I hate the cold, you would have been proud to see me plunge into the ice cold pool after the hot sauna. It literally took my breath away! There was also another room
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Church of Our Lady
in the sauna where you stood underneath a big barrell and pulled a rope in order to douse yourself with a bucket full of super cold water...yep, tried that one too! Angie, maybe I will consider a visit to Minnesota this February for the Polar Plunge afterall! I can't believe the extensive facilities that are available in these saunas and Ralf explained that is just commonplace in European hotels. I would love for my sauna and steam room loving son to experience this with me someday but for now Auf Wiedersehen!

I will have pictures uploaded and added in a few hours!


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Inside Church of Our Lady
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Dresden City Center

Inside Church of Our Lady
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Notice the sign on the right that says "Behave Appropriately"!
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Accordian player in full Russian Military Uniform - my new friend
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Dresden City Center

Yenidze - cigar and cigarette manufacturer of the paast
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Dresden City Center

Our hotel with an unbelievable view of the City Center
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The other view from our hotel
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Riverboat on the River Elbe


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