This was mostly a travel day, to get us from Osnabrück to Dresden for the first leg of our art exploration (by car it would be about 500 km / 315 miles, but we were taking circuitous train routes, of which you can read below). But it started in a glorious way: with us having slept through the night, finally, and then still until 9 am, which NEVER happens to us. When we crawled out of bed, Imke had already gotten fresh rolls and croissants, and after starting some laundry, we had a lovely breakfast—nothing is quite as glorious as those fresh rolls that you get from a baker 2 minutes away right before you eat them. And as she had promised, the croissants were excellent. We made ourselves a picnic to take along as well, and I packed that up as I also packed our suitcase, condensing from 2 to 1 (plus our backpacks). Meanwhile, Mark and Imke dealt with a minor water issue in the basement that she’d not noticed on the day of the plumbing disaster—a box of things my stepfather had collected and that she’d never unpacked had gotten damp, so they unwrapped coins and pottery from who knows where to let them dry out. We’ll look through the stuff when we get back!
We were not slotted to leave town for Dresden until 2 pm, but thanks to the German train system’s delay alerts, we knew by about 11:30 that something was off with the route and we might expect delays. So we left a bit early, just after noon, and I lined up for advice and possible ticket exchange. There was apparently a big accident on the tracks somewhere on the way to Hanover, where we were supposed to change trains, and basically all trains going our routes were canceled for hours to come. So the nice train people gave us a “go on whatever train you choose” stamp on our ticket and directed us to go to Hanover via Bremen and said we’d still catch our train in Hanover. That worked perfectly, with some time to have a quick Asian lunch in Osnabrück and then a cup of coffee outside of the train station in Bremen. But it was still a long trip: to Hanover it only took us a couple of hours, but the trip from Hanover to Dresden is nearly 6 hours long. Hence the sandwiches and granola bars we packed for dinner.
Once we had arrived, we used the directions for public transport that the hotel provided us—I am very glad I asked for those, because the public transport website gave us completely different directions and was apparently not taking into account its own huge construction mess, which required changing from the tram to a bus. The last leg was a short walk in what looked like a totally lovely old residential neighborhood (called Strahlen) that didn’t look like it could possibly HAVE hotels. But once we had found the hotel / guest house, the Hotel Villa Seraphinum, we were thrilled—it’s an adorable old villa that a countess/lady of the court built about 200 years ago, and I assume from the the fact that we have room # 10 that it doesn’t have much more than 10 rooms. We were guided into the house by a little printed note by the front door, since they do not have a reception, and had to go across this fabulous “bridge” from one side of the house to the other. If it were a ditch in the ground, I would have known to call it a ha-ha, but for that to be a second-story walkway is apparently as unusual here as elsewhere (the hotel info claimed it was unique in Dresden). We dumped our things and took advantage of the last light of the day to take a quick walk around. It is a beautiful area of town which clearly survived the firestorm in 1945, with many 18th-and 19th-century townhomes and an early-20th-century church called Christuskirche, about which we learned that it was one of the churches that offered sanctuary to protesters in the fall of 1989, when the Monday demonstrations in East Germany began that eventually led to the “fall” of East Germany and to German reunification. The church is rather ugly blackened sandstone, and it was apparently damaged somewhat during the firestorm and then repaired, but the hill it sits on is beautiful, as is this neighborhood. But it was getting dark and we were getting tired, so we walked home and got ourselves ready for bed and for our big Dresden day tomorrow.