Days 34 & 35 – Dreden (Germany)
We planned a couple of days off, to figuratively speaking ‘recharge the batteries’. After our epic day’s travel to Dresden, when we didn’t get to bed until 3am, we slept very soundly in the loft of our host George’s cosy chalet. In fact, if Jon had not woken Vanessa at half past midday, she might still be asleep.
We sorted through our dirty clothes for an overdue wash and, in the process discovered that Jon is a serial key thief, when we found a set of keys at the bottom of his backpack (we think from our Latvian Warmshower hosts). We resolved to contact them and never to leave Jon in charge of other people’s keys again!
With almost every item of our clothing in the wash we scraped around for something to wear. Vanessa wore Jon’s clean leggings and ingeniously used her bikini and an elasticated headscarf on her top half; whilst Jon had only his Lycra shorts and a rain jacket, so he borrowed one of George’s t-shirts for the day.
We introduced ourselves to the resident sheep (Beyoncé and Britney) and to George’s mum Rosemary, who was practicing her English, and who kindly provided us with a cup of tea and some home grown fruit and vegetables from the garden. We then caught the tram into the city at 3pm to meet George.
After grabbing a very late ‘brunch’, George showed us around the stunning historic centre of Dresden and explained how it had originally been built by August II (the Strong) in the early 18th century but levelled by bombing during the 2nd world war, and then restored to its pre-war baroque splendour as recently as the late 1990s/early 2000’s after the Berlin Wall had come down. We were amazed at how authentic the buildings appeared and more than impressed.
After our brief tour, George took us across the bridge where we grabbed a ‘selfie’. We also tried to recreate our own version of “The Canaletto” or ‘Florence on the Elbe’.
He then introduced us to a huge open air yoga session on the lawn of a manor house next to the river. This was a good opportunity for us to work off some of the aches and pains from our cycling.
After some tranquil ‘yogaing’ (is there such a word?)…we sought out a supermarket to shop for food for 3 days cycling before catching the tram back to George’s for a tortilla wrap dinner and a slightly earlier 11.30ish bedtime.
On our second rest day, we got up ‘slightly’ earlier and were very excited to have clean clothes to wear for the first time in weeks, thanks to the amazing Rosemary.
Our aim for the day was a leisurely cycle without panniers to a couple of Dresden’s recommended tourist spots. Rosemary tried directing us towards a ‘shortcut’ as we left the house, which initially led to us wandering aimlessly in a field, before finding the road and eventually ending up at our first stop, the tramway/cablecar lookout. We had some great panoramic views of the Elbe and Dresden before walking our bikes down the very steep cobbled road descent to the river.
From there we cycled approximately 10km South along the riverbank to Pillnitz castle (more of a manor if you ask us) where we explored the grounds and then headed back into the city.
We met George at the open-air yoga, where we joined in the last half hour, then picnicked on the lawn before being entertained by some choir singing, including local school children and a pub choir, which was part of Dreden’s free summer entertainment. We were joined for the last hour or so by George’s brother and his girlfriend, before heading home for a good night’s sleep, in preparation for our cycle to Czech the following day.