I took Friday off work and flew into Berlin on Thursday night, so we could be ready to leave early in the morning for the drive to Dresden, where we were booked to stay at the amazing Radisson Blu Gewandhaus Hotel. This hotel is by far the fanciest I’ve ever stayed in, with a full jacuzzi bath in the room, amazing indoor swimming pool with spa and a 5-star restaurant on site. We were also lucky enough to get the only room with a private balcony!
After checking in and having a very long relaxing jacuzzi bubble-bath, we headed out to explore the city. The centre of Dresden is quite small so you can walk everywhere. The most popular attractions are the ancient palace ‘Zwinger’ and the rather opulent Opera house. There is also a lovely river with some grand old bridges, and an 18th century church that was mostly destroyed in World War II but restored in the 1980’s. We found a touristy street with many bars and restaurants and some traditional German bands playing classical and folk-music, and had a drink and some snacks at, oddly enough, an Australian restaurant. Then we headed back to the hotel for proper dinner at the restaurant, which did a platter of four different types of tartare.
The following morning we had a buffet breakfast which I collected and brought up to the room on two big trays with everything you could think of – eggs, bacon, salmon, sausages, four or fives cheese, various bread, potatoes, tomatoes, salad, croissants, etc – the perfect meal just before heading to a wedding in tight fitting clothing where there would no doubt be a lot of food on offer!
The ceremony itself was in a beautiful old country house, and was quite short and sweet. Afterwards we headed off to the reception which was held on an old farmhouse that had been converted to a guesthouse and restuarant. After much champagne, horse rides and photographs we headed inside for dinner, which was a lovely German style buffet followed by dancing, drinking and general wedding shenanigans.
The following day we headed off into the Saxony countryside to explore Konigstein, a centuries old castle fortress built high up on a flat mountain top on the bank of the River Elbe. It’s really beautiful and has some of most spectacular views I’ve seen anywhere in the world. You can walk all the way around the perimeter walls, which are dotted with classic Disney-style turrets and ramparts.
It also has a 152 metre deep well bored directly through the mountain rock, and the biggest wine barrel in the world, which holds 250 thousand litres. They must have had some crazy house parties back in the day!
After lunch we headed off to Bastei, which is kind of like the grand canyon of Germany. It’s a huge collection of rock spires and outcroppings that were formed by water erosion millions of years ago, and once housed a large ‘rock castle’ called Neurathen, the ruins of which still exist there.
It also has some amazing views of Saxon countryside and the River Elbe sweeping in a beautiful arc below it. The various spires are connected by a series of walkways and bridges which are a lot of fun to explore. The area is very popular with rock climbers, and we saw quite a few who had inexplicably managed to climb to some otherwise completely inaccessible places.