Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Saxon, drugs and Dixieland

Having beaten the ash cloud back to Blighty, I should take this opportunity to report back on my trip to Dresden. My apologies if this sounds a bit like an advert for the German Tourism Board...

Alright, I would be the first to admit that Saxony wasn't all that high on the list of places on my 'wouldn't it be nice to go there?' list, but given that ELDR Council was being held there on a Friday afternoon, it seemed foolish not to make a weekend of it, even more so as Ros was going to be with me.

And what a remarkably nice place it is. Dresden itself has rebuilt many of its historic jewels, and is a compact enough city to be easily explorable on foot. And to make things even better, the sun was shining, and the annual Dixieland Jazz Festival was on, with jazz bands performing for free across the city centre.

There is no shortage of good hotels, and our choice, the Holiday Inn in the Albertstadt suburb, was comfortable, with a generous breakfast buffet, free wi-fi, and all of the stuff that makes staying in a business hotel worth doing.

The public transport system is really accessible too, and a family day ticket for the Region surrounding Dresden, including all the way to the Czech border, is just €15 for two adults and up to four children under the age of 14.

Saturday was spent exploring the Altstadt, having lunch and taking a river cruise. On Sunday, however, we went on an adventure, taking the S-Bahn to Bad Schandau, a small spa town near the Czech border, a really pretty little town. There, we took a vintage tram up the valley of a tributary of the Elbe, to an artificial waterfall, before returning to the town for a gentle stroll.

We took the long way back, using a Regional Bahn route from Bad Schandau to Pirna that, if it had been in England, would surely have been closed by now. And yet the rolling stock was new, clean and comfortable, with large windows to stare out of at the Saxon countryside.

We ate well, enjoyed some decent, locally produced Saxon beer, and generally had a great time. So much so, in fact, that we're thinking about going back in September. After all, it's only two hours from Prague by train...

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