Apr 232014


Inside the Royal Palace Gardens

Dresden recently celebrated the 800th anniversary of its founding and is justly proud that it was home to many Saxon princes and kings,  the most famous of whom was Augustus the Strong and whose kingdom also included Poland.  Old August was a member of the family Wettiner and he was closely related to numerous other European royal families. Many of the buildings that are still standing or that have been restored, date from the Wettiner’s reign and are testimony to the Wettiner dynasty ‘s extreme wealth and power. The last of their line of rulers abdicated in 1918.

Seventy-five percent of the historical centre of Dresden was destroyed by Allied bombing in 1945. Annual ceremonies in the city mark these events to remember the more than 30,000 people who died– the exact number is unknown.

The newly rebuilt Frauenkirche, crowned with its donated gold cupola from the United Kingdom, shines as the latest reconstruction. Our hotel is literally around the corner so most of the historical reconstruction area is accessible.

The Royal palace, formerly one of the finest Renaissance buildings in Germany, consists of great halls and apartments once filled with the royal family’s extravagant treasure trove of ivory, silver and gold knick-knacks equally adorning equally opulent chambers. Now the collection is housed in the Historic Green Vault since the state rooms of August the Strong are currently closed.

The last picture here, Parade of Nobles, painted on 24,000 Meissen porcelain tiles is longer than a football field and depicts 700 years of Saxon Royalty, fashion and weapons and was installed in 1871.

Even after sixty years Dresden appears to be in a constant state of reconstruction and refurbishment, some of which is controversial with locals–building facades and statuary darkened by oxidation when cleaned are then “protected” with a silicone treatment that keeps them from darkening yet again–an unwelcome change from the way it used to look.

Until the government decided to build a four-lane highway through the heart of the Elbe Valley, Waldschlösschen Bridge was on the UNESCO World Heritage list. So now it is known as “one of only two un-UNESCO’d sites in the world which has been ‘deUNESCO commissioned” but Bob agrees that we will still take a look.


Restored Frauenkirche


Opera House




Parade of Nobles

Apr 212014

Originally built as an Augustinian monastary, the building now designated as the Luther House became part of the University of Wittenburg.

After Luther was ordained to the priesthood in 1507 in Erfurt, he was called by the first dean of the newly founded University of Wittenberg to teach theology. Here at Wittenburg, Luther earned two bachelor degrees as well as a Doctor of Theology by 1512. He was appointed to the permanent faculty in October of 1512 became part of the theological faculty of the University of Wittenberg and it was here that he spent the rest of his life. Among the rooms through which we walked were those where he lived both as a monk and later as a husband and father when raised his family, conversed with friends and colleagues to study and debate.   This was the primary local where he spent the remainder of his life.

Walking through the the restored rooms filled with original writings and objects and wonderful dynamic narratives, we were struck by Luther’s incredible courage and intellect.



Apr 192014

Berlin, where to start?? We have waited so long and witnessed so much from a distance.


20140418-175541.jpg"Molecule Men" statue in Berlin  in front of Berlin Osthafen. “Molecule Men” statue in Berlin in front of Berlin Osthafen.

As we usually do to orient in a big city, we took the “Hop On-Hop Off” bus for the narrated tour around both the east and west sectors followed by a walk about exploration around the Museum Island. Spring/Easter weekend has the city buzzing with families out enjoying their city.

Easter morning we were at the Brandenburg gate well before most others.
A symbol of division during the Cold War, the landmark (Brandenburger Tor) now epitomizes German reunification. Inspired by the Acropolis in Athens this elegant triumphal arch was completed in 1791 as the royal city gate. It is crowned by the Quadriga, sculpture of the winged goddess of victory piloting a chariot drawn by four horses. After trouncing Prussia in 1806, Napoleon kidnapped the lady and held her hostage in Paris until she was freed by a gallant Prussian general in 1815. The Brandenburg Gate stands sentinel over Pariser Platz, a harmoniously proportioned square once again bounded by banks as well as the US, British and French embassies, just as it was in the 19th-century. Walking on to Reichstag, Germany’s historic parliament building toped with a glass cupola, we admired those able to climb for a great view. Walking on Unter den Linden which is at the heart of former East Berlin, we appreciated one of Europe’s grand boulevards laden with so much history and symbolism. Onward on foot we visited Museum Island in detail and saw the original Nefertiti in hopes of getting a picture of Bob next to her. Not allowed!!!! Way too many people must have cats named after her and so we left only slightly disappointed.

We ended Easter Day with a visit to the Berlin Wall Memorial, a moving docu-center with recordings of interviews with former residents who lived in the area, photographs and documents with the lone surviving stretch of the intact wall. There aren’t many original Berlin Wall remnants left. Longest section (0.75 mile or 1.3 kilometers) of the Berlin Wall still standing. It is an open-air gallery since 1990 with 106 murals by artists from 21 countries.

As we all remember Checkpoint Charlie was the principal gateway for Allies, other non-Germans and diplomats between the two Berlins from 1961 to 1990. This free temporary open-air exhibit chronicling Cold War history is a potent symbol of the Cold War but seems to have become a tacky tourist trap where uniformed actors pose for tips in front of a replica guardhouse and street vendors sell blatant Nazi knock-off memoabilia.

Berlin has powerful reminders throughout the city of those lost and persecuted. “Stumbling stones,” small brass plates embossed with names and dates are embedded in sidewalks and polished daily by pedestrian traffic.


Apr 152014
Great Grandfather's Postcard 1934

Great Grandfather’s Postcard 1934

Bad Karlshafen, founded in 1699 by Huguenots, French protestants fleeing papal persecution.  The town was named in honor of  Landgrave Karl of Hessen who provided these refuges  with shelter and safety.  Additionally it was also the home town from which my maternal great-grandfather emigrated in the late 1920s with his young Bartholdus family including  his wife and two daughters, my Nana and Aunt Minnie.


Postcard from Bad Karlshafen 1934

Postcard from Bad Karlshafen 1934

Karlshafen’s regular and symmetrical  city layout  lend it an air traditional importance, very green and clean.   One of the local highlights is the small Huguenot museum housed in the former tobacco factory.  The museums three floors retrace the history of the Huguenots in France and their exodus to this part of Germany. We learned at the museum, that these Huguenots in the18th century, formed committees who annually distributed “saved” tokens thus determining who could and could not qualify for their yearly communion. Additionally, the museum celebrates  ceramic artist Bernard de Palsy who was persecuted and beheaded in the Bastille but his art underscores the influence that the Huguenots had on crafts, science and the arts.

Bad  Karlshafen Today

Bad Karlshafen Today

Germany and Eastern Europe:
Bob and Michele’s 2014 Car Trek

 Germany and Eastern Europe Car Trek 2014, Major adventures  Comments Off on Germany and Eastern Europe:
Bob and Michele’s 2014 Car Trek
Apr 152014

Easy, relaxed British Airways flight followed by lots of Fitbit steps through Heathrow. We flew into Frankfurt, a busy financial hub and very modern German city.  Clear blue skies sunny with Spring green budding out, rolling hills with furrowed sprouting green and glorious mustard fields creating a patchwork of variation. We quickly picked up our car and headed out to Bad Karlshafen.


Our Adventure Route


Disgruntled Nelson Catfamily Awaiting Sitter Roy