Apr 232014

An Early Morning Between Our Hotel and the Main Square

Wroclaw (pronounced Vrots-waf) is on our way to Krakow and according to our friend Susan Spoto, is reputed to be more manageable and just as beautiful and so should have been good practice for the Nelsons. Maybe…but on our way our GPS spirit and guide tried to take us via Prague instead of directly via the autobahn. Turns out that she must be told specifically that we are willing to pay tolls or she only takes us over back roads and through small villages (for 3 hours until we figured out what we needed to tell her!). Oh well we saw gorgeous Czech Republic back country and villages and tonight we are in Wroclaw ready to explore this lovely old historic town tomorrow,

Wroclaw is located in southwestern Poland in the historic region of Lower Silesia and has a fascinating storyline; through the course of its history it has gone under five names, been passed between four countries and seen the painful end of both fascism and communism. Today as we set out we see a Wroclaw that boasts fascinating architecture, criss crossing rivers and bridges, and a lively and metropolitan cultural scene energized by university students who comprise 20% of the population. The family friendly appeal seems to be exemplified by the 100 plus gnomes dotting unassuming spots throughout the historic area.

Prior to the Second World War, Wroclaw (Breslau in German) was the capital of the German province of Prussian Lower Silesia. It was annexed by Poland when, after the War, the Soviets moved the German/Polish border westward to the Oder/Neisse Line. Wroclaw was almost completely destroyed during the end of the War as the Red Army fought its way into Germany towards Berlin, being declared a “Fortress City” by Hitler. However, it has been wonderfully restored and can now be counted amongst the highlights of Poland and of all Central Europe. Combined with the current unrest in the general region (Kiev) we hope to be ahead of the tourist hordes as Poland rushes headlong into further integration with the rest of Europe. As a naive American, I am still astounded by the fluid regard for Poland’s borders over the centuries as they have been shoved and tugged back and forth by neighboring countries depriving the people of the stability and safety that we Americans assume as our birthright.











The Royal Palace-Historical Museum


If Gnomes Don’t Drink They at Least Pour


The Hunt was on for Gnomes


More Gnome Discoveries

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