On Monday night we had a nice date-night at our favourite asian place in Friedrichshain.
As Sophias Wedding would be the next weekend, we decided to make use of the trip and go hiking in the Saxonian-Alps for a day or two before.
So on Tuesday evening I left work to get a car and pack for our trip, so that we could head off on Wednesday nice and early. We drove to Dresden initially, where we met up with Alex, Angi and kids. Alex and Angi were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary in Dresden, a city in which they had lived for the early part of their relationship. The car we had this time was more expensive than average, thanks to Corona and people holidaying locally. It was a Renault Twingo, with absolutely no upgrades. Even the windows were manual. The trip on the autobahn quickly made it apparent that the car was just crap generally – by the time we got to Dresden two hours later I was exhausted.
As we arrived we were confronted with searching for a parking spot in the central carpark, but with no success. Manja jumped out to get a better view, and I suddenly saw Alex waving at me madly near the entrance. It took me a few minutes to realise he was holding a spot for us, so I rushed over and parked in the premium spot right next to the entrance. Score!
Next challenge: Getting a ticket. The machine accepts card and coins, but after three attempts with a card I gave up and started to search for coins. We managed to get within a Euro, and once more Alex was there to rescue us with the missing coin.
We headed off to have lunch, which was nice but plagued with the German summer-curse: Wasps. The kids were a bit scared by them, but Manja was there to the rescue. The wind-brakers on the candles, with a coaster to close it – made a brilliant wasp-holding vessel. Just catch them and put them together. Suddenly it was a game and everything was okay. Throughout the meal the wasps got names and we caught about 8 of them.
We dropped the kids off at the hotel where they wanted to watch some cartoons, while we went for a walk through the beautiful old inner city. In Dresden many of the really old buildings are blackened from the outside. Initially I thought that this was just from soot and exhaust fumes, but Angi and Alex explained that it was left after the Second World War, as a reminder how Dresden stood in flames. The only things which were clean were the parts which were replaced. The whole Frauenkirche, the monument to Dresden, was rebuilt after the war ended, making it a pristine building right in the center.
We wandered and chatted the afternoon away, before stopping for a cold drink. As we looked for a place we found the perfect place: the “Ayers Rock Dresden”. It was an Aussie restaurant in the way that an Aussie pub that serves Crocodile, Emu and Kangaroo, with German beer and wines, is typically Australian. The Iced-Coffee/Tea/Chocolates we all had were really nice though, so it’s probably not bad for a meat-heavy night out.
And that was our time in Dresden already. In order to make it to our hotel during check-in we headed off in the late afternoon, saying farewell to Alex and Angi for the next few weeks. We will come and visit them at the end of the month at home, so it was more of a see-you-later than a goodbye 🙂
The hotel Manja had selected was “Hotel Rose” which was a quaint little place in the “saxonian alps”. It was pretty! By the time we got there though, we were both pretty exhausted and spent the night finalising a slideshow for Sophias wedding and having a light dinner of sandwiches and snacks.
Thursday was hike day. I was excited and ready to go – first time hiking in a long time. We packed and had breakfast at the hotel – a complete overload of food, some of which we had to take along as lunch so not to waste it.
We headed off right from the other side of the road. The day was pretty warm, so we were thankful for the shade. One of the things that we noticed a lot was that many trees were affected by the “Borkenkäfer” – or “Bork beetle”. While there are many different types (Wikipedia says 6000 with more being discovered) the type here either flies or walks to the top of the tree and lays its eggs. The little larvae then begin eating their way to the floor – inside the tree or the bark. By the time you see the exit holes at the bottom, the tree is pretty much dying. In a healthy tree population, this isn’t a problem, but current climate conditions mean that the trees themselves are stressed, and that the beetle has perfect breeding conditions, and they are decimating a lot of forests, which in turn is bad for climate, causes more stress for the remaining trees… you get it.
As a silver lining though: in THIS part of Germany, the trees mostly being killed are introduced species, which the forestry department has a multi-decade plan to remove. In the case they’re really helping!
Along the way we also found a Frog!
What you do notice again and again is that there are large spots of brown dead or felled trees throughout the forest area. None the less the views from the top – in particular the Bastei bridge. One of the fascinating things here is a medieval castle, built into the rock formation. We were thinking about visiting, but between Corona and large visitor numbers on such a beautiful day, we decided against it after all. Instead we continued wandering through the forest a bit more.
By the time we got home it was starting to get dark. We briefly considered driving somewhere for food, but decided that our remaining sandwiches and snacks would suffice for another night. By around midnight I finally finished the slideshow for the wedding (technical issues, lesson learned: Don’t use apple Photos for slideshows you want to have any control in).
On Friday we had two things on the Agenda: A visit to a historic people lift in Bad Schandau, which my grandparents remembered fondly as they had a chance encounter there as kids years before getting together as a couple. The story is great: My grandmother was there on a school excursion and my grandfather and some friends had decided to cycle over from Berlin – the whole 250 km! While staying in the area my grandfather had an accident on the bike, and was put up in the same Hostel to recover. My grandmother was asked by the hostess to look in on him every now and then to make sure he had food and drink as he healed.
So this list has some historic significance to all of us – my parents had been there before too – and I was glad to finally get a chance to visit it myself. Nowadays it counts as an engineering monument, so while the lift itself has been upgraded a bit, it still works with the same principles as it did back then.
And I have to say, the view from the top was spectacular! We even managed to call Oma on Alexa and show her where we were and the view for a bit 🙂
Our next stop was the Castle Königstein, which frankly we underestimated. While I was my usual upbeat “let’s spend all day moving” Manja was, understandably, a little exhausted from the previous day 20km hike. So after making it all the way up the hill the castle is built upon, we decided to head back and conquer on another day. Instead we headed back to town for an iced-coffee. We mis-communicated a little and I was expecting food with the coffee, while Manja was happy to just have an iced-chocolate. So we wandered town looking for a good place to have a snack, but could only find places which sold cakes. So after walking around for a while we drove to a large cafe which we spotted on the way from the castle, but which I had deemed to be “too industrial” – meaning that it wasn’t like a nice little country bakery. They had everything we wanted and I had some scrambled eggs for brunch while Manja had a piece of cake. Of course, the cake once more attracted all the wasps in the area, so we retreated inside to allow Manja to eat in peace.
From there it was a couple of hours to the wedding venue, and our hotel in the area, so we decided to head straight there. Just as we were about to arrive, we got a call from Manjas mum, asking if we could pick up some extra tablecloths in Dresden, which we did, managing to drive back through traffic (The whole Autobahn was at a standstill for sections!) to get to the store 10 minutes before closing time. Of course, they took cash only, and we had insufficient cash with us, so we raced to the nearby petrol station to get cash and got the tablecloths moments before closing time. Phew!
From there it was about an hour of driving through now peak traffic to deliver the tablecloths and help with some of the final setup touches. By the time we got to our Airbnb we just grabbed a Döner at a nearby takeout, ironed our festive clothes for the next day and dropped into bed.
Saturday it was time for the Wedding. We headed over to the venue by 10:30, and then over to the Standesamt with the Groom. The Bride arrived in her stretch-hummer a short time later, much to the amusement of passer-byes. Thanks to both, size of the office and Corona, only the closest family could be inside, so I got to have a break outside with a few people while the ceremony happened.
As they returned outside I got to point-and-click with Manjas camera, realising once again the difference between someone who knows how to use a camera and me 😅 The photographer arranged some photos before we all piled into the cars and headed back.
We were at the venue well before the bridge and groom, who were being driven around with their parents in their hummer for a bit. This gave us time to sneak in our slideshow and prepare everything. By 14:00 they arrived and had to cut their way, using tiny scissors, through a heart on a bedsheet. The Groom then had to carry his bride through the heart, and just as he did someone set off confetti cannons. Now I’m not one for these things, but the timing created a truly awesome moment. They had to saw through a log before eventually getting inside of the venue and welcoming everyone. In the welcome they mentioned that we might start with coffee and cake a bit earlier, which everyone took to mean “eat it now” and promptly got into it.
After cake there was a bit of a gap in the program as the couple headed off to have photos taken in the ruins of the old cloister, which we used as an opportunity to also explore said ruins as well as the herb garden.
It’s a pretty spectacular venue, which they are restoring bit by bit, funded by events such as the wedding.
Toward evening we returned for some group photos before dinner. The dinner buffet was so extensive that one could not even sample it all – and it was all really good! Enter a few more wedding games and dancing, meaning time passed quickly. It was a bit past midnight when we eventually headed off.
Sunday we just drove home – Unfortunately Odin had been ill while we were gone and proceeded to vomit all over the place. The awesome cat-sitter had done much of the clean up in between already, but we still spent the afternoon cleaning everything up once more before eventually dropping off the car.
The next Wednesday we used the nice weather to catch up with Ilka at a local pizza-slice place just around the corner from us, after grabbing some slices we spent the evening chatting in our local park.
That Saturday the weather started to change, and we slept really poorly for it. We spent the afternoon at equivalent of Berlins Asian markets, the Dong Xuan Center. Background to this is that we’re meeting Gaby next weekend for some Wok cooking – something I’d not done in ages. Gaby has a proper gas wok-burner in her new kitchen and a wok, so I offered to make a few things, but would need some specific ingredients.
On Sunday we headed to Ilkas garden once more. We had a lovely night and ended up heading out and having burgers together.
The next week it was time to cook some wok at Gabis! We took a train to a nearby station where she picked us up in her convertible. It was fun to ride with my face in the wind again!
I had found a few recipes which I’d made before including crispy fried eggplant, sezuan tofu, some fried rice and that type of thing.
I’ve got to say it was all good, but the crispy fried eggplant was fantastic. Unhealthy, sure, but fantastically yummy. We chatted the evening away before Robert eventually drove us back to the train station. We had to leave a bit earlier than we wanted to because there was a lockdown in place needing us to be home by midnight.