Sachsen im Sommer…

For someone who is deathly afraid of heat, I tend to not do the “summer holiday” as most people do. There is nothing worse in my book than fighting packs of tourists while sweating through all forms of clothing, just to get half-arsed meals by staff that want to be on holiday themselves.

However, loaded with unnecessary stress (will elaborate on this another day) this year I impulsively decided to head out of New York at the end of July and found myself going to Saxony in early August, via London. And of course, perfect timing… Hottest days of the year, peak tourism season, best restaurants closed for summer holiday, etc…

I flew into a very muggy Dresden from London City (which was FULL of screaming children and drunks going to Ibiza and elsewhere) and was immediately sweating. As I checked into my hotel in the old town, I knew it would be a challenging few days — the air conditioning in the room barely worked, and it was pretty much pumping humidity into the room…

I escaped in the late afternoon on that early August Sunday and I see the symbol of Dresden, the re-built Frauenkirche.

D-Frauenk

I’m sure many of your have seen the pictures of Dresden after the bombing and know the saga of re-building the Frauenkirche. Thanks to the rain I got this rather nice shot… The rain helped with the humidity as I hid in a small wine cellar a block from the Elbe. As I enjoyed the fine local white wines, they told me the flooding from earlier in the Summer had been about 1.5 metres in the wine celler. That was frightening…

But I needed food and during the downpour all the tourists fled to the many cafes in the old town, but I managed to snag an outdoor seat at the Kutscherschänke and had a pleasant time. A nice bottle of local white, I proceeded to have some Leberkäse to start before some pork medallions for dinner:

Kutscherschänke Schwein

Now the pork, to be honest, was cooked rock solid… And idiots smoking around me didn’t help. But the large side of chanterelles more than made up for this. Yes, it’s a tourist trap, as are most places near the Frauenkirche, but… I was relaxed.

The next day I had planned to go climb up Königstein Fortress, but slept very badly (in a humid room with bad AC) and seeing the temperature today, I changed my plans. I decided to make a trek out to Meißen, a historic town with a castle on the hill.

panorama_before

It wasn’t a far trek from the station after a half-hour ride from Dresden, but it was very hot and sunny, and I was sweating pretty bad by the time I made it up the hill.

gate

Meißen is a cute place. I explored Meißner Dom (the cathedral) and Albrechtsburg (castle) in and out for the next few hours.

cathedral

After descending from the castle hill I needed food. It was too hot to eat outside, but it was also hot inside…but at least away from the sun. So I chose, from looking at various menus, Winzerkeller.

It’s a friendly place that featured local wines (Meißen is very wine-friendly) and I enjoyed a nice bottle over the meal. It began with a curious lentil soup with blood sausage:

Winzerkeller Linseneintopf

Interesting but a soup was probably a bad idea when I was already overheated… I enjoyed more wine and tried to cool down before the venison arrived…

WinzerkellerHirsch

Now sadly when venison is overcooked, it tastes like liver that’s been cooking for 3 days…and this is one of those times. A shame, really. But the potato pancakes were fabulous…when was the last time I said that? The wine was good and I took a nice local firewater before having to run back to the station to catch the train back to Dresden. This was the view as I walked near the station…magical…

panorama_after

When I got back, I had a walkabout to see more of Dresden, including the Zwinger Palace.

D-Zwing

Luckily the heat and late hour had dissipated most of the crowd. In fact, Dresden is deathly quiet after the tour groups leave. I don’t know how many overnight here, but it’s a shame…maybe this is why they don’t have a better-developed tourism infrastructure. This is how I got such a clean shot of the Fürstenzug, the parade of Wettins…

Fürstenzug2

I was knackered and burning up inside, so I actually only had one meal this day…and spent the rest of it trying to cool off in the room…and planned to try Königstein again tomorrow…

No luck, another bad sleep. And I think I may be a bit sunburnt fron the Meißen excursion. Damn… So ended up taking it rather slow and doing Dresden more in detail. And of course I needed a filling lunch, and ended up at Zum Schießhaus, a nice little inn close to Dresden-Mitte train station (I walked past it yesterday).

Zum SchießhausLammhaxe

Now this is a heck of a filling lunch, a nice lamb shank with Spätzle and green beans. You can see how sunny it is from the light (I was indoors!) as I enjoyed this treat alongside several large beers…about 3 litres…oops…

During the day, Dresden can be a tourism nightmare, full of groups behaving even less self-aware than most tourists. I hear a lot of Russian on the streets, barely any English. Despite trying to lure Czech tourists, I don’t hear as much. Way too many confused pensioners. I spent the day exploring many of the sites in town, especially the Katholische Hofkirche (left) — the church where most of the Wettin family were buried — and the old castle (right).

Hofkirche_Schloss

That evening I had my disastrous dinner at Caroussel, detailed here…again, I say AVOID, AVOID, AVOID!!! I got a better view of the Hofkirche in the downpour as I was headed back after that horrible dinner…

Katholische_Hofkirche

My last day I woke up early, again seeing if Königstein was possible, but it was pissing down so badly it would have been a mess. Plus, I was tired from this trip, and I am sick of tourists… So I tried avoiding many and walked around more periphery parts of central Dresden.

The sun was blazing so I hid myself in the basement cellar of Altmarktkeller — a Saxon-Bohemian restaurant. Most people were outside, but I enjoyed the air conditioning down below, and had a last meal in Saxony. Had a strange baked meat terrine starter, then for a main the Kaisersülze — home-made aspic.

Altmarktkeller Kaisersülze1

I remember enjoying sült in Estonia during the holidays, but this sauce-laden thing was definitely not it…oh, I miss Estonia… Ugh… I couldn’t finish this. I drank up the beer and headed back to the hotel…

As I hopped onto a cab for the airport, I have to say this little Saxon trip had been a near-disaster. Poor food, terrible (for me) weather, bad sleep, Caroussel, etc… I headed back to London needing another rest. Back to NYC then for that…sigh…

Kutscherschänke
Münzgasse 10
Dresden, Deutschland

Winzerkeller
Markt 9
Meißen, Deutschland

Zum Schießhaus
Am Schießhaus 19
Dresden, Deutschland

Altmarktkeller
Altmarkt 4
Dresden, Deutschland

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