|Signs in German and Sorbish|
Since we lived up on the Baltic Sea, this meant about a six hour drive to Dresden which, since we are Americans, barely qualified as an actual road trip. :-) (People use emoticons a lot in Denmark. It's rubbing off on me.)
So why Saxony? Well, that was the German state where Paul lived a decade ago and where he really learned to speak German (and love Germany). This, interestingly enough, meant that he learned German with what is considered to be the most "southern hick" accent possible and earned him a lot of funny glances when we tried to set up our bank account in northern Mecklenburg a decade later.
Aaaaanyway, we knew we had to go to Saxony, so we did. And it was real, real lovely down there, especially in October when all the leaves were changing. I'm sorry I didn't write more about this trip before because I'm sure I could tell you a lot of stories, but what I can say two years on is that I remember it was beautiful, relaxing, and interesting to get a feel for this rather unique region.
On to the pictures.
Our first stop was a small town named Bautzen which was also the first place Paul lived in Germany, so it seemed appropriate. It was one of my favorite places we went because it's also the capital city for the Sorbish people, who have their own language, culture, and history very distinct from the Germans and Poles surrounding them. Everything in Bautzen was in both German and Sorbish, like this map here.
I actually already knew the name Bautzen before Paul even mentioned going there. Bautzener Senf (a brand of mustard) comes from the town and is pretty much the German mustard. And mustard is, at least my impression, the most important condiment in Germany because it's the only thing you get with bratwurst. And always the bautzener variety - very sharp, not at all like the bright yellow sweeter/sour Frenches I grew up with.
It's an acquired taste, I'll admit, but once it clicks, you'll never want anything else.
And all that is why this next picture exists. I made it my personal mission to get a sandwich with Bautzener senf on it while we were actually in Bautzen.
It was really. really. good.
The next day was all about Dresden. We went out to the Saxon-Switzerland National Park, south of the city, to see the famous Bastai Bridge, built up across these incredibly high and steep pinnacles.
This picture does not quite capture the precipitous cliff-like drop on either side.
And off in Dresden, we took our time wandering the old city to see the Semperoper, Zwinger, Frauenkirche, and cashed in our ticket reservations for the Green Vault (which was pretty spectacular).
For being so horribly firebombed in the WWII, Dresden really has rebuilt in such beautiful ways.
|Recreating a photo taken ten years previous...we just need to get a scan of the old one now to compare.|
Our third day was a long driving loop through the Erzegeberger mountains along the Czech/German border, winding through small villages where Paul had lived in the past.
|These dried garlic and onion braids were on sale in the town square market of Annaberg-Buchholz|
|The view near Paul's old apartment in Annaberg-Buchholz|
|"Luck-up" which, in Saxony, is a common greeting. Since there are so many mines in the Erzeberger mountains, people would wish each other a good day with this phrase since you wanted people to be lucky and come back up out of the mines safely.|
|Paul's Last Apartment in Freiberg|
|Seiffen, the famous little woodworking village where nutcrackers were invented (and practically anything else traditionally "Christmas"). This little octagonal church is sort of the symbol of the region.|
On our drive back home, we took our time by only taking the back roads north and, on a whim, took a couple detours through Meissen, home of German porcelain, and Wittenberg, home of Martin Luther's 95 Theses.
That church behind me, ground zero for Protestantism, was a fantastically nerdy way to end a fantastically awesome road trip down through eastern Germany and around the beautiful state of Saxony.
I'm counting down the days until my third anniversary of living in Europe by recapping trips that I never got around to highlighting. You can see the list of trips (and links to them as they are written) here.