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Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree in Prague’s Old Town Square is magnificent. With the iconic towers and steeples of the old city proudly looking down and the art nouveau facades of the the buildings around the square looking on, the tree shimmers and shines in the cold evening air. The surrounding Christmas market around the tree is a hustle and bustle of happy people. Christmas music fills the air. We arrived in the capital of the Czech Republic in the early afternoon after a pleasant train ride from Dresden. We passed through the Saxon Switzerland as we followed the Elbe valley out of Germany and into the Czech Republic. The towering rock cliffs and forests were dotted with castles along the way.

Our apartment is wonderful and is located just off the old town square just behind the Tyn Church. We ate a simply marvelous Czech meal at a popular restaurant that sources local produce. Even at three in the afternoon, it was packed and a wait list. We ate a fabulous cabbage salad, that was partially cooked and marinated with tasty spices. Other menu items, all tasty, were cabbage and sausage soup; goulash (tender beef and paprika sauce); bread dumplings; chicken breast with mushrooms; creamed spinach; and cucumber dill salad.

It gets dark here by 4:30 P.M. We meandered the square and soaked in the atmosphere and headed to the apartment for a leisurely evening. We have an exciting day planned tomorrow. WEG

Elegance Refined

Dresden, Germany, is classy and elegant. A center for the arts, the unity of the Baroque buildings and the thoughtful care executed in the many fine details of the Christmas atmosphere shows that the city has refined its well-honed culture. The city is impressive and we were impressed! Harmony, harmony, harmony in the beauty.

Dresden train station
At Christmas

It started as soon as we stepped off the train from Nuremberg. The main station was aglow with garland and lights over the giant archways of the main entry. The enormous Christmas tree was a focal point. As the cab wound its way to our hotel on the Elbe River, I noticed that the massive train bridges had modern paintings where most other train ways have had graffiti in other cities we have visited. Classic buildings were evident.

Kathy and I received a room upgrade to a wondrous suite for our five day stay. Yeah! Unfortunately, because Randy has never admitted he forgot my coke light, Melisa has to suffer along with him in a standard, but quite nice, room. (This is somewhat an inside joke that has carried on now for days.) As we walked to the old town (Altstadt) we saw beautiful Christmas displays. Randy and Melisa were astounded by the historic city that few have visited. The massive baroque towers and steeples, buildings with winged angels and statuary, the castles and palaces and then–the German Belle, the mighty Frauenkirche! As if the exterior was not impressive enough, when we walked inside, both Randy and Melisa were flabbergasted by the light and airy beauty of the baroque design. (Melisa opined, “I could stay here a day just to soak in the beauty.”) Blue and pink with white and gold angels and saints all looking upon Jesus while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane as God the Father looks down from heaven. The altar (180 feet tall) is topped with the pipes of an acclaimed pipe organ creation by Silberman. J.S. Bach played on the organ. A Lutheran church, the Frauenkirche is crowned with a massive dome painted with saints in baroque style. The church is somewhat circular with tiers of balconies reaching skyward. We were blessed with a short Advent service, the pastor in black robe with a broad white bifken.

The altar in the
beautiful Frauenkirche

We ate at one of Kathy and my favorites. Filled with antique furniture and tiffany lamps, each table is different than the next. We ate a filling German meal. Then, to some of the many markets in the city. We were amazed with the medieval market in the palace courtyard. The buildings were aglow with specialized projections of snow and torches. The market stalls were all medieval in character staffed with people in medieval costume. Live medieval Christmas music filled the air. Randy was impressed with the blacksmith shop and the owner invited him back midweek to work along side him, heating and shaping metal into objects. Of course, Randy is ready to go! The blacksmith told him to ditch the puffy coat and wear only natural fibers. We will make sure Randy ditches the lighted Christmas hat he has been sporting around as well.

Kathy and I have loved Dresden for a long time and have stayed here for prolonged periods. It is such a pleasure to see our friends fall in love with it also. WEG