Archive for August, 2013

Breakfast Washing Party

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

Today we had to tend to the little things that get in the way of having a holiday, like washing. Fortunately our flat came equipped with a washing machine so we arranged that Wicus would come over to our place for breakfast and some washing.

Stean and I ended up having to figure out how to make the machine work. Everything printed on it was in German and there was no manual, nor could we find anything online. We managed to figure out the cycle we wanted, but for some reason the machine just would not come on. Power checked out, water tap was open, door was closed but nothing happened after selecting the cycle and pressing the dial button . Eventually I discovered that once you selected the cycle you needed to pull the dial out to make it start (Lloyds Öko Super 820).

We had a good breakfast while the washing got done and then headed off to Sylvia’s parents for a barbeque. Outdoor wood fires are not allowed, so everything is done in a kettle braai with charcoal. They also use foil baking trays rather than cooking straight on the grill (we’re told this is to cut down on carcinogens). Also surprising to us was that Sylvia’s mom did the bulk of the braai work. This was rather unusual for us South African’s where the braai is traditionally the mans job. There was potato salad, bratwurst, cheese sausage wrapped in bacon, pork and lamb chops. We ate and drank very well (seems to be a reoccurring theme!) .

Sylvia’s dad was taking pictures with his 45 year old film camera and handed the camera to his wife to take a picture of the group around the table. She accidentally took the photo as Leon leaned over the table to pass the meat. Her dad suddenly got very animated as he realized the photo was taken and it was the last one. We couldn’t help but have a bit of a chuckle after the initial “aaaaah”. In today’s digital age it’s actually a non issue, but perhaps that moment captured on film with another lost at the same time will become a wonderful story to recant in the years to come.

Leon’s newly acquired cousins were there as well, so it was soccer in the back yard after lunch (got to pay for those calories somehow). We took turns tagging in and out (oh the exuberance of youth!) but Wicus, Jacques and I pretty much had the lions share of keeping the kids entertained. I was pretty knackered afterwards, but it was good fun.

On the way home we popped in at Kaufland for some shopping and this time purposefully avoided the chocolate and beer isles until we had acquired actual food. There was still much chocolate purchased and I can only imagine what the cashier must have been thinking with these mountains of slabs rolling down the belt. Another interesting little German thing is that you place a divider on the belt behind your items. This allows the cashier to clearly see what’s yours. Pretty cool actually.

We’ve had some really good weather up till now (I’ve been walking around in shorts and a T-Shirt), but it looks like things may get a bit damp over the next 2 days. I hope it’s not too bad as there is still a few things we’d like to see before leaving for Prauge.

Breakfast 😀

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Captcha Fixed

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

I have fixed my comments captcha. So comment away if you have something to say 🙂

Dresden

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

We had to get up early on Friday morning to catch the train to Dresden. On the way to the bus stop Stean realized he had left his Dresden travel card in the previous days’ shirt. This resulted in him having to take a jog back to the flat and then to the bus stop. Fortunately he made it in time and we took the bus to the station where we caught a train through to Dresden.

First stop was the Royal Palace where we bought tickets to see the historic Green Room (Historisches Grunes Gewolbe). You need to book a time slot as they only allow a certain amount of people in at a time. While we waited for our slot we took a walk to the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) which was reconstructed after being destroyed in WWII.  We walked the surrounding square and  I found a small tourist trap shop where I bought a new AmpelmÀnnchen T-Shirt as well as a mug.  Outside the shop I discovered that horse drawn carts stop there to pic up customers. The owner was kind enough to allow me touch them. They were really large work horses and looked well cared for.

We then found a coffee shop with Leon’s favorite pretzel. Made of half normal and half chocolate dough, covered in almond flakes and dusted in icing sugar. Pretty yum!

We then went back to the Palace and spent almost 2 hours wandering through the Green Room. It’s a really impressive collection of treasures. It’s sometimes hard to comprehend the skill and patience involved given then era in which these items were created.

After the Green Room we took a walk around the top level of the Zwinger which offers a nice view of the gardens below as well as the immediate surrounding buildings. After a “quick” walk through Saturn, we met up with Leon & Sylvia for lunch. From there we took a tram to the gardens where we wandered through the market before heading off to the Volkswagen GlĂ€serne Manufaktur where we took a tour of the Phaeton production line.

The whole building is made of transparent glass so you can see the assembly process inside. Our tour was late afternoon, so we unfortunately did not get to see it in action, but the tour was still very interesting. The entire car is assembled by hand and takes 35 hours to build 15 of which is testing. In contrast a the fully automated assembly process of a Golf only takes 5 hours.

We took a bus to Brauhaus am Waldschlösschen where we enjoyed some local brew and traditional German food. The photographer from the wedding joined us for a drink and we had a great time. We caught a late bus back to Neustadt.

Lunch

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Royal Palace

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Volkswagen GlÀserne Manufaktur gardens

 

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Bad Schandau

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

After a quick lunch we took a brisk walk to the station to catch a train to Bad Schandau.

The info centre at the station understood English and gave us a more detailed map than we had. We took the scenic route over the bridge to snap some pictures of the town and river.

The walk through the town was very noisy along the main road. Flood damage is still very evident in most of the ground floors of all the buildings.

First stop was the Elektrischer freustehender Personenaufzug which is a freestanding electrical lift built in 1905 for transporting people up the side of the mountain. We took the return option for the lift and went up. At the top we found a very sad looking lynx cat. We then discovered that we could use the footpaths through the forest to the botanical gardens. This also meant the one way option offered for the lift made more sense suddenly. Once out the forest we could go two different routes. We decided that we should be able to turn it into a circular going up to the gardens via the one and then back down to the lift.

A bus happened by which seemed to be going in to direction we were so Jacques suggested we hop on. The rest of us were not as convinced but went along with the idea. We soon discovered that while it initially was going in the direction we wanted it soon veered off towards Schona and we just missed the stop we could have gotten off at and still resulting in a gain. The next stop was about 1.5km down the road, so we ended up walking back as the next bus was only in 2hrs.

We then did some calculations and realized that we would make it to the gardens but would have to carry on walking almost immediately if we wanted to be sure about catching the last train back to Neustadt so we took a different route back to the lift and made our way down to walk back along the bank of the Elbe river. This was a lot more enjoyable than the main road.

Along the way we found a small cafe and stopped for a drink where we were accosted by bees. They seems to quite enjoy Stean’s Diesel (Beer-Cola) and another drowned itself in Jacques banana juice. We thought about catching the ferry back, but the wait time vs. simply walking back was about the same so we walked back over the bridge again. We killed some time at the train station and found some really nice hot chocolate Leon had brought for us in the past.

After getting back to Neustadt we met up with the rest of the crowd at a local pub for dinner with the plan being an early night. It’s now 23:53…

Tomorrow is Dresden.

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Butterberg

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

After the wedding ceremony the bus took us to Butterberg. There the wedding couple had to saw through a large log together. This was quite an interesting tradition and we all had good fun cheering them on. This was followed by cake and tea where the wedding cake was also cut.

After cake and tea we had a short walk around and climbed the small tower. We then met again for drinks which took us through to dinner. Dinner was a vast selection of cold cuts, salads as well as hot food in the form of fish, lamb stew, 3 kinds of potatoes and vegetables. I ate well 🙂

There was a lot more beer and herb schnapps (think Jaegermeister). I even had an alcoholic egg drink (similar to eggnog). We got to bed round about 1am after a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

This morning after a hearty breakfast and a quick walk through the surrounding forest we were picked up again and dropped at our flat in Neustadt.

View from our room in Butterberg

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Great beer on tap!

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Morning walk

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Do you? Ja!

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

So the wedding was at the Schloss in Neschwitz. It was a small affair with immediate family and friends. We had about equal German and South African representation.

There was a last minute addition to the wedding in the form of a translator. So the non German speaking among us could also follow the ceremony. Yay!

The woman performing the ceremony looked exactly like the German version of matrone in 7de laan. We had a bit of a chuckle at that realization.

After some sparkling wine and light snacks and treats we got peppered by the photographer. We also played a bit of soccer with Sylvia’s nephews, who had apparently been looking forward to taking on the South Africans.

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The Big Day Arrives

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

The main reason for our visit is to see Leon and Sylvia get married and today is the day! In 2 hours or so a bus will take us to Butterberg for the wedding and reception. We will spend the night and return again tomorrow.

We were thinking of going to Berlin, but there and back is about 8 hours travel, which we’ve decided could be better spent closer to where we are. We will head out to Dresden on Friday and perhaps again over the weekend as there is plenty to see.

Chocolat

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

We did a little shopping…

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Hike to Ungerberg

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

After gathering breakfast supplies we set out for a walk around Neustadt. Both the butcher and baker struggled with our lack of German but a few basics, finger pointing and their willingness to present each item ensured that we left well stocked.

Making use of signage and some passers by we happened on a very scenic walk through the forest to Ungerberg. On the way there we unwittingly passed through a nudist park (surprise!).

This is a very beautiful town. Everything is so green and lush and people really put a lot of work into their gardens. It’s a real pleasure walking around.

Some pictures of breakfast and our walk.

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First day in Neustadt (Sachen)

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

We slept in a bit this morning, understandably, and are feeling pretty good.

This is the view from our flat.

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