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Dresden Day

(written by Dave) (written 21 July, posted 22 July)

What a great day we’ve had in Dresden.  Ela and Tobi are fantastic hosts.  We spent the morning in their neighborhood visiting shops and things that they would do regularly.  It is always fun for us to be “local”.

One of stops was in a bike shop to look at spare parts for my twice welded handle bar bag attachment.  I am happy to report that their local bicycle shop had the part I needed to fix the bag.  But also sad to report that technology improvements have rendered my hand carved custom wooden repair virtually worthless as a commercial venture.  While the mechanic at the shop was impressed by my handiwork, there was universal agreement that further pursuit of patents rights was not financially viable.  At brekkie, Tobi  and I agreed to split profits so at least the splitting was easier.

We stopped for morning tea at a local coffee house which also had an all-you-can eat buffet.  Nancy and I are used to eating a lot and Ela was gracious enough to join us.  I’m not going to say who made the most trips through the buffet but I do think that larger plates would be a nice addition.  The food was great, mostly regional.  Best of all, we had Ela and Tobi there to tell us what we were eating.

After brunch, well fortified Ela, Nancy and I went on a city historical walk.  Dresden, located in the East of Germany, is also called “Florence at the Elbe” thanks to its quiet location on the banks of the Elbe River.  Roughly 80% of Dresden’s historical centre was destroyed during WWII but almost all of the historical landmarks have been rebuilt to their original form.  Some of the re-building was only complete in the past few years – newer sandstone can be seen in the photos as the white blocks.  Ela is a history teacher and should be a city tour guide as well.  She has great knowledge of the city and gave us a fantastic narrative to go with the beautiful buildings – we would have never have gotten this on our own.

We made a few non-tourist stops as well.  We found a massive outdoor store called Globetrotter and we went back to the Telekom shop to ask about our SIM and the use of laptop tethering.  At the first stop, we found maps that will take us through to the end of Germany.  Our current map ends about here but new maps also include bicycle paths.  While in the store I spotted a kid playing in a kayak on their test pond.  I snapped a quick photo and was almost immediately accosted by a security guard.  He spoke only stern German, apparently telling me no photos, plus he wanted me to delete any photos that I had taken.  Luckily Ela was there to explain that I didn’t speak German and he did not confiscate my camera.   I deleted one of the photos and slinked away.  In hindsight, I should have known better but asking me to delete the photos seemed over the top – the guard made up some story about industrial espionage when Ela pressed why I should to delete the photos.   I saved one photo and will soon be writing a book about how young kids enjoy test pond at European outdoor stores.

In the Telekom shop we asked about laptop tethering, a feature we use to post when there is no internet.  We tried to set it up but received and message saying contact Telekom.de to enable this feature.  Knowing phone companies, I had little hope that this would work out but the girls wanted to try.  With Ela’s help we learned that tethering is not possible with our pre-paid SIM and we have to purchase a plan (29.95 per month for 24 months – we are going to be here for 7 days).  This is a silly policy as if we tethered, we would use the phone more and Telekom would make more money.  Germany, arguably the most advance and successful country in modern Europe is the first one in 20 where this feature has not been allowed.  I knew that the clerk would not know why this policy existed but I still had to ask.  Ela and I had fun pushing the point home with the clerk but we still left the shop without tethering.  After Globetrotter and Telkom, Nancy was looking for someone other than me to tour the city with.

Luckily, Starbucks proved much less difficult.  We stopped for a quick coffee without issues.  Starbucks in not big in Germany and is mostly aimed at the tourists.  Ela had never been in a Starbucks – she enjoyed frappaccino and had her picture taken like on the first day of school.

Last stop of the day was the grocery store where we purchased fixings for egg and bacon rolls.  Ela and Tobi have been to Australia several times and spent and extended period there on their cycle tour.  Unfortunately, none of our Aussie compatriots introduced them to a proper egg and bacon roll.  We found most of the ingredients, including some dodgy BBQ sauce and this morning we are going to cook brekkie.   The rolls probably won’t be perfect but hopefully they will give the guys enough of a taste so that they’ll stop by our place in Sydney for a proper effort, the next time that they visit Oz.

We spent another fantastic evening at home with Ela and Tobi.  They were both born and spent the early years of their lives before German reunification, or as “the change” as they call it.  It was great getting insight to how things were before and after.  They also filled us in on the Bonaparte and Napoleon Inns that we saw the day before last.  Yes, the French and Napoleon were an invading army but WWII tended to reset history here.  That is, WWII was so bad that anything before it was not as bad.  And with this, “Napoleon slept here” became acceptable to use for commercial gain.

Next on our chore list is to clean the bikes (long overdue, the chains are starting to make noise now).  Plus we will do some trip planning.  We are still looking to leave Monday to start the last leg toward Sweden.  We are still trying to work out the route plan and the details for Sweden so that’s another thing for the chore list.

We will have to rely on access to wi-fi to post on the blog through Germany so there will likely be a bit of delay in getting things posted.  Keep checking in, we’ll catch up when we can.

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6 responses to “Dresden Day

  1. Great composition on the “art” of Dresden…. both old and new (graffiti). I think there is a statement in your photos…. what makes it art? what makes it graffiti? old vs. new? who did it? etc. It seems there are a lot of “rules” in Germany, except maybe it is okay to paint the side of a building? I do love the rain gutters and traffic light! So glad you had Ela and Tobi to help you out. It sounds like you needed them there more than in other cities/countries! Enjoy!

    • All of the graffiti was in city apporved locations – at least the big murals. I am not a big fan ofvandalizinggraffiti. It is nice that the city her provides an official outlet.

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  2. Are they making the peace sign or does that mean something else there?

    They look very young. Are they?

    • Tobi is 35, Ela 32 – The peace sign is the universal symbol for someone who has bicycle toured in China. Every Chinese person they photographed seemed to take this pose. Tacky butcontagious:-) (Actually, they were goofing around)

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  3. I read something that said in some countries it means something else, sometimes something rude. It was a warning not to use it.

    • We’ve heard that as well, though I can’t remember where. I think it could have been the thumbs up as well… We’ll continue to takeguidancefrom the locals… Whatever they do, we will do…

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