All fired up in Dresden

All fired up in Dresden

When I imagined Dresden, searing heat was not top of my thoughts. Fine china from the more distant past and particularly for me, cheap cameras from the communist past are my associations. My first serious camera, paid for working odd jobs, was a Praktica, made in Dresden until capitalism made the factory uneconomic after reunification in 1990.

I suppose I should have considered heat. There was a considerable amount of it here just months before the end of World War II, when our side, (the good guys), decided to destroy the city, which had questionable  strategic value, with four massive fire bombing raids. It killed maybe 50,000 civilians, but who cares  -they are replaceable. Many have called it a war crime, but winners don’t do war crimes. But then the winners did not do things like Auschwitz-Birkenau (see earlier post).

If the truth be admitted what upset most people was the destruction of the beautiful sandstone city, particularly its distinctive skyline with the baroque masterpiece, the Frauenkirche and its dome the shape and colour of a single nubile breast whose owner has been spending a little time with it in the sun. 

It is probably just as well the communists had control of this place after that war, because they had the dictatorial power to rebuild most of the city’s ornate buildings, but the Frauenkirche was left as rubble, partly because it was so difficult to build in the first place and because there was so little left. It burned for days before it finally collapsed.

With reunification anything again was possible and it was re-opened in 2005 keeping fairly faithfully to the original but using only 15 per cent of the stone work. The old stuff now stands out as strong black against the caffe latte of the new stone. We went there for a Bach organ recital and the interior out does even the outside. Lots of Dresden blue of course.


So cultured is Dresden that even a patron reading a cafe menu looks as if he is about to take up a conductor’s baton.

Then, on the city ramparts still blackened by the holocaust of war, we found a fire twirling busker seemingly unaware of the symbolism of his act.

This story is supposed to be about heat and that was what we got when we decided to take a cruise, (our first for the trip) on the River Elbe, a paddle steamer past the city’s rebuilt skyline, past villages, green fields with equestocratic ladies on horseback, romping dogs, picnics, weddings and schloss after schloss until we got the destination schloss at Pillnitz.

The Germans love heat. They might have heaps of cute churches, but  the sun is their true god. OK they have been having a heatwave, warm even by our standards. We nearly expired when we got on a tram to find no-one had opened the windows. When we opened one it was immediately slammed shut. No-one wears a hat or seems to take any sun precautions so when we got on our cruise we found ourselves on the uncovered part of the upper deck. Our neighbours were loving it, exposing as much skin as was decent in such a place. The only precautions they seem to take was to drink cold beer in glasses of a size that would make our public health advocates short of breath. We just about faint and afterwards I felt dizzy, with a touch of heat stroke or whatever.

Our cruise destination was the 18th century schloss built by Saxon king August the Strong, (no doubt a relative of mine), for the favorite of his many mistresses. She must have been some babe because the palace and its gardens are extraordinary with many Chinese  

touches. You couldn’t get much more exotic than that in the 18th century.  Curiously the one thing the ticket seller insisted we must not miss, unaware of our nationality, was the hothouse devoted to Australian plants. We didn’t, and sat there admiring specimens growing in our own garden, dismayed the temperature inside the greenhouse was cooler than outside.

The Germans are a bit obsessed by our country, we met a cook who was to leave in a few days to work at a roadhouse near Uluru, he was looking forward to the heat, and just near the Frauenkirche was a restaurant and bar called Ayers Rock, packed with patrons and featuring a lousy Aussie singer of pub rock.

Speaking of  sweating, saunas and Turkish baths are the other memorable features of our stay in Dresden. Our luxurious hotel, which Jill miraculously conjured for a budget price via her tablet thingy, was like an enormous Roman villa set among vinyards that made very ordinary wine. But its basement was anything but ordinary featuring many sensuous pleasure delights. Its  feature statue was of a moderately well endowed, but otherwise extremely muscular nude male, in a large plaza before a fountain.

Downstairs was a 25 metre pool with glass roof whose habitues, were nowhere near as muscular nor as we to were to discover in the spa and sauna, as well endowed. While the Finns might insist on nudity in their saunas, they do so in separate sessions. The Germans also insist on nudity, but Sylvie the blonde at reception laughed when asked if there were separate   sessions. It was somewhat comforting to be among normal bodies, with neither a supermodel nor porn stud in sight.

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