Pictures here: Dresden
So, in reality this is the first day that I was totally on my own – no Tim, no random companions picked up along the way. I had planned to take it easy, but I couldn't resist at least getting out of the hostel and seeing a few things that I hadn't been to yet.
Of course, I let myself sleep in until about 10 AM, then after showering, said goodbye to the Persian dude, who had decided that he was going to give up on the (now) ex-girlfriend and go back home to spend some time thinking about life. Not a bad idea, if you ask me!
Back in our room, Katherine was just finishing packing, so we decided to have breakfast at the hostel together before she headed off to her camp. We had one of those nice conversations about our plans for the future, which was quite enjoyable. We shook hands after breakfast and I headed out into the town.
I started off heading back to the Altstadt, in search of a tower that was supposed to contain an exhibit detailing the damage done to the city after the firebombing in February 1945. I never did find that one. Instead I ended up at the Rathaus (great name for city hall, eh?) which had a newly re-opened tower and an excellent view from just beneath the clockfaces. I could see all the areas that we'd visited in the city, and of course many areas that I hadn't been to. There was still a bit of morning mist hanging over the city, so the view was a little bit limited, but worth the two bucks I paid to go up.
I'd read about an overhead railway that was near the outskirts of Dresden, which is apparently the oldest of it's kid in the world, and with my affinity for public transit, I thought I'd go out to check it out. I caught a tram, and half an hour later plus a ten minute walk I found a funicular (inclined railway) that led up the side of the mountain – no sign of the overhead railway, so I began to wonder if my guidebook was out of date... no matter, I took a ride up the hill on the fuicular and was shortly in a neighbourhood of very big and expensive looking houses... I wasn't quite sure where to find the spectacular views that the guidebook had talked about, so I ended up walking around for another half hour or so, eventually finding a small platform where you could see a bit of the view toward the city through the trees. Not spectacular exactly, but it was nearly deserted, and I took my shoes off and sat on a bench to read for an hour or so. It was a good way to spend some time.
Around three o'clock I went back to the funicular and then caught a tram back to the Altstadt because there was one last place I had yet to visit – the inside of Frauenkirche! I tried a number of different entrances (the building is relatively circular outside), and finally found one that was allowing people inside... but for an admission! It was one of the few churches that I'd seen charge admission – but this was a church that seriously interested me so I thought “what the heck!” and went in... turns out that it was the entrance to go up to the top of the cupola! And there was an elevator! And very few stairs once up the elevator, just a inclined path that circled upwards between the inner and outer roofs of the cupola. All the way up within the cupola, there are windows facing inwards where you can see that they''ve created an extra level inside the cupola with a normal floor with a large hole that you can see down into the sanctuary through – I'm not an acoustic engineer by any means, but I would guess that with the design the way it is, you could situate a choir up here and it would sound like angel voices coming from on high... but that's just a guess!
Once you reach the top of the path there are two steep flights up stairs which lead outside to the covered area at the the peak of the cupola... the view was fantastic and well worth the admission. Different than the view from the Rathaus in the morning, but now the mist had burned off and I could see all the way to the horizons. I think I stayed up there for a solid 40 minutes just taking in the view and getting pictures of it all!
Once I came back down to the ground, I found the regular entrance to the sanctuary, and made my way in. This church is simply amazing, and that says a lot after all the cathedrals and churches I'd seen on the trip. Still a bit overdone i my taste, but less so than many of the churches I had visited. The interior was relatively modern (due to being rebuilt in 1995), but still had touches of the old world. The altar was HUGE, and depicted Christ walking to Golgotha, I believe. It was one all in stone with gold accents. The organ, which was above the altar seemed to be spotless, its pipes were a gleaming silver. The structure itself was impressive. Above the main seating area in the sanctuary on the ground floor there were three or four levels of balconies looking downwards to the chancel.
I sat in the sanctuary just enjoying the beauty of it all for a full hour, before I decided it was a good time to call it a day. I headed back to the hostel to rest up, as I would be catching a train to Frankfurt the next day.
About 9:30 or so, I went out to get some supper, and stopped at a place for a donër (not a donair). While eating my supper, a group of men (probably late 20s, early 30s, came in with one who was in a skirt and girly hat in the lead. Bachelor party, I'm betting – they started cheering while the one in the lead started doing a goofy dance to the electronic music that had been playing in the restaurant... then as quickly as they'd arrived, they disappeared again! And with that little bit of strangeness done, I called it a night, and went to bed early!