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The Spanish Fly - Travels in Spain

The Spanish Fly is a nom de plume of Paul Whitelock who first visited Spain at the age of 20. Now more than 50 years later, he has been to most parts of the country, including nine of the 12 islands. He has owned property in Andalucia since 2001 and has lived in the region for the last 15 years. This blog is a Travelogue about some of the places he has visited.

Christmas Tour of Deutschland Part 2 – Dresden I
Thursday, December 21, 2023 @ 11:09 AM

After our long drive from north of Hamburg, through five Bundesländer* (federal states) to get to Dresden, we were glad to step out of the car. We checked into our floating hotel, a former paddle steamer, now docked permanently in a side arm of the River Elbe and enjoyed a short German version of the siesta. We then headed off on foot to the Altstadt (Old Town) to enjoy the delights of one of the many Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas Markets) and to seek out a Thüringer Bratwurst, a sausage typical of the region.


Pöppelmann Schiffsherberge – Hotel


I’d stayed in/on a boat hotel once before, on the Moskva River in Moscow back in 1990. My young family and I were in the then Soviet Union on holiday visiting Russian friends of my first wife, a Russian graduate. Little did we know there was about to be a coup d’état. But that’s another story!

Back to Dresden, the boat was somewhat basic (eg no en suite facilities), but it was clean and reasonably priced for a big city at Christmas-time. Indeed it was Birgid’s third time staying there.

While the other three “siesta’d” I had a chat with the young receptionist and read up on Dresden. Then it was off on foot into town.

When we got to the bridge over the Elbe that leads to the old town, we were confronted by a police road block! There was to be a major demonstration by right-wingers/modern nazis, and the bridge was supposed to be part of the route.

How do we get to the Altstadt, then? I asked. You’ll have to turn round, go back to the previous bridge and cross there, replied the nice policeman.

Well, I nearly flipped out.

Look. I’m 73-years-old and not very mobile, I can’t manage that. I’m a foreign visitor to Dresden and I just wanted to experience the Christmas markets in the Old Town.

Oh, OK. You can pass.

Amazing! So the four of us, plus several other tourists who were hanging around, were allowed to cross.

The empty bridge reminded me of a 60s spy film maybe starring Michael Caine where prisoners are about to be exchanged.


Die Altstadt-Markt


There seemed to be Christmas stalls everywhere, but we headed for the Altmarkt.

It was already rocking, with people everywhere and stalls selling everything you could imagine. The most popular ones were those selling alcoholic drinks, eg Glühwein, every kind of punch, beer and Schnaps, and food, with everything from Würste, to fish, to filled sandwiches, to what looked like pasties, to French fries.

We settled for Thüringer Bratwurst with wholemeal Brötchen (crispy German bread rolls). Delicious at 5€. I washed mine down with a couple of locally-brewed beers.


Right-wing ‘demo’

We booked a taxi to get back to the “houseboat”, but it couldn’t get to us because of all the blocked streets in anticipation of the demo, now clearly imminent. There were police everywhere (I learned from the local newspaper the following day that 500 police officers had been deployed).

We felt a little exposed. All of a sudden, a group of protesters appeared beside us. Up went a roar as a dozen police ran in a line towards them yelling at the top of their voices. The demonstrators disappeared in a flash! We laughed heartily.

But it was time to go. We headed back over the bridge, still blocked to vehicles but no longer to pedestrians. We could see the march below. The air was full of loud music and chanted slogans, all of them racist and anti-foreigners. The main “perpetrators” were from right-wing groups Pegida and AfD, but there was also a counter demonstration against the right-wing racists.

According to the paper the following day, the whole thing went off peacefully and no arrests were reported.

Meanwhile we trudged the two kilometres back to our accommodation.


Dresden by Night


It was still only just past 9.00 pm and there was no bar on the boat, so I decided to go out for a nightcap in one of the local Gasthäuser. I walked for what seemed like miles, but there was no Gasthaus, no bar nor off-license, just an ESSO petrol station selling booze with a little sitting area. That had to do.

Then it was back to the paddle steamer and an early night.




*Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Sachsen (Saxony), Sachsen-Anhalt and Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony)


© The Spanish Fly




The Spanish Fly



Tags: AfD, Altmarkt, Altstadt, beer, Bier, Bratwurst, Brötchen, Dresden, Elbe, French fries, Glühwein, Hamburg, houseboat, Lower Saxony, Moscow, Moskva, Niedersachsen, paddle steamer, Pegida, Pöppelmann, punch, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Schnaps, Spanish Fly, Thüringer Bratwurst, Weihnachtsmarkt, Weihnachtsmärkte

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