Potsdam, Leipzig, Colditz, Moritzburg, Dresden
81 days away
237 miles / 381 km since last post
5,135 miles / 8,264 km total
After a thoroughly relaxing day spent at the campsite the previous day, on Sunday we drove to Potsdam, specifically the Sanssouci Palace and gardens. This palace is the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name is a French phrase (sans souci), which translates as "without concerns", meaning "without worries" or "carefree", symbolising that the palace was a place for relaxation. The palace is impressive, and the extensive gardens too. Also nearby are the palaces Charlottenburg and Neuen. It was a nice was to spend the afternoon cycling around the palaces and grounds.
Once back in the motorhome we took a drive south, heading in the direction of Leipzig. We realised along the way that we didn't fancy the long drive all the way to Leipzig, so stopped at a campsite about halfway.
After about three months sleeping in the motorhome we decided to treat ourselves. Whilst the bed is fairly comfortable, three months later I think we are needing a bit more comfort. We had spotted on our GPS app that there was an IKEA not too far away, so on Monday we headed straight there. We found in the bedroom department they had exactly what we were after - a memory foam mattress topper. Perfect! It was never going to fit the bed exactly, as the motorhome bed is a bit of a weird shape, but when we tried it out it wasn't far off and would do the job just fine.
We stopped at a supermarket for a bit of shopping ("bit" being the operative word - they never seem to take our credit cards so we could only get what we could afford to pay in cash.) We decided this was enough fun for today and found a campsite just outside Leipzig for the night. The guy next to us had a cat on a leash - that's another first.
After a very comfortable sleep on the new mattress topper, on Tuesday we had a lazy start to the morning and didn't end up leaving until about 12:30pm. Stu headed back to reception to hand back the key for the shower block, and annoyingly they were closed until 1pm. We could have just driven off but we had to pay a deposit for the key and needed it back. So, after a bit of a wait we were finally on the road again.
Driving into Leipzig we saw that it certainly wasn't the prettiest of cities. There was quite a lot of boarded up, tatty or demolished buildings. We found a camp stop right near the centre of Leipzig. It was essentially a car park, but it was reassuring to see other motorhomes parked there. It was also surprisingly quiet for a city car park, so we decided to stay. We didn't need to take the bikes out as we could walk fairly easily to the things we wanted to see.
First we headed to the Zeitgeschichtliches Forum (Forum of Contemporary History). This had interesting exhibits about German history. We walked around a couple, one focusing on 'food' and the other 'science fiction'. The forum was free admission, and the displays were good. It was a bit of a shame there was only a small amount of English translation however.
Next we headed to the Stasi Museum, which is housed in the Runde Ecke (Round Corner), the original building used by the Ministry of State Security (Stasi) as their headquarters in Leipzig, East Germany. This was a fantastic museum, again free admission - although the audio guides were €4 each, but well worth it. The information provided throughout the museum was extensive. The audio guides gave a fantastic history to the division of Germany into East and West, and right up to reunification. It gave fascinating insights into the surveillance methods used by the Stasi - truely unbelievable stuff. There were plenty of interesting exhibits, showing the instruments the Stasi used for surveillance - machines for steaming open post, zoom cameras for spying, disguises etc. This museum was well worth the visit. We found it to be far more interesting and informative than the DDR Museum in Berlin. If you ever visit Leipzig, go there instead!
After the museum we took a further wander around the city centre, taking in the sights of the St. Thomas Church - the resting place of Johann Sebastian Bach. It would have been nice to have gone inside but they wanted €1 each. I know it isn't much but we wouldn't give the money to the church out of principle.
We took a break in Starbucks - not our usual choice for coffee - but it had free wifi, so I managed to force down a chocolate frappuccino in the meantime.
Back at the motorhome things were still nice and quiet, so we were happy to stay the night.
On Wednesday we continued our drive south, to Colditz. Our main reason for visiting, quite obviously, was to visit the famous Colditz Castle. It was used as a workhouse for the indigent and a mental institution for over 100 years, but it is more famously known as a prisoner-of-war camp during World War II for Allied officers who had repeatedly escaped from other camps. The museum within the castle was very interesting. It was housed in a fairly small area of the castle, but the exhibits were good - including some of the fake uniforms and tools made and used by the prisoners to try and escape. There was even a home-made sewing machine made by one of the prisoners entirely from wood - though this was only used for making consumes for the theatre group apparently. There were also plans and a photograph of a glider being made by the British POWs.
Next we drove towards Dresden. Stu wanted to head to a motorhome shop to buy a camping card - essentially this card allows you discounts for loads of campsites across Europe - something we probably should have bought weeks ago! Then we drove onto the Baroque palace in Moritzburg. It was an attractive palace and gardens, but didn't warrant too long a stay.
We headed onwards to the city of Dresden, finding overnight parking right near the city centre, but in a quiet location. That is, apart from the Italian's next to us - why do they talk so loudly? The good thing was that the ticket for the camp stop lasted 24 hours. With us arriving about 5pm, this meant we could remain parked there whilst we visited the city the next day.
Today (Thursday), just as we were getting our bits together to visit Dresden, we noticed that the box of red wine we opened yesterday had been leaking. We had kept it on one of the work surfaces, and we found it wet underneath. Because this work surface is above some cupboards, we also found it had leaked down there too. Fortunately, nothing had got onto the main carpet, and the rest was cleaned with a sponge and some Vanish detergent. I don't think you can see any stains, so we came off quite lightly.
After the red wine mess was sorted we got on our bikes and rode into the city - the centre of which was virtually just down the road from us.
Dresden is quite impressive. Apparently it was subject to a controversial Allied aerial bombing towards the end of World War II which killed 25,000 civilians and destroyed over 90 percent of the city centre. There has obviously been significant redevelopment in the city since then, which includes the Katholische Hofkirche, the Semper Oper and the Dresdner Frauenkirche. The Zwinger Palace we found particularly impressive.
Today has been a really hot day - making a nice change from the fairly cool, dull weather of the last week or so. After seeing the sights we had lunch at a pizzeria in the city, before heading back to the motorhome. We decided to head off and find a different place to stay for the evening, so we drove a few miles out of the main city centre to an alternative stop.
The Black Keys
Gold On The Ceiling