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Germany here we come. I am not so sure about the comfort of taking the trains. The train from Offenburg and than from Mannheim were both full and congestion occurred because of not enough room for luggage. In one of the trains we had to call in the conductor to sort out a seating problem. The two people sitting in our seats were informed that they were sitting in the correct seats but in the wrong train. Thus we had seats for at least some of the journey.
The Frankfurt-Leipzig leg was a bit better, but I still thought that the leg space left a bit to desire if they want to compete with the air lines.
In Leipzig we organised the onward journey to Gräfenhainichen. This we did by doing battle with the automatic ticketing machine. I was about to give up when Jim got something right and we managed to obtain two tickets using my credit card.
Getting off the train in Gräfenhainichen we started marching towards the forest. Knowing that water is not easily available in the forest we stopped at a house on the way out and manged to get our bottles filled. The aim was to set up camp in the forest, but we walked about 2 hours before I managed to get Jim to stop. We only set up tent after sun set.
An early start, just after 8h00. Initially we got a bit confused, there are so many criss crossing forestry roads, but than Jim found Bad Schmiedeberg on his GPS and we could at least take aim and more or less maintain direction. When we got to the first batch of signs it was possible to orientate ourselves on the map and walking became much more purposeful.
Had a long stop at the Wilhelmsgrubequell for lunch and just hanging around talking to some locals who found us interesting. Obviously it doesn't happen everyday that people hike through the Dübener Heide with a rucksack and house on the back.
On we went, past the Reitergrab and the Bertagrab. These are two graves dating from 1637 when the Swedes were in the area fighting the 30 year war. They did not behave very well and one of them killed Berta who in turn got killed by her fiancé. On Berta's grave one is supposed to put flowers and on the grave of the Swede we must throw some rocks, which we did.
Once over the B2 (one of the main roads cutting through the Heide) we took a cross country route which landed us in some difficulties because there were some Beavers in the forest which had caused havoc with the flow of the stream and we had to balance over fallen trees and branches to get through. It was here that we picked up most of our mushrooms for dinner, all Boletus edulus.
The night was spent under a table on the veranda of the Jagtteichhütte. Here we also talked to a local hunter who warned us of some shooting that would be going on at dusk. And he also turned out to know many of the people that I know from town.
The shots were fired and then there was peace until early in the morning when we could hear the Red Deer calling nearby, that was beautyfull.
We walked to town past the Zigeunergrab, the Jungferngrab, the Schöne Aussicht and the Schmiederberger Weinberge. After arrival at Raiks house we took a shower, put on (semi)clean cloth and took a stroll through town. Showing Jim all the places where I lived, the house I was born in (picture) and places where my ancestors lived. And further out to the Blaue Auge (a flooded claypit which we used to swim in and where we dived for war war ammunition and weapons) and the Grüne Auge. Dinner at the Pfeffermühle finished the evening.
Spent some time on the computer trying to organise some train tickets to get us to Dresden and to get me back from Leipzig to Frankfurt airport. This was all done very successfully.
After a short bicycle ride past the Lausiger Teich and some bomb craters made by Jim's dad we got back and went off with Sabine to Wittenberg to catch the train.
The train was late, very late resulting in us having very quick change overs in Falkenberg and Bihlau. Dresden was very easy because Roland came down to fetch us.
The first day with Roland was planned for Dresden. Walking through the town looking at the Schloss, the Zwinger, Hofkirche, Semperoper and the Frauenkirche, all very interesting, especially remembering that all that stuff was flattened during the 2.World War. The Frauenkirche was the last major building to be re-erected, the two pictures show what it looks like now and how it was in 1945.
Lunch was in the Kneipe (bar) 'Das Schwarze Schaf' (the black sheep), which was away from the tourist center and thus should be much cheaper, which it was. A short tour through Roland's allotment and us admiring his vegies and other things he grows there, ended the day.
The evening meal was in the Schöne Aussicht, a restaurant overlooking the town center and beyond. The food was alright as well.
The plan was to show us the countryside to the south-east of Dresden, an area known as the Sächsische Schweiz (Saxonian Switzerland). First stop was at the Lilienstein where we jumped out and ran up the mountain. This we did in shirtsleeves, the weather was ok. Only when we got to the top did it start to rain. Thus after a quick coffee break westarted going down as fast as we could. But then had to slow down because mushroom season had started again. Roland had a shopping bag full of mushrooms.
It was at this time that Roland convinced us to forget about sleeping out in a cave and to rather go back home with him and sleep in the comfort of his flat.
And the rain became worse as we went over to the Czech side for lunch. And he insisted on paying because it was so cheap. What we had paid the previous evening for one meal he paid here for three.
Now we had an unplanned extra morning, what was to be done? Ulrike offered to take us on a tour through Meissen. This is the next town on the Elbe downstream from Dresden. It is mostly known for the re-invention of porcelain in Europe (the Chinese knew how to make it already) by Johann Böttger. We walked through the old town, they have done this up nicely and up to the Albrechtsburg. Paying €5 allowed us to walk through the castle and the church.
And from here we took Jim to the station in Dresden to catch the ICE to Frankfurt. I stayed for the night to take a train back to Schmiedeberg the next day. End of report.
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