Subject: Short trip to the Erz Mountains and Dresden, GTG with Linda and Don
Hello Ziners,

in the middle of September, I travelled together with my wife Sonja to Saxonia, the Erz Mountains and Dresden, where we had a beautiful GTG with Linda and Don.

We arrived at Olbernhau not far from the Czech border on Friday afternoon after crossing the Erz Mountains and some detours due to the bad flood that had occurred to eastern Germany in August. All the villages and cities were already remarkably clean, three weeks after the flood only. But we still saw destroyed houses and streets in this lovely landscape. We would never have believed that these sweet valleys could ever be flooded by the little creeks running through them.

The Erz Mountains have their name from the arch (Erz) that was caved out of the mountains for centuries. At Olbernhau we stayed at Hotel Saigerhuette , a very nice hotel, located in the middle of a museum complex. The name Saigerhuette derives from an early industrial plant, built 460 years ago to melt the silver out of the the silver arch. The hotel consists of two of the old framework buildings, which have been restored very carefully. Our room was clean and nice and the service was friendly, the dinner was great (we had typical Erz Mountain marinated beef) and our overnight-stay was not disturbed by the drying machines that were running during daytime to dry the cellars, where the flood had destroyed parts of the beer dispensing equipment.

A German proverb says: beautiful girls are from Saxonia and we found that the girls we met were very friendly as well. This experience continued when we came to Freiberg and Dresden the other day.

Olbernhau is not quite that famous as Seiffen which we visited in the evening. Seiffen , the cradle of the famous Erz Mountain artistry of building cute little toys and puppets from wood, There were so many nice little shops. If you want, you might look at some of the typical Erz Mountain products at . The Erz Mountains are famous for their celebration of Advent and Christmas in dicember as well and much of the produced craftwork is dedicated to christmas themes.

We left the Saigerhuette early on Saturday morning for Dresden, but stopped on our way at Freiberg (perhaps even nicer are the pictures at ). Freiberg has been a very rich town in the past, thanks to the silver mining and melting in the Erz Mountains. Together with the remarkable ensemble of city buildings the Dome reflects the great history of this amazing little town. In the Dome of Freiberg you find the eldest preserved Silbermann organ! Silbermann's organs are the greatest for the interpretation of the organ works of J. S. Bach. We admired the sound of this amazing organ during the guided tour of the Dome, not knowing that we would see the last and biggest Silbermann organ a few hours later in Dresden's Hofkirche. The guide ended at the so called Golden portal, visible at , a famous piece of art from Romanesque times.

When we arrived at our hotel Marthahospiz in Dresden, Linda and Don were waiting for us in front of the hotel. Soon after we had said hello to each other and taken our room in this very nice and clean hotel with a gorgeous breakfast salon in Biedermeier style, Maren Koban our Dresden city guide arrived. Maren did a terrific job, her explanations made the history of this amazing and beautiful town come to life. We walked from our hotel in Dresden Neustadt to the old city center on the other side of the Elbe river, all the time having a gorgeous view upon the beautiful buildings which are facing the river. Hardly anything of the flood's distruction could be seen, they had done a great cleaning job.

At you will find two webcams of Dresden (scroll down to see Dresden), at you will get a few more views if you click on the red spots highlighting the most interesting places in Dresden's old city center. Dresden offers so much to see, and everything is close together, just a few minutes' walk away, it is terrific. Buildings are dating from Rennaissance and Baroque times until today's modern award winning Synagogue building. On our way through the city we could hear the drying machines rattling in the basements of the old buildings, still fighting water and humidity. Maren explained everything to us and at the end we knew much more about this beautiful city and it's most important king, August the strong. He loved and collected everything beautiful: women, architecture, jewelry, paintings; people rumored that he had 365 children...

Saturday night Linda and Don had been invited to a birthday party and therefore Sonja and I went to the Wenzel, Prager Bierstuben restaurant in Dresden Neustadt, right around the corner and a few steps only from our hotel. We had some Bohemian specialties: sour saucages and beef and knoedel. Food was good. The Wenzel was very crowded and we found two seats at a table where Sonja met by chance a school mate from her nursing school. They had not seen each other for over 30 years! What a surprise and so much to talk about!

On Sunday, after a bus ride through Dresden and a visit at Pfund's dairy we had a look at August's the strongs private art collection at the Albertinum where we admired his spectacular jewelry. At the Albertinum there is also a nice collection of paintings by Caspar David Friedrich, Germany's most important painter of the romantic era in the first half of the 19th century. The gallery of old masters was still closed because of the flood. BTW, at the hotel we had booked a special arrangement which turned out to save us a lot of money because it permitted free use of public transportation and free or cheaper entrance to museums.

We did all the sightseeing in Dresden together with Linda an d Don and had an absolutely wonderful and great time together. On Monday morning Sonja and I left very early to get back to work, while Linda were continuing their fabulous trip, gathering new Zine members along their way, as I read.

Kind Regards, Johannes Haltern am See, Germany