30 Aug 2014
|Once we left Nuremberg, we started our trek to the town of Coburg. Given it was sort of on the way to Dresden, and given we live in a suburb of the same name, it was impossible to go past as a stop. Plus, there was a historic old town and a castle there, so what more of an invitation did we need?
We were both excited when we came to the sign that said "Welcome to Coburg". We wanted to take our pictures under it, but there was no where to stop the car. Eventually I found a car park, opposite a majestic square which had a statue of someone important surrounded by flowers and plants. The statue was of Ernst 1 von Sachsen - Duke of Coburg and Gotha.
We first got out of the car and looked for a place to take a picture of each other, with the town name nearby. We found the town hall, which had the name Coburg next to it. Tess started by taking my picture, then a lovely old man said he'd take a picture of both of us. He took Tess' camera, and we posed, then he handed it back. We were very grateful, only to find he hadn't actually taken a picture. Tess has vowed that she won't ask anyone to take our picture any more, as "no one can do it properly".
We walked around the near the residence palace, which was being restored, and towards the church nearby. The church was closed, as it too was undergoing restoration - due to open in October 2014. We noticed that the sewer traps, and several of the street signs had the profile of what appeared to be an African Man. He has a large ring through his ear. We thought (cynically) that this was something sinister. After we left however, I did some research and found that the face was meant to honor the patron saint of Coburg, Saint Maurice, who originated in Egypt.
We walked through some small streets, and eventually ended up in the market square. What we hadn't planned on however, was for there to be a celebration. There were marquees in the square, and a band was playing music for people to listen to whilst they had their beer and bratwurst. We grabbed a bratwurst which was huge. It was placed in a roll which was about 2" long. The sausages were about 8" long. You could say that there was a bit of an overhang.
We looked for places to buy postcards after that, so we had something to say we'd come to Coburg. The only place we could find was the Tourist Information centre, which shut at 2pm. (It was 4:30pm). We tried to get a town map - but that needed 50c, which had to be a 50c precisely. If you put in 20c coins and 10c coins to make up 50c, it swallowed them and you got no map. Grrrr.
We got back to the car, realising we still had a few hours to go before we reached Dresden. The car park was squishy, and there was no room to turn around, so I drove forward for a bit and looked for a place to u-turn. I thought I was in a safe place, when a car came speeding past and almost collected us. If I'd moved 5 seconds earlier, he'd have t-boned us. So I gave up doing the u-turn, and decided to follow him and look for a better spot. I didn't really find one.
However, we did end up on a road going up the mountain, which took us to a surprise destination - Coburg castle. We had wanted to come and look around here, as it has a lot of history, including a period where Martin Luther stayed at the castle. But we had arrived too late and had to skip the visit. However, it didn't mean couldn't take some quick photos of one of the biggest castles in Germany. The view from the top of the hill was nice. You could see the town of Coburg below through the trees.
We managed to get a souvenir coin from a machine near the castle. I asked a bus driver if he could change some coins so we could use the machine, which he did happily. Bavarians are sooooo nice to strangers!
We jumped back in the car, and plotted our course to Dresden. Only 3hrs to go. It meant that we would get in somewhere near nine o'clock tonight. I wasn't thrilled about this, but it was the best we could do, given how much we'd tried to fit in. Plus, we were in a very nice sports car, and we had autobahn roads to go, so I could make up some time........
Which was a great idea, except the first 100km were on roads which were catagory "b" and "d" roads. Catagory "D" are roads which are limited to 100km\h, and mostly only fit one car. So if you see another car coming the other way, you slow down and put one wheel on the shoulder of the road, whilst the car coming the other way does the same. "B" roads are better, have lines marked and usually enough space for both cars to pass each other without coming close to one another. They also have passing lanes periodically.
Once we got through this bit, we were onto the autobahn, and I was able to put the foot down to make up some lost time. Tess had her usual nanna nap in the passenger seat, so I kept going focussed on saving some time. The road to Dresden was mostly 3 lanes, although there were periods where this was reduced to 2, or the three lanes became very narrow, due to roadworks. Outside of the roadworks, I was able to sit on 160km\h without the car feeling like it was under any strain at all.
I continued like this for over an hour, and as I got closer to Dresden, I became a bit more excited, and started going a bit faster. There was one period where I was going down hill, and there was no cars around and the road was very, very straight. I felt that I'd picked up some speed, and looked down at the dashboard, and then the GPS. The dashboard had me going just over 200km\h. It felt like we were doing 130 in the car in France. The GPS said I was going 192km\h. I eased off the accelerator, and let the hill on the other side of the valley slow me back down. By the time I got to the top, I was back to 160km\h. Shortly afterwards I said to Tess I wanted to pull over and take a rest. Although I was alert when that happened, I was worried that I was losing concentration, and thought it best to recharge the batteries.
We finally got to Dresden, just after 8.35pm, which included a 10 min stop at the road house. Tess's jaw almost fell through the floor of the car when she saw the buildings of Dresden all lit up along the Elba river at night. I hadn't seen the river front at night before either, and it was very beautiful. However tonight all I wanted to do was find the hotel, and eat some dinner.
The hotel was very nice. It was situated on the Market Square of Dresden, and less than 100m away from Frauenkirche, the main church of Dresden. We skipped out for a dinner at one of the few restaurants with a kitchen still open. We had a traditional dinner for the region (or well, I did). Braised beef with red cabbage in apple juice, plus some potato. Tess had the Saxon version of a Bratwurst.
With our long day finally done, we headed back to the hotel, eager to get some rest and do some exploring in the morning.