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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

21 September 2023

Handsome Germany

Thursday 7th September 2023

We’ve seen so much in Germany that is impressively handsome and grand. The canals of Augsburg, the walls of Rothenburg, the old city of Bamberg, the might of Koenigsburg. Today we can add the romantic castle of Meissen, the tower-ringed town of Bautzen and the medieval centre of Gorlitz.

Four explore Germany

Not needing a third trek up the steps, we took an inclined elevator up to the Domplatz of Meissen (reading reviews on TripAdvisor, it seems that local opinion is divided on whether this elevator was a brilliant idea or a horrific waste of public money! I think it’s possible to be both).

The castle is reputed to be the oldest in Germany, but it has been restored and rebuilt multiple times and the interior is very decidedly a late 19th century medievalist fantasy. But wonderful for all that! The banqueting hall with its giant murals and acres of glossily polished wooden floor is one of the most beautiful spaces I’ve ever been in. Rather wonderfully they make you put on gigantic felt overshoes before entering (so that you have to shuffle around and help polish the floor, instead of merely scuffing it!).

The banqueting hall in felt feet

There were many more halls and chambers, many more romantic 19th century paintings. The castle was actually turned into a giant ceramics factory through the 18th and 19th century, so the restoration was actually necessary as once gutted by industry the castle must have been a sad affair.

19th century romanticism on the walls of Meissen

Leaving Meissen we made two stops on the way to Poland. Bautzen is a charming town, distinctive for having a large population of Sorbs (a slavic ethnic group) and so many signs in two languages. It also has a lot of very well preserved medieval towers – this makes for a great 45 minute stroll. Although today the mercury read 27 degrees and the sun was determined to bake us crispy. My favourite tower was Matthiasturm, of course. Lunch was another German classic: currywurst on the town square. If you aren’t familiar, I will describe a Bautzen currywurst. Take a sausage, pour a large amount of spicy ketchup on it, then drop a tablespoon of curry powder on top. Add chips.

Currywurst in Bautzen. Yes, that is curry powder

Honestly, it’s good.

A vista of Bautzen, baking in the sun

Gorlitz was our second stop, a small city on the Polish border where we cooled off with iced coffee. Funny how iced coffee “recipes” vary around the world. In Germany what you will get is a long coffee with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream on top. Actual ice doesn’t feature.

Anyway, Gorlitz is yet another beautiful townscape. It seems to be packed with handsome squares lined with Renaissance and Baroque town houses, dotted with the odd tower or church. We didn’t have time for a proper exploration, so have decided (perhaps) on changing the end of our trip to stop off here again.

Gorlitz – needs more exploration

Aaaaanyway, clearly a long day! Finally we arrived in Poland, and immediately slowed down. Instead of miles and miles of 100kph straight roads with the occasional 50kph village interrupting, in Poland we found essentially one continuous village of 50kph road with very occasional stretches of 90kph country road, usually only just long enough to get up to 90 before the next village sign appeared.

Our hotel in Jelenia Gora looks good, and the town square is a lovely spot lined with pubs, cafes and restaurants. We picked out a place called Kucie Smaku and got lucky with some really great Polish cooking: duck livers, wildfowl broth with dumplings, goose pierogis, fried potato pancakes and goulash, etc. Stuffed again!

Jelenia Gora square from our table at Kucie Smaku

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