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Natasha's husband is German and as they don't live together and it being Chinese new year, they flew to Dresden to see him and asked me if I wanted to go and meet young Nina. Cheapest flights were on Ryan air to Altenburg, but that meant getting an airport bus to Leipzeig and then a train to Dresden. Never mind, bit of an adventure and a chance to see some of the east German countryside covered in snow.

Ryan air whisk me off to darkest Altenburg in Saxony

Altenburg was little more than a village and the airport more used to 2 seater Cessna's than commercial aircraft.
Checked into a hostel that I'd booked through Ryan Air called "Die Boofe" that just happened to be right the other end of the city to where Nina was staying. Spent the first night chatting to the owner who spoke pretty good English. Ended up getting pretty drunk but felt good about being in Germany!!
Now, Nina was kinda glum when she saw me the next day. She hadn't seen me for 6 months and I guess was feeling a little apprehensive. She wouldn't talk to me fot the first half an hour which ws upsetting for me. I thought desperately what to do while we were sitting on the tram. Suddenly, I saw a toy shop out of the window and we jumped off at the next stop. The effect was instantaneous, a big wide grin and she started babbling about what kind of games she liked now......roll the mouse over the picture to see Nina lighten up!!!
Nina posing in front of a tram. Notice the lack of smile; this was pre-toy shop.
So, during my 5 day stay the routine was get up in the morning and take the tram down over the river Elbe to "Bunau Strasse" where Mum and Nina would be waiting
Now, on the thursday which was my last full day, I didn't get to pick up Nina till late afternoon so I got the chance to wander around the town on my own and look at the city centre which has been largely restored since the war.
Situated on the river Elbe, Dresden was once compared to Florence for it's beauty. All that changed after 2 days of firebombing in February 1945 when the city was flattened.
I bought a book that described in pictures about the destruction and rebuilding of the "Frauenkirche" which was a grand protestant cathedral. But couldn't find it, though as you can see there were many other fine buildings
Lots of other buildings in the process of reconstruction
This is what the Fraenkirche looked like a couple of hundred years ago....
....And this is what it looked like after the war...up until 1992.
And finaly I saw it in the distance with scaffolding around the top
Using a mixture of salvaged materials and new, mined from the same location as the originals, the church is scheduled for completion in June 2004
<a href="dresmovie.mpg"> <img src="drebuilding1.jpg" border="0" align="left" width="160" height="120" vspace="10" hspace="20" /> </a>

I went on what I thought was a tour of the building, and we were duly led into the crypt.It was however a lecture(in German) describing the whole reconstruction process. They also showed a video, but the whole thing went on for about an hour and I was too embarressed to get up and leave!

The next day I left in a blizzard, and after missing the only bus that went from Leipzeig to Altenburg, I had to take a taxi to the airport which cost more than the entire return flight.........

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