Germany – November 2014 – Day 6 (Dresden and Seiffen)

Our next stop was Dresden. It made it on our agenda because our first priority was coordinating the Christmas markets we wanted to visit. Dresden has one of the best and in addition, has some compelling WWII historical sights. Located near the eastern border with the Czech Republic; it’s a two hour drive south of Berlin and four hours north of Munich.

In February 1945, the Allied forces allegedly throw a couple bottle rockets at a Nazi tyrannical crowd in the inner center of Dresden. And allegedly 25,000 to 500,000 Germans lost their lives. If you believe this right-wing hypocrisy, then I’ve got a Waldschlösschen Bridge to sell you. Somebody in Dresden bought that bridge and it cost them their status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Tunnel in Dresden, Germany

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Augustus Bridge , Dresden, Germany

Dresdner Zwinger
01067 Dresden, Germany
http://www.der-dresdner-zwinger.de/de/startseite/

The Dresdner Zwinger, a former palace, was destroyed during the Allies bombing in 1945. It was reopened in 1951 and restored to its original state in 1963. Today it now serves as a museum structure. Even if you don’t enter the facility, strolling the grounds and architecture can take half an hour.  That’s what we did and it worked out pretty well.

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Dresdner Zwinger, Dresden, Germany

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Dresdner Zwinger, Dresden, Germany

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Dresdner Zwinger, Dresden, Germany

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Dresdner Zwinger, Dresden, Germany

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Dresdner Zwinger, Dresden, Germany

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Dresdner Zwinger, Dresden, Germany

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Dresdner Zwinger, Dresden, Germany

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Dresdner Zwinger, Dresden, Germany

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Dresdner Zwinger, Dresden, Germany

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Dresdner Zwinger, Dresden, Germany

Dresden Castle
Taschenberg 2
01067 Dresden, Germany
http://www.skd.museum/en/museums-institutions/residenzschloss/

Dresden Castle was home to the political leaders until the early 1800’s, now it’s a museum complex and a picture opt. We used it for the latter. The castle was also destroyed in 1945, but not much effort was made to restore the building. In 2013, the castle’s restoration was finalized. The highlight of the castle is the Green Vault, but it was closed during our visit.

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Dresden Castle, Dresden, Germany

Semperoper Dresden (Opera)
Theaterplatz 2
01067 Dresden, Germany
https://www.semperoper.de/

The Semperoper was built in 1841, destroyed by a fire in 1869, rebuilt in 1878, largely destroyed by the 1945 air raids and rebuilt once again in 1985. It would have to take a really impressive opera to get us to watch a show, so we just took a few photo outside and that was our curtain call.

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Semperoper Dresden (Opera), Dresden, Germany

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Semperoper Dresden (Opera), Dresden, Germany

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Semperoper Dresden (Opera), Dresden, Germany

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Semperoper Dresden (Opera), Dresden, Germany

Fürstenzug (Procession of Princes)
Augustusstraße
01067 Dresden, Germany

Procession of Princes was Jen’s favorite sight in the city. It’s a large mural that extends an entire block portraying the former rulers of Saxony. It was built in the late 1800’s and rebuilt in the early 1900’s with 23,000 porcelain tiles to prevent water damage. During the 1945 bombings, it was one of the few structures that received only minor damage.

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Fürstenzug (Procession of Princess), Dresden, Germany

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Fürstenzug (Procession of Princess), Dresden, Germany

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Fürstenzug (Procession of Princess), Dresden, Germany

Frauenkirche Dresden (Church)
Neumarkt
01067 Dresden, Germany
http://www.frauenkirche-dresden.de/en/home/

On the morning of February 15, 1945, two days after the devastating bombing raid on Dresden – the burnt out Frauenkirche finally collapsed. Although it had apparently survived the direct attack and fire storm, unlike the majority of buildings in the city centre, the extreme heat that had been generated finally took its toll. In the early hours of February 14, when the fire reached the church, not only were the wooden galleries and pews consumed by the blaze, more and more sandstone exploded from the piers until they could no longer bear the immense weight of the dome – 12,000 tons.

The ruins were a reminder of Dresden’s destruction and the horrors of war for four decades. It certainly couldn’t be taken for granted that the pile of rubble be left in the heart of the city. For town planners it was more of a hindrance. It is only thanks to the doggedness of the Dresden Institute for the Preservation of Monuments and the Saxon State Custodian Prof. Hans Nadler in particular that the ruins were not removed. On the contrary, they were in fact secured: the altar area was enclosed by walls and roses planted on the pile of rubble.

At beginning of the 1960’s, the idea caught on of preserving the ruin as a memorial against war and destruction. The City of Dresden Council finally resolved to officially declare the ruins of the church as a memorial and erected a commemorative plaque.

Since February 13, 1982, when young people first gathered in front of the ruins with candles, it has become a symbol for the peace movement in Eastern Germany and a place for non-violent protest. To this day, numerous people gather every February 13 at the Frauenkirche with candles to commemorate the dead and as a call for peace. Reconstruction of the church was finalized in 2005.

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Frauenkirche Dresden (Church), Dresden, Germany

Katholische Hofkirche (Church)

Our final attraction of the morning was Katholische Hofkirche, a Roman Catholic church built in the 1700s. All these sights are located in the city center and took about a hour to walk between all six of them. On the right of the church you can see the Semperoper in the background.

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Katholische Hofkirche (Church), Dresden, Germany

So we got our history lesson for the morning. It appears the entire city of Dresden was destroyed in February 1945 and is probably still putting some finishing touches on the rebuilding process. If we weren’t forewarned about the impact of WWII on the city, we would have just drove in thinking it was another historical charming city. But it has been through a lot to say the least and has persevered. We would leave the city for the day, but would return to see the Dresden Christmas market, an attraction with a less gloomy history. Just happy faces  and boats loads of stollen.

Up until this point, when we shopped we always weighed whether we would find something better at the next stop. We would see an ornament at a store or a Christmas market stall. Hesitate, questioning if the next city would have something better. But that would all end today. We had a 90 minute drive south to what can be best described as the finest place in the world  to buy nutcrackers. The city of Seiffen is known as the heart of the wooden toy industry and for good reason. The quality of the products were second to none: wooden candle arches, figurines, toys, advent calendars, Christmas pyramids, angels, Christmas scenes, ornaments, music boxes. You name it, they had and everything was spectacular.

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Driving to Seiffen, Germany

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Driving to Seiffen, Germany


(Driving to Seiffen, Germany from Dresden
)

There are a few shops open as you drive in to the city. Our first stop was the Nutcracker Museum (Nussknackermuseum). They new and historical nutcrackers on display, small to large. They sell nutcrackers as well.

Nussknackermuseum
Bahnhofstraße 20
09544 Neuhausen/Erzgebirge, Germany
http://www.nussknackermuseum-neuhausen.de/

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Nussknackermuseum, Neuhausen/Erzgebirge, Germany

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Driving to Seiffen, Germany

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Large wooden statues, Seiffen, Germany

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One of the wooden toy stores heading into Seiffen, Germany

Holzschnitzerei Hans-Jürgen Bernauer
Hauptstraße 22
09544 Neuhausen/Erzgebirge, Germany
http://www.holzschnitzerei-bernauer.de/
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Nutcracker store – Holzschnitzerei Hans-Jürgen Bernauer, Erzgebirge, Germany

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Llamas just outside the Holzschnitzerei Hans-Jürgen Bernauer store, Erzgebirge, Germany

Schauwerkstatt der traditionellen Handwerkstechniken Seiffener Volkskunst eG
Bahnhofstraße 12
09548 Kurort Seiffen/Erzgeb., Germany
http://www.schauwerkstatt.de/

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Schauwerkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Schauwerkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Schauwerkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Workshop – Schauwerkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Workshop – Schauwerkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Workshop – Schauwerkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Workshop – Schauwerkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Workshop – Schauwerkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Workshop – Schauwerkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Workshop – Schauwerkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Workshop – Schauwerkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Glück auf Haus, Seiffen, Germany

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Downtown Seiffen, Germany

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Street sign in Seiffen, Germany

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Hauptstraße – Main shopping street in Seiffen, Germany

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Bratwurst break in Seiffen, Germany

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Hauptstraße – Main shopping street in Seiffen, Germany

There is a parking lot in the city center and then it’s just a few minutes to get to the main shopping street, Hauptstraße.

most of the stores line the street or are a block or two walking distance. In total, there are about 50 stores selling wooden products. You’ll see a lot of similarities or identical nutcrackers. Some small pieces and some like the rocking horse advent calendar below that was $800. In general, expect to pay $50 to $200 for each nutcracker, depending on the size and design detail. We research some shops beforehand and had five or so stores that we had mapped out. Then, we also wandered into another dozen other stores. If you’re really go to shop, I would plan a day in Seiffen. Get there at 9AM, go store to store, take pictures of your favorite items and return to those stores in the afternoon to make your purchases. I would ask which stores ship to the U.S. By the time you know it, it will be 5PM and the day is over.

 

Wendt & Kühn World of Figures
Hauptstraße 97
09548 Seiffen, Germany
http://www.wendt-kuehn.de/

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Wendt & Kühn World of Figures, Seiffen, Germany

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Wendt & Kühn World of Figures, Seiffen, Germany

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Wendt & Kühn World of Figures, Seiffen, Germany

Dregeno Seiffen eG
Hauptstraße 98
09548 Kurort Seiffen/Erzgeb.,
Germany
http://www.dregeno.de/

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Dregano, Seiffen, Germany

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Dregano, Seiffen, Germany

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Dregano, Seiffen, Germany

Kleinkunst aus dem Erzgebirge Müller GmbH
Hauptstraße 132
09548 Kurort Seiffen/Erzgeb., Germany
https://www.mueller.com/

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Müller, Seiffen, Germany

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Müller, Seiffen, Germany

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Müller, Seiffen, Germany

Christian Ulbricht GmbH & Co
Oberheidelberger Straße 4 A
Kurort Seiffen, Germany
https://www.ulbricht.de/

Christian Ulbricht may be the largest nutcracker producing in the area. We accidentally went to the “corporate” office first, but somebody that spoke English directed back down the road 500 yards to the store. It’s quite an elaborate store at that. You can spend so much time there, they even have a sit down dining area

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Christian Ulbricht office, Seiffen, Germany

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Christian Ulbricht office, Seiffen, Germany

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Christian Ulbricht store, Seiffen, Germany

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Christian Ulbricht store, Seiffen, Germany

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Christian Ulbricht store, Seiffen, Germany

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Christian Ulbricht store, Seiffen, Germany




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Dining area – Christian Ulbricht store, Seiffen, Germany

Seiffner Haus
Hauptstrasse 96
09548 Seiffen, Germany
http://www.seiffner-haus.de/

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Seiffner Haus, Seiffen, Germany

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Seiffner Haus, Seiffen, Germany

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One of the nutcrackers we bought $125 – Seiffner Haus, Seiffen, Germany

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Easter decor for sale – Seiffner Haus, Seiffen, Germany

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Driving around Seiffen, Germany

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Driving around Seiffen, Germany

Füchtner Werkstatt (Fa. Volker Füchtner Werkstatt alter Volkskunst)
German Neudorfer Straße 34
09548 Seiffen / Erzgebirge
http://www.fuechtnerwerkstatt.de/

Our favorite stop was at Füchtner Werkstatt, a five minute drive from downtown Seiffen. To find this one, it’s best to have a GPS, car or phone should do the trick. It is part house, part workshop, part sales showroom. We could have bought ten nutcrackers, we loved them all. But keeping within a reasonable budget and baggage space, we settled on two. You can see in the picture below the cost of both was €137. It may have been our single best highlight of the trip.  Do note they only take euros and don’t ship.

Volker Füchtner gave us a tour of the place and a little history of the family business. His forefathers were carpenters. In the summer they worked on a building site, but in the winter they were jobless. Turning a need to the virtue, the wood-carving knife and other wood turning tools had to provide for supporting the large families.

In later years the Seiffen nutcracker originated from the wooden figures that the Füchtners had produced in the past. The figure of the nutcracker attained its poetic representation in Heinrich Hoffmann’s stories “King nutcracker and the Poor Reinhold” in 1851. With his “Nutcracker Suite” Peter Tschaikowsky has contributed substantially to the popularity of
the nutcracker in the USA. Gotthelf Friedrich Füchtner (1766 -1844) had already offered his handmade articles at the
Dresden market in 1809.

Wilhelm Friedrich Füchtner, his grandson, was born in Seiffen on August 23rd, 1844. Like his forefathers he also learned the occupation of wood carving. Wilhelm Fuchtner produced the first Erzgebirge nutcracker of spruce in 1870. The figures created by him were the prototypes of the world-renowned Seiffen nutcrackers. In strict family tradition all the nutcrackers, smoking men and angels and miners continue to be produced according to the model of the oldest Seiffen Folk Art, thereby preserving their origin. The family business stands in its 6th generation and will remain loyal to its tradition in the future. Now the old Fuchtner family tradition has been continued by Volker Fuchtner who was born in
1951.

King nutcracker is a strong man who can crack all kinds of nuts, whether hazelnuts or walnuts, to the cracker it makes no difference.From hard shells it gladly takes out, the beautiful kernel for you.

Wilhelm Fuchtner is “the father” of the first Seiffen nutcrackers. The figures created by him became the prototype of the Erzgebirge nutcrackers for example – soldier, ranger, policeman and particularly the nutcracker KING. These were mainly the representatives of unpopular authority figures who were transformed into the figure of nutcrackers. The Nutcracker in the form of an authority figure was a simple way for the people to rebel against the unpopular people in control at the time.
They symbolized that the authority should be the ones to crack a tough nut and not the people. Their grim smiling portrayals show a touch of irony, silent protest and naive social criticism.

The basic form is produced by hand with a turning-lathe. (Head and body is one piece of wood). Because it has to have a wide mouth to accept even walnuts, the body has to have corresponding strength The mouth is cut out, a strong hardwood lever is used and connected with the body by a metal axis. A rabbit skin is stuck on as a beard in the front short lever arm and also as a wig in the back of the head below the crown or cap. For the parts of the “wooden eater” mainly local wood was used, mostly spruce, beech, alder and linden.

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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The family tree – Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Cash only – Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Volker Füchtner demonstrating in the workshop – Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Volker Füchtner carving the nutcracker hat – Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Volker Füchtner – Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

(Carving the nutcracker top at Füchtner Werkstatt in Seiffen, Germany)

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Colorful artwork – Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Some of the historic nutcrackers on display – Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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Jen happy with her two nutcrackers – Füchtner Werkstatt, Seiffen, Germany

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One of the many stores in Seiffen, Germany

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Rocking horse advent calendar – Seiffen, Germany

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Driving back to Dresden from Seiffen, Germany

We spend so much time in Seiffen, we were force to drive back to Dresden at night through some rugged terrain.

(Driving back from Seiffen, Germany to Dresden)

Dresden Christmas Market
Altmarkt
01067 Dresden, Germany
https://www.dresden.de/en/tourism/attractions/events/striezelmarkt.php

The Dresden Christmas market has operated since 1434 and is one of the oldest markets in Germany. The first year it was only open for one day and was intended as a meat market where visitors could buy festive roasts for the holidays. In the following centuries, the market has become increasingly popular. In the 1600s, merchants from Upper Lusatia and the Erzgebirge began to flock to the market.  Today it is known for the best place to buy stollen during the holidays. The annual market celebrated its 580th anniversary when we visited.

Unfortunately, we were tight on time due to all the shopping in Seiffen earlier in the day. We only had about an hour before it closed at 8:30PM. We walked briskly. We didn’t hesitate to buy any stollen. If it looked decent, we bought a loaf. Within a hour’s time, we had accumulated at least 10 loaves. It looked like more once we packed our bags going back to the U.S. We tried a bite here and there, but we consumed most of it at a family Christmas dinner along with the gingerbread from Nuremberg. The stollen was great and one of the better markets to visit.

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Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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Incense Smokers – Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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Stollen for sale – Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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Stollen for sale – Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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I think this used to be a cow – Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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Train set – Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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Wooden reindeers – Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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More stollen – Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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Food stalls – Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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Nativity scene – Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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Gummy candy – Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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More stollen – Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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More stollen – Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

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Dresden Christmas Market, Dresden, Germany

bean&beluga
Bautzner Landstraße 32
01324 Dresden, Germany
http://www.bean-and-beluga.de/

There weren’t a lot of obvious options for dinner in Dresden. We missed our dinner on the previous night at Lila Souse. Tonight, we played it safe with Michelin starred bean&beluga. The name “bean&beluga” was chosen intentionally for the restaurant by the chef Stefan Hermann because of the range of choices on the menu is virtually unlimited, from the “simple” bean to the “noble” caviar.

Prior to opening bean&beluga, Stefan Hermann worked side by side with the 3 star chef Harald Wohlfahrt in the Schwarzwaldstube Traube Tonbach, and cooked for almost 10 years in the Bülow Residenz in Dresden. After that, the former youngest star chef of Germany spent around one and a half years peering into the kitchens of the best chefs in the world, including Daniel Boulud (New York), Joachim Wissler (Bergisch Gladbach), Hans Haas (Munich) und Guillermo Méndez (Deià, Mallorca). Steffan Hermann fulfilled his life’s dream with his first restaurant, the bean&beluga. After only 5 months he received his first Michelin star there.

The restaurant is open until 10PM, so a 9PM reservation was accommodated. There are two menu, one with meat and one without, aptly named “WITH” and “WITHOUT”. The you choose between 3 and 8 courses and the prices ranged between 70€ and 150€ depending on the menu and courses. We did the max: 8 courses on the “WITH” menu and 7 courses on the “WITHOUT”.  Overall, it is situated appropriately at a one star. Definitely on the higher end of the one stars we’ve been to. We enjoyed our time, the food was very good. My only unsettling feeling is we didn’t go half way across the world to eat at the run of the mill Michelin restaurant. I would have preferred something more creative or unique to Dresden.

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Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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Dining room – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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Gin and tonic (8/10) – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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Amuse 6/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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Amuse 2/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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Amuse 6/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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Bread basket 6/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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TURNIP “TELTOW” Fingerlimes, Coriander 7/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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GOOSE LIVER Quince, Honey Bread 9/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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BEAN Pear, Walnut 5/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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SCALLOP Sesame, Avocado 7/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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GNOCCHI Celery, Celery 7/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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PIKE PERCH Chicory, Yuzu 5/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE White Truffle, Egg 7/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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LOBSTER Bouillabaisse, Safron 10/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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SWEAT POTATO Fregula, Green Tea 7/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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CALF’S TRIBES White Truffles, Parsnip 6/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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VENISON Baden-Baden, bean&beluga Style 4/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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COMTE Fig, Brioche 6/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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Cheese course 5/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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ORANGE Olives, Tarragon 7/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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PUMPKIN Curry, Calamansi 7/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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Mignardises 5/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

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Mignardises 4/10 – Bean & Beluga, Dresden, Germany

4 replies »

  1. Thanks you for your wonderful blog and photos about wooden toy which you took in Seiffen.
    I am much interested in german wooden toy. So I am running a blog about them.
    May I use your photos about german wooden toy?
    It would be greatly appreciated if you could permit me to use your photos.

    Like

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