Tuesday, January 31, 2012

val d'isére 2012

No words needed, really. Skiing vacations are the best because your mind just goes blank when you're going down the slopes. S. did well at the resort crèche and seems to have enjoyed the snow, so maybe it's genetic. I did a pastry class at Maison Chevallot on macaroons one evening and it made me wish I had done it sooner. And on our last day we saw the most amazing mer de nuages from the Pissaillas Glacier.

More photos here.

dresden christmas markets

The Dresden Christmas markets deserve a post of their own.

In total we visited 5: the Advent am Neumarkt next to our apartment (pictured above), the medieval market on our way to Residenzschloss, the Striezelmarkt (the main one) and smaller ones at Munzgasse and near the Frauenkirche. I like that most stalls still sell local or handcrafted items, but I couldn't help comparing prices with the ones we'd been to in Bayern: it's way more expensive to buy these things in Dresden.

The medieval market was especially nice and my favorite one, I think because it was enclosed by such beautiful buildings, and everyone was dressed in period costumes.

Or maybe because I found a stall that was selling handspun yarn. I bought 3 skeins, they were irresistible.

The smaller ones near the Frauenkirche and Munzgasse were quieter and not so crowded...
We went a couple of times to the main Christmas market at the Altmarkt (the Striezelmarkt). This is a huge market, almost comparable to my favorite one in Nuremberg. I particularly loved the children's area and the gingerbread house. There were a lot of events going on, and I was sorry to see that we had missed the Stollen festival by a week. The Dresden Stollen is the most famous one, a sort of moist fruitcake which is the main specialty at all the local markets. We tried one on our last day and although I'm not usually a fan of fruitcakes I can say I quite enjoyed this one.

More photos on Flickr: Prague, Dresden.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Who hasn't heard about Dresden, the city that was so blitzed during WWII ? This was as much as I knew about the place, and I also knew a lot of reconstruction work had been made, but nothing prepared me for how beautiful it turned out. Old Town Dresden is enchanting, especially during December with all the Christmas markets in full force. First things first ... back in Prague we woke up early to make it to the train station on time. As all of you who ever traveled with a baby probably know, it is hard to ever be on time for anything. In fact, we almost didn't catch our flight in Lisbon, and this time we got on the train as the doors were closing. Yes, that close. Arriving in Dresden we checked in at our apartment near the Frauenkirche. Again, very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the apartment. It had plenty of space for Sara to run around, a nice bedroom and large living room and very functional kitchen. Also, it was located at the start of the pedestrian zone, and within walking distance to all the main attractions (and a 10 minute tram ride from the train station).
We were hungry, so decided to take a brief tour of the Christmas market next door, and then headed to Paulaner's where we had the best meal of the whole trip. It was full when we came in so we grabbed the last table by the door, but it was fine. The waitress even brought a baby chair for Sara although she had to sit below the table. She loved it though, and ate quite a bit of that spaghetti. As I said, delicious meal, great service, and really good beer according to A.

After lunch it was time for a bit of museum time. There are two major museums to visit in Dresden, the Residenzschloss and the Zwinger. We had purchased the Dresden card which allowed for free entry into some of the main exhibits, and decided to visit the Residenzschloss first because it would be closed the next day. So we toured the Neues Grunes Gewolbe and the Turkisch Cammer, both very good and quite interesting. Luckily Sara fell asleep quickly so A. carried her around in the Ergo during the whole visit.
Later in the afternoon we went to the main Christmas market at the Altmarkt: the Striezelmarkt. We had dinner there (Thuringer rostbratwurst, what else ?). The day after we explored a bit more of historical Dresden and the rest of the Christmas markets (this deserves a separate post coming up next). During the morning we went up the Frauenkirche and admired the views.
We also strolled near the river and the Kunst Halle.
And then visited the exhibits at the Zwinger, which we quite enjoyed in particular the Old Masters' Gallery.
Another stroll through the main market, and then we were tired so found a really nice café to rest for a while. It was the Einstein Café, right across the Altmarkt. A hot chocolate and a warm cappuccino were exactly what we needed.
Dinner had been booked the day before at Sophienkeller, which I think is mainly a thing for tourists, but the atmosphere is quite unforgettable. The food was OK, not exactly memorable but not bad either. I had the Weinachts menu (duck breast and almond maize for dessert) and A. had the sucking pig (the house specialty).