Christmas Market Tour 2011
Day 1 - Departure from the USA.
Day 2 - Arrival at Frankfurt Airport; catch your connecting Lufthansa flight to Dresden where you'll arrive at approx 10:30am. Your English speaking tour guide Uli and your bus driver are waiting to welcome you to Europe. Board your private deluxe motor coach that will be with you for the entire trip. Hot and cold drinks, a PA and radio/CD/DVD system, a bathroom… it’s all on board.
Upon arrival, visit Ratags Holzdesign [45km] (www.ratags.de), a distinguished manufacturer of Schwibbogen arches. Also, enjoy a hearty “farmer’s breakfast” lunch (included).
In the afternoon we'll take you to an area nearby which is called "Saxon Switzerland" (SĂ¤chsische Schweiz). It is a mountainous climbing area and national park around the Elbe valley south-east of Dresden. Some 1,000 quite breathtaking peaks exist, of which we'll enjoy quite a few. Mind you… just looking - not climbing. A certain rock by the name of Bastei has been famous for centuries - in fact it is a group of peeks joined together by this bridge:
The nearby town of Pirna, our next stopover point, has a Christmas Market known for the many tradesmen who work on site and can be watched. We also plan to take you into the beautiful church; and should you know what a letter of indulgence was, you will be interested to know that a certain person called Tetzel was born in the house that is now named after him.
Continue to your hotel Goldener Stern [137km] in the Freiberg area (www.goldener-stern.com.) Dinner and overnight.
Day 3 - This morning we would like to spend a little time in the nearby town of Freiberg [12km], where you need to see the breathtaking church with the glorious "Golden Gate"; two instruments by the famous organ builder Silbermann; and a rare and most unusually shaped "tulip pulpit".
Then it's onto Meissen [62km], to enjoy the largely original medieval city center, climb up to the majestic cathedral, and give you the option to visit the world-famous Meissen porcelain manufactory (admission not included.)
Our third and final destination is the city of Dresden [102km], also known as "Florence on the Elbe river". As a seat of one of the most powerful prince electors, it became a cultural centre of extraordinary proportions: the baroque Zwinger Palace with its superb collection of paintings; the "Green Vault" treasury of August the Strong, which puts the crown jewels in London to shame; and the recently restored town castle are all witness to the wealth and power that once resided within the city. Badly damaged during an air raid in the last few days of WW II, it has now almost returned to its old glory, in which the rebuilt Frauen-kirche has become a monumental symbol of healing.
Dinner and overnight again at your hotel "Goldener Stern" [152km].
Day 4 - Excursion to Seiffen [41km], the heart of the Erzgebirge toys: nutcrackers, arches, smokers, pyramids - and thousands of new items the craftsmen thought of during long winter nights. We will take you to a major manufacturer to see how trees, nutcrackers, smokers and pyramids are made – and learn about the mystery of the hoops.
There will also be a guided tour of the famous little church in English for us by Anne-Kathrin Braun, cantor’s wife and professional translator.
The balance of the day is at your disposal to enjoy unique shopping opportunities. Back to our hotel [82km] for overnight. No organized dinner has been planned for today.
Day 5 - Our second full day excursion will be to the mining town of Annaberg-Buchholz [53km], the “capital” of the ore mountains: admire the beautiful church with its unique miner’s altar (left); hopefully see an old Hammerwerk (“hammer works” – a water-powered drop forge) in action; and practise your grey matter by visiting a museum dedicated to Adam Ries. He's the one who taught the Germans (and many other Europeans) how to use the exciting "new" digits of the time (i.e. Arabian - rather than the clumsy Roman type). And he taught people to use them "on the line" - in other words, for everyday calculations like multiplications, divisions and the like. A major breakthrough at the time! We'll attend a 30 minute crash course… please pretend to live in the year 1520 or so!
After that experience you'll also have plenty of free time to enjoy the beautiful Christmas market in town.
Dinner will be at a local restaurant. People in this area have a traditional meal for the December 24 celebrations. At 6pm sharp families sit down for dinner and share a meal that is called "Neinerlaa" (or "Neunerlei" in high German, best translated into "ninefold" or "nine kinds") - and we'll do exactly that tonight. Detailed explanations as we indulge.
Overnight at our hotel [103km]
Day 6 - After a ride of about 2 hours we cross into the Czech Republic. Our lunch stopover is in the famous spa of Marienbad [193km] where we'll walk around the famous colonnades and get a chance to taste a number of their “healing” waters.
Our overnight will be spent in the equally famous spa of Karlsbad [240 km] where you’ll experience the grandeur of 19th century spa life, not just by looking at the classical buildings, but actually staying in one. The Grandhotel Pupp is one of the oldest hotels in Europe and has been used in many movies, of which "Casino Royale", the celebrated Bond movie of 2006, is only one example.
Dinner and overnight at the Grandhotel Pupp (www.pupp.cz)
Day 7 - This morning we cross the border back into Germany and travel past Tirschenreuth [75km] where we’ll take a look at the outlet store of a famous china brand: Hutschenreuther. At Christmas time, Weiden [109km] is changing into a romantic town: the second oldest Christmas market in Bavaria takes place, choirs and musicians give concerts on the stairs of the old town hall, which is turning into an
Advent calendar, and the Christmas exhibition in the new town hall is always worth a visit... Once again there are also a number of opportunities for factory outlet shopping. Continue to the NĂĽrnberg area for dinner and overnight in RĂĽckersdorf [110km] at Hotel Wilder Mann (www.wilder-mann-rueckersdorf.de).
Day 8 - Today we’ll visit the city of NĂĽrnberg. At this time of the year, the Christmas Market is of course top of the agenda. While the market is one of the oldest, and probably best known events, it also has an interesting “little brother” around the corner – a market featuring stands from NĂĽrnberg’s some 20 partner cities around the world, one of which is Atlanta, GA.
But there’s so much more to see in the city: the house of Mr. DĂĽrer, probably the most important Renaissance painter of Germany; the toy museum; or the overwhelming "Germanic National Museum" with Martin Behaim's famous globe, the earliest surviving depiction of the earth as a sphere.
2nd overnight in the NĂĽrnberg area
Day 9 - We move further west today, and WĂĽrzburg [112km] is our main destination today. This Franconian city was the seat of a prince bishop who, spiritual and political leader alike, ruled over a large and rich country. He resided in a grand palace conceived by the Baroque master architect Baltasar Neumann (www.residenz-wuerzburg.de). The building still exists today - and holds some of the most remarkable pieces of art in Europe: the largest fresco in the world, a masterpiece by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, and Antonio Bossi, the "ornamentation genius" of Rococo, both from Venice.
And what's more - the prince-bishop liked wine... and consequently had one of the most extensive wine cellars built, where we are going to have a tasting of the local produce.
Mid afternoon, after some time at the local Christmas market, we continue to the village of Schollbrunn [161km] for a grand farewell dinner and our last overnight in Germany at Gasthaus Zur Sonne, (www.sonne-schollbrunn.de.)
Day 10 - Departure from Frankfurt Airport and return to the USA.
The tour at a glance - from Dresden (A) to Frankfurt (I)
Ulrich “Uli” Buschmann,
Your permanent Tour Guide will be Ulrich "Uli" Buschmann, who was born and raised in Germany, but in his early teens started to fall in love with English as a foreign language, and the people who speak it… the British first, then a little later the Americans. Half way through university he decided not to become an English teacher, as originally planned, but take his Master's degree instead and become a mediator between cultures. He is married to an "English Rose" from around Cambridge, Great Britain.
phone: 011-49-2245-5515 or 3215