Trip Start Dec 16, 2007
Trip End Feb 24, 2008

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Sunday, January 6, 2008

We're hitting our stride on the trip now with today being our 3rd consecutive day of train travel. In the morning after breakfast at the hotel once more we did the walk back to the train station with our bags, taking around 10 minutes. We arrived a little earlier than we had the previous day so the crew at the HSB were still preparing some trains at the narrow gauge platforms and our normal DB train was a good 20 minutes away. Dad and I seized the opportunity to access the steam train viewing deck once more and admire the reality of a fully operational steam railway. There were more engines in steam this morning, including a smaller engine built in the 1890s that was being prepared for a departure after the 10:25 train to the Brocken.

Unfortunately for Mum sitting space within the Wernigerode station building is very limited so by the time we returned to her she was quite cold. Our tilting RE back to Halle arrived in a timely manner although the triebwagens were facing the opposite direction to when we arrived so we were waiting at the wrong part of the platform when it pulled up.

The trip back to Halle was similar to our journey out to Wernigerode except that it was light so we could appreciate the scenery and unexpectedly numerous windfarms properly. As the train was moving into the yards and station at Halle it was being paralleled by an IC train going to Leipzig. We were arriving early and it was possible, if we were willing to rush, to catch this IC onto Leipzig and forgo our 1 hour wait in Halle. In the end it was decided to stick to the plan and our seat reservations, allowing us to make an extremely leisurely departure from our RE at Halle.

Lunch was kebabs from the mini foodcourt in the station, which filled the time well before the arrival of our IC back to Leipzig. This journey was speedy as before, the only complaint being that the cleaner came through and took the train-specific journey guide just before I managed to grab it for my collection!

At Leipzig it was another 30 minute connection and Mum decided to utilise the services of the station's expensive €1.10 toilet again, rounding off the déjà vu effect nicely. Another tilting ICE set took the honours for the last leg of our return trip to Dresden, but it arrived into the station in the opposite direction to that indicated on the train composition chart on the platform. This meant that we had to walk along the platform up the train after it arrived, as we did earlier in the day at Wernigerode.

Because we love the ICE experience and 1st class service that much we couldn't resist some arvo tea, which was served to us by a nice young train manager with good English skills. We were all too soon in Dresden and I'm now left with only memories of my enjoyable 1st class trips on the ICE as I'm switching to the more economical youth (2nd class) Eurail pass for travel with Belinda.

Once off the train I led the parents up to our Mercure just near the station because I've been to Dresden before and I am after their ReiseFührer (Travel Leader). This has been a running joke throughout the holiday because my parents sometimes think of me as a little Hitler and their actions often scream of a lack of international travel experience, forcing me to assist them. We all found it very amusing when we saw a German-speaking tour group at Prague Castle led by a man holding a "ReiseFührer" flag. I want one of my own now.

It took the parents a while to settle into their hotel room (we're separate again, in fact I'm on a completely different floor!) but when they were ready we all headed off on foot into Dreden's Altstadt. We were getting a feel for the town and looking for breakfast and dinner places because the Mercure's breakfast costs an unacceptable €16 each.

Our explorations were limited by the worst wind-chill effect we've experienced so far this trip but we did start to employ the shop-hopping principle just before dinner to keep warm. We had spied the first Vietnamese restaurant since leaving Australia so that's where we enjoyed a nice dinner.

I'm typing this update on the laptop in Mum and Dad's room, enjoying the sights and sounds of Dresden's fantastic trams rolling past constantly. I haven't seen any of their older trams yet o it seems that they've expanded their fleet of newer vehicles since I was last here. The parents are shop-hopping their way back to the hotel because Mum wants to check out the shops. I walked here directly.

We've left the land of free internet and I'm leaving to meet Belinda tomorrow night so I don't know how regular the blog updates will be from now on. Stay tuned.
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