Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Guest Post - A Winter Holiday in Saxony, Germany

Guest Post - A Winter Holiday in Saxony, Germanyt
Snow-Covered Ore Mountains, Saxony, Germany
Image by Rock_with_Rub

When we think of skiing in Germany, our thoughts take us immediately to the Bavarian Alps with their hearty hospitality of good beer, large meals and fine slopes. Go further east to Saxony, the Federal state bordering the Czech Republic, and you’ll come to a region filled with history, culture, tradition and with at least four months of snow per winter; some great skiing. With budget flights landing in Leipzig Halle, skiers are just a two hour drive away from the slopes; ideal for short ski breaks.




Skiing
The Erzgeberge (or Ore Mountains) provide snow-sure peaks and deep, expansive forests making Saxony ideal for both families and Cross-Country skiers.

Oberwiesenthal is the place to go for downhill and snowboard runs, offering 15km of beginner, intermediate and expert runs. The best elevation is at Mt. Fichtelberg. The resort also offers night skiing at weekends.

Cross-Country skiers have the choice of hundreds of kilometres of groomed runs running through the forests and all the way into the Czech Republic. The best runs within Saxony are located around Altenburg.

Equipment hire and accomodation is easy to find, with shops in every town and a wide variety of ski chalets ranging from self catered to luxury; although it’s recommended you book in advance if you plan to ski during the German school holidays (February).

Around Saxony

To come to Saxony and not visit at least one of the main cities would be a shame. There are three main cities in Saxony: Leipzig, Chemnitz and the capital of the federal state; Dresden. All are reachable within 90 minutes of each other. Each city has its own unique culture, architecture, dialect and part in the recent history of this nation.

Leipzig

Leipzig was the home of Bach, Goethe and the beginning Peaceful Revolution that forced the eventual collapse of the Iron Curtain. It was the central headquarters of the Stasi in Saxony and the Museum in dem Runde Ecke, or the museum in the Round Corner (referring to the shape of the building), will guide visitors through the systems of surveillance used by Stasi officers, highlight the number of people informing them, their tactics of coercion and portray stories of those who resisted. It’s a fascinating look back at the most powerful and complete civilian surveillance system the world has ever seen.

Chemnitz

Formally known as Karl-Marx-Stadt during Soviet rule, Chemnitz is undergoing enormous regeneration after its GDR-centred manufacturing base collapsed along with the government of the day. The clear demarcation between eras can be seen in the buildings around the city, which have been cleaned up with the glass and steel 21st Century additions. One area that escaped it all – and well worth a visit - is The Kassberg. Its beautiful frontages reflect the 18th and 19th century flair of German architecture and are made yet more stunning situated on tree-lined streets. It’s Rathaus (Town Hall), dates back to 1400 and still bears the soot from fires during WWI, as a memorial. The old quarter is located around the Opera House, which hosts The Saxony Mozart Festival each May.

Dresden

Famous for its controversial bombing in WWII, Dresden is something of a miracle. Almost totally destroyed by the Allies and kept in ruin by the Soviets (as a *ahem* monument), the centre of Dresden has been totally rebuilt as it was before February 14th 1945 and it is nothing short of glorious. Altstadt (Old Town), is a must see, while the rest of the central area is a careful balance of old and new. Dresden is the shopping centre of Saxony and well worth a visit if you enjoy trusted and trendy brands. During Advent (the six weeks before Christmas), the Christmas markets are in full swing and the Glühwein – and there are many varieties – is in full flow. The Striezelmarkt is the one of the oldest Christmas Markets in the World and a must see if you enjoy the Festive Season.

Guest post contributed by Marie-Paule Graham, who writes for Chaletfinder.co.uk.

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