Dresden 2016

The 18th Annual Gathering of the Friends of Scouting in Europe (FOSE) was held in Dresden from 6th – 9th October 2016 at a lovely hotel about half an hour by tram from the centre of Dresden in its own grounds. We didn’t see it in all its xglory as the weather was not sunshine.

On our first afternoon, which was wet, we met one of the local hero’s, who actually took part in the demos against the DDR political system in October 1989 and he eventually became a member of the Group of 20 to negotiate with the Authorities and he gave us an insight into its background for the fall of the GDR. This was an interesting talk but we had to have an interpreter so it was a bit disjointed.   After the talk we walked, in the pouring rain, to Dresden 1900 for our dinner, which was a restaurant set in the beginning of the last century just opposite the Frauenkirche, which was destroyed in WW11 and was rebuilt over the years and completed in 2005. The restaurant was very interesting as the waiters and waitresses were dressed like ‘clippies’.

Friday 7th we went by coach to see some of the highlights of the Saxon Switzerland. We went first to Konigstein Fortress which has always been there. It was first mentioned in 1241. It ha served as a ‘safe retreat, magnificent background for parties of Saxon Royalty. It was also used as a prisoner of war camp during WW1 and a storage for valuable artworks during WW11. It was also a youth detention centre in early DDR times. The morning was very interesting and the weather was kind to us. There was a wedding taking place in part of the Fortress. We left the fortress and went to the village of Radeberg where we had lunch. After lunch we went to the Radeberg Brewery where we were shown how the beer was made. This ended in a tasting session. We continued our trip to a magnificent natural beauty of rock formation by the banks of the river Elbe. The day ended with the Friends having supper with some local Scouts and for a presentation of Small Projects being candidates for economical support.

Saturday saw us going back in time to the 1970’s. We went to the largest DDR Museum in Germany and after a talk we went round the many floors which were all very interesting, as we saw how things had progressed over time e.g. household and leisure items. We had lunch and enjoyed Specials in their 70’s restaurant at the Museum. In the afternoon we went visited the Parkeisenbahn in Dresden, trams rides again. This is a miniature railway taking visitors around the City’s largest park area. It is mainly staffed by school children (except for the engine drives). In the DDR days the railway was run by the FDJ, but this does not stop the modern youth from joining. They all take their roles very seriously. we returned to our hotel in the rain again for the FOSE annual meeting and then it was followed by the traditional dinner (back in the 21st century) at the hotel.

 Our last morning had arrived and we went into Dresden for a walk through the City Centre which had been rebuilt after the second World War. Time was limited, so the pace set was very brisk. Unfortunately I did no take part in the walk as I had foot problems and could not keep up, so returned to Dresden station, where many of us had left our luggage and had a very nice lunch there.

It was a very good weekend and it was nice to meet up with my European friends that I have got to know over the years. What a pity more from the U.K. don’t support these interesting weekends.