Sunday, 18 May 2014

Dresden: Eastern Germany without all the tourists || Travel diary

(Travel Day 15)
Dresden was our second German city we visited, and was quite different to Berlin. Dresden also suffered heavily from bombing during WWII and still shows a lot of the damage. 90% of the city centre was  destroyed in 1945.

The day we arrived Chris was feeling quite sick, probably with the same cold I had in Amsterdam. So our first half day was quiet. I took a walk around by myself, did laundry and all those other necessary chores while he took some time to rest.

Our second day in Dresden was much more eventful. We hired cute mint coloured vintage bikes with baskets for €8 each. Totes worth the extra cuteness in my opinion. We took them for a spin along the banks of the River Elbe.

River Elbe, Dresden, Germany, Cycling, Vintage bikes

We pedalled our way to the local Hygiene Museum. The reviews were mixed but we had time to give it a blast. I feel the name doesn't truly reflect what the museum holds. We were presented with a vast array of medical history and machinery, displays about sex, diseases, the human body and its incredible brain. Although a lot of the displays only had German descriptions, there was enough English text to understand the basics. The target audience was senior school students though, so it wasn't new information to me.

We then wheeled our way to Altmarkt (Old Market), where there were lots of elderly locals and an amazing food market.
We stopped and enjoyed Bratwurst, chicken skewers and, you guessed it, Beer! Radler beer to be exact, from the local stalls for lunch.

Germany sure knows a good sausage to bun ratio. None of this, "only getting bread in the first bite" business.
The first of many panoramas we took this day.

How adorable are all these little shops decked out in flowers and knick knacks?
 Nearby were some famous attractions including a church blackened by the WWII bombing. Which proved difficult to get it all into one photo with us. Don't fret, our selfie taking skills improved drastically as we travelled more.
Another photo with the bikes, just 'cause.
Just around the corner was the Fürstenzug (Procession of Princes). Which is a HUGE tile mural and is the largest porcelain artwork in the world. With over 23,000 tiles and more than 101 metres long. Which also makes it rather difficult to get all into one photo.
Fürstenzug, Procession of Princes, Tile Mosaic, Dresden, Germany

There were yet more beautiful buildings, statues and sculptures to be seen not very far away.
Panorama, panorama time....
So much to see, in such a little camera lens. So many husbands.
360° view inside the Zwinger (an enclosed killing ground in front of a castle or city gate) Palace Courtyard.
"Church of our Lady" which has also been rebuilt after the WWII bombings.
Church of our Lady, Dresden, Dresdner Frauenkirche, Germany

Due to the WWII bombing, a lot of Altmarkt has needed to be rebuilt, meaning that a lot of Neumarkt is actually older as less of it needed rebuilding. Though, the Altmarkt buildings have older and were originally older structures.

Chris quickly read Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five" while we were in Dresden, a book about the bombing of Dresden in 1945. It was a sobering but typically surreal Vonnegut story.

We enjoyed a relaxing last morning in the Dresden sun, waiting for our bus to pick us up. It appears Dresden is going through a baby-boom, as seeing au pairs (care givers) push 4 or more children around in wooden wagons, became an increasingly common sight in the short time we were sitting outside our hostel.

(Apologises for my poor and awkward paparazzi skills.)

Before we started planning our travels, I have to admit that I had never heard of Dresden. So, we probably would have missed it if Busabout hadn't included it as an optional stay over.

We are glad we did though, as Dresden was a nice place to see another part of eastern Germany. Where the locals don't all speak English and the prices aren't jacked up for the tourist market. With Dresden being the traditional capitol of Saxony, and the third largest city in eastern Germany (after Berlin and Leipzig.), it is not surprising that there are still plenty of beautiful structures, which don't receive enough attention in my opinion.

Quick Summary (TL;DR)

Duration of stay: 1 full day, 2 half days
Was it enough time?:Yes
Where we stayed: Hostel Mondpalast
Time of Year: May
Best memories: Hiring cute bikes to go sight seeing and not being surrounded by tourists.
Worst memories: Chris being sick and missing out of the VW factory tour.
Top tip: If you want to visit the VW factory, you will need to book it the day before.
Next time: I would like to venture into the wilderness, rather than staying within the city.
Dresden in a few words: blackened, real, recovering
Recommended?: Sort of, it's a good opportunity to relax and see some authentic and less touristy parts of Germany, but it's not a must do in my book.
Overall experience: 5/10 
Next destination: Prague

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