TD: Dresden

August 20, 2007 - Dresden, Germany

The Zwinger againCity: Dresden, Germany
Nights spent: 4
Summary: Pleasant city that was totally annihilated during WWII, and has since been painstakingly reconstructed. The buildings in the Old Town are beautiful; we couldn't quite decide whether their beauty diminished slightly upon discovery that they were replicas of the originals. It was a good place to relax and catch our breath after the fast pace of Berlin.
Language: German....very, very German. We quickly discovered that very little English is spoken in Dresden, including in the Tourist Information Centre - all the pamphlets were in German, and we had to resort to gestures and diagrams in order to communicate with the lady at the desk. On the street, an interesting phenomenon occurred: people would start talking to us in German, at which time we would make it clear that we did not speak German, and apologise. Then they would continue talking to us in German. Weird!
War damageHighlight: There were only about six people staying in our hostel at any given time, so we ended up hanging out together in the kitchen/lounge area for a large proportion of our stay. It was here that we met the awesome Sam and Jodie, a couple from New South Wales with whom we'd end up travelling - by pure coincidence - for about a month. It was a nice relaxing interlude, and it was great to make some friends!
Lowlight: Our attempted day trip to Saxon Switzerland was fraught with transport woe. We boarded what we believed was the correct train (we weren't sure, since our gesture-based conversation with the information desk lady had left us with some doubts), and all seemed to be going well....but then the train ground to a decisive halt a few stops before our desired location, and went back the other way. It View from the castledid not stop, so we had to go all the way back to Dresden (illegally, if the driver yelling at us is anything to go by) and find another train. We thought we'd be smart the second time around, and hopped off the train at the Stop of Doom with the intention of transferring. Luckily Henry noticed that, unlike last time, a large proportion of passengers had remained on the train, so we hopped back on and questioningly intoned the name of our destination at a random person. He nodded, so we stayed on the train, which fortunately continued its journey in the correct direction and arrived at our destination without further incident. It turned out to be the wrong place anyway, but we had a nice hour or so before we had to turn around and go back to Dresden. Sigh.
Kitchen lethality: Henry and I have become pretty good at cooking pasta in hostel kitchens, but the absence of appropriately-sized crockery and a lapse in communication led to an unfortunate incident in Dresden. Let's just say that when you're taking a smallish bowl that is covered by a massive plate out of the microwave, you really need to be clear on who has a grip on what. Poor Henry soon developed a burn blister the size of a jellybean on his finger. The Dresden kitchen was also lacking a can opener, so it took about as much time to open dinner as it did to cook it.
Konigstein FortressHostel quirk: The most entertaining quirk of this particular hostel was in the name. It was called 'Die Boofe', which is apparently some kind of shelter in local dialect. It is pronounced 'Dee BOOfa'. Try it. Now elongate the double O in a comical manner, preferably with a rise in pitch. See? It's really fun to say! Die BOOOfe!
Location, location, location: Busabout people tend to roll their eyes when Dresden is mentioned, but we think that's because the hostel was situated in a dirty, somewhat dodgy area of town. The central area of the city was beautiful, but it was quite a long walk from the hostel, so a lot of people didn't see much of it...and if you judge Dresden on the hostel area, the city doesn't exactly come up trumps.
Colourful character: Phil, a young backpacker from New Zealand who walks like a duck and is shaped like a Heineken longneck. He works in a fish factory, really likes weapons, and is rumoured to harbour Nazi Zwinger gatesympathies (though in fairness, we personally saw no evidence of this other than an atypically unemotional reaction to Auschwitz). Say what you like about Phil, but his power to bring people together through mutual annoyance is remarkable. And he's clearly a good bloke at heart.
Conclusion: We enjoyed our time in Dresden; a lot of lazing around on grass and couches featured on our agenda, and we spent a pleasant day exploring the Old Town. The city didn't knock our socks off, but it was a nice place to relax.


View from the castle
Castle again
Another castle view
Konigstein Fortress


August 21, 2007
Oh, I've always wanted to visit Dresden since I read Slaughterhouse 5! I guess the fact that it was flattened and rebuilt does kind of undermine it's authenticity... what a shame. Glad you had nice time though.
connie castell:
October 10, 2007
i want to buy a pamphlet on dresden before and after the reconstruction. please tell me how i can do it.
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