From Ireland to Austria Series: Dresden, the Village Pretending to be a City
This is from a series originally posted on my original blog: Seefahrer Thayer. While I don't recommend it, you can view the original posts here. Because the content had value and useful tips I've decided to repost them here, however, they've since been heavily edited and updated.
And also the city of shoe shortages. Or maybe people just like walking around barefoot.
That's all I kept hearing, and it's completely true. It's a town of about 500,000, but there's shopping and site-seeing galore. It's a town where everyone knows each other. I stayed with one of Theresa's friends, Lucas, who both days kept running into friends on the street, on the bus, on bike. It was funny what a small town feel it was for a place that seems so big from the outside.
Lucas was nice enough to give me a key to his flat, so day before yesterday I was able to walk around while he was at work, but come home to rest when I was ready. For lunch we went to the university and ate at the cafeteria, which was nice. Then the rest of the afternoon I took the tram around, went shopping and site-seeing, and was so tired I kept falling asleep on the tram... When he got off work we took his Vespa out to "the blue bridge" and went to the second best biergarten for looking at it. The first was closed for the next 4 months due to the recent flooding. It was absolutely beautiful. It's surrounded by hills that were speckled with lights, and the occasional mass of a castle. Gorgeous.
Night before last I slept horribly. The trains run right outside his window, which is a bit of a problem in itself, but they were also working on the tracks- a grinding horrible sound. Awful. Barely slept. So I woke up late, and grabbed his bike he loaned me and set off getting lost in the city. It's a really neat little place- lots of fantastic architecture, and shopping and things to do.
When he got off school we toured the city by bike- which by the way- is the only way I can tour a city now. Sooooooo much easier and nicer. We went to a couple palaces, and the gardens surrounding it, then met up with some of his friends at the park. It was a nice relaxing day. I got to talk to a female friend of his about traveling and keeping an open mind about cultures, but mostly they talked in German, and I just zoned out and watched any of the four people practicing juggling around us.
As you can see in the pictures, I visited this gorgeous- absolutely beautiful church, and got a "flat peach" as well was rhubarb and lemonade.
Later we went to another friend's house and had kartoffelsalat (potato salad) und wiener. sehr gut! And over there I got to talk for a little bit with his friend Robert about the differences in our education system, conservatism, and traveling. It was really interesting. One of the things I've enjoyed most this trip is getting people's (hopefully/relatively) unfiltered opinion of America, and discussing the differences between theirs. There's been some strong, harsh opinions, and I've been offended by none of them. This entire topic requires a separate blog post for another day, however. So after that, I kind of sat on the outside of the group, as they were all speaking German... it was interesting listening and actually being able to somewhat follow what was going on, but slightly lonely, I guess.
We went home around 11, and I decided today would be Nūrnberg! And also- I booked a hostel ahead of time- wow! I know, incredible. For some reason I had a bad feeling about it, and went with my gut to make sure I had somewhere to sleep. But I actually have a really good feeling about Nūrnberg- I think I'll like it. So, as I type, and you (presumably) sleep I am on my way to a new city, (coincidentally on a beautiful scenic route- glad I planned it that way!) where I'm excited to stay in a hostel again and meet some new people. I've actually really missed it. And, by the way, the idea of staying in a hotel is just outrageous to me now. "Stay in a place where I have to pay more money to have leas fun? No thank you!"
This morning when I was leaving the tram got delayed by like 15 minutes, and when it finally came through there were 3 of what are apparently the longest trains they offer, with what some of the other patrons thought were Russian soldiers, packed like sardines. It was really strange...
So anyway, I really appreciate Lucas putting me up for two nights, it was very kind and he was exceptionally accommodating and helpful.
Oh, and he had a really neat flat. All of the rooms had a loft above the door as you entered the room, which held their beds. I found it to be a really clever way to open up the space and make more room. I'll have to remember that one.
I forgot to add a few things about Berlin, my impressions of it, and things I learned and found interesting.
- No one J-walks. If the pedestrian light is red, that's the end of the story, they aren't moving.
- It's pretty clean for such a big city. Street cleaners were out cleaning streets that were already perfect.
- This doesn't at all exclusively apply to Berlin, but people here (Europe overall) are so well-educated in their culture, history and city. every citizen it seems can give a flawless and proficient guided tour of their city. I don't personally believe most people I know from Baton Rouge or New Orleans know their history as well as they think they do, or as well as a European would. It's really ridiculous, but it just impresses me so much. I experienced this first hand frequently in Berlin simply because I was offered so many personal tours. Everyone that did was so astoundingly intelligent, and knowledgeable about the city. It's made me do more research on my own about New Orleans so I can answer all their millions of questions more accurately. And they've had a lot of questions. But it's refreshing how genuinely curious they are, and I've been both tickled and intrigued by some of the ones they've come up with.