Date: October 25 (and finished/published oct 29)
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Listening to: Air Conditioning (no, not a hipster band name, real A/C)
Mood: Happy to be with my mom & cousin on fall break!
Well, I think I can only wait a week between visiting a place and writing about it, otherwise I’m going to forget. So even though I’m in the midst of Fall Break adventures, meeting a German gentleman in my hotel’s lounge reminded me that I need to post about Dresden, and fast, before I start forgetting, wait, what was that cathedral called?
Also, by popular demand (aka my mother) I’m going to try and put photos into the entry instead of linking to them. It might make my blog prettier but may take longer to load on slow devices. Let me know in the comments (oh who am I kidding, pretty much nobody uses the comments) if you really like, or really dislike this format, because it is actually a lot of effort to get the pictures in here.
Okay, so it was a foggy morning in Prague, and since it’s getting closer to wintertime the sun wasn’t up yet, even at 7am. I headed to the main train station to meet with my lovely travel buddies, Kasia and Jérémie. Jérémie’s friend Juliette lives in Dresden, so we had a tour guide for the day and they had a place to stay that night! Unfortunately I only had one day, because I was leaving for break the next morning (with a connection in Germany, oddly enough, so if they bothered to check passports it would have been CR, Germany, back to CR on Saturday and then CR, Germany, and Hungary Sunday. But they didn’t.) The train ride was when I started my catchphrase for the day, looking out the window I kept going “It’s sooooooo beautiful!” and can you blame me?
The ride from Prague to Dresden, for those who are concerned, is about two hours and costs 1,100 CZK ($60) round trip. And it’s worth it. Especially in autumn. I mean, look at this.
We didn’t really know what we were going to do for the day, so we took a tram to Juliette’s place, (feeling pretty proud of our French, American, and Polish, non-German-speaking selves for figuring out the tram system) and she suggested we grab lunch and hit some of the major sites. Well, after a bratwurst, we headed to….
Frauenkirche! Pretty much all of our eyes are closed (Me, Kasia, Jérémie, obviously) because we were looking right into the sun. Turns out this church was pretty much destroyed when Dresden was bombed in WWII (my uncle Jack commented on one of my other posts about how Prague was pretty untouched, this made me realize how true that was) and the darker bricks are the original ones- I guess they’re stained from the soot and smoke from the bombings. We went inside this church (it was free!) and it was gorgeous, but no photos allowed. Dresden, in case you were wondering, is sooooo beautiful. Here comes a pile of pictures from random other locations we encountered on our walk but didn’t go into/ spend much time in.
Left: River Elbe! Right, the Parliament building.
Left: I think this was the entrance to the palace area (the size of a normal town) but I’m not sure. Right, though, is a hugely long wall decorated with all the rulers of Dresden, from 1127-1904. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)
Left: horse and carriage going into a picturesque passageway in the castle complex, Right is something to do with either the castle complex or the Zwinger, okay fine I’ll write a little more about that.
On our way, had a little language-barrier problem with our friend and guide, Juliette, trying to figure out exactly what Zwinger was/is. It was built by/on the wall around the city, okay, it had something to do with the defense, okay, so was it… a guard station? A barracks? No, no, it’s a lot fancier. Wikipedia calls it a “palace” that was “part of the Dresden Fortress.” Okay, that doesn’t really clarify it, but we’ll leave it at that. Basically, it elicited another round of “Oh my gosh, it’s soooooooo beautiful”s from me.
Oh, and I guess whenever I’m standing in front of something fabulous for a picture, I have to make a stupid pose.
So, that was Dresden. A wonderful day spent wandering around gorgeous historical monuments and churches. After the main tourist sites, we had a picnic lunch/dinner in a park, and with the leaves changing colors, well… you can guess… it was sooooo beautiful. On our way back to the train station (K and J stayed the night and went hiking the next day, I think) we passed the VW factory- not the one that makes Beetles, unfortunately, but it was still an interesting sight. Turns out if you’re super-rich, you can custom-design a very fancy VW car and even stop by the factory to press a button or screw in a bolt and ‘help build your own car.’ If any of my friends ever reach that level of money-spending, take me with you? The factory was really cool and almost completely automated.
The train ride back was interesting, because two young ladies from Beijing and Osaka were in my compartment. We had a very limited conversation in English- basic ‘where are you from, how long are you visiting Prague,’ types of things. I pondered English Privilege, even though we were all going from Germany to the Czech Republic we didn’t communicate in German or Czech, all assuming that English was the others’ native or second language. I think at some point I’m going to flesh out these thoughts a bit further into a whole post about English, how privileged I am to speak it natively, but how limited I am without a strong second language (okay, I know a little French, but when Jérémie and Juliette were talking at full speed, I barely caught a word out of every sentence.) But that is a topic for another time. Thanks for reading, thanks Kasia and Jérémie for taking me with to Dresden, and Juliette for being a great guide! Posts for Budapest and Istanbul coming up soon! Post from the CEA blog about “active learning” coming up tonight or tomorrow! Auf Wiedersehen!