While in Leipzig we took advantage of Dresden’s proximity and went on a short day trip with the German Club from Southampton.
Despite the bitter cold – and it was, indeed, glacial – we greatly enjoyed ourselves. An impressive city, Dresden feels more eastern European than German, at least on the south bank of the Elbe. Here you find the majority of the colossal palaces and churches largely destroyed in the catastrophic Allied bombing raids. Extensive reconstruction efforts over the past 60 years have largely restored these buildings to their former grandeur, though often at the expense of their usefulness. Now these once-impressive architectural wonders seem to be relics of a distant time, all past significance replaced by a draw for Russian tourists. Much of the Altstadt is spiky and blackened, something I associate with Eastern Europe, and something we’d see at our next stop in Prague, which I’ll get to shortly.
The freezing wind had followed us to Dresden ever since Kassel, battering us and leaving us with dried, cracked lips and numb hands. We soldiered on however, empowered with British fortitude and just a wee bit of whining, as we had to see as much of the city as possible before heading back that evening. Southampton GerSoc member and Beth’s fellow countryman Gavin certainly had a list of stuff to see, and I hope we managed to cross most of the things off for him!
On the other side of the river however you feel almost immediately like you’re back in Germany, what with the crummy post-war apartment houses covered in equal parts soot and graffiti. We did however find a creepy flea market and a photo booth, both of which had been mentioned by our guidebook. We accepted the challenge laid out by the book, namely to see how many of us we could fit into the booth. Apparently the record is 9, but we only managed 8, and even then only with an unhealthy amount of stuffing and standing on people’s shoulders.