Tuesday morning I got up 4am, sat around and whined for a few minutes and then packed up all my shit and headed for the train station. I had a ticket for 5:12am to Dresden. I stopped at Zoo Station to drop off my backpack in a locker, cause I knew there were some there but wasn’t sure if there were any at Hbf and then I headed to Hbf for my train.
My train trip to Dresden was broken into two trains. The first was a standard S-Bahn (all these terms will be defined when I finish the Berlin post, sorry) and the second was a passenger train, which was a new one for me.
The passenger train turned out to be like what you see in Harry Potter. Each car has 10 or so compartments with a door that closes and each holds 6 people. The train was fairly empty so I was able to snatch my own compartment. I noticed that there was a window that would go down, so I pulled it down and that’s when the trouble set in.
The train started moving and I was sititng with my arms on the window and my face in the wind enjoying the cool morning air. After about 5 or 10 minutes by eyes started to itch and my nose started running. Just alergies, which I have all the time, so no big deal. A few minutes later I was writhing around on the seat in pain. This was a whole new type of alergies. My face swelled up, and I got little red raised spots in a few places. My throat swelled and I was having trouble breathing and my eyes were bright red and felt like they were coated with sandpaper. I thought I was going to die on the train to Dresden.
I went down to the bathroom and spent about 10 minutes flushing my face, eyes and nose with water and it started to slack off some. For the rest of the trip I was still miserable but it got better and better as we went along. I even laid down and got 30 minutes of sleep, or so.
I arrived in Dresden around 8am and started looking for a map. English was basically non-existant, even in the station, where I’ve usually had decent luck. I found a map at the newspaper store and set out.
Dresden is a very small city, at least compared to where I’ve been in the last few weeks. I walked pretty quickly through the old town (Altstadt) and into the new town (Nuestadt) and saw some pretty amazing stuff. I didn’t consult the map very much cause it was cool out and I was just enjoying the walk. The old and new towns are seperated by a river, with three main bridges. I had crossed the main bridge out of town and decided to walk down along the river’s edge to get to the next one and head back.
I ended up walking along the river for a long, long way. I’m not sure how long but I passed the bridge by far and started getting into a less city like area. Started to get worn out so I found a bench and just chilled out for a half hour or so before starting to walk back. Everything was still very quiet and it was very nice to be away from the insanity of a big city for a change.
I headed back towards town, and eventually made it to the bridge I was going to cross. I noticed that there was a tram running and I spent about 15 minutes figuring out where it went and how to buy a ticket. I wanted to get back to the station to get some food, and then set out into the old town again. That’s where many of the monuments and buildings stood that were destroyed in the war.
You can get a complete history of Dresden from Wikipedia, but basically it was a very busy industrial city with a ton of beautiful baroque architecture and in 1945 the Allies firebombed it to the ground. Since then much has been rebuilt or repaired, and usually in the same style. It was hard for me to tell what was old and what was new, but it was all beautiful.
I got back to the station, had a snack, and set back out. I had passed through old town quickly earlier and wanted to spent more time exploring. Check out the pictures for all the details. It’s a beautiful city, and there’s a lot to see. I’d like to spend more time there to see the museums but I only had about 6 hours total before I had to head back to Berlin.
I was getting to where I was pretty worn out, so I found a bench in the shade and took a long nap. I needed it. I was running on 2 hours of sleep and several days of hard core walking around giant cities. The nap refreshed me and I wandered around the sights for an hour or so before I had to head back for my train.
My two high speed trains back to Berlin was uneventful, and relaxing. Once I got back to Berlin I ran over to Zoo, got my bag, and then found a train to the airport, which took forever. There were 17 stops and we waited a few minutes at each one for some reason. Long train.
The airport was wayyy outside of Berlin. It’s not their main one, and I think it only served the cheap airlines. My flight was delayed by about an hour and a half but aside from that everything went fine. I met a really nice Polish girl named Dominika in the terminal and we chatted while waiting for the plane. She’s studying at Oxford to be an architecht and wanted to hear all about my travels in Europe. We had a nice talk, and ended up sitting together on the plane. She was very embarassed about her English but I assured her it was a sound for sore ears. Was nice to have someone to talk to during the long wait, and the flight.
Eventually I was in London! People were speaking English! I could read everything! Man, it was so nice. Unfortunately, with the plane being delayed, I was a little screwed on transportation. The Underground stops running at midnight and it was 1am before I got out of the airport. I got a train from the airport into central London and then was going to plan to catch a bus. Happily, there was a cab driver looking for fares in the station so I blew some money and had him take me right to the hostel.
So, Dresden was very nice, even though I had just a whirlwind tour. I think it would have helped a lot if I had someone who knew German with me. I really couldn’t communicate at all there but at least I feel like I was able to see some of the sights in the short time I had. It was a nice side trip, and better than spending another day boiling in Berlin 🙂
I’ve posted pictures from Dresden on Flickr that you should really check out. It’s an incredible city to see.