The train ride from Berlin to Dresden was a snap; we arrived at the station and followed our hand drawn map to a hostel that we thought would have plenty of space. I remember that it was early evening (the train was a tad late) and we walked down a street that ran parallel to the tracks and gave both of us the creeps. Needless to say, we high tailed it, pretending to understand the German street signs.
Just our luck, the hostel was packed. A large group had descended upon the building, and my travel bud and I started to formulate another plan. Suddenly, as if out of some weird dream (or a horror movie) the hostel owner offered us a room in a recently renovated two-bedroom apartment down the street. THE CATCH: We would have to share a bed as, the other room was occupied by two very quiet chaps from down under. It was cheap enough, and since it was late, we took his offer. He handed me the key and gave us directions.
We came upon the building, and alarm one went off; the front door was propped up against the wall and a cat came flying through the hall as if escaping from some hidden evil. Alarm two might have been the general abandoned nature of the complex, but I shrugged it off, ignored the cobwebs and hit the stairs. We came to the door and tried the key. The door opened up an IKEA wonderland of brand new everything sat directly before our eyes. It was such a stark contrast to the building that the Kiwi and Aussie might have actually said something (but I don’t think they actually did).
We put our bags down and headed out for a good meal paired with a Riesling. The next day was filled with sight seeing; all we really knew about Dresden was that it had been destroyed by the Allies in WWII (I knew more about Dresden, Ohio, “Basket Village USA”) . Everything that we were about to see had been reconstructed. We paid to take the stairs to the top of the Lutheran Dresdner Frauenkirche, the Church of Our Lady, which had only been rebuilt, in the past ten years or so, as an exact replica of the structure that was destroyed during WWII.
The view was gorgeous. The church was impressive, and yet odd to sit inside of a structure that was a replica of something lost. In fact, most of Dresden seemed haunted by the past.
A visit to the Grünes Gewölbe (the Green Vault) was sparkly and enchanting- it is a museum of with the largest collection of gold, silver, jeweled and other ridiculously expensive looking treasures in Europe.
(For a good article with pictures and an overview of the sparkly treasures, head here –> http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/25312/). Who knew that such intricacy and detail was possible? I’ve never been so scared of breaking anything so sparkly in my entire life.
On our final day, we visited the VW plant and enjoyed soggy weather before catching a train into Prague. Dresden was a city filled with surprises- the hostel, the view from the church, and the Green Vault. I may never be back for a second visit, but I surely enjoyed my time there more than I ever expected. More stories on Prague coming next year! Don’t worry- 2010 is almost here. You won’t have to wait that long.