Dresden : Beauty from the ashes on the banks of the River Elbe.
Dresden Travel Blog› entry 14 of 268 › view all entries
Another farewell to a friend. The last for quite a while. Another day. Another train. The day commences overcast, yet no rain. The dull greyish sky reflects my own rather fuggish, tired state of mind. I can’t seem to shake myself awake this morning.
Destination Prague… but first, on route, a good portion of a day in Dresden (where I must get a travel connection anyway). Dresden is a city I know very little about aside, of course, from the rather shameful WWII ‘firestorm’ bombing raids of my own nation and its allies that to all intents and purposes destroyed the city in 1945 (as also recalled in Kurt Vonnegut Jnr's 'Slaughter House 5' ).
My backpack dumped in a station locker I first check out some logistics (when and how to carry on to Prague today? Tomorrow? Etc…) and then stroll away from the train station/ retail area of the city towards the historical heart of the city and the banks of the river Elbe. Trams cut across the streets everywhere I go.
There is a high concentration of architecturally eye-catching buildings at the city’s heart, many severely damaged but not raised to the ground in 1945 mercifully for posterity. Restoration has achieved a lot in the intervening decades. These buildings offer a pleasing juxtaposition to the rather bland retail malls and higher-rise buildings that proliferate nearer the train station.
I have a quick peak inside Das Rathaus (the Town Hall) and then admire the white-domed Frauenkirche church. Today Greenpeace are protesting against Mercedes Benz for some reason or other in the plaza in front of this building.
The weather has by now turned very hot indeed so it’s time to remain outside and have a walk around what I think is referred to as the ‘Zwinger’, a former Baroque palace (I think?), now turned art gallery. I have neither the time nor the inclination for a heavy dose of culture today but pleasingly the palace grounds are free to enjoy including the possibility of strolling up and around it’s wide-pathed, statue-populated ‘ramparts’.
Heading east on the train the shift in scenery as we progress along the banks of what I assume still to be the Elbe (?) is captivating and atmospheric. Rocky hillsides have begun to spring up all around us, covered all over with dark green fir trees. Houses nestle along either side of the river, some perched precariously like pretty little bird boxes on the distant riverbank amidst the trees and rocky crags. Small clusters of them seem almost to shelter, huddled together for warmth and protection from their intimidating natural surroundings. They snuggle deep into the large recesses that occasionally open up into the hillsides.
I arrive in Prague not late, but after dark. No rain. That was just an atmospheric flurry whilst I was protected by the train it seems. Not having originally planned to come to the Czech Republic and having done zero research on the country I’ve just ploughed straight into town without the faintest clue as to what the national currency is or how its converts between the British Pound etc… I just ram my card into the first bankomat I come across and see what happens.
I check into the Chili Hostel (impetuously booked in an internet café in Dresden earlier today) and take myself off for a delicious, very affordable meal before heading ‘home’ to sleep. Prague awaits me in the morning.