The sunset of this summer adventure fell in Dresden. Although originally planning just hours in the city before flying from Berlin to Miami and then home to Minneapolis, flight change craziness ensued (boo hurricanes) and I stayed in Dresden for four nights. For all the stress that came from changing plans, Dresden was still really enjoyable. Feeling tired physically, burnt out emotionally, and a bit sad about needing to return to the U.S., I wanted to both relax and explore a bit in equal doses during the last few days abroad. The relative quiet, small size of the city and it’s close proximity to nature made this balancing act possible.
One sunny day with a rental bike a little too big for me, I followed the Elbe River to Meissen and then Schloss Moritzburg. It made for a beautiful and mostly flat 60 km ride on a network of trails throughout the region with constant opportunities to stop for food or wine. It felt great to get on two wheels and enjoy nature. I must admit, the wide and rather plain sight of the Elbe inside the city is not impressive and a bit boring (or maybe I’ve been spoiled by Prague and Paris?). The river cycling route converted me to a fan of the Elbe.
Meissen, famous for porcelain, is a cute old town with it’s own “castle” and cathedral. I had nice time admiring the architecture and enjoying an ice cream before stumbling on a large old bookstore. When traveling I love hunting for old postcards or tourism posters and was not disappointed! I left the shop with a handful of postcards and photos from Czech, Slovakian and German locations that were a part of my wonderful summer – and for only two euros.
The following evening I participated in Museums Night and loved it! Museums and galleries throughout the city remain open until 1 a.m. for a one-time fee. The event ticket got me into the Transport Museum, Albertinum, Military History Museum (loved this one! Not at all stuff or nationalist, it is the exact opposite: honest, very detailed and reminds visitors of the horrific human costs of wars) and the New Green Vault, including Hausmannsturm (a sort of viewing platform) for beautiful night views of Dresden, before time ran out. It was easy to enjoy all sites without strong German language skills and the streets were full with all sorts of people happy to get their fill of art and culture. I hope something like this comes to Minneapolis one day. It’s a great concept.
Although much had to be restored after World War Two, the Altstadt is rather beautiful by day or night and it makes a nice setting for a night out. Baroque architecture is very common but other styles, including GDR-era, blend right into the urban landscape. I especially liked the royal buildings and Zwinger Palace. Also, the storied Frauenkirche did not disappoint!
I found the quality of food at a given price in Europe to be generally higher, although of smaller portions, than in Minnesota but especially in Germany, and especially wine and beer. Going out into a beautiful public space and enjoying a fresh local wine for $2-3!? That is impossible where I come from. So, per usual, I went a little nuts on wine and snacks and everyday I tried something different for lunch in the Äußere Neustadt neighborhood of Dresden where I stayed. Never the one to return home empty handed, I also made sure to gather wine, chocolate and other items to jam into my already full suitcase to bring to Minnesota (sadly, only a week later, all have been consumed). I remember less about what I saw and more about the tastes of the city.
Time passed too quickly and after five days I found myself at the main station headed to Berlin at 4:30 a.m. not ready to say goodbye. The summer was a long and complicated adventure and likely one of the most important things I’ve ever done. I realized how little I need to be happy and that places I used to feel attached to have lost their former importance. I now have time to work out how and where I can go long term. Details on that to come! Edit: Four months after writing this post, I went to Southeast Asia for three months to travel and teach English on a volunteer basis.
Thank you for reading!