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Published: April 5th 2009
I quite like the grass...
Ok, so I made it to Dresden, after the first official train journey of my rail trip from Berlin to Budapest. Train travel in Europe is very convienient (admittedly I am comparing it to WA where there is really only a metropolitan service and even then that isn't the most convienient). Plush chairs, space, and even if it is crowded it is still quite comfortable. Much more comfortable than travelling by plane. And I was able to update my journal so I was all up to date and ready to write about the next adventure.
I arrived in Dresden with very few expectations. Even now I can't really recall why it was on my list of places to visit. I'm sure there was a reason but it has floated away. Anyway, I arrived in Dresden with really only a few directions to my hostel and no real map. Heading out of the train station, which, in case you are interested, is quite new, lots of concrete and clean which is a plus, I wandered about looking for the correct tram stop. To the untrained eye, it looks a little like the trams all run together, rails and wires and the
occasional sign post with many colour dots and symbols just confuddling my poor brain. But eventually I figured out where my stop was (of course, I had to cross a couple of roads, because the line I wanted was the furthest away). Not that I am complaining, it's all part and parcel of the adventure.
Making it to the tram stop, I just love the fact that there is a sign that updates you on when the next tram is coming. There are few things worse than sitting at a public transport stop, whether it is a bus, train or tram stop and simply having to cross your fingers that the right one will eventually arrive, either on time, or at all!
I also love the fact that between the tram tracks there is a nice little lawn! Very cute.
My tram ride (sans ticket...where do you get them from?) seemed to do a clockwise tour of the city. Heading west, we skirted around the city slowly crusing past some of the major landmarks, past the other major train station and towards my stop. Now, travelling with my pack and having to keep it on in case
I need to jump off at the next stop means that I am rather cumbersome and prone (more than usual) to falling over. But, I survived, got off at the right stop and then had to pop into a bakery to ask for directions. Plodding along in the right direction, I was soon distracted by a striking old cemetary, covered in a blanket of autumnal leaves, locked away behind wrought iron gates. Ironically, after I got the hostel and looked at a map I had unwittingly stumbled across the oldest Jewish cemetery in Dresden!
Dumping my bags at the hostel, an large, old place with seemingly a bajillion rooms and the largest circular stairwell - I swear you could walk 10 abreast up the stairs - I was off to explore. I picked up a rough map from reception/the bar and was on my way, pottering around the old streets taking some photos before going in search of a tourist information centre. That was my first mistake. I had geared myself up to find out some great information, learn some cool facts and instead after evenutually making it to the information area, there was very little information in English.
Now, I'm not too sure if it was just my mood but Dresden wasn't growing on me. In fact, I wasn't enthused at all. My only options were to take a bus tour or hire an audio guide. After the war and Dresden's almost complete anhilation, a lot of the older buildings were reconstructed, exactly as there were. There is the pervading air of saddness and almost this atmosphere of loss, and to me, I felt that there was this inescapable feeling of the need to live in the past, nursing the battle scars. I found that there were a huge number of bars, and at night, I didn't feel very comfortable walking around at night...unfortunate seeing as night fell at about 4pm!
After a very late lunch I decided to toddle back to the hostel. I wasn't really in the mood for a tour of the Opera House or an art museam, so I was off to the hostel bar for a dark beer and a read of my book, and perhaps some friendly conversation to shake off the loneliness and meet my need for human contact. Only problem was, the bar was empty most of the time,
and those people that were there only spoke German. So, I read and drank beer before venturing out for some food, ending up in a tiny Morroccan place. After that and some more beer, telephone tag and some emailling, I resolved to move on to Prague a day early, rescheduling my hostel booking and just deciding to buy a new ticket the next day.
So, after a night's sleep, I packed up and shipped out, back to the train station for a ticket to Prague, some croissant and use my phone card to call my Mum! Yup, standing in the train station I called my Mum to tell her what I was up to, where I was headed, just to touch base and feel a bit more connected to the world. I also got the chance to improve my karma! One of the fun things about travelling are public toilets and lots of facilities require you to pay. I ran into a couple from the UK who had come from Czech and had no Euro so I paid their way! You never know when you might need the same!
Signs you know that you are feeling a little
- you see a packet of sugar cubes and nearly cry because they remind you of your sister
- you are strangely amused to see a Fosters sign but bemused because the map of Australia is all wonky, only to realise you are looking at it from the wrong side
- you contemplate striking up a conversation with the bar man, despite his broken English and your lack of German!
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