Back in 2008 I was living in Prague with some fabulous roommates, teaching English, and trying to survive the cold Czech winter. One weekend in January I escaped with a roommate to the city of Dresden, Germany, which is a mere 2 hours away by train. It’s funny how a simple 2 hour train trip can put in you somewhere so different. Dresden is drastically different from Prague, with wider streets, well-paved roads and lots of stately architecture.
The city, as you might know, was almost eradicated during WWII by the Allies. 75% of the city was destroyed, which makes it even more impressive that it’s still a great place to visit today.
The crowning glory of the city was and is again today thanks to restoration, the Frauenkirche. A massive Lutheran church in the middle of town, the Frauenkirche was gone after the bombings. Really gone–nothing was left. In 2005, they finished a years-long restoration, and it was so new that we could actually smell carpenter’s sawdust from the pews when we walked inside. A completely new smell for an old medieval church! You can see the rebuilt one today, and look close: the black bricks are from the original church. Much like the whole city, the Frauenkirche was painfully restored using what they could save and combining it with new things.
Other wonderful things to see were the lovely Elbe River flowing through the city and the modern neighborhood full of trendy bars and playful buildings. At one bar we were introduced to the “Diesel,” a mix of pilsner beer and cola that sounded unappetizing but turned out to be delicious!
A grand palace dating built in the Baroque style, the Zwinger is a huge builidng housing an art museum, a history museum, event space, and more. Because we visited in winter the gardens were a bit sparse, but it was still stunning.
My favorite find in Dresden was a little store called Pfund’s Molkerei, or dairy. Being vegan would be a hard sell for me. I can forgo the milk, but all things cheese and yogurt are near and dear to my heart, which explains why I loved this place so much. The store is encrusted in Baroque curls and trappings, and sells all manner of cheese and milk related items. You could drop a euro in a jar and pour yourself a glass of creamy milk from the pitcher, or ask the clerk for the choicest new or aged cheese. I was in a sort of heaven, and ended up with a sweet little porcelain cheese or bread platter with a girl and a cow on it. My little memory of Dresden.
We only spent one short day in this lovely city, but I could have stayed longer to take a bike trip along the Elbe, explore more museums, and wander through the wide streets. Someday!