Dresden was one of the most destroyed in the second world war. My initial reaction to the town was that it was a little ugly and grungy feeling. The buildings are grey and dirty as are the streets. Graffiti covers the walls, parking meters and bus stops. Getting further in to the new town (Neustadt) it becomes clear why this city is well known for it’s art work and alternative way of life. The graffiti turn in to works of art and it is hard to go past a street corner without an organic store in sight. Specialty stores offer products not seen elsewhere in Germany and small alleyways offer unique shopping. My first step after a 4-hour bus ride from Nuremberg was to get food. I always look for vegetarian restaurants first wherever I go, as these generally offer better vegetarian food than non-specifically vegetarian restaurants, plus I can’t really order anything with meat accidently. I tried Falscher Haus, which was pretty fantastic for what I wanted, a simple burger. It turns out Dresden has heaps to offer for vegans, with a whole eating guide dedicated to vegan destinations!
As Dresden was almost flattened completely in WWII the old city was destroyed, and rebuilt to the same specifications. It is incredible walking in to the old city now as the rebuild has made it feel very grand and old. It is unbelievable that this old town is actually newer than the new town of Dresden. It really feels like a walk in to the past. While I loved the old town, I was happy to be staying in the close, but less touristy, new town, at the “Louise 20” hostel.
A ride along the river has given me the fix of beauty that I needed, as well as getting out of the main city. The track of the river goes for many km’s going past a horse farm, several bridges, many beer gardens and old buildings. This city just keeps getting better and better, with the best Christmas markets I have been to so far, with food from Germany, Africa, Lebanon, Italy, France and many others. The Augustusmarkt is definitely the market to see in Germany, as well as the medieval market in the old town. I think my attitude is also changing a little. I am becoming more confident to ask questions and talk to people, which has made my travel so much easier. I am also starting to relax and being a little happier to do less. It feels good.
I skipped going to the famous Zwinger and Green Vault Museums after going in and being at the end of a ridiculously large line. I find it a little crazy to pay to see treasures anyway, which is mainly what seems to be in these museums, although the art collection would have been nice to see. Instead I opted for the Deutsche Hygiene museum as it had an exhibition on fast fashion. Fast fashion effects environmental, social and economic outcomes in every country that participates in producing or wearing fast fashion, so I was very interested to see the exhibit. Some very interesting facts were that, on average people wear their clothes 1.7 times, and the average person has 20 items of unused clothing. The process was fascinating and upsetting to see. There was some hilarious and sad footage of ladies in India who process clothes to be recycled in India, where one lady mentioned that the people in the village think that there is a water shortage in the West, as it seems to be cheaper to buy new clothes than wash clothes. There was also a great area for “slow fashion”, showcasing local designers of high quality, durable goods and materials.
The museum also had a special exhibit on AIDS, which was interesting to see the extent to which aids has effected society, in particular the regions effected and the type of advertising targeted at different groups of people. It is particularly frustrating to see the advertising for the USA which continually was rejected for supposedly encouraging promiscuity by encouraging the use of condoms. Other permanent exhibits included displays about food, children, emotions, exercise and sex. The permanent exhibitions lacked English translations making them a little more difficult to understand while the fast fashion and AIDS exhibits had everything in English and German.
The surrounding area had some great street art and I found another excellent local market on the east of the museum which was more of a farmer’s market, with everything that you could need to cook up a storm. There were also food stalls to grab a bite to eat. I ended up with a delicious käse (cheese) and spinat (spinach) pastry and a hot chocolate. This market was well priced and aimed at locals so had fewer tourists than the markets in other areas. I later tried a vegetarian restaurant in the main shopping/tourist area called Laden Café Aha. This was great, although it was extremely busy and took a while to get service, and then even longer to wait to pay. I had the pearl barley risotto with feta, which was delicious and one of the best meals I have had in Germany so far. It was a little more expensive than other vegetarian restaurants I’ve been, but the food was worth paying the extra.
All prices are in Euro and current at time of posting
Hygiene Museum Entry – 7; Pastry at market – 3.50; Hot chocolate at market – 2; Dinner at Laden Cafe Aha – 15; Accommodation in 5 bed dorm – 14/night; Gluhwein – 3; Dinner at Falscher house – 9