A Home Away From Home07 Jan 2015
I love Dresden. It feels like my second home and one of the few places where I feel like a local. Known as the Florence on the Elbe it is a city with a rich and colourful history. It was firebombed at the end of World War 2 and many buildings remained destroyed until the fall of the Berlin Wall and East Germany in 1989. Since then millions of hours and euros have been spent rebuilding the city to its former glory. The centrepiece of this rebuilding it the Frauenkirche (or Church of our Lady) which was rebuilt stone for stone. It looks like a very 'European' city with old buildings and many cobblestone streets - dust it with snow and you have a picture straight from a postcard.
I spent my GAP year here in 2010 working as a assistant english teacher (think teachers aide) at St. Benno. Gymnasium helping students develop their professional and conversational English skills.
On arrival into Dresden this time we made our way down to Schillergarten - a small beer garden in the shadow of the Blue Wonder (Blaues Wunder) bridge (it's kind of like the Dresden version of Brisbane's Story Bridge Hotel - only with glühwein and bratwurst instead of XXXX and steak).
One of the 'conditions' on staying with the Kirchberg's is that you must cook them a meal. This meant that much of our first full day in Dresden was spent cooking roast beef and vegetables, with pavlova for desert. I invited a couple of my friends over and it was a great evening of food, drink and conversation. One big topic of conversation was the big protests that have been happening in Dresden. 18,000 supporters of the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident (PEGIDA) had taken part in protests in Dresden, but in true German style counter-demonstrations took place in basically every major German city including 3,000 in Dresden. You can read more about it here: German 'anti-Islamisation' group PEGIDA draws 18,000 to protest in Dresden
New Year's Eve or "Silvester" in German is a very crazy affair! In the afternoon we partook in some real german engineering and built a ice bar ready for the party the Kirchberg's were hosting! We then escaped for the evening to one of my friend's (Leo Kaßner - founder of fingercoding) flat where we ate all kinds of unhealthy food and spent 3 or so hours catching up. Whenever I come visit Germany it always feels like I never left! It was then back to the Kirchbergs and up to their rooftop terrace to watch the fireworks. Fireworks are freely available for private use in Germany meaning that for New Year's Eve you feel like you are walking through a war zone. Disappointingly the city was covered in a thick fog and you couldn't see more than 10 metres - meaning any fireworks further than a couple of meters away were invisible.
Dresden is a very cultural city. You can enjoy everything from a very serious evening of Opera at the Semperoper in the Altstadt to a local Jazz quartet at the Blue Note bar in the bohemian Neustadt. This time we saw The King's Son - an opera from the same writer as Hansel and Gretel. This was a tragic fairytale gone wrong, and a great Christmas present from the Ulis! We also spent one evening listening to some very experimental Jazz, and another being blown away by some of Dresden's top Jazz performers, the Jazzfanatics.
It may seem like we crammed a lot in, but our time was mainly spent eating great food (especially German breakfast), catching up with friends, long walks on sunny days and doing a lot of nothing. After a busy year of study and work, it was brilliant.
Much love and thanks to the Kirchbergs, Sedlacks and Heckers for their hospitality!