Friday, November 18, 2016

Leaving Leipzing and Dresden days

Backing up just a few days to Leipzig, I woke up on my last day in Leipzig.  I had breakfast with a nice Czech student named Martin whom I had met the day prior at the hostel.  He was studying the history of sports in Germany and the Czech Republic, especially related to anti-Semitism of sporting clubs, and was busy deep in the archives.  It happened to be a holiday in the German state of Saxony, and his archives were closed so he was stuck there another day.

After breakfast, I headed on to Zeitgeschictliches Forum Leipzig, a Museum on East and West Germany.  While it was not closed on the holiday, it was opening an hour later so I killed time by wandering over to the magnificent Neues Rathaus, the huge town hall on Martin Luther ring road.  It is a huge, towering building of arches and lions.

After some coffee and a snack to kill time, the museum was finally open.  I wandered through the interesting exhibit on the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and its history.  The exhibit had leaflets and artifacts from the GDR and its history.  It explained the history of East Germany from Soviet occupation through the 1953 uprising (including a tank, and videos of the unrest), as well as the history of repression in East Germany.  It also had interesting things like the East German products and exhibits on culture in East Germany.  It dovetailed a bit with the concurrent history of West Germany.  It was all quite fascinating, and a reminder of why I embarked on this journey.

More importantly, the museum had a temporary exhibit on the floor above on national myths in Germany post-1945.  It was a fascinating and introspective exhibit on the myths within the East and West German narratives after the war, tackling the West German economic miracle, East Germany's "fight against fascism" and narratives related to immigration, culture and sports.  It was frankly fascinating and refreshing.  I told the museum staff as much, as I explained that I could only dream of my country being so self-reflective.  

Kinda like:

After the museum, I made my way back to the hostel and geared up to go.  Just as I was leaving to catch my flixbus, the skies were darkening.  As I arrived to the bus stop area, it began to rain as I waited for my bus that the attendant informed me would be 25 minutes late.  I sat for a while on a bench with an umbrella as I waited, then eventually ducked under an alcove to get out of the rain. Eventually the bus came, and we sped out of the city and down the autobahn.

On the 1.5 hour trip to Dresden, we were flanked with rows and rows of windmills, and I smiled a quixotic grin.

We arrived to Dresden amid more rain.  I hopped the tram to the neustadt and found my way to the hostel.  I checked in and dried off.

Later in the evening, I wandered back out into the city as the rains had passed.  Dresden was surprisingly beautiful.  I wandered past a giant gold statue of Saxon king Augustus II, aka August der Starke (August the Strong), who earned that nickname in various fashions including snapping horseshoes in court and also fathering scores and scores of bastards amid his 11 concubines. Augustus II was the Saxon Sun King, who built up Dresden in baroque splendor.

I crossed the bridge over the River Elbe to reach the Altstadt (Old City) of giant baroque splendor amid statutes doting church domes and spires.  I wandered a bit through the city before making my way to Radeberger Spezialausschank, a restaurant and brewery of said beer.  I spent the evening sipping steins of Radeberger Zwickel, fresh-tapped cloudy beer and eating a Saxon special called Sächsischer Sauerbraten, a plate of sour-marinated roast beef in a raisin sauce with red cabbage and mashed potato balls.

Yesterday morning, I spent the day wandering more around the lovely Dresden.  I was surprised at how nice the city is, given that I had read of its destruction.  Thankfully, a lot of the old city was spared the fire-bombing and still existed.  I wandered around in the grey, snapping pics before heading back up to the new city to grab cheap kebab for lunch.  I read the afternoon away before noticing that the sun was finally popping out.  Eager to get some sun, I wandered back out into the city and up and down the River Elbe and into the old city.

I wrote a bit already about this morning.  This afternoon, I head on to Prague for my 15 year reunion with zluty Praha.

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