When we last left you we had just started exploring the east side of Germany and were in Dresden. Incase you haven't heard of the city, it claims to have invented the tea bag, toothpaste, the wonder bra, the beer coaster and milk chocolate (before the Swiss)! The city also boasts the biggest fleet of steam boats and has the 2nd longest tram in the world (45metres long) - but we didn't get to see it! Before we go on to tell you about our time here we are going to give you a quick summary of what has shaped Dresden into the city it is today.
On February 13 1945 Allied Forces bombed 60% of Dresden to ruins, killing 25 000 people. After the war Dresden became part of East Germany (or the GDR) and was lead by a communist government. In 1989 when the wall fell, Dresden was able to start anew. It's people painted bright colours over its grey history and many of the ruins left from after the war were rebuilt to look old again.
We decided to stay a little further out from the city this time in the 'Outer Neustadt' (translating into 'outer new city'). It was really cool walking to our accommodation (which we soon learnt was 70s themed which made Dresden even cooler) as we got to walk through the Alaunplatz, this park is a real melting pot; it is an extensive public garden cross green space and has lots of different people hanging out at any particular time. There would have been well over 100 people enjoying the mild spring weather picnicking, throwing frisbees and playing badminton. The walk through the park gave us a good feeling for what we could expect in Dresden. Outer Neustadt (where the park is and where we were staying) had bars next to second-hand shops next to record stores next to cafés next to jazz bars and had a pretty young alternative crowd- which was really cool. This area of Dresden was less bombed during the war and so funnily enough many of the buildings in the Neustadt are actually older than most in the Altstadt (Old city).
Our four days in Dresden went really quickly. Our first day was pretty lazy staying in the immediate area in the Kunsthofpassage which is a series of artsy backyards with cute cafés, takeaway tea and pokey shops to do with art (e.g. a shop devoted to felting). Most of the houses and backyards in this area were rundown and grey during the time of the GDR but after the wall fell the residents and landlords let their imaginations soar resulting in the magical place of the Kunsthofpassage (Art passage). We hope you like the pictures!
We also spent one day walking around the city and like some of the other cities we have visited, Dresden is split into two sections by a river. The Elbe River separates the Altstadt from the Newstadt and so it was quite lovely to walk into the city from an older part of town. Just before crossing the Elbe we couldn't help but stop at an oversized golden statue of 'August the Strong'. The 'Golden Rider' statue is Dresden's way of thanking August for their huge variety of baroque buildings (he was also the king of Poland)! From here we crossed the Elbe, stopping to look at all the people below us cycling along the river on old bikes and eating ice cream (just generally we have seen Europeans eating ice cream even in alpine areas even though it has been so cold!).
On our way to lunch we stopped by the Fürstenzug which is the biggest tile picture in the world. The work consists of 23,000 tiles which have been individually painted (so its not a mosaic) to show Saxonian Kings and other important people between 1127 and 1904 (considering the dates I'm sure it will come as no surprise there is only one female in the whole work). We then visited a microcafé called Kunzmann's for lunch which is super mini with just 19 seats on two floors! After that we walked around the city, noting the archeological dig in the city centre and walked along the Brühlsche Terrasse which is built along an old renaissance fort and took some daggy pictures.
We decided to take advantage of a 22 degree day and go on a hike to the Bastei Bridge in the National Park Sächsische Schweiz ('Saxon Swizerland') which was really beautiful. We met a beautiful couple who had hiked to the Bastei Bridge 50 years earlier and were back for a 50th anniversary (have included a photo of them too). Super cool to see some extreme rock-climbers in the National Park too.
Next stop was Nuremberg, in the southern region of Barvaria. You may recall Nuremberg as the city famous for holding the international war trials of the Nazis. We visited Courtroom 600 where the main war criminals were tried on a unique legal basis agreed upon by the allied governments. These trials lasted for 218 days and were important because it was the first time in world history that criminals who were heads of state were convicted in a fair trial in the eyes of the world. Below you can see a photo of Courtroom 600 as it is today
We explored the very pretty city and walked up to the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle). This castle is a symbol of Nuremberg and is one of the most important palaces of the Middle Ages. Below you can see some photos of the watch tower and the courtyard around the Kaiserburg (including one of the sooky-est dogs we have ever met) as well as photos of the city.
We did find it difficult to find a good coffee in Nuremberg and when times got tough went into Nespresso as prospective customers to "sample" the goods. We also spent some time figuring out our next steps and decided to enrol in a German language school back in Berlin.
We decided that after 3 months of travelling it was time to get a little more serious about learning the language. We stopped back in Leipzig for a few days of study before heading back into Berlin for our entrance exams. We settled back into student life pretty quickly and had a great group of people in our class from all over the wold. We had dinner together once a week and at any given time there are usually 3 different languages being spoken across the table - something that neither of us had experienced before.
We have studied in Berlin for a month now and our German has improved a lot. It seems to be the case however that the more you learn the more you realise you still need to know. Learning a new language certainly has it's challenges, perhaps because we have not learnt another language before but the things to think about when speaking and writing German can be a little overwhelming. There are so many rules and things to learn including: structure and cases within sentences, noun genders and articles, verb conjugations, adjective declinations as well as tense to think about.
Having finished our intensive study we are now in the full swing of job searching- let the fun begin