November 2007


More on Dresden

The Whiney Expat Blogger Meet-Up was, in my personal estimation, a great success.

It was great meeting Eurotrippen’s B again; seeing the Big Wide World’s Cathy somewhere other than the Erfut-Weimar-Jena triad; and then catching up with people I’ve only read before (Germany Doesn’t Suck’s J; Mausi; and C N Heidelberg), as well as people I’ve never crossed paths with before but have already added to my feed manager (Jeweled Concrete, Letters Home to You, and Fly Fishing on the Stream of Conscience). I am omitting a German blogger from Dresden, but I cannot recall her blog’s name right now, which makes it hard to track down.

The best summary of the weekend, so far, is the one on Letters Home to You: Dresden reeling after expat weekend onslaught—an account that accurately reports many of the weekend’s activities—at least from Friday evening through late Saturday night.

I would add something about Sunday morning, but I don’t have any notes telling me where we met for brunch—instead I will go all out “meta” on Dresden, without posting photos, right after I talk about my German class this morning.

As usual we each had the opportunity to describe our past week, and I talked about the “Whiney Expat Blogger Meet-Up” in Dresden. I didn’t even try to translate it, I just took it straight across since it’s a formal name and I wouldn’t know how to translate the terms “blogger” or “meet-up” since they have rather specific nuances, even within English. The teacher suggested “expat” should be Ausländer, which I think isn’t quite right—perhaps Ausgebürgerte is better. She then asked if I mean that we were “Wein trinken”!!! I had to clarify “whiney” as “complaining”.

Anyhow Dresden is officially my second favorite German city, right after Leipzig. It’s not easy to explain, but basically Dresden is both beautiful and it has a soul—two things that other cities that I’ve visited in Germany are lacking, either individually or together. Berlin, for example, has a soul, but it is far from beautiful—it’s fat and spread out, taking an eternity to cross. Frankfurt is just hideous—hässlich even.

The Neustadt, which one would think is new, isn’t. There are parts that are new, but then there are areas with small narrow streets, small inviting cafes in old buildings, and intriguing shops. South of the Elbe, the city is being rebuilt—some with the aim of resorting what was destroyed during World War II, some with more modern aims in mind. Either way, there is a compact, walkable, vibrant city core, just like Leipzig.

Even with all the superlative compliments that I can think of, I do have one major complaint. In Dresden bicyclists ride down the sidewalks—threatening to run pedestrians over, without the slightest bit of remorse. I was nearly mowed down several times in my first hour or so of walking in Dresden and I later commented about it to B, who confirmed that bicyclists in Dresden tend to think that they are king, even when they are clearly in the wrong.

I fully plan on sketching out another trip to Dresden—there’s too much to see and do there for me to overlook the city any longer.

10 comments to More on Dresden

  • J

    Dresden definitely is a fantastic place.

    Great write-ups. I’m way too busy to do one at this time.

  • Lee

    I am an American who lived in Dresden nearly 3 1/2 years, now Hamburg! Agree 100% on the city and Neustadt (400 hundred years old when I lived there) … AND the damned bikes, but I´ll add two more items: Scheiße ala dogs and mommy and stroller. I decided after a few weeks I would die in Germany from “traffic”! My German partner is from Dresden. AND a former Motor Sporter. He said after a few days here in Hamburg: Hamburgh is NOT Germany. Except for the bikes, drivers here ARE polite and actually motion for you to cross a street. Glad to hear your report!

  • It was great meeting you, Adam! I’m working on my write up today.

  • @J: I’m looking forward to reading your meet-up write-up, up whenever you have the time 🙂 I can wait

    @Lee: I’ve had dog scheiße issues in Weimar. It’s especially evil when the sun set early and you step in it in the dark. I wish there was a pooper-scooper law here that was enforced.

    @christina: I look forward to seeing your blog when your write-up is up!

  • Nice write-up! Though I still don’t know what makes Leipzig your favorite German city. Have I always been to the wrong parts of that town? I must admit, I’ve only been there 4-5 times.
    Anyway, I really enjoyed spending the Saturday with so many nice and interesting people!

  • I think Leipzig’s walkable core is a bit more compact that Dresden’s, which makes it a bit better in my book. I’ve also visited Leipzig more than Dresden.

  • Hi Adam, thanks for the link and recommendation! Still trying to pry info about Sunday. What did you all do?
    Just saw you have some photos now too. I love the lighting on the one you feature in the post. Is that the Zwinger? I really don’t recognise it.

  • @Ian: On Sunday we met at 11 or so and then headed to a Mexican cafe, where we partook of a breakfast buffet and had an extended conversation where we whined a lot about Germans and things in Germany… Like the size of washing machines.

    Eventually we left the cafe and wandered back to the area next to the ice cream cafe, when I realized that i might be able to catch a train in 9 minutes if I ran, otherwise it would be well over an hour. I ran. The others stayed behind and talked a bit, I think most headed home, whilst others wandered.

    The photo is from the Zwinger courtyard, looking back toward the Dresden Opera’s front area.

  • Hi Adam,

    Not “Andy” as it was most peinlichly pointed out to me I had been addressing you as… not the whole weekend I hope! I am such a ditz with names. Mausi also refers to that briefly in her detailed write-up.
    Enjoying the Sedaris critique, btw. I am going to have to pick up the rest of his books.

  • @ian: all through elementary school teachers called me by my brother’s name–keep in mind that he went to the same school a scant 12 years before I did…

    Sedaris is a brilliant writer — I really like how he constructs his stories, although his most recent book I found a bit lacking; almost like success has spoiled him.