As you may have gathered from my previous posts, I have an interest in WWII and I try and go to places that have significance to the war.
I wanted to go to Dresden because of the strategic significance it played in the war. It had a big munitions factory and easy access to the railway. I also read that Dresden was rebuilt after the war and a lot of it is from post-war and not a lot pre-war. I wanted to go and see how true this was.
I booked the flights and booked the hostel and booked train tickets. There was a huge mix up with the train tickets though. The app had me down as a child and 5 sets of tickets I had booked were child tickets. 1 set I can say I had an issue – 5. Not a chance was it me. I was frantically calling the train company to get it all sorted. I ended up having to rebook them as adults and it cost me more than I had hoped. I did wonder why the original tickets were so cheap. Anyway, it all got sorted in the end.
The train times weren’t very forthcoming and I got the earliest train I could to get me to the airport in time. I was a little concerned because some airports around the country had long queues for security and they were telling people to get there for 3 hours pre-departure.
Here’s the fun bit: the train got me to the airport station with 70 minutes to get through security and to the gate. I didn’t want to go the night before as I would have been at the airport for far too long. I like danger so I thought I would go with it and see what happens. If I didn’t make it then that was on me and a consequence of not going the night before.
Thankfully I live a 5-7 minute walk from the station so that was in my favour already. The train was on time the entire way. Was I actually going to be able to do it? The obstacle now was security and what that might pose. I was all ready to buy fast track should I need to.
I got into the terminal and through the barriers and, to my surprise, the queues were really short. I managed to get from the train to the terminal, through security, to the shop for a drink, through duty-free, on the transit and to the gate within about 20 minutes. I was really, really shocked I did. I was also very relieved.
I’m not used to travelling to my EU destinations so early in the day. I usually get in in the evening. This was a new experience for me.
I boarded and got not just the window seat, but a whole row to myself. I loved it.
The flight was nice and uneventful – my favourite kind.
We landed and I headed for the border thinking it would be OK and I would be across in no time. How wrong I was. The border guard checked the stamps in my passport and came across the exit stamp for Madrid and was wildly confused. He looked through all of the passport pages, checked all the stamps and checked the passport itself. He got some colleagues to look and they did the same. I asked if it was the Madrid exit stamp and he confirmed this. After 15 minutes and a couple of pictures of the passport, I was free to go.
I got the train to Dresden Neustadt station and then headed to the hostel to check-in. Check-in didn’t open for another 20 minutes but they let me check in early. I was so relieved to put all my stuff down. It was about 14:30 and I still had about 6 hours of daylight so I headed to the tram to find some places to go.
It was quite unusual that I had the rest of the day to sightsee after checking in as I am usually just getting here in the evening with only time to go find food.
I was really glad I had time to sightsee for a few hours today. It gave me time to figure out places to go on the other days I was here. I dropped all my stuff off and headed to the supermarket for some food and some drinks and then headed out on the tram. I had asked reception for places to go and things to do and they directed me to the Old Town. I had asked about the Schwebebahn (though I had to signal what it did because I didn’t know the German word for it and forgot the English word for it). He knew what I meant and gave me directions to it. I decided I would do that on Thursday as I had Leipzig planned for Wednesday (more about that later though).
I got my food and drink and ticket for the tram and then hopped on the next one to see where it would take me. I kept my eyes peeled for things to see and do today (as well as Thursday and Friday). As we were rounding the corner, I saw a golden statue on one side and a massive church on the other side. I decided I would get off at this stop and see what was there.
My eyes didn’t know where to look. I went to the Golden Statue to see what that was. It was a statue of King Augustus – one of the rulers of Saxony. After I had seen this, I walked across the bridge to check out the buildings I had seen there.
The walk across was nice and a feast for the eyes.
I decided to see what the sightseeing buses would cost (just out of curiosity) and they weren’t at a price I wanted to pay so I decided I wouldn’t do them.
I decided instead to walk around the Old Town to see what it had to offer. I spent a couple of hours just walking around here. It is so, so pretty. I wanted to go inside the Catholic Cathedral (surprising this was here given that Dresden was part of the reformation and where Protestantism was prevalent) but I couldn’t see how to get in so I didn’t do that. I walked through the city gate to see what was through there.
There were a lot of cafes and ice cream shops. I wasn’t surprised they were rammed as the temperature was about 27C at this point.
I found my trusty souvenirs and then headed to the market square. Wow is all I can say. The view of the Frauenkirche was awesome. In front was a statue of Martin Luther (a father of Protestantism and the Reformation). The church has been rebuilt to the style it was in pre-war. It was destroyed in the war. They did a great job of rebuilding and restoration.
I went inside and it was just as beautiful inside too. If you ever get to Dresden, this is a must-see!
After I was done here, I headed further east along the square and walked through a little park next to the Elbe. It was really nice to walk through it and have it be nice and peaceful too.
I then decided I wanted some food so headed on the tram to see where it would take me. I was first going to go to the Hauptbahnhof to get some tickets for Leipzig. After I had done that, I walked down one of the pedestrian streets and found some food finally. After I had eaten, I decided to head on the tram that went by the hostel and go to the end of the line to see what was there. We passed through a tiny picturesque village that I wanted to go back to. After I was done here, I headed back to the hostel as my train for Leipzig was around 08:00
Total steps: 15,662
Total miles: 7.6
Below are some pics from today
It was an early start so I could get breakfast and just chill at the train station until it was time to get the train to the airport.
I enjoyed just sitting on the platform and watching people and listening to the hum of the train engines as they rolled in and out of the station. I wanted to do this for a few hours during the days I had here but I was too busy sightseeing.
I got to the station with a couple of hours to go before the flight and I went to the top of the airport as they have a viewing gallery that looks out over the runway. Sadly there weren’t many flights scheduled so there wasn’t much to see. Pretty cool that you can go there as a member of the public and plane watch for free.
I went through security and got something to eat and drink and just sat where the gate was. The passport control barriers were open so I was starting to panic that I might not get an exit stamp (I don’t want all the hassle that would cause). A lot of people just went through the open barriers and sat at the gate. The border police came by and made them all get to the other side of the barrier for a passport check. Phew. No issues now.
I got mine stamped and then my stomach started to hurt so I spent most of the time powdering my nose. I didn’t think I’d make it out alive. I did. Thankfully I was able to powder my nose on the flight too. It was a 737 Max 8 plane. Pretty cool. 4th time on a Max 8, I think.
The flight was so hot (possibly because I was feeling rubbish) and I couldn’t sleep. The row was full and nobody wanted to move to an empty seat a few rows ahead. The lady in the window seat was panicking as we hurtled down the runway and took off. She should have swapped really.
There was a slight queue at the border in Stansted. I didn’t mind so much as I had about 70 minutes until the train. As I was going out, some guy started to walk back towards customs and the alarm sounded and the doors shut. Idiot!!!
I got to the platform and it was empty. I was beginning to think there were no trains. Thankfully the ones towards Ely and Peterborough were still running. I saw an elderly couple that was going towards Stamford and they were panicked because of the trains. I made sure they got on the right trains at Stansted and Ely (it would have been rude not to help since that was the way I was going). I spent the journey with them and we just chatted.
I got home and I was so relieved to get my shoes off and give the blister some room to breathe.
All in all Dresden and Leipzig were good. I would really recommend both.
Total steps: 58,997
Total miles: 28.6
You can view all of my Dresden pics here
You can view all of my Leipzig pics here