Dresden & Prague – In Retrospect

So I fell a little behind in writing and really wanted to get the pics from Dresden up, so here’s the written entries for both Dresden and Prague…

DRESDEN

Dresden was a phenomenal city. According to the guide we had, it was 94% destroyed during WWII. To walk through this city, knowing that, was a truly humbling experience. To be honest, the only reason why I stopped in Dresden, was because I’d skipped Bruge, and I was told by a few travelers that I should try and stop at a few of the smaller cities if I could afford the time. In this situation, I wanted to slow down a couple of days so I could catch up with a few friends I’d made who were behind, so I decided to stop off for a couple of nights. I’m so glad I did. The place is divided into two: The Altstadt (Oldtown) and The Neustadt (Newtown). In the Newtown, where my hostel was located, was funky bars,, beergardens, cafes, restaraunts, and was full of punks, hippies, and bohemiam culture. Like Brunswick and Fitzroy, but without the hipsters. I felt right at home. Over on the Oldtown, were buildings and cathedrals like nothing I had ever seen before. To think that the city was leveled only 65 years ago just blew me away. What was interesting was that some of the buildings maintained a pre-20th century look. Built with a combination of rubble as a result of the war, together with new materials, it made for some incredible photo opportunities.

Did I mention there was a Dixie festival on? No? Well, there was. And there were people EVERYWHERE. This wasn’t just banjos, straw chewin’, and moonshine. This was trucks after trucks driving on parade, with bands playing in the back, while punters consumed giant pretzals, donuts and beers. Great timing, and something I will never forget.

I was excited when the bus to picked me up though, cause I got to meet up with my new family, who we’ve dubbed ‘the Wolfpack’, as an omage to The Hangover, which was screened on the bus on the way to Berlin and serves as a fitting storyline to the way we feel most mornings.

PRAGUE

The interesting thing about Prague, is that it was my first decent glimpse into a country I knew virtually nothing about. I was aware that the country was part of the USSR, had been subject to wars and although now part of the EU, had still not converted to the EU (making things significantly cheaper), however, what I witnessed, was a city of pure beauty. At first impressions, it wasn’t all fairies and rainbows. The hostel, while being probably the best I’d stayed at so far, was located a bit of distance out of the city, and located in an area full of caged windows and graffiti (and not in a Berlin kind of way).

Heading into the city, specifically Muszeum station, you’re greated with a capitalist metropolis: a boardwalk of epic proportions, full of American and British retail stores, restaurants and casinos. But, travel a little further on foot, and you approach bridges that take you into what can only be described as a European dream of mindblowing castles and cobblestone paths.  The contrast between the three parts was a reminder of the transformation cities like this in Europe must have gone through, and continue to go through everyday.

Reflections aside, time to discuss the nightlife. In one word, i’d describe it as ‘Fuckin’Intense’. Pub crawls that involved drinking shots of Absinthe, and finishing at 5 story nightclubs; hostels with dancing Italian bartenders; and a nightclub that was rumoured to be designed by a man on acid, that played the most intense Eurotechno I have ever heard, cemented Prague, in my eyes, as the city with the craziest nightlife so far. To be fair, I didn’t really get a chance to get out in Berlin, so i’ll make comparisons again if I ever when I get back to Berlin.

The last night was by far the most intense though. On the last night, we were all set for Sensation In White. Anyone who knows me well, would know that I would never go to something like that back home. I’d choose a gig in a dirty pub over a dance night where you’re required to dress in white anyday. But hey, I was in the Czech Republic with my new family, so hey, why not. Whilst we were successful in reserving tickets, actually being able to pick these tickets up was nothing short of a nightmare. Whilst Hannah and the Canadians were able to pick up 5 tickets, I still needed to pick mine up. I was shattered. But, without giving up hope, I decided to take my chances. Me and Ryan took a couple of trams – like legit Czech locals – to o2 Arena to check whether I could pick up a ticket. Whilst I was tempted to purchase a scalped ticket, the Czech Police Force are by far the most intimidating I have seen in any country I’ve visited so far, and so I really wasn’t interested in getting caught up with that on my last night. With that option crossed off my list, we headed to the box office to take our chances on a last minute ticket. Great Success! Within a couple of hours, I would be returning, dressed in white, looking like a 1970s tennis player, ready to dance to repetitive music generated by computers.
Cut to leaving the venue at 5am, needing to figure out which of the Czech public transport system would take us home in time to catch the Busabout bus, which was leaving at 8am. When we arrived back at the hostel at 6am, it was decided that going to bed would end in us sleeping in and missing the bus, so we grabbed our bags, sat in the hostel lobby and blended an interesting combination of euphoria from such a great night, with a case of extreme tiredness and the “feeling sorry for ourselves”. We got on the bus like a pack of zombies (the George A. Romero kind, not the Danny Boyle kind, trust me) and tried to get some sleep. Of course, bus drivers in Europe are required to make frequent pit stops by law, so I can assure you, a solid 8 hours sleep is not exactly what we got. Nevertheless, it’s times like those that make stories like these. Next stop: Vienna now. Ironically, our guide has instructed us that Austria is home of Red Bull. Coinicidence in these dire circumstances? I think not…

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