After being in Germany for just over 3 months, today was the first time I’d properly ventured outside of Berlin! A few months back myself and Fiona had joined FU’s International Society and booked onto a day trip to Dresden, costing us a mere 10€ it included the train journey and a guided tour, plus free time for us to explore the Christmas markets.
The earliest start I’ve had in a long time, I woke at 6.30 to snow…super exciting since I’ve seen it’s been snowing in Birmingham and I’ve been so jealous- something about snow days off of school has stuck. We left Berlin at 8.45am and after a slight detour through Leipzig we arrived at 11.30am. The journey wasn’t so bad, I slept most of the way and normally it should only take 2 or so hours so it’s definitely worth the trip.
Lucky for us it was snowing lightly in Dresden too (one girl from LA said it was the first snow she’d ever seen), so we had a fabulous 2 hour guided tour through Dresden in some festive weather…cue many attempts at trying to show it’s snowing in our photos. The tour was really informative and it turns out that Dresden has an interesting history that goes beyond the Second World War. We were told about the ruling family of Saxony, who were also Kings of Poland, their mistresses, and influence on religious buildings in the city.
Dresden has a huge Catholic church, which was constructed for the Elector (ruler) of Saxony because, although Saxony was Protestant by nature due to influences from Luther, the Elector wanted to assert influence in Poland and become a king there. For this to be possible, he had to show a Catholic preference, and so built a Catholic church to be used by himself. The Protestant church is 3 minutes walk from the Catholic church and was used by the people of Dresden. Linking back, as always to WWII, the Protestant church that existed in the 17th century finished post-war reconstruction in 2004…the original stone was used and built back into its original place (see the dark stones) and then the destroyed stones were replaced with new ones. This probably sounds super boring but standing under the imposing building was amazing.
After the tour we went for pizza at L’Osteria. This is actually a chain in Germany and they have a few restaurants in Berlin but I hadn’t tried one out yet, so we seized the opportunity to escape the cold and visited. Honestly, if you get the chance 100% go to L’Osteria; the pizzas are HUGE and only around 9-12€ each. You can split toppings half and half, and if a whole pizza seems like a challenge you can have just one half. I’m quite proud that I managed to finish mine, whilst the others had theirs boxed up to go!
By the time we finished the food it was dark outside (it doesn’t take long), and so we decided to spend our remaining hour exploring the Christmas markets. Dresden is home to the oldest Christmas market in Germany (thanks tour guide for that fact!), which has been running for around 583 years. We drank glühwein, which is so much nicer than mulled wine in England, and wandered around looking at the usual stalls and light displays. This was the third Christmas market I’ve been to so far and it was definitely the most authentic and least commercial although smaller than most in Berlin.
By going on this day trip with the International Society we met some lovely people from both the UK and US who are also studying at our university here, so I’d definitely recommend joining a society like this if you do a year abroad; meeting new people as well as getting discounted trips are great benefits!
So after a long day of wearing two coats, two pairs of socks, boots, scarf, hat and gloves, I’m signing out to go to bed…