After over a month of living “normal” life in Berlin, my program took a trip to Dresden and Prague. Luckily for me, the weekend coincided with my birthday, which I spent visiting the newly-rebuilt Dresdener Frauenkirche, taking a boat tour of the Elbe River, eating amazing food in a traditional Ratskeller, and attending “La Traviata” at the Semper Oper. Wow! In Dresden, we also had a fabulous time visiting the famous treasure in the Green Vault in the baroque palace of August the Strong, the best of which I thought was the amber room, containing cabinets, serving dishes, knife handles, and chess sets all made of amber of various shades.
Dresden surprised me by being both beautiful and very memorable. (You understand that sometimes European cities and cathedrals, mostly ancient and stunning, can begin to blend together in one’s memory.) The entire history and architecture of the city is overshadowed by the Dresden bombings so that, in the rebuilding of the city, architects had the luxury of picking which era’s history they wanted to reconstruct.
Prague was, of course, phenomenal. The 24:1 (Czech crown to Euro) exchange rate led to us refer to the currency as monopoly money, but the city is rich in beauty and architecture, both of which were even graced with snow while we visited. Naturally, we didn’t leave without visiting the stunning glass and crystal shops surrounding the old town square!
In Prague, I met up with a friend from Davidson and the two of us travelled together to Krakow. We only had a weekend, but we managed to fit in a thorough tour of the city, paying homage to appropriate monasteries, cathedrals, and castles, make the grim pilgrimage to Auschwitz, and even get to the traditional little 24-hour Pierogi stand in the middle of the night. After this short introduction, I am thoroughly charmed by Central Europe despite the heavy history that hangs over it.