Pictures here: Dresden
Day two in Dresden started especially well because I ended up having the room in my hostel all to myself – a very nice change from the last week and a half. After breakfast at the hostel, I headed out to meet up with Shyla and Natalie a little way from our hostels. We caught a tram down to the Altstadt, and began our day of sightseeing with a visit to a couple of the Zwinger museums. The first was the porcelain collection of August the Strong – a king, I think. It was alright, porcelain doesn't really turn my crank to be honest. My personal favourite was a dozen or so large jars that August traded 150 soldiers for. Weird. Next we hit up the museum which houses hundreds of suits of armour and swords. This was a little more in my line of interest, I'll admit. Though, the display showing two nights charging at each other with lances kinda drove home just how barbaric and how little life meant in those days.
Next we visited the painting portion of the museum... wow. I'll admit a few of the paintings were boring... more than a few really, but some of them were just amazing to see. Don't ask me to recount all the different artists, but I know Raphael was one, and his portrait of the Madonna with the two cherubs at the bottom indicating the break between heaven and earth was one. Probably the most famous. Another was a painting of the tower of Babylon... I have no idea if it's famous, but it's one I'm familiar with and never thought I'd see in a museum. By this point it was nearing lunchtime, and all three of us were starting to feel more than a little exhausted, so we decided to take a break and grab some lunch.
After lunch, we made our way to yet aother museum, this one known as the “Green Vault” - yes, really, a vault, with thick doors and combinations. It contained the royal collection of precious gems and their various settings, as well as a variety of hand crafted clocks and table settings. Cool stuff. There were rooms and rooms of stuff, varying from a table decoration which rolled down the table with two figures on it (Apollo and Athena?) who would fire arrows when it stopped, to an award made for the king with the only know green diamond (41 Karat... FORTY-ONE) surrounded by a number of 3-4 karat diamonds and hundreds of medium-small diamonds. Sparkly is an understatement for this thing.
This took most of the afternoon, and it was seriously hot outside, so we headed back to our hostels again to recover for a bit, then met up for supper at a little pub near my hostel before going to watch the soccer match. While we were there, Natalie and Shyla noticed a family who were gathered round a table (presumably who were going to be going to see the match as well... they all were painting each other's faces with German flags, and the girls wanted to see if they could get in on the action – they debated it for a bit, then went to ask if they could borrow some facepaint, which the family happily obliged with... what a friendly group!
Once the girls were all decked out, we made our way down to the banks of the river where the “Fan Zone” was, and we discovered that it was full already!! We took a look at the crowd, and decided that we should head back into the city and see if we could find some space at a bar with a TV. After two or three, we found a biergarden that had just enough empty chairs for us, and we settled in to watch the match. All through the match, there were random bursts from what must have been fireworks, though they sounded like small bombs going off... every five or ten minutes we'd hear a BANG! and everyone would jump, but quickly return to watching the game. Very weird... there were police out in force to keep any eye on things in case they got out of hand, but they didn't seem perturbed by the explosions, so I guess everyone followed their queue.
I was torn throughout because I'm truly a fan of Spain at heart, but at the same time, I wanted to cheer for the “home” team. I think I settled on quietly cheering for both teams – turns out that Spain won the game, so the crowd was pretty bummed.
After the game, we headed back to our hostels, and bid each other farewell – exchanging e-mails so that we could keep in touch via Facebook. They were taking a train back to Prague, then flying to Barcelona for the week.
I went back to the hostel and holed up with my laptop to catch up on some blog entries... not ten minutes after sitting down on my bed to work, a fellow came into the room (it seemed I was going to have company in the room this night) who I got talking with, and he proceeded to tell me his life story and why he came to Dresden – that being because his girlfriend had decided to break up with him (he lives in England, but is Persian) and he wanted to convince her to take him back. Yeah, a mess... but possibly for the better, who knows.
Anyway, there was another person in the room that night as well – a young gal from near Stuttgart, Katherine (Pronounced “Kat-arin”) who was on her way to work at a camp for people with disabilities near Dresden. She was a distinct contrast to the Persian guy who talked non-stop from the moment he arrived. She was quiet, but still confident, ad she participated in the conversation as well, offering a womans viewpoint.
About one o'clock we turned out the lights and went to sleep... My plan for the next day was to take it easy, as it was my last fully day in Dresden, and my poor feet were killing me – I'd been nursing large blisters near my big toes since Munich....