Story and Photos by David Greitzer
They call it cobblestone syndrome. Tourists who aren’t familiar with walking on cobblestones hobble in the most peculiar way. Their gait is erratic. The right knee may slump inward giving them the appearance of being crippled. Cobblestone syndrome occurs after walking at least 10,000 steps through an ancient city like Dresden whose cobblestone-lined streets tend to mock foreigners with the motto of King Augustus: “Strong, proud, tough.”
Augustus, king in the Baroque era, had quite an influence. His name still reverberates in almost all walks of daily life. His self-commissioned statues adorn virtually every rebuilt structure here. A typical Augustus statue is of a heavily-bearded crowned man atop a galloping horse in mid-prance. One gets the sense that Augustus “the Strong” enjoyed making life more difficult than it needed to be. Everything is overbuilt. Doors here are harder to open. Stairs are steep. The historic bridge has 26 pillars and columns where four would have sufficed.
But it is a beautiful city. It is difficult to imagine that it was reduced to rubble in the waning days of WWII. It was only since the reunification in 1989 that Dresden was rebuilt (almost) to its former splendor. If one had only one city in Germany to visit then Dresden should be that city. The restaurants all make the best German food. The beer is cheaper than water. Everyone is friendly to tourists.
The historic buildings, art, culture, fashion all exhibit the stereotypical ideal that is Germany. And, isn’t that what you’d want if you had only a few days and a desire to fulfill your postcard-like dream of Germany?
In a single day I saw a spontaneous launching of four hot air balloons, a table full of Italians whooping it up for a family reunion, a woman eating two softball-sized potato dumplings, an innocent child picking dandelions in the park, and a kind camera store employee coming to my rescue with a replacement for my battery charger. The battery charger I brought from home sizzled then died when plugged into the 220-volt socket. Don’t mock me. I had a converter. Lesson learned. Don’t buy cheap converters at the airport.
Dresden is a great destination. Its proximity to Berlin, less than a 2 1/2 – hour drive, makes it something every traveler to Germany should include in their itinerary. There are even buses to and fro at the cost of €6.90 which offers free Wi-Fi and toilets.