Weird how I’ve been living in Prague for a decade now yet it was only two Sundays ago when I went to Dresden for the first time. It’s just an hour away by car but my husband and I chose to go there by train so as to not get stressed about parking. Finding a parking space in most cities in Europe is a pain.
September 27th was our 11th year wedding anniversary. The original game plan was to be in Budapest for the whole weekend. We were in Budapest once in 2009 but not long enough to walk around by the Danube. I have this major thing about Europe’s rivers. For me it’s like I haven’t been to a city unless I pay homage to the river that runs through it.
But flu-like symptoms a day before the trip made us put Budapest aside the last minute. When I felt better on Sunday, we jumped to the first train going to Dresden. I’ll see you later, Danube. Oh hello, Elbe!
First thing first, all shops and most restaurants are closed on Sundays. I was in for a surprise when we entered Pragerstrasse, the longest shopping district in Dresden, and it looked like a ghost town at 11:30 am. I’m so used to how things are in full swing in Prague no matter what day of the week it is that I forgot our neighbors in the west have their labor unions very much at play.
With or without shopping in your itinerary, I think you can experience the best of Dresden in one day. The must-see sights are a walking distance from the main train station and are near each other.
Here’s how we spent our day:
Pragerstrasse– the city’s longest shopping district is what welcomed us when we got out of the train station. It must be a very busy area on working days but in a way I was glad the shops were closed. At least our focus was the city itself and not so much on the commercial frills around it.
Almarkt – From Pragerstrasse we found ourselves right in the bustling Almarkt. I love markets! I don’t know if the stalls change here everyday but when we were there they were mostly food stalls. Waffles, crepes, meat with sauerkraut, pizza, sausages — one big fiesta! Perfect place for us to have lunch. We had meat with potatoes and sauerkraut then I had waffles with nuttella for dessert which melted and dripped on my nude nylons. Eeek!
Kreuzkirche – The Church of the Holy Cross is right next to Almarkt. I read that you can climb its stairs for the bird’s-eye view of the city, but I think it was closed when we passed by.
Empty Pragerstrasse on a Sunday.
Cute sparrows fattening themselves right smack Altmarkt.
Neumarkt and Frauenkirche – First best thing: there were only few tourists scattered around. It was my first time to be in a city square in Europe without a sea of humans around so it was nice to just breathe in the sights and sounds without feeling like a canned sardine.
Second best thing: someone was playing Yiruma’s River Flows in You on piano right in the center of the square next to Martin Luther King’s statue. I love this piece. If my future child would learn the piano, this would be the perfect recital piece. Poor kid. I’ve already planned his future even before he’s conceived.
For the bird’s-eye view of the city, we climbed the dome of Frauenkirche for €8/ person. There’s an elevator that takes visitors up halfway to the top. The other half has to be done on foot. Never fear, it isn’t a steep ascent and there are benches for resting in between. The height of the viewing platform is 67.06 m (221 ft).
Bruhl’s Terrace, Augustusbrucke and the banks of Elbe – From Neumarkt, we headed towards Bruhl’s Terrace. I like this part of the city. It’s like standing in the middle of everything Dresden has to offer. No wonder this terrace is known as the “Balcony of Europe.”
Augustusbrucke reminds me of one of Prague’s bridges without a throng of people crossing it. Under the bridge the water level of Elbe was very low. We joined several other people by the banks playing who could throw rocks the farthest. I was right there at the river, as close to Elbe as possible. Mission accomplished.
Theaterplatz, Semperoper and the Zwinger – All these are just a few minutes walk from the bridge. I have to admit I don’t really get ooohed by architecture so I don’t have much to say about the square, the opera house and the palace. You be the judge.
By 4pm we were ready to call it a day. One last stop back at the Altmarkt for a cup of tea and we headed back to the train station to board our 5 pm ride back to Prague.
I couldn’t believe the train tickets were so expensive. My husband actually suggested we take the first class but our eyes bugged out when the computer screen popped out at whopping €140- something for the return tickets for two. The economy seats, which we ended up taking because we refused to be ripped off, were still over €60. I must say this was the most expensive train ride I’ve ever taken in Europe.
I don’t mind paying much if the service is good. Just our luck, the train left Prague 25 minutes past the schedule for some technical reason. We shared the compartment with an older couple from Korea and a guy who had a major fallout with the shower. Turned out the Korean couple had first class tickets but all the seats were taken so they quietly settled in the economy class. First class tickets and they sat next to a stinky dude. Welcome to CZ.
Anywho, the view from the train window was something to behold. A few people I know told me how the Dresden-Prague train ride view is an eye-candy and they were right. You see the Elbe (Labe in Czech) along the way snaking past summer houses, castles and picturesque villages. We’ll take the car next time though.
Date visited: September 27, 2015