You can’t leave Germany without seeing the East.
I think the best way to see Dresden is to take a day, or even a few hours, and wander around the city and along the peaceful river Elbe.
For me, Dresden is about quiet contemplation of what took place there. The scars are still on the surface- more so than other popular cities in the West.
Staring at the blackened buildings and monuments you can’t help but think about the World Wars. Before WWII Dresden was an arts and cultural center, even referred to as ‘the jewel.’ The sad fact is, this place really didn’t need to be bombed, it did have some manufacturing but it was filled with civilians and as a slap in the face, this jewel by the river was destroyed.
In 2006 I spent a few nights in Dresden on a business trip and I remember it being much quieter than it is now- which is a positive sign for it's development. I remember empty lots of rubble, chain link fences and bulldozers. Now there are tourist restaurants, shops and a bustling town center.
|Puzzle pieces, old bricks next to new structures|
As Dresden repairs itself it’s aiming to attract young people and students. It just so happened that my cousin Shane was doing an exchange at one of the Universities.
This meeting was perfectly serendipitous because Shane is the son of my Uncle Charles, who visited me in Munich six years earlier.
My Uncle was doing business in Belgium at the time and went out of his way to come see me. He took me to dinner and spoke to me as one adult to another. I felt so grown up and had so many questions. He was so refreshingly honest with me about how difficult yet rewarding it is to be a parent, and how important it is to travel.
I’ll never forget his advice or how much fun we had that night. I had to put him in a cab after the trademark Jameson shots came out- what can I say I was in my 20’s? Still he hung in there like a champ and I was proud to have him as an Uncle and a friend.
So taking Shane to lunch was something I insisted on, even though Matt and I were yet to be alone a week into our Around the World Honeymoon.
I’m a traveler and a gypsy but at heart- I hate to admit it- I’m a home body. Because family means everything to me, I can still function so far away from them. The physical distance is enormous but I carry them with me in every waking moment and often in my dreams at night. They are in me. In my accent, my style, gestures, attitude and all the experiences that make me the person I am today.
My biggest wish right now is that my family and friends understand that I haven’t left them behind for another life, but that I’ve just taken all of us into a bigger life than we once imagined.
Now I have Australian relatives, and so do all of you.