Friday, August 02, 2013

Germany Gems I – First Impressions

This is the first time I set foot on German Soil though I had transited many times through Frankfurt airport, thanks to the State of Saxony that invited me to visit it.  As the ritual goes sharing my first impressions of the Germany, Saxony and Dresden:

1. Germans work with clockwork punctuality. If I had to choose one word to describe them, it would be precision. For someone who is a stickler for time, this was heavenly, though being a group of Indians travelling together we did falter at many places.

2. It is a common knowledge that most European cities are very neat and clean. During my morning walks around the city of Dresden, I got to see how they clean the city. There was this guy burning all the grass sprouting out of the sidewalks and cobbled streets using a moving gas cylinder. There was another old man who was picking up all the cigarette butts from the road using a small instrument; probably the only things that people throw on the road there.

3.Leipzig – a name that we kept fumbling with, was a sheer discovery, a city that celebrates music and musicians. There is a music trail that can be traced through the stainless steel musical signs on the floor that takes you through the monuments and museums dedicated to the musicians. This erstwhile traders town had an important role to play in German re-unification that I would write later about.

4. Thanks to our hosts, I got excellent vegetarian food everywhere, though I ended up consuming my yearly quota of cheese in less than a week.

5. Story of the birth of European porcelain is just as enchanting as watching the master craftsmen handcrafting each piece in their manufactory.

6. Like many other places in Europe, their re-use of old un-usable places in a creative way is so damn impressive. This time we saw an old textile mill being used as artists’ studios and an old gas storage unit hosting a panoramic painting of the city.

7. Our itinerary included visiting many old places, some of them actually old and a lot of them re-constructed as old. Being a history buff, I enjoyed all of that but I felt alive when I was in the University of Dresden, in the library where the books and the warm reading places took my breath away. I loved Neustadt – a bohemian area where the creativity peeped from the walls of the buildings, in the corners of the streets and in just about everything.

8. It is such a pleasure to walk around the old historic town centers without worrying about the traffic through cars and trams use the same roads. Couple of evenings we sat on the steps of a church listening to students singing and performing as part of their practice sessions. Sun going down late at night was a bit disorienting but it made the days longer leaving more time to explore.

9. Rivers are still used as a mode of transportation. We traveled in one with a steam engine while the guides explained the houses, castles and wineries on both sides of the river.

10. Holi, yes our very own festival of colors was visible on many billboards and we were told that it is celebrated sometime in August – their summer time.

11. Last day in Dresdan we moved around in Trams and I saw a mobile app that shows the online running position of the trams and can tell you what are the possible trams that you can take at any point in time to reach your destination. How I wish there was something like this in India for public transport, especially when we have non-existent concept of coming on time.

12. Believe it or not, Germany was hotter than Hyderabad at this point in time.

There is so much I saw and want to write about, based on the above help me choose the first topic you would want me to write about.

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