Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Epic one day trip in Dresden

Before I went for Germany, the owner of my favorite coffee place in Waterloo told me I should have a look at the city Dresden, where her mother was from. She also told me about a building called "Frauenkirche", which means "Church of Our Lady".

Incidentally, the professor I'm working with has just got a professorship in Dresden, and has part of his lab moved there.

So I knew I was going to Dresden sometime during my stay in Germany, and yesterday was the time.

It was kind of a last minute decision and I was planning to just get a train ticket at the station. Interestingly the ticketing machine refused to take my cash, and I had to use another machine. This delay almost costed me missing the train...

But once I was on the train things were pretty smooth, and I got to Dresden in 2hr33min. Before that I had no idea how far Dresden was from Magdeburg. My colleagues here commute there from time to time so I assumed it was like an hour of train... and I was wrong.

The Dresden city. Top left is the central station, lower right is the Frauenkirche.
The city was quite nice. And as a capital city it had the vibe of modernism and well-planning. Right outside the central station was a long street (Prager Strasse) of shops, and a tram station. I could have taken the tram but 1)it charges 2euro for each ride, and 2)I preferred walking around the city on foot. It was quite a joyful walk.

It took me 20mins to get to the Frauenkirche, which is north of the central station. It was pretty easy to find, and along my way there were a few nice historical buildings (and a lot of tourists). I like the fact that there was a wide main street and a mixture of old (very old) and modern buildings, and all were only 4-5 stories high so I could see the sky.

The Frauenkirche was a landmark of the city. It was almost destroyed during a bomb attack during WW2, and was rebuilt around 10 years ago. It was a standalone building with 7 exits on the sides. From what I heard people tried really hard to rebuild this church as there was quite a sentimental value to it. They even catalogued the pieces of the original church and tried to use them back for the rebuild.

If you like having souvenirs, you should stop by the Frauenkirche-shop which is one block away from the exit G of the church. They have some really cool stuff and take full advantage of the rich history of the church, including selling stones that they claim to be the actual pieces from the original.

My next stop was the new academic building of my colleagues. This time I took the tram because it was 20mins of walk south of the central station.

It seems that buildings nowadays are following a similar pattern in having an open space all the way to the roof at the foyer, using a lot of glasses in the exterior, and not painting most part of the interior and instead exposing the concrete blocks. I quite like this design except the exposure of concrete blocks, giving out an unfinished feeling to the building.

The new academic building some of my colleagues are in.
Another reason of picking this day was there was a demo session of the faculty in the building. So I had a chance to see what the students were doing. It wasn't impressive but it's fun to see how many students are using Kinect as the main component of their projects.

The campus itself was really big, and the interesting thing was, like the city, it was itself a good mixture of old and new buildings. On my way I saw one that looked like it was built at least 50 years ago, and right around the corner one that was just built 5 years ago.

Overall I quite like Dresden, more than Munich I'd say. 

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