Some of the most memorable hours of my trip (life perhaps) were spent in the Eastern German city of Dresden. We reached the central station at around 6pm and made our way to the hostel and checked in. We had figured out a public viewing on the banks of the river Elbe right across the river from the Frauenkirsche, Opera House and the Theatre. Sadly the Elbe valley is no longer a UNESCO world heritage site and lost this status a few years ago because of a dispute between UNESCO and the City of Dresden – the city had plans to construct a bridge across the Elbe which, in UNESCO’s views would have defaced the historic site.
We reached the public viewing and found that thousands were already inside and thousands were already in line ahead of us. The line did not seem to be moving so we went from the side and did “Indian-giri” and found that people were just walking in from there. We just entered happily and after an awkward conversation with a German guard where I was trying to convince him in English that a) I am not Russian and b)No, I am not carrying vodka in my bag – we were through.
The set up was phenomenal with rows after rows of seats already filled with people and a huge 40 feet tall screen broadcasting the match. Obviously everyone was drinking already (now 2 hrs before the match) and some had even bought six packs of beer to start off their day there.
The match itself was obviously a lot of fun – I was taught German supporter songs which thankfully are very simplistic. Most popular one was “Olllee Olllee Ole Ole Ole Super Deutschland Super Deutschland Ole Ole Ole”. Also it turns out Germany has exactly one pop star – Helene Fischer. I heard her song “Artem Los Durch Die Nacht” literally 10 times that night.
Post-match, the crowd went mad much as expected – but the biggest party was at the public viewing itself. The roads were filled with drunk Germans – who partied till 2 am and then went back home (in order to wake up and go to work at 7am the next day). Hyper efficient freaks.
On the way back at 2am under lights, we noticed that Dresden is incredibly beautiful. A large number of extremely beautiful old buildings punctuated with newer architecture which has been carefully crafted to ensure blending in with the rest of the city. Dresden was one of the most affected cities in World War II being the target of relentless bombing and was nearly completely destroyed.
Unluckily for Dresden, the period of total devastation had to be followed by close to 40 years of pseudo-Soviet rule in East Germany. They say Dresden (and much of Eastern Germany) has never really recovered economically from the effects of Communist Rule. The cultural isolation is also evident in the extremely few non-Germans one sees in Dresden as compared to some of the western cities. For a city that has gone through a lot, it is quite remarkable how the city has been restored.
The next morning, we left for Vienna – which needs a chapter to itself.