We spent the week before leaving for Europe worrying about Dresden, our first stop after leaving the Czech Republic. At the time, the railroad tracks between Prague and Dresden were partially underwater, our favourite beer garden was entirely underwater, and the Elbe was lapping at the steps of our hotel. Still, we decided to proceed as planned.
Though flood damage was visible everywhere, not to mention all the odd things floating down the Elbe (twenty-foot tall trees, traffic signs, furniture) any time you cared to look, it was amazing how quickly both Dresden and the surrounding towns and villages bounced back. That favourite beer garden was up and running again, proudly displaying photos of where the water had been only ten days before, the beautiful park and paths that run along the Elbe had been cleared of debris, and most of the trains were running smoothly. In the smaller towns in Saxon Switzerland, where water had reached the first floors of many buildings and hotels and destroyed the ground floors, many places were still closed but everyone was working hard to clean up as quickly as possible. Adults were replacing windows shattered by the water, children were being dispatched to run space heaters and shop vacuums from one neighbour to another, and restaurants with no power and no working kitchen had set up outdoor grills to serve bratwurst and cold salads to hungry tourists hiking in the area. It was an impressive sight.
Dresden itself, away from the river-side flood damage, was as beautiful as I remembered it. We had a perfect view of the old town from our hotel (the top photo was taken from my bedroom) and waking up every morning to that famous Canaletto view always put a smile on my face. We showed my father, who had never been before, around the Old Town but spent most of our visit exploring areas outside of the city centre: we walked up through the wine terraces in one of the city’s western suburbs, visited a palace on the city’s eastern edge, and, once the commuter trains were running normally, went into Saxon Switzerland for a day of hiking and extraordinary views. It was a wonderful visit, only confirming how much I love Dresden and Saxony.