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Summer-Life in Dresden

June 7, 2015

After living in Pasadena for 6 years, a place where the different seasons hardly even register, the night and day difference between “Winter Dresden” and “Summer Dresden” has been a huge surprise for us.  Compared with the quiet, often dreary winter weekends, the summer ones are packed with people (tourists and locals) eating icecream, drinking beer, playing with children.  Suddenly it’s hot and green (and a bit humid).  Some things here are reminiscent of Michigan summers, and other are not at all… for example:

  • There are no laws against drinking in public.  Somehow, whenever we remember (we still forget sometimes) that it’s okay to enjoy a cold beer or a cuba libre while strolling down the sidewalk, riding the train, or touring the city, the world seems like a slightly better place.
  • The Germans really seem to love hot days, and they prove it with a near-instantaneous change of wardrobe from long dark pants into shorts, skirts, and skirt/pant hybrids that remind me strongly of Aladdin.   The best part though, is that everyone’s legs are so white!  Bright, blindingly white!  I love it, because I can show my blinding white legs too, without feeling self conscious.
  • On hot days, the public fountains do double duty as swimming pools for the kids, and cooling foot baths for everyone else.   Combined with a stein of beer and some ice cream from the snack stand 20 feet away, and suddenly the heat doesn’t seem so bad.

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  • The Elbe river, which winds its way through Dresden and the surrounding countryside, runs from Prague in the east, all the way to Hamburg on in the Northwest of Germany.   In the Dresden area, between 50 and 100 yards of greenway is left un-developed on either side of the river, in case of floods (which occur every few years).  This ribbon of grass served Dresdners as a near-infinitely long park and beach (no sand though).  People bike, run, and walk along it.  They play ball with kids and dogs.  They fly kites.  And most importantly, they grill out and drink late into the night.   Because you can drink in public here 🙂

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  • As soon as the spring time change arrives, a sudden transformation marks the beginning of spring: all of the cafes and restaurants double or triple their floor area by filling the courtyards and plazas and lawns with cafe tables and giant umbrellas.  When it’s still early in the year, blankets are provided to keep you warm.  Drinking hot tea in the rain, outside under an umbrella and snuggled in a blanket, is one of my favorite German experiences.  When it gets hotter, you really don’t have any choice but to sit outside – because the restaurants are rarely air-conditioned.
  • Speaking of which, the street trams aren’t air conditioned either.  What was, just one week ago, a comfortable way to reach every corner of Dresden within 30 minutes or so, suddenly became a frustrating and unnecessary form of torture.  It was 90 degrees outside yesterday.  However, after spending less than 10 minutes in a baking tram, stepping back out into the sun was like stepping into a cooler.  I guess we will be riding bikes on hot days from now on.
  • The hipster area of Dresden, called “Neustadt”, experiences the most dramatic winter-summer transformation.  From nearly empty streets in the winter, the neighborhood turns into essentially a continuous outdoor party.  The streets are lined with young people, sitting on benches, window sills, curbs, couches that get dragged out onto the sidewalk, and all of them are just hanging out, usually drinking beer or listening to music.
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