My Hometown Perspective Top Travel

Sure, Dresden has history, but so much more

The Elbe Meadows. (Lina Marie Schulenkorf)

Dresden, GERMANY – Home is where your story begins. That may only be half true for me, because I wasn’t born in this city, I only moved here after I was born. But I grew up here and this city has shaped me. Because while I love my hometown in a complex way, I could never imagine finishing my story here.

Dresden is a city with about half a million inhabitants in Germany, which is so close to the Polish and Czech borders that it’s quicker to get to the Czech capital of Prague than to the German capital of Berlin. My city is large, has the River Elbe running through it and is characterized by centuries of history.

Häuserzeile, a row of houses from the Wilhelminian era, which are very typical of Dresden. (Lina Marie Schulenkorf/YJI)

You could certainly spend your life here without having seen every tourist and historical corner of the city. It is not without reason that the people of Dresden also call their city Elbflorenz (Florence on the Elbe), a reference to Dresden’s numerous baroque buildings.

The Dresden skyline. (Lina Marie Schulenkorf/YJI)
A snowman in the Elbe meadows. (Lina Marie Schulenkorf/YJI)

That’s why I can’t tell you a complete story about Dresden and show you every single tourist attraction, because that would take years. But I can show you places that are particularly important to us locals and why I love these places so much.

For one thing, there are the Elbe meadows. Once even on the UNESCO World Heritage List before the status was revoked in 2008, they are beautiful and a popular meeting place in both summer and winter, especially for young people, to chat without disturbing anyone due to the noise level or to ski, toboggan or build a snowman in winter.

Above, left: The Elberadweg follows the Elbe river for 1280 kilometres from the Czech Republic to the North Sea. It also passes through Dresden, making it the most popular cycle route connecting the city. At right, a biergarten, or beer garden called Trollgarten, right on the Elbe cycle path where you can sit down and have a drink in summer. (Lina Marie Schulenkorf/YJI)

The Elbe cycle path, which follows the course of the Elbe all the time, borders directly on the Elbe meadows. When I cycle to school in the morning and back in the evening, there is a lot of traffic on it from people on bikes travelling to work or school. At some times there is even more traffic on it than with cars on the road, because you can sometimes get there faster by bike than by car or public transport.

Because cycling is so popular here, there is actually a cycle path on every street, and the system of cycle paths, trams and buses is so well developed that many people here don’t even have a driving license. This mobility is one reason why I appreciate my home city so much, because I am not at all dependent on my parents or a car to get anywhere, and I know that this is not a given.

It’s generally frowned upon here to drive your child around in a car.

At the weekend, we like to use the Elbe cycle path for walks or cycle tours with family or friends. When we’ve done this, we’ve often stopped off at so-called beer gardens in summer, where you can sit down with beer and less elaborate food or even bring your own, especially when the weather is good.

The pub in the author’s neighborhood. (Lina Marie Schulenkorf/YJI)

Every Tuesday and Saturday there is a weekly market in my neighborhood where we can buy local produce. I particularly love the stuffed flatbread from one of the stands, which my mum and I often used to get for lunch when I was at home in the morning because we both had nothing planned or I was sick.

The weekly market. (Lina Marie Schulenkorf/YJI)
The Currywurst at Curry24 is a typical German imbiss food and is a sausage with curry sauce and chips. At this stand you can choose up to seven spice levels. (Lina Marie Schulenkorf/YJI)

As an alternative city and student neighborhood directly adjacent to the Elbe meadows, the “Neuse” – lovingly nicknamed by the young people – is a particularly popular meeting place. There are also numerous cafés, restaurants, alternative shops and snack bars here, which are especially popular with young people.

Particular favorites are PizzaBite (the best pizza rolls in town!) or Curry24 in the old town about 10 minutes’ walk away, with the spiciest currywurst in town with seven different degrees of spiciness.

Eating through all the levels of spice is a common challenge here, but I don’t know anyone who has been able to eat level six or higher.

My personal favorite place, however, is the small library in our neighborhood. It is filled from top to bottom with books and I love the smell of books and paper when I walk in. There’s even a little seating area and at some point I started making a list of all the books I’ve already read from the shelves.

The library in the author’s neighborhood. (Lina Marie Schulenkorf/YJI)

And yes, everything I listed before is important to me. But this little library is certainly the place that makes Dresden my home the most.

I love my hometown – it has formed me. But I’m already looking forward to finding more new hometowns.

Lina Marie Schulenkorf is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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