Dresden and Co

Tuesday 31 July

I went out last night, as you might come to expect, because apparently in Dresden the good nights are Friday, Saturday and Monday. I had wanted another night off, but the nice hostel lady has informed me that Mondays are the new black.  It would be rude not to go out.

So I’m sitting in a popular and rowdy bar called Rosies, which is a favourite for the young local crowd and students alike.  It’s a great place, with an eclectic mix of people and music, and I’ve settled in the smoking section which is playing some quality swing.  The DJ is sporting braces, slick back hair and Buddy Holly frames, and totally looks the part.  It’s not long before I’ve fallen into conversation which a very attractive tall blonde German girl.  Then it all goes a bit weird.

She’s flirting outrageously with me and practically demanding I look at her breasts.  Her male friend is informing me she is a serious tease and I need to be careful.  She’s then whispering to me how much she adores giving blow jobs, before regaling me with a tale of how she once had four guys at the same time.  “Dat was hard vork” she enthuses.  Classy.

As horrible a thought as that is, she’s still gorgeous, but after spending a couple of hours batting her eyes at me she suddenly goes cold and informs me that she doesn’t do that anymore.  If she came back with me she “couldn’t trust herself” and has been promising to reform and not be so slutty.  She wants a relationship and to walk away from her twisted porn star past.  What a catch.  Still I’m slightly disappointed.  Don’t judge me.  You would have been too.

There are no curtains in my dorm room so I’m baked awake by bright sun.  I’m still alone, as nobody has checked into my dorm room.  This seldom happens, but it’s nice I’m paying dorm prices with my own key and nobody to rummage through my underwear pocket.  Not that they would; but there are creepy folk out there.  Just sayin’.  I rise and check the map.

Curry & Co is apparently the best Curry Wurst and award winning chips you can buy in Germany.  This I need to give a go.  I take a leisurely stroll through Northern Dresden with camera in tow.  This is the hipster area of the city, with good looking people, bars, clubs, record shops and street art.  As it was less bombed than its Southern counterpart over the river, it is actually older than the ‘old town’, with many buildings a painted expression of freedom after the wall fell.  Being in the East, this city was under Soviet control, and most people over a certain age speak Russian as their second language.  However it was the allied destruction of the city that left the most scars, which if you take some time to read about, you will discover was totally necessary and bordering on a war crime.  Dresden is a culture capital and it’s wonderful to see it rebuilt from the ashes of the firestorm.

A group of Dresdeners came together to raise funds to rebuild the Lutheran Frauenkirche; a beautiful church in the city centre.  Totally destroyed with bombs, a British charity was also set up to help repair it.  One of the gifts they made was an eight metre high gold cross and orb, which was constructed with medieval nails taken from the ruins of Coventry Cathedral, also reduced to rubble in similarly horrific raids.  Part of this was crafted by the son of one of the pilots who took part in the bombing.  Coventry and Dresden are now twin towns.  An uplifting story indeed.  If you get the chance, I suggest a visit to this beautiful city; and being only two hours from Prague, I’m considering it a possible spot to one day rest my weary bones.

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Getting hitched

Monday 30 July

I’m eating breakfast for the first time and staring into space at 8am in the morning.  This is the earliest I’ve been up for months, and in spite of being woken by two Israeli guys coming in at stupid o’clock, I feel pretty good.  The bags are packed, I’m ready to go, just not on a jet plane.  For only the second time in my life I’m going to attempt hitchhiking.  To India.  I’m nervous to say the least, but after a night off drink and finally getting away from this horrible hostel, I feel totally alive.  The roadside beckons.  Adventure is only a length of tarmac away.

Boarding the train with all my gear and a large ‘India’ sign and I’m attracting some strange looks.  Then I get a moment of total panic the fear grips and I wonder what in gods name I’m doing.  It lurches through me like the feeling you’ve left the gas on.  This is madness.  Insanity.  I need my head examined.  I’m freaking out at the prospect of standing by a roadside with a sign while enduring drivers disgusted glares and shakes of heads.  Putting myself on show to a lot of misunderstanding business men who have no idea what it feels like to be free.  Hanging my balls out there.  The more I mull it over in my head and heart, the more my spirit lifts, and the desire not to fail takes over.  I shall do this, and I’ll do it with a conviction and passion not seen since Jack Kerouac first put pen to paper.  At least that’s what I was imagining.

I’ve been using a wonderful resource called ‘hitchwiki.org’, which basically gives you information for every country in where to position yourself to stand the best chance of hitching a lift.  It also allows contributions from fellow hitchers, so you can keep up to date with the current climate.  It’s a powerful tool indeed, and one that I will find invaluable in my quest.  I’ve also decided to become a contributor, as I think my experiences will be pretty useful for others over the coming months.  Anyway it’s told me about this stretch of road out on some highway, so this is where I’m heading, and where I find myself, next to three others going my way.  Competition is tough on the road.  My sign is better though.

I move a few feet up to where I know there is a better spot, where I can get the cars coming out of two garages and the Burger King.  I’m joined a short time later by a Romanian guy going to Poland, so as we’re not conflicting it’s OK to stand at the same spot.  I’m not actually sure of the etiquette when it comes to hitchhiking with people going the same way.  It might put drivers off having to make the choice between, say, me and a couple.  Or two guys going to the same place but not with each other.  It’s not long before I find out exactly what that feels like.

A guy is stopping!  He’s pulling in!  The hitchhikers joy of the little flashing amber indicator!  I open the door smiling and he points roughly at the other dude.  Words cannot express my devastation.  It’s like I failed an audition.  The girl I love isn’t interested.  I’ve burnt the lasagna.  Off he spins with a stumbled apology leaving me alone once again.  I guess I should get used to this.

People are laughing and chuckling at my ‘India’ sign, but nobody is stopping.  I’ve shown it to a pretty girl on a bike and get a smile to keep my morale up, but I start to contemplate other options.  I have no patience at the best of times, so how the hell am I going to accomplish this?  Also the amount of drivers clearly going to Dresden is obscene.  BMW after Mercedes, after Audi, all with one suited driver, all with a stern “I’m not looking at the hitching guy” glare.  These tossers are obviously going long distance, gas guzzling the miles up with their massive cars and no other passengers.  I weep for the ozone layer.

Then it happens.  The flashing orange light again.  I look around.  There is nobody else near me.  I point to myself and nod ‘me?’  ‘Yes’ a smiling nod returned from the enthusiastic couple in the Volvo estate.  I throw my arms up with glee and bundle my gear into the large boot.  My first ride, and going all the way to Dresden.  I’d been waiting for only half an hour.

My saviours are a young family from somewhere near the border between Germany, Poland the the Czech Republic.  They don’t speak very much English, but it’s enough to see us through and get by with polite chat.  “The blower not verk” motions Hengle, the driver, smiling into the rear view mirror and indicating the air conditioning.  “Dis car ist hold” he chuckles.  “Yes my Dad had one of these many years ago” I exclaim, then realise my error in that I might have offended him and now my Dad drives a Ferrari.  I manage to explain the passing of my parents, via the help of Hubert, their 13 year old son sitting in the back.  Curiously enough, he’s holding a box with a tiny baby chick of some description, cheeping away at his fingers with gusto.  They don’t know what it’s called in English, and I don’t know the German word they name it, but eventually we manage to figure out that it’s a Dove.  You don’t know how just much that brought a smile to my face.

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Making signs

Sunday 29 July

I’m kicking about the hostel today with the express intention of not drinking tonight and not letting myself go out.  Instead I watch a multitude of childish idiots get on the sauce.  This must be what I look like when I’m on a bender, but most of these kids are hammered after a couple of strong German beers and they’re all talking utter shite.  I’ve borrowed some large white card from the bins at the back of the hostel, and I’m trying to make my ‘India’ and ‘Dresden‘ signs.  It’s drawing quite a crowd, but as tempting as it is to get on the booze, especially because of a stunning French girl floating around, I stick to my guns and I’m in bed by 1am.  Tomorrow the mission begins

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Saturday 28 July

I’ve called time on my Friday night early to save myself for tonight.  Berghain.  Probably the biggest club in the world, and certainly one of the most famous.  It’s a unusual mix of straight and hard core gay, with some of the worlds best DJ’s spinning here week in week out to stunning women and guys with their shirts off.  I’m joining my German friends and we’re going to attempt to get in.   Fort Knox.

I’ve googled “getting into Berghain” and it’s second only to “getting into Harvard”.  This isn’t looking promising.  There’s an awful lot of information regarding, what you wear, talking in the queue, how many people you’re going in with, times to go, under the influence, etc, etc.  It’s all a bit complex, but in the end I’ve decided to put on the kilt and just go for it.  I don’t care if I don’t get in.  If they don’t want me, I don’t want them.

HOW DARE THEY?!  I waited for two hours in a queue and arranged to take one for the team by going in alone.  I didn’t want to drag anyone else down with me.  Two hours.  Two goddamn hours I could have been in a decent place with a beer in my hand, room to dance and a clear route to the bar.  Maybe even speaking to a girl.  My heart was in my mouth as I approached the door and we separated into the arranged groups.  Three hot women get turned down.  Five loud American boys get in.  My friends get in, then a girl I’ve been chatting to in the line gets turned away.  I’m next.  I step up, smile and respond “yes” when the doorman asks if it’s just me.  “Not tonight” comes his one tone answer and points me away, just totally off the cuff, no thought into it at all.  A snap decision.  I turn and walk away without any altercation and catch up the young lady I was flirting outrageously with in line.  She has a boyfriend.

I’m raging in the taxi home.  Totally raging.  Perhaps irrationally so, but as I play the process over in my mind I can figure out no rhyme or reason as to who is allowed in and who is turned away.  It just makes me so angry that this nonentity on the door has a say in whether or not my night is good, and decided on a whim I was going home.  In Glasgow it’s relatively simple; bring your I.D, don’t turn up in a massive group of lads, don’t wear trainers, and don’t be too pissed.  I could have changed, gone back and tried later, but fuck them; I don’t need their stinking best club in the world.  Their sweet, sweet, best damn club in the world.  I don’t need it.  I returned home and cried myself to sleep.

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Stuart Rises

Friday 27 July

After taking it easy or going out last night (I can’t remember) we decide to leisurely wander to find a cinema and finally get to see The Dark Knight Rises.  It’s not been released in Germany until today, so I’ve been doing my best to avoid any spoilers floating around on the internet.  Its glorious German sunshine as we stroll through a city at play.  It’s almost a shame to be spending the afternoon in the dark.

Yet it is so very, very worth it.  I won’t go into too much detail as this is a travel blog rather than a film review, but it was absolutely incredible.  Thank you Christopher Nolan.

I’ve met a couple of new hostel buddies for this evenings entertainment, an 18 year old stoner Philly kid and a 25 year old New York metal head with a massive beard.  Add me to complete the three amigos and you have an eclectic mix to say the least.  We’ve decided…on no wait.  This was last night.  Sorry.  Imagine I’m writing about last night instead.  Tonight I take it easy and save myself for tomorrow.  So.  Last night.  We decide to visit a world famous techno club called Tresor.  Apparently it’s a pretty big deal over here, so off we trot and hope we get in.  Nightclubs in Berlin while notoriously good, also have a notoriously strict door policy.  Shouting and screaming will get you in the permanent black books.

“I don’t have my I.D, but I’m 32″ I say.

“You look about 17″ he barks, before he lets me in.  Thank you Mr psycho bouncer viking.

Tresor is thumping out some hard dirty techno beats and everyone is throwing themselves around with wild abandon.  They actually have a club store in the basement, were a he/she is selling limited edition T-shirts and vinyl, among other music-y merchandise.  There also one of those large electricity balls in the middle of the dance floor.  Space cadets are flocking to it to stroke their hands on the glass and have the electricty jump to them.  I’d imagine what this place must look like when the clientele are flying on acid, pressing their faces to the sphere in wide eyed wonder.  The owners know exactly what they’re doing.

Myself and Metal beard have taken it upon ourselves to guide our young Philly companion in the ways of the world.  Not that he needs it, as he’s already onto a promise with an Irish girl back at the hostel who he’s arranged to meet at 4am.  Then he precedes to steal the pretty Swedish girl I’m talking to away from me with such style and finesse, I contemplate asking him for tips.  I’ve turned my back for a second, and he’s in the kind of embrace Gable would have been proud of.  I turn my back again and they’ve disappeared.  That’s my boy.  Off to the filthy club toilets for a night of romance.

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