Dresden’s old and new

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Dresden is the only city of former East Germany (discounting East Berlin) that we visited and we were keen to see how different it would be from other parts of Germany. We were charmed by Dresden’s Alstadt (old city) with its distinctive Baroque style architecture and Soviet style pastel coloured buildings with cute windows poking out of the rooftops. Despite being completely bombed out during WWII with only a few buildings left standing, the old city was rebuilt to resemble its former glory. Dresden reminded us of Prague and this could be attributed to the Soviet influence or just simply physical proximity of both cities.

The newer part of Dresden known as Neustadt is what stayed with us. We were drawn to this quirky area known as Kunsthofpassage which is a courtyard with several buildings, each with a unique modern design. The best design is known as the ‘Court of Water’ which merges architecture (funnels, gutters and pipes) and nature (rain water) to create music. I’ve never seen anything more clever. These buildings are inhabited by locals and indie or vintage shops which adds to the charm of this place.

On a whole Dresden took us by surprise with its old and new and is worth stopping over for a day or two if not more.

Berlin is the future

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There, you heard it first here on this blog. Sounds like a far fetched claim? Maybe. But hear me out first.

Berlin is the cheapest European capital we’ve been to, and probably one of the cheapest cities to visit in Europe.  I judge this on the following criteria: Airbnb accommodation (our choice of lodging), transport costs and groceries. This has also been backed up by locals and migrants who live here as well as friends who have visited Berlin.

Berlin is a fairly young city, having reunified less than 30 years ago. After the fall of the wall, rent and property in East Berlin was apparently so cheap that there was an influx of artists, students and low to middle income earners to this part of town. East Berlin is hot and now is a good time to buy property in this part of town because it is only going to attract further development and gentrification before prices skyrocket.

Berlin is cosmopolitan. International cuisine is everywhere and migrants are welcomed to this city. English is widely spoken and Berliners appear to be open to accepting new cultures and faces.

Berlin is exciting. The art and music scene here is thriving. The only place where I’ve heard more talented buskers than in Berlin is New York, and that says a lot. The buskers here are very well received and supported. Art is everywhere and the street art here is the best I’ve seen. So expressive and meaningful.

These are the reasons why I think Berlin is an emerging city with potential and so much to offer. I was asked to describe Berlin. I liken Berlin to New York city, say 30 years ago when it was at the height of its prime. Up and coming, fresh to the scene but one to watch out for.

Rue Dénoyez in Belleville

IMG_0704 IMG_0694 IMG_0683 IMG_0682 IMG_0678 IMG_0675For a city so sophisticated, beautiful and uniform in its design, it’s refreshing to find streets like Rue Dénoyez, exploding with colour, creativity and boldness. This street screams out non-conformity and attitude. It seeks to be different from the rest of Paris.

A little background research revealed that this street is popular with emerging artists who choose to rent their studios here because of the low cost associated with the mixed migrant area of Belleville. While wandering this street I stumbled upon a studio rented by two independent artists from Toulouse who explained the theme behind their work and how much effort it takes to screen print every design. From the little conversation we exchanged in broken French and English, I gained a whole lot more appreciation for struggling artists who stay true to their calling. IMG_0700 IMG_0703