Escaping the Flood – Dresden, Germany

On Sunday, it started raining again in Cesky Krumlov. I had planned to leave on Monday anyway and its a good thing I did. All the taxis and buses stopped running and the water was gushing threatening to take out the bridges. You got the feeling that things were getting out of control. I was glad to get out and onto the train.

I actually left a few hours early hoping I could get an earlier train but no, I ended up waiting in a traditional Czech pub drinking 40 cent beer and playing pool. Mullets galore! I wanted to take a picture but I wasn’t sure how they would take it.

In Prague, I went to dinner at this cute little Cajun/Mexican place then for a walk around Prague at night. Little did I know that was the extent of my sightseeing in Prague. The buildings were beautiful and lit up. I got a few great shots of the castle…but then I noticed that it had started raining again and it was hard to get photos between all the raindrops. I didn’t think much of it at the time but the river was going very fast. I guess that`s what all the locals that were looking at it were talking about even though we couldn`t understand them.

Made it an early night but was woken very early by the sirens. Woowooowoowoooooooo! I am not used to hearing that kind of a noise and it was like out of a movie. I decided to get up and have some breakfast and that’s when I realized they were evacuation sirens. There was a paper posted under the TV in the breakfast room that said `If asked to evacuate, please be prepared to leave`. It only took me about 3 bites to understand the immensity of the situation. I was watching this disaster on the news and then it hit me that this was happening just outside. It was 930am.

All over the news, the flood is coming, the flood is coming. By 1030am when I was trying to check out, it was chaos. The power went out and they were not allowing people to check in anymore. Evacuation had started hours before and cars were lined up, police were everywhere, helicopters and planes were overhead and that damn siren was still going…I imagined that this is what WW2 felt like. Luckily, I got on the last train to Germany after practically running all the way to the train station. There was no public transportation so it was the only way.

During the ride, (which was only supposed to take 3 hours and actually took 9) I witnessed the carnage. Houses were covered past the doors, cars were submersed, the roads were filled with deep brown water, still but rising in some places and raging rapids in others. Rivers were well above their banks and the debris racing by kept me interested for more than a little while. It was like someone dumped chocolate milk over the country with trees and tires floating around like the pretzels and cheerios. It seemed so surreal from the train window.

We (I met up with Ashley and Kelli, two Canadian girls) listened for any updates but they were all in Czech or German. We practiced our own German…it passed the time. Finally an heavy accented announcement came on…`Diz treen ez vinish. Zou must get owwwwt.` Um. We looked out the windows and realized we were in the middle of nowhere and definitely not out of harms way. But what could we do. We had to get out. Apparently, the train couldn`t go any further and was going back to Prague…wouldn’t be going to the scheduled Dresden or Berlin.

So, we stood around not really knowing what to do until thankfully a commuter train came along and everyone quickly jumped on. We got into the Dresden area which was good news except that most of this town was also flooded. It was just as bad here, if not worse. I saw a huge delivery truck bobbing around like a children’s toy in a bubble bath. It would be comical if the man didn’t come on the speaker and say `Diz treen ez OVA. Get Owwt!`.

Again, we didn’t know where we were. Were we even in town and what part? Some people jumped in cars that locals were offering to help and others thought to wait for cabs. No one could seem to agree on which way to go but it was raining and I just knew I had to move. We trekked around aimlessly in a bit of a panic until we found a bus and then a tram and then FINALLY got to the hostel which was thankfully, NOT underwater. Good thing as I wasn’t thrilled about having to pull out my swimsuit.

So here I am in Dresden. The main train station is underwater with trains covered past their windows. But somehow, I am catching a train to Berlin tomorrow morning. Today, I walked around the city (the dry side) and saw a bunch of historical buildings that were blown up as an act of revenge a few days before WW2 ended. They had all been rebuilt. Dresden was said to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe before the war…and I can see why. Unfortunately, this flood situation is shadowing any real culture I could be experiencing as a lot of things are closed due to the floods. I was upset to miss Prague but I am excited about Berlin. Hopefully the sun will come out tomorrow.

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