I sit on a sofa lazily soaking in the sun through the windows out here on the back porch called the ‘Wintergarten’ and look about my surroundings. I hear the wind blowing through the trees and see the beautiful Königstein castle fortress set high upon the hill right across from our house. Literally.
It’s a beautiful summer afternoon here in Germany – I’m able to enjoy it because of two things: my brother and workaway.
Workaway was an incredible discovery for myself a few years ago. I had done a lot of research when I had first wanted to travel (I was 18 at the time) and spent long hours researching different travel websites before I put together my first trip abroad.
Overlooking the mystical German forest
Some plums we picked off trees growing on the side of the road later that day
I don’t exactly remember what keywords I had typed in at the time, but some results for workaway came up – This is a super cool website that allows travelers to work someplace in exchange for room/board and sometimes food to eat as well. And it can be anywhere. There are thousands of hosts all over the world, who need help with many different types of work, projects, etc. Whether you are an artist, construction worker, teacher, or enjoy working with animals or children – you name it! There’s something out there for you to do in exchange for getting the opportunity for traveling on a more long-term stay.
After having worked 4 months in Colorado at the YMCA of the Rockies, I decided to take a break for a while and come to Europe to visit some friends, and to visit my brother who is currently working for a family here in Saxony, Germany.
It had been nearly 5 months since we’ve seen one another, since I’d been working out West since March of this year. My brother had gone to Germany in early May staying with one family, and then another. Fast forward a couple of months and I’m right here with him.
So what do we do exactly?
A lot of the work is outside work in the backyard – I helped my brother disassemble an old, old shed and we’re currently removing all of the nails out of the wood and clearing the place where the shed once stood. My brother has been here since the end of May and has done much more work here, of course. He has cut the tall grass in the yard, carried and rearranged rocks in the garden (not an easy job) and has even helped build a bed.
I came later and didn’t help with most of these projects (as many were complete or finished at the moment) but I did what I could and also, after drawing a sketch of a mermaid and dolphin, painted a few murals on the wall. This was a project I definitely enjoyed doing because I love putting my art and skills to work to bring happiness to others in this way. I hadn’t expected to ever paint murals for someone’s house, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Some years ago my mom and I had painted beach scenes in the first house we lived in back when we moved to Florida. It was a lot of work, but it was something fun for us to do together and it gave our house character.
My brother and I have tried to make the most of our stay here. Honestly, I have enjoyed returning to Dresden again and again. It’s impossible to see and experience all of the city in one day. The history of this East-German city is amazing but also sad in a way. As we were riding the train to Dresden this morning, I hadn’t really noticed some old buildings before – buildings that looked more than abandoned. They looked partly destroyed and even like rubble in some areas.
It was evidence of the war(s) that had once been…
Dresden is a miracle city. To see old photographs of how it looked after the World Wars is devastating. When I look at pictures or paintings that depict how Dresden use to look, it is heartbreaking. It seemed so beautiful. So lively. So prosperous. A place of kings, of richness and greatness and a center of art and magnificence. All of this taken away in an instant by bombings from the Allies.
The miracle though is that the German people have rebuilt this city to its greatness. You would never know it had been bombed so terribly for the city stands triumphantly and it is truly a wonder to behold.
Visiting the awesome Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD) Museum – had such a beautiful collection of treasures.
A painting showing Dresden before the World Wars
One of my favorite sculpture pieces ever! (By Edgar Degas)
Such a deep, moving work of art titled ‘War’.
It was a tragedy that befall the city, but the city itself, in my opinion, is a miracle. It thrives and still attracts many tourists and visitors from all over the world who not only want to visit Dresden for its beauty, but history as well.
I would gladly spend more time in Dresden if I could.
But aside from spending time there, we’ve also gotten to get out and hike. Saxony has probably hundreds of hiking trails to do – it seems to be quite a hotspot for not only hiking, but bike riding and climbing as well. And why not? It’s gorgeous here. My brother, who had visited Berlin earlier, recalled some paintings he had seen in an art gallery where so many artists had been inspired by the Saxon Switzerland part of Germany. And it’ll be the same for me. I hope to create some paintings when I return home based on my stay here in Saxony.
July has flown by for me. It didn’t pass as I had expected it to, but then again, that’s life. Not everything turns out or happens how we envision or imagine it to. There are many days where I gaze out my window in deep thought and truly wonder at the thought of my being here…
To be in Germany. Here in Saxony with my brother at the same time.
Sadly, he is leaving in a few short days, returning back to the States, and I shall venture onward to Switzerland, where I’ll stay with the first family I workawayed with. Life is good but it’s crazy.
Getting prepared to climb those rocks of Häntzschelstiege
Looking back at where we had climbed up … it continued this way for quite a while.
But oh the views were amazing
Got caught in some rain on the way down – walking and sliding through a river of rain water but we did it! We made it down successfully and conquered the rocks! What an adventure it was!
Climbing up to Lilienstein
View from Lilienstein – so worth the hike! This faces the direction of Dresden with the Elbe River in sight.
So much is going on in life that it has, admittedly, been difficult at times to stay in the present. To take in my surroundings and ‘seize the day’. I’ve always been a future-minded person and have been told only too often that I think too much. And then there’s the ‘this’ and ‘that’ that is happening or will be happening in my life very soon … and I have to set aside money for certain things.
Which seems difficult when you’re in Europe and you’re wanting to go here and there and travel to your heart’s content.
Hiking in the Sächsische Schweiz
Looking at part of the Bastei
Enjoying a carrot – and yes, that’s sand on the ground!
Once upon a time, all the forests use to be under a great ocean.. these huge rocks are really all made of sand, and even seashells can be found here and there!
We had stopped for some ice cream on the way back – got a scoop of nutella!
We had to cross the Elbe River by boat to get to the other side…heading back.
For me, (especially for the remaining of this trip) my time spent in Europe will be one of mainly visiting dear friends, catching up on work that needs to get done that’s been put off the past few months, and going over plans that I have in the very near future. Sometimes, there’s so much to do it makes my head hurt. This is where I have to take a breather, and take in what’s around me and appreciate the day for today and count my blessings.
Don’t worry, Germany. I’ll be back someday.