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May 1, 2018

Get in on Dresden + Giveaway!

DRESDEN. [Insert 100 heart-eyed emojis here.]

As if I will ever be able to truly capture the spirit and ambiance of a place like Dresden in a single blog post!

I did not know a city like this existed in Germany.

Dresden was so young. I felt like I was walking around a college campus most of the time, what with the laid-back, creative hipster clothing styles, interesting haircuts and colors, and student-aged people relaxing in coffee shops and colorful bars around each corner.

I found my hipster heaven.

It was so inspiring, that I just had to do my photo post from Dresden all in vintage Polaroid format. Not even an option to do it another way. The only other time I felt a photo post deserved a more creative format than the typical 10-15 pictures was for Postcards in Portugal.

But Dresden. Dresden had a vintage and retro tone that splashed on every perspective of the city.

For my French friend, Laura, and me, it all started in the Neustadt.

First of all, make sure you get the train stations straight. Dresden Central Station, or Hauptbahnhof, is located south of the Altstadt and river. Bahnhof Dresden - Neustadt is located north of the river and much closer to the Neustadt. If you're just coming for a day trip, the main Hauptbahnhof will suffice, but most lodging options are in the Neustadt, and you don't want to end up dragging your luggage for an hour!

We stayed at a friendly hostel called Lollis Homestay Hostel Dresden that we found on booking.com. The rooms really feel like you're staying at a friend's house, they offer shared meal times and BBQs, and foster a great community spirit between the travelers.

Some of the super delicious places we ate and drank at were: England, England (a very quaint British tea house, complete with scones and pictures of the Royal Family everywhere); Max Neustadt (great food and music); Schokoladenbar Café Bar Delikatessen (amazing huge window seats and outdoor seating as well); El Cubanito (hilarious Cuban bar with live music); and Planwirtschaft (one of the most pleasant outdoor garden seating arrangements I've ever seen).

There are cute and adorable quirky details all over the Neustadt in the street art, creative restaurant decor, and the buildings. However, the Kunsthofpassage Dresden is perfect for wandering into another world. The buildings are like art projects ("Kunst" means "art" in German), one even complete with rain gutters in the shape of musical instruments that actually play music when it rains!!!

I really appreciated the number of vintage, retro, and thrift stores we kept coming across! My two favorites had to be Lady Yule, a dress shop directly out of the 1950s, and B&B Secondhand, where I found my first and last, perfect-for-me, Dresden-hipster jean jacket souvenir.

Between the Neustadt and the Altstadt, there is a big gold statue to one of the Dresden kings, August II, called the Goldener Reiter outside of a wide boulevard shopping area. Once you've gotten to here, you know you are on the right path!

Most European cities exist because of their location on a river. Dresden is no exception, laying on both sides of the Elbe River. However, Dresden has created a huge riverbank "beach" area on the Neustadt side with grass and sand that the entire city can come and enjoy on sunny days and warm evenings. Laura and I were in Dresden during really gorgeous spring weather, and the riverbank was happily populated by all those young people I mentioned earlier.

From previous Dresden photo post.

Groups of friends playing soccer, small picnics, large BBQs, couples rollerblading on the paved pathway section, and everyone just soaking up early April sunshine. When we walked down the riverbank in the evening to see the Dresden buildings lit up at night, the grassy area still had pockets of friends spending the time around their campfires, singing songs, and drinking together.

I could have stayed there forever. Which means I will definitely go back!

As far as the real sightseeing in Dresden goes...

It is best to approach the Altstadt by Brühl's Terrace, a nice walkway lifted above the river that drops you right into the heart. The Katholische Hofkirche dominates the riverside, but the Frauenkirche Dresden (first picture in post) a little more inland is the iconic building in the Dresden skyline. The Semperoper Dresdem opera house is quite lovely on the edge of the building collection, along with the Hausmannsturm.

The long and impressive Fürstenzug mosaic of all the rulers of Dresden throughout time is a cool experience if you can take the time to notice the differences between the clothing and hair styles, horse presentation, and facial expressions depicted on the rulers.

The Zwinger area was my favorite, a Baroque palace and garden gracefully set in the middle of the city. There are interesting corners, steps leading to pretty views, and crowns on top of all of the towers and turrets.

The thing about the Altstadt is that most of it's been rebuilt, and you really just keep tumbling into the next gorgeous building. It's easy to walk around, enjoy the different architectural angles, and wonder at how much work went into the construction originally and the reconstruction later.

Dresden feels the way it does because it will never be popular enough to be bogged down by every tourist ever. The average tourist's very first European trip does not include Dresden. Even the average tourist's first Germany trip does not usually include Dresden. Dresden is for those who are deeply drawn to World War II history, and sometimes for visitors to Berlin looking for a day excursion. But for those of you passing through Germany, Poland, or the Czech Republic, Dresden is close by and waiting for you to spend two or three great days together.

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*Enter to win a full year subscription to GPSmyCity in the comments, below!

*As a reminder, these are my city-specific blog posts that have been converted to GPSmyCity Apps. They are available for download on iTunes and Google Play as walking tours via GPSmyCity.

*And now, app users can purchase annual subscriptions inside the GPSmyCity app at $12.99/year with full access to all travel articles for 900+ cities worldwide OR at $18.99/year with full access to all walking tours + travel articles covering 1,000+ cities.

BUT 10 lucky readers can win the $18.99 subscription by simply commenting on this post below!

How it works: 

1. Comment about Dresden OR another underrated European city that you recommend.

2. June 1st, I will notify and announce the winners on the blog.

3. You will receive your download code worth $18.99 for a full year subscription to ALL of GPSmyCity's travel articles!

This post is also linked up to City Tripping!

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April 22, 2018

Meet Me in Annecy

Registration for the Annecy volleyball tournament opens today!!!

If you don't know what I'm talking about, let's rewind a bit to last year: 

Lac d'Annecy and Why I Will Always Go Back

The Tournoi d'Annecy is always during Pentecost weekend, this year falling on Sunday and Monday, May 20-21, 2018.

It's a 3-on-3 grass tournament, all on the shore of the beautiful Lake Annecy, framed by gorgeous French Alps.

If you like volleyball, being outside, eating, drinking, and hanging out with French and Swiss people, then this is the place to be in May!

The tournament website* is here: http://tournoi.annecy-volleyball.com/

Registration starts on this page: http://tournoi.annecy-volleyball.com/new_site/register.php

It only costs 45 Euros per team (that's 15 Euros per player, if you're counting), and you get a tournament t-shirt and other goodies from the tournament sponsors.

This year, I am bringing two of my German teammates, and even Marc is getting in on the action with some of his basketball players!

Will we see you there?!

*The tournament website is all in French, so if Google Translate doesn't do its thing, let me know and I can help translate what's up and how to register your team!

May 1st update: Registration is currently full until further notice!!!

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April 18, 2018

Podcast with Papa Swags

I think all of us carry on something that our parents gave to us. From my father, it's a love for sports, and from both of my parents, detailed organization skills and a knack for thinking ahead.

This is just a little peek into the legendary Papa Swags, sharing his experiences in sports directing over the past four decades. Fitting that the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) awarded him with their prestigious Distinguished Service Award this past week.

I love that this picture of him in his office has my sister's and my volleyball photos on his wall behind him. We miss being in the gym with you, too, Dad. No one is more deserving of this honor than you!!!

Please enjoy this podcast with my very own father, Dan Swagerty: the man behind the whole reason I ever touched a volleyball.


You can also read about it in the Sun Gazette.

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April 11, 2018

German Swag 101: Dresden Polaroids

*Disclaimer: No actual Polaroid photos were taken. I have never owned a Polaroid camera of any kind. However, in honor of just how magnificently hipster Dresden is, these modern smartphone pictures have been transformed into vintage Polaroids. This is how I see Dresden!

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for another Dresden post and a big GPSmyCity subscription GIVEAWAY!!!
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