Sundays quickly became bike days, days for exploring streets I hadn’t noticed before, discovering playgrounds, empty buildings, useful trash. Dresden is full of beautiful, crumbling secrets.
Outside of Dresden, if you manage to pedal out of the valley, are others. On the bike ride to Radeberg, all up hill, all cool forest and empty Sunday roads, a familiarly eerie feeling came over me.
The German landscape looks like home to me. Maples, birches, sections of pine forest, ferns, nettles—so many of the plants I remember from walks in the woods as a child, here too. There are train rides when, looking out the window, a strange feeling comes over me. As if there has been a dimensional shift. As if I have gone back in time.
Where the hell am I? I ask myself. Am I in Pennsylvania? Upstate New York? Have I slept? Was it all a dream? Then the conductor announces the next stop over the loudspeaker, and I remember. On the road to Radeberg, I pulled to the side of the empty road and took a picture, a nostalgic tourist, home.
Dresden’s valley dissuades the fearful bicyclist from leaving. It rewards the daring with pairs of bulky calves. I had picked the destination at random. I had been dumpster diving the night before, and I had never been to Radeberg, though I drank its beer often.
The brewery itself turned out to be sterile and awful, a geometric insect balancing on sharp square columned legs and fronted by two gigantic copper breasts meant to invoke images of brewing equipment. Before Radeberg were ruins where I had stopped to rest. There were no signs to tell me what the building once had been, but the light was magical. Though my camera was not I took a few pictures to remind me. Close your eyes and fill them with late-afternoon twilight and you might catch a glimpse of it too.