Monday was Christmas for the Russian Orthodox Church – so while the festive season has been and gone in most of Germany, Dresden got its annual second wind this week, as swathes of Russian tourists spent their holiday in the Saxon city’s shops and art galleries, Die Welt newspaper wrote on Wednesday.
Extra flights run between Moscow and Dresden from the beginning of the year until January 12, many fully booked and often with passengers paying around €1,000 for a travel package that also stops off in Prague.
But for most of the Christmas travellers, money does not seem to be a problem, as the average Russian shopper spends €2,000 in Dresden’s shops, almost always cash, often in €500 notes.
“Germany is so beautiful and so clean,” tourist Inga Tschalkewitsch told Die Welt. She, like many of her peers, have been to lots of German cities yet remains staunchly attached to Dresden. “Nowhere is as beautiful as here,” she explained.
In Dresden’s Altmarktgalerie shopping centre, where a Russian “Father Frost” strolls through the halls, shoe shop manager Holger Chabrowski is sure each year to expect the first week of January to be a busy one.
But he adds that some Russian customers enter his high street store, ask where the Prada and Gucci is and leave disappointed. “Russian women are fashion conscious and brand-fans,” said Chabrowski. “You would never see them wearing fake fur or imitation leather.”