Thursday, July 2, 2009

Munich, Germany

The next stop on our trip was Munich, Germany. We took a train from Bacharach to Mainz where we got on a connecting train to Munich. I will admit that I did not have a good first impression of Munich, because it just seemed like a big, modern city. It was however one of my favorite stops. I really enjoyed Munich alot. It is a city of history with a modern flair.

For those of you who don't know- I teach a Holocaust unit, and so I am a bit of a Holocaust/ World War II junky. This city was very interesting for me to be in because this was where Hitler got his start. It was weird to be in all of these places that Hitler had been in, and to see so much of the history that he had a hand in establishing.

Our hotel in Munich was awesome! (We did most of our booking through Priceline and got amazing deals on 4 and 5 star hotels.) We stayed at a newly remodeled Marriott by Olymic Park. This room and our Paris room were the best that we stayed in. Our bed was so amazingly comfortable- which is a big deal when you are on vacation. Although this hotel did not offer free breakfast, they did always have fresh green apples sitting out for you to take and big soft pretzels for guests in the afternoon. (Side note- I had no idea that huge soft pretzels were such a big deal in Germany.... they were everywhere!) This hotel also had a super nice pool, hot tub, and steam bath that we took advantage of several different times.

Anyways, after we arrived in Munich and checked into our hotel we went to a recommended outdoor cafe called Zum Brunnward. (Have you noticed a trend? Eating outdoors is like a mandatory... everywhere...) The food was sooooooo good. It may have been my favorite meal. I had a very tender pork with sauce over it and a potato dumpling with a sauteed red cabbage, and Lantz had a different cut of pork with fried potatoes, fried onion strings, and bacon all in a cast iron dish mixed together. His was super yummy!

The next day we headed down to Marenplatz (city center) to do a bike tour. We had originally planned on doing a Mike's Bike tour like we did in Amsterdam. We really enjoyed the tour there, and thought that it would be a good idea to do one in Munich. Well, we got down to the city center right about when the big clock started going off. At a certain time this huge clock on one of the main buildings starts dinging and all these little puppet people/ dolls start twirling out and around. (see photo below) It was funny to watch so many people watch this clock going off.

Anyways, back to the bike tour. We ended up not doing Mike's Bike tour, but instead we decided to give this Free Bike tour a try. They were walking around asking people to join the tour and told us that they only work for tips, and we only had to tip what we felt they deserved at the end. This was a great idea! We ended up going to every place that we would have with Mike's Bike tour, and how do I know this... well... we saw that tour group at every stop that we made. Our tour guide Aaron from Canada was really great. He gave us so much information, and we were able to see things that we wouldn't have even known to look for. Oh, also it rained for part of tour... of course.

One example: Aaron pointed out a gold line painted down the ground of one of the side streets. This street evidently was used by people who did not agree with the Nazis. You see, there was this one main street that everyone who walked down had to stop and do the "Heil Hitler" thing to one of the swatstika flags hanging on one of the buildings. There were Nazi soldiers that stood guard there to make sure each person saluted while walking by. If you didn't salute you'd be in major trouble. Anyways, so people who were anti-Nazis took this side street to dodge the Nazis and having to salute the Nazi flag. So, the street with the gold line was the street that people used to dodge the Nazis, and the gold line was painted on to represent the path that they took. Cool huh? (See photo of gold lined street below.)

On top of seeing lots of historical sights, we also got to ride through the English Garden. That place was so big and it was so pretty. We stopped at what the Germans call a Beer Garden for lunch. I don't know why they call it that, but basically it's like an out door eating area where they sell food- sandwiches, salads, brats, pretzels, and of course beer. (Side note- beer in Germany is a staple. It is totally a cultural thing. To see people drinking beers is like we would see people in America drinking water, or Italians drinking wine... that's just literally what people drink every day at all times. It's not uncommon to see people drinking beer with their breakfast. It's not like drinking here. They are not getting wasted, and it's not a socially un-approved thing- it's just normal. It was different to see that.) Aaron our tour guide also showed us a small river in the middle of town that people would surf on because there was an undercurrent there that made a wave. Our tour lasted 4 and 1/2 hours, and I would totally recommend it to anyone. It was not a hard or strenuous ride at all.

After our bike tour we went up into the Old St. Peter's church bell tower as recommended by our tour guide. It was only 1.50 Euros per person. You climb to the top of this bell tower by steps (306 steps) and then you have the most beautiful view of the city. You could see all of Munich... very cool!

After the bell tower we ate at the infamous Hofbrauhaus. That place is massive!!! I couldn't believe how big it was. I could see why Hitler would hold political rallies and speeches there. Not your typical restaurant. The only thing bad about the Hofbrauhaus was that there were some dumb American party boys there just drinking away. We were sitting on a huge outdoor patio by a fountain and they were sitting a few tables away. These guys were just downing the beer left and right.... gross. Then all the sudden one of them just started puking his brains out on the cobblestone. It was one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen. Nasty... yuck. He just kept barfing, and barfing and barfing. There was no telling how much that guy had to drink. Stupid.

On our way home from the hotel we had some amazing ice cream with a fresh cherry pie filling like thing on top. It was melt in your mouth amazing!

The next day we went to a German grocery store and bought some things for food that day. We spend 12 Euros and it lasted us all day. We got a freshly baked loaf of wheat bread, some peppered turkey meat, some veggie cheese, 2 lbs of cherries, Nutella, and Haribo gummy bears. We also got a few green apples from the lobby of the hotel. We had a great brunch with all of our yummy buys.

After our brunch we caught a subway out to Dachau. Dachau is a small suburban town of Munich. When you say Dachau though, it is immediately associated with the concentration camp. One of the main reasons we stopped in Munich was so that we could visit the Dachau concentration camp and pay our respects to the people who lost their lives in the Holocaust. Going to Dachau was a very moving experience for me.

When we walked through the entrance that said, "Arbet Macht Frie" I can't explain what I felt. It was creepy. The camp grounds were so big. I don't know what I was expecting because I have taught about what took place there and studied it over and over. I had also seen lots of pictures, but seeing it in person was so different. We walked through the few barracks that remained there, we walked through the huge processing building which has been turned into a museum, we walked through the creamatoriums, gas chambers, and then finally we walked through the different memorials that are on the grounds. We also walked through the bunker which was the solitary confinement building. That was the spookiest thing ever. It was cold and dark and drab in there. For some reason when we walked through it there weren't any other tourists around. Lantz and I both got creeped out and walked through the whole place quickly so that we could get back out into the open.

It was hard for me to be at Dachau. I could not wrap my brain around it. It's really hard to put words to what I felt there, and to even explain how I feel about it now. It was very surreal to walk around the place where 30,000 prisoners were held. To know what happened there, and then to think of all the lives lost there was very upsetting. If you ever go to Europe I think that you should make a trip to a concentration camp to really see for yourself. (There are lot of photos from Dachau in the slide show below.)

After Dachau we went to Olympic Park for a little while and then over to the BMW museum. Lantz loved the BMW museum even though we didn't get to stay very long. Lantz and I both picked out our dream car and took pictures by it.

That pretty much sums up Munich. Sorry this post was so long, but I really loved Munich. It was hard to summarize our time there. If you are ever in Germany I would say that Munich is a must see.




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3 comments:

  1. You're pictures are SO great, Jessica! I have really loved reading about and seeing everything you did on your trip! It's AMAZING!! I totally want to go sometime.

    Austin and I just finished Band of Brothers (he had seen it before but I was nervous about the amount of fighting) and I LOVED it. I want to go to those parts of Europe now, to see where everything happened. SO fun.

    I cannot believe the size of the concentration camp, either. I know the pictures don't do it justice...but that is incredible! It's hard to picture it full of people and evil...so, so sad. And how humbling to be in a place like that!

    Can't wait for your next installment!

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  2. I am LOVING reading about your trip. You are so good about remember all the fun details. Munich sounds great! And, I love that you and Lance took another bike tour. Chris and I love doing stuff like that- I will be coming back to your blog if we ever visit these places. Can't wait to read more!

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  3. Jess - as I was reading this post I was thinking to myself, "Oh I hope they went to Dachau, Oh I hope they went to Dachau" and you did. I had the exact same experience as you did. It was one of the most moving/intense experiences I have ever had in my entire life and it will stay with me always. Even down to all of a sudden looking around and I was all by myself too. So creepy, but SO glad I did it. I have so many of the exact same photos. It is so hard to believe that there are people who deny/don't believe that concentration camps ever existed after seeing Dachau.

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