Germany: May 19th and 20th
This is Daniel, Tami, and Dayana here, and we are going to tell you a little about the fun and adventurous things we did on May 19th-20th of our Germany/Switzerland trip.
For the beginning of our day, we took a long bus ride to Munich where we had the opportunity to see several historic buildings, try some new food, and enjoy time with friends.
We first started out by spending some free time walking around and getting lunch. A few of us utilized this time to climb up one of the clock towers to get an amazing view of the city and some picturesque photos of the Rathaus-Glockenspiel of the Neues Rathaus town hall
The Neues Rathaus was constructed in 1867 by a man named Georg Von Heuberrisser. It's world renowned gothic architecture makes it a famous tourist attraction for people all over the world.
Once we all met back up, we met our tour guide and got back on the bus. She took us on a drive by the Olympic city where in 1972, several Olympians from the Jerusalem team were taken as hostage and murdered. We also drove past the BMW museum which was interesting to see. We learned that the blue and white colors in their logo represent the German state of Bavaria.
After the bus tour ended we took a very brief walk back to the church with our tour guide. One interesting thing that she pointed out on the way back was the architecture of the "onion church". Apparently, when that church was built, it set a regulation stating that no other building in the city may be taller than the two "onion pillars"
After our tour ended and we had some time to ourselves so we were able to walk around and enjoy some good food. However, a hailstorm did pass by trapping some of us in one of the department stores for some time.
When it comes to the food, we ate dinner at Hofbrauhaus, which is popular restaurant located in downtown Munich. The restaurant opens up to a giant dining hall full of people drinking and eating a wide-variety of German food. Giant tables lined the floor with not a open seat in the house. A band was set up playing some the most popular songs the Germans know and love. This was an exciting place to see! In order to get a seat, you have to act fast and grab a table once you see a group get up from a table or you have to ask others if you can share a table with them. We all had to split up into smaller tables because of the scarcity of open tables to fit so many people. The waiters act fast to serve so many guests. They are quick to approach you, thinking you already know what beverage and food choices you want.
The next day we had lunch at a similar style restaurant Augustiner-Keller. It was interesting to see the different atmospheres of the two restaurants. This one was a lot less crowded and had most of the seating outside. We had a set menu of salmon, potatoes, vegetables, and ice cream as a dessert. This was just as delicious as the other food we have had so far in Germany. From each restaurant you can purchase the different types of beer mugs they use when serving. Each brewery has their own design on the mugs and was fun for us to look and buy different types of drinking glasses.
As part of our free time, we could ride rented bikes for a few hours around the city. On the cool things we saw was locals surfing in rapids in a small river. Around this area was the English Gardens. Many of the locals crowd around this big open park to enjoy the springtime sun by playing cricket, walking, biking, and just laying out in the grass.
Munich was an engaging experience filled with several interesting shops, cafes, and restaurants.
For our second day in Munich, we traveled out to the city of Dachau. The city of Dachau has very much a dark history due to the fact that it was the location of the first Nazi concentration camp built in Germany. Before we arrived, we had a brief preparation talk with our tour guide so that we were aware of the things that we would be seeing. We know that many people in the group were very interested in visiting Dachau because it is such an important part of not only German history, but also world history. We believe that everyone knew the importance of remembering those who suffered and perished in the concentration camps.
Upon arrival, we received an audio listening guide and a map which really helped us get a deeper understanding of the the areas in the camp as well as the artifacts. We enjoyed that fact that we were able to walk around at our own pace and not be rushed. We realized that it helped give us a better understanding of what we were seeing because there was simply no interruptions.
In the camp, most of the buildings have been reconstructed but everyone was still able to get a real feel of what it had original looked like. In the building that was the former maintenance building, they had a wide-variety of exhibits with artifacts of real individuals that were held at Dachau and also information about the formation of the Nazi party and the Dachau concentration camp. The most thought provoking part of the visit would have the short movie that was played about Dachau. This film helped everyone see just how horrendous the condition were, and also the suffering that took place.
As we said, most of the structures were reconstructions due to the fact that most of the original buildings were destroyed. The reconstructed barracks helped us see how tiny of a space prisoners were forced to live in. The guide stated that the barracks were built to initially hold only 6,000 people, but by the time the camp was liberated there were over 30,000 people held there. We were also able to see the gas chambers that were used at Dachau. In each room, there was a plaque that stated what the prisoners would have to do when they arrived to this gas chamber. Walking through each room was extremely eye-opening because we were walking the same path as those prisoners who were on the way to their death.
Retracing the footsteps of those that suffered terribly helped everyone realize the importance of taking time to visit places like Dachau and remembering the events that took place and lives that were lost. Our tour guide left us with this quote by George Santayana, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."