I just left Munich and I’m on the Bahn headed to Berlin! Munich was an unbelievable city full of life and culture… one of which I learned the most about while I was there. I started out my trip by meeting up with one of my teammates who I play soccer with at ASU. We ate at this nice restaurant near the center of the city and we ate authentic Bavarian food. While we were eating, I didn’t really understand what “Bavarian” meant, but I definitely learned that before I left. After hanging out with her for a little bit, walking around the city and drinking beer, I went to my hostel to settle in. In most hostels, wifi is only in the lobby area so you can meet people – which is exactly what I did! I was sitting on my phone and these two guys from Boston and a guy from Canada sat right next to me. We started talking and they invited me to go to a beer garden with them. It was a fun adventure. It was all of our first nights there so we didn’t really know where to go. We ended up walking for about an hour or so and hopped on and off a train or two! We ended up going to this nice beer garden in the English Park. It was surrounded by a lake. The restaurant part was very nice and upscale. In the back however, it was this neat area that was just full of people with pints of beer drinking on picnic tables. There were lights that lit it up like it was daytime. It was really loud and all you could hear was laughter coming from every way. The table we sat at was right on the water where we could literally touch the ducks…and there were a lot of ducks! When people would throw bread into the lake it was hilarious to watch because about 150 ducks just swam as fast as they could to that side of the beer garden. After doing that for a few hours, we went back to the hostel!
The following morning I went on a walking tour of the city. The hostel, Wombats, has a free walking tour every morning so I figured I would go on that. It lasted about five hours and boy was it worth it. It was by far the best tour I have ever been on. Not only did I learn SO MUCH about Germany, Bavaria and the Nazi Party, I met a lot of great people. While walking through the city, the tour guide would stop at certain restaurants and markets and introduce us to different types of foods. I am usually pretty picky with food but I decided I would try everything and I was pleasantly surprised. The sausages and pork were all phenomenal. There is also a drink called Mezzo Mix, which is coke mixed with orange juice. It might be my new favorite drink! It’s delicious. We learned a lot about the Nazi party and how it started. It is very different hearing the history from the perspective of a German, especially in Munich. Since Munich was the birthplace of the Nazi party and it was started for the working class people of Bavaria, the story was a little different then I have previously learned. We went to the Hofbräuhaus right in the middle of the city to have a few beers. While we were there, the tour guide started telling us how that was the building where the Nazi party was pretty much founded. Hitler would drink there and thats how the party came to be – all over beer. If that wasn’t weird enough, he told us to look at the ceiling. There were four Bavarian flags that were painted in a pin wheel like shape. He told us that they had to paint that four times over what was originally there – swatstikas. After the tour was over, the tour guide gave us the option of going on a “pub” crawl aka beer crawl. So, of course, almost everyone does it. Two hours later, we met up in the middle of the city to start drinking! We went to about six different beer gardens and drink about five different types of schnapps. It was a great way to get to know everyone! There were people from Australia, Hong Kong, China, Canada and the US. We ended at the Hofbräuhaus at the end of the night to experience a genuine Bavarian night of drinking!
The next morning I went to Dachau with some of the people I met on the previous walking tour. Dachau was the first concentration camp that the Nazi party started. They called it the “tester.” We took a train there and it didn’t really set in that we were about to go to a concentration camp. We got into Dachau and it was strange, because the city of Dachau itself, is so normal. When I pictured a concentration camp, I imagined it as distant from houses or stores….that wasn’t the case. There were houses within 1 mile in all directions of the camp. There were two main parts to the camp, the actually camp and the SS base. The public isn’t allowed to go into the SS base because ironically it is now used to train the police force for Germany. All of the major leaders of other camps, like Aushwitz, were trained at Dachau. We walked through it what we all got out of it was that if Dachau somehow failed as a camp, the Holocaust may have not happened/ definitely not at the scale it did – that’s how big of a role Dachau played. After walking through the museum and going into the actual chambers was unreal. They had some of the same fountains and beds on display. Along with that, thee were multiple pictures of the inmates that had been in the rooms we were in. Then, the most horrible part of the camp came up – the gas chambers and ovens. They were located pretty far from the rooms and kitchens. We walked in them and it was unreal. The gas chamber was just a room that looked like a bunch of people could shower in it – which was what they thought they were doing. How it worked was they would go into the “shower” and the guard would lock the doors and walk around the outside and in two little opening, he would push in a capsule of poisonous gas. The system was so thorough that when the capsule would get pushed all of the way in, the top would pop off. The job was done. 150 dead in 20 minutes. Then they went to the ovens which had one central chimney. That oven company, which made some of the most powerful ovens, was shut down in 1950. Now, the area surrounding the gas chambers and ovens is full of beautiful trees and a few different memorials. Right behind the gas chamber there is a large Jewish star.
After Dachau, we went to the BMW Museum and the Olympic stadium (1972). It was pretty neat, they had models of BMW’s from almost every year they made a vehicle. There were also new models that you could get into and if you did it in advance, test drive. The architecture of the museum was probably the coolest part to me. When you walked in, you take a very long escalator to the top, and you walk in a cork screw all the way down to the bottom and each level had different models of cars. My favorite ones to look at were the Rolls Royce models. They had up to the 2012 model.
We then headed back to the hostel to relax for a little. While I was lying down in my room, I went to grab something from my suitcase…by doing that I somehow broke my zipper. That started a journey in and of itself to find a suitcase! I find one surprisingly fast – on sale too! Anyways, right when I got back to the hostel, I went to the hostel bar and met up with all of the people I have been hanging out with the past two days. We started drinking in the bar and within about 30 minutes it was packed with people from all over the world and all different ages. A soccer team from Germany came in and that was the beginning to the best part of the night! They started to cheer so as I joke me, another American and a Scottish guy started doing a cheer of our own and then started talking with them! They are there for the weekend celebrating a great season, and boy were they celebrating! We ended up going out with them to a few bars. We ended at a club right outside of the main square of the city. It was a two story club that was playing great local music along with some great American music! One of my favorite parts of going out with people from different countries is hearing them sing American songs with their accents, it’s hilarious! After a long night out we finally made it back to the hostel where I slept for a little before getting up at 7am this morning to make my 9am Bahn train to Berlin, which is what I am on right now! Hopefully Berlin will be as great at Munich was. Germany is a beautiful country!