Daniel's Travels

Germany

Deutschland

I was in Germany for only three days in 2005 (June 27 - June 30). I only went to Bavaria. My mom used airline miles to get us to Switzerland so that we could visit our exchange student, Marc. As she was ticketing the reservation, the only way she could get the tickets was to return on an open jaw reservation through Munich to London to Chicago to Denver on the way back. We took a train from Zürich, Switzerland through part of Austria and into Germany. On our way through Bavaria, we changed trains in a few places Buchloe, Füssen, et cetera in order to get to Hohenschwangau, the place in Germany with "the castle." Even though Neuschwanstein is not really a historic castle in the standard sense of the word (it was built as a fantasy castle), it is the stereotypical image that Americans have of a European castle.

Neuschwanstein

Visiting Neuschwanstein was pretty amazing though. Because it was built as a fantasy castle, it is pretty impressive. At the base of the foothills of the Alps, Neuschwanstein towers over the surrounding countryside. Looking at it from the other direction, one sees the towering Alps in the distance.Schloß Neuschwanstein is pretty amazing. One evening, we all went swimming in the lake (Alpsee) below the castle, the water wasn't nearly as cold as it was in Ticino, Switzerland or as cold as in mountain lakes in Colorado. Even though there are thousands and thousands of tourists all over the area, it still retains a lot of beauty.

Österreich

I also "visited" Austria briefly. Although I would generally not consider myself to have been to Austria (even though my passport was stamped as entering Austria on the train between Switzerland and Germany), I ran from Hohenschwangau to the Austrian border with Germany and around on bike trails within Austria with my dad. It is a really pretty area and one could spend days exploring all of the trails in that part of Austria. In the typical fashion of a Schengen border, the frontier between the two countries was marked by an abandoned customs/immigration post, a gate, a sign for each country, but no officials of any sort. This part of both countries has quite a lot of natural beauty. Coming from Colorado, I couldn't believe how green everything was. I hope to go back to Austria and see more than the view outside the train's window and the small amount I saw running.

Railing into Munich

As we left Hohenschwangau on the train from Füssen, the view of the German countryside and the retreating sight of the Bavarian Alps was spectacular. Completing the setting were Mercede Benz Unimogs being used for their original purpose, agriculture. My dad was beside himself with happiness.

München

Eventually, the train rolled to a stop in München, Deutschland. At first, we weren't sure that it was the München Hauptbahnhof, so I asked someone, and they looked kind of strangely at me and said yes. Anyway, we got off of the train and spent several minutes ordering S-Bahn and U-Bahn tickets for the next few days (one good only in Central Munich, one good to Dachau, and one good to the airport). It was cheaper than buying a three-day pass to the airport but took a little while to figure out. Luckily, the ticket agent spoke very good English. Then, we got to haul all of our luggage through the U-Bahn system. Because we didn't have a very detailed map of Munich, we got off the train at a station that was five or six blocks from our hotel. We must looked ridiculous hauling all of our luggage that far (especially when we found out that there was a U-Bahn station across the street from our hotel). This was a repeated scene from Paris—hauling our luggage underground on trains and then across the city.

After we were checked into our hotel, we walked around, had some food, and went to the Residenz, several churches, Rathaus, and the Hofgarten before returning to the hotel. Munich is an old city, yet, it is modern at the very same time. Because Munich was given a chance to completely rebuild after World War II, the city's infrastructure is relatively new.

Dachau

The next day, we went to Dachau, the first concentration camp that was built by the NAZI's. It is not far outside of Munich and we reached it on an S-Bahn train. Dachau was also the location of many of the medical experiments. The barracks at Dachau have long since been demolished, but the main building, which housed many political prisoners away from the majority of prisoners remained standing.

Two barracks were rebuilt to demonstrate what they used to all look like. Around the area of the crematorium, there are lots of small markers on the ground that reference various smaller graves that have been found over the years. Visiting places like Dachau is sobering, but important so that the tragedy of what happened is maintained within our memories. Without understanding these sorts of tragedies, and how they were allowed to occur by so many, we risk letting ourselves fall back into the same nonsensical behaviors.

Back into Munich

After returning to Munich that evening, we went to the somewhat strange Asamkirche. Inside, there was a relic, which I guess for some is quite normal, for others, it's kind of strange. A relic, is a piece of a human (in this case, the whole thing). It's kind of bizarre, to me, to have a dead person on display in a gilded case. If you're ever there, go to the front of the church, look to the right of the altar. Behind glass, you'll see something under a piece of silk. Look more carefully, it's a skeleton of somebody, and it's really creepy looking. After that, we went to Starbucks and were transported back to the US (except that we were still using Euros and everyone was speaking in German, but the menu was in English). It was interesting because it felt out of place in Germany.

We also went back to the Residenz that day. My mom and sister went to one museum in it, and my dad and I went to the residenz's Coin Collection. The Residenz's Coin Collection is one of the largest in the world. It was amazing. Just imagine a coin collection started by a royal, several hundred years ago. It was amazing. The next morning, we all woke up, went to the airport, and flew home.

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