The Christmas Holidays have arrived, and my girlfriend Christine and I decided to do some traveling as we were not going to be going back home to the States. Our journey was set, plane tickets bought, and our hotel/AirBnB’s booked. We were off to spend 3 days in Munich and 3 days in Paris!
Our initial thoughts about Germany:
- Good Food
- Good Beer
*Everything in Germany was efficient, and always worked the way it was supposed to. It felt like being in a toy land as the buildings looked like they were freshly painted, everything was lined up and uniform, and everything was clean. Definitely a different look and feel from Italy just a hop, skip, and a jump away to the south.
We woke on the 20th with our bags packed and embarked on our journey to the airport. When we arrived at the airport we found out that Christine’s carry on was ‘too big’ and therefore had to check it, thanks easy jet. While waiting on our flight there were about a dozen bikers with Hells Angels cuts on waiting to board with us, we found this fun and a little intimidating as we are both big Sons of Anarchy fans. While waiting to board the couple in front of us turned around and said, “man its good to hear english”, we started chatting up this couple who were on an ‘extended’ vacation. They were a couple from Virginia, he was 31, she was 28, and they both decided to quit their jobs and travel Europe before starting a family. They were a fun couple to talk to and hear about their experiences as they had visited quite a bit of Northern Europe and had just finished up their tour of Italy and were headed to Germany for a week and then had a few other destinations before returning back to the States in January.
It really seems that when we travel we tend to meet some amazing people and we both enjoy learning about their experiences. Previously I had talked about a girl traveling Europe from Australia. It is amazing and humbling to talk and learn from fellow travelers, and hearing their experiences really make us believe in what we are doing by chasing our own dreams.
We landed in Munich around noon and made our way to find the train which was easy to find, we were looking at the ticket screen deciding which one to buy when a friendly German guy (he was a pig farmer and had no teeth but friendly none the less) helped us to find the ticket and offered to split a group rate with us making it cheaper for all of us, he did so then he walked with us a bit and pointed us in the direction of our hotel. Very friendly. We also noticed how clean and efficient the train system was. It was easy to understand the signage, you enter on the right always and exit on the left always (In Italy you never know if the doors will open on the left or right and your fighting to get out through the people trying to get on) It was a smooth ride, easy to stand and not fall over (Again in Italy you will go flying to the front of the car when the train begins to stop because they slam on the breaks).
Once checking into our hotel we met up with one of Christine’s best friends from back in her hometown,Amanda, who used to live in Hamburg, Germany and knows a bit about Munich and it was nice having some people help us with German since we didn’t know anything about the city. We spent the first day wandering around, checking out the awesome architecture (Christine loved as she is an Interior Design Student), and trying the different beers and food (which I enjoyed). The food in Bavaria was excellent, being a midwest boy we love our pork, and Germans do too! Win Win in the food department.
The following day we when to Dachau, which was the first concentration camp and built as a model for all other concentration camps. It was mostly for political prisoners but was definitely horrific none the less. We walked through the city of Dachau to get to the camp and we were thinking about the people who lived there and what they must have thought. This camp was not secret; everyone knew it was there but supposedly the locals did not know the extent of what was going on in the camp. As the survivors of this camp said they wanted all the know and see and never forget about this place and I agree that it is important for all to understand. Our German friend couldn’t imagine why we would want to visit such a horrible place; it was hard to explain to her why it is important for us to see it. We saw the infamous gate which reads; “Work sets you free”, just behind it in the area for roll call and where the prisoners would stand and be tortured for hours. Many died there. We also got to see the inside of the barracks and how they must have lived. Lastly we went to the crematorium where of course the bodies were cremated (this is why I can’t believe no one knew, the smoke and the stench must have been horrendous) I found it interesting that the US military forced all the citizens of Dachau to look at the mound of bodies that were piled up outside the crematorium to see what had been going on there. It was definitely overall a moving experience.
The following day we visited the Residenz which holds art and treasures of the royal Bavarian families. It was amazing and incredibly luxurious. We spent a good 2 1/2 hours wondering around the museum and listening to the audio guide. It was a wonderful way to spend our last day in Munich. That evening we met up with one of my classmates who is from Munich and her boyfriend and went out to dinner at a traditional Bavarian restaurant. They helped us by suggestions some awesome food and beers to drink, and then at the end of the meal we had a traditional after dinner ‘digestive’ shot of liquor. What a way to finish off our trip to Munich, hanging out with good company in a good local establishment!
We are so lucky to be able experience the world and travel, in doing so we really get a chance to learn and experience other cultures. Both of us are looking to get into international business in our respective fields, which is why we wanted to study abroad in Italy while getting our Masters Degree’s. These experience are helping us really understand what it means, and more importantly what it takes to establish meaningful cross cultural relationships.