Monday, May 5, 2014


We arrived in Munich around 6:00pm on Friday.  We instantly started searching for our hostel.  There were 5 of us and none had ever stayed in a hostel before.  It was really close to the train station. 
Other than the fact that no towels are provided and we had to make our own beds, it was not a bad experience.  The rooms are made for 6 people with one bathroom.  We were all together, and both nights we had another person sleep in the room too.  We never met these people because they went to sleep before we returned and left before we got up.  Each person has a locker in the room to put things while away, and there was a really cool conservatory room in the middle where people could go relax.  We had a picnic in there once, and we played cards in their one night.
So Friday night we went to the famous Hofbrauhaus.  It was very crowded and we were really lucky to get a seat.  I really liked the place.  It was much cleaner and spacious than I imagined.  The food was amazing!  Every time we ate at a restaurant in south Germany, the food was unbelievably good.  There is a large pedestrian street that runs through the middle of Munich.  There are many shops and churches along the street.  It was not hard to walk to and from the Hofbrauhaus and back to the hostel that night.
On Saturday we went first to the Deutsches Museum.  If you have been to the Air and Space Museum in D.C., it reminded me of that.  There were a lot of model airplanes and boats showing the progression of technology.  There were also rooms devoted to toys, paper, glasswork, and ceramics.  My favorite room, however, was the music room.  They had two pipe organs and a lady was in there practicing songs.  I was very surprised when my request to play came back positive.  I played the pipe organ shown below (it was the older of the two) and it was amazing.

 After the museum, we went to the soccer stadium (Allianz Arena).  Soccer is a big deal in Germany, but I could not take much interest because I am not a soccer player.  Munich has a soccer team and there was a huge fan store on site.  The stadium looked really cool.  Since it was out of town a bit, we did not get back until around 3:30.  Next we did some shopping in the stores along the pedestrian path.  Although it was very cold and rainy all day, there were still a lot of people out in the streets.  I found the cuckoo clock store to be most interesting.

 We also went into some churches in the downtown area.  The town cathedral usually allows people into their bell tower, but unfortunately it was closed for construction.  Being a Saturday night, many of the churches were having evening services around this time.  Within each church I heard the pipe organs and choirs.  It was very pretty.  I wish all the churches in America were more like the churches here.  All of them are finely decorated and include magnificent pipe organs.  We also saw the Glockenspiel this evening.  The town hall in Munich has a large cuckoo clock where characters dance around at the top of the hour.  A lot of people were gathered on the square to watch despite the weather.  We all wanted to experience a beer garden while we were in town.  The Hirschgarten is the biggest beer garden in the world.  We called ahead to make sure they had indoor seating (because it was so cold outside) and then we went.  I wish the weather could have been better so we could have head the real experience, but our indoor experience was just as nice.  I took a glimpse outside at the many tables for seating.  It seemed enormous!
Finally on Sunday we visited a concentration camp.  Dachau was only 15 minutes outside of Munich.  It was one of the bigger camps in Germany.  To enter, you walk through the gate and most of the exterior walls were still intact.  The main hall of the camp is now the museum.  As you walk through you are shown where the prisoners would bathe and eat.  The contents of the museum were similar to the Holocaust museum in D.C.  There were a lot of pictures and descriptions of their daily life in the camp.  Behind the museum was the camp's jail.  Prisoners who were misbehaving or did not do their work would be put in jail cells.  It was really hard to walk through the halls and not feel something. Some rooms in the jail had pictures of who used to stay there.  All of the sleeping quarters had been destroyed, but 2 of them were recreated.  The worst part of the memorial was the crematory and gas chamber near the back of the camp.  Both were original.  I saw models of these things at the Holocaust museum in D.C., but it is very different to see the real thing.  I still think I have not fully processed the fact that I stood in an actual gas chamber where innocent people were killed.  It is hard to write about, but you can ask if you would like more details about my experience there.

Our train home left from Munich around 2:00.  I was not as stressed about travel this time, but we also had less transfers.  The seats we reserved for this train ended up being a private room with a table.  The 5 of us were able to reflect on the trip and play some cards.  The train was late again, so we had to wait a little longer before catching the train to Werne.  I arrived back home around 9pm Sunday.  It was good to be back.

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