Monday, December 14, 2009

Munich and Salzburg

Hi all,

So amidst all of the craziness of our last days in Italy and finals on the way (or started for some) Erica and I still found time in our last weekend for a final trip to Germany and Austria. We headed off on our least-favorite type of transportation, the overnight train, on Thursday night, and were in rainy, cold Munich early Friday morning. Since nothing was open, we took a seat in Starbucks (oh, how we miss it) and spent about two hours talking to each other and to a really nice guy from Croatia on his way up to the environmental conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Josh is studying there and has written a few posts about the events.

Anyway, after that we spent the day in and out of warm locations, because we had to carry our bags and it was raining and snowing and all kinds of things. We stopped in a vintage store for a long time and tried on some of the most ridiculous dresses they had. We went into the toy museum and looked at Barbie, teddy bears, robots, cars, trains, and everything in between. In addition, we explored the local Christmas markets and a few churches, consuming too many potatoe pancakes and bratwursts. Then it was off to Salzburg on the train.

We slept in Salzburg and woke up the next morning to go on the SOUND OF MUSIC TOUR! It was so much fun! They bussed us to and from different locations where the movie was filmed, we got out, took pictures, and moved on. On the ride we also got to listen to the movie soundtrack and sing along, and we made a friend from the hostel too. We saw the Do-Re-Mi steps, and the garden where more scenes from that song were filmed. We saw the Von-Trap Villa, the lake where the boat tipped over, the chapel where the wedding took place, and the gazeebo from "sixteen going on seventeen." In between, the bus drove through the countryside and we saw amazing lakes and mountains covered in a fresh dusting of snow. It really was so beautiful and Salzburg joins Dublin and Venice as my top visits of the semester. OH AND we had warm apple strudel with a hot vanilla sauce in the town of Mondsee, where the church was. There are no words for how good it was, or for how much food I ate on this trip.

Once back in Salzburg, we explored some more, visiting the fortress that looks over the city and has amazing views. We saw some of the larger plazas, more Christmas markets, another church, and the famous Glockenspeil (though we weren't there for it to chime). We then headed back to Munich for dinner and beers at the famous Hoffbrauhaus beer hall.

We continued our friend-making at the beer hall, and met 3 or 4 German guys and 4 older Irish ladies who most definitely knew how to party. I had a HUGE plate of "noodles" and it was amazingly delicious. And, of course, washed it down with a giant 1 liter mug of their origional beer. It was all fun and games from there on out, and we talked, laughed, and even danced with our new friends (even the ones that didn't know English). The night was a success.

Sunday morning we got up and took the subway out to Daschau, the concentration camp. We knew it was going to be a sad experience to visit it, but it was also super interesting and I learned so much. I learned that it was the first concentration camp there was, that it wasn't an execution camp like Auschwitz, and that it was mostly men. One of the origional buildings was turned into a museum, and Erica and I used our maps, audioguides, museum readings, and the short film they showed to spend the morning and early afternoon learning all about the concentration camp. Even though it was a sad and sobering experience, it was more than worth it and I'm glad I went.

After that we needed a little pick-me-up so we headed to Weisses Brauhaus, a smaller beer hall with a cozy feel. I ordered a Schnitzel, thus completing my goal of having all of the traditional foods, and a wheat beer (one of Munich's best). A man came up and asked if he could sit with us, but I don't think he realized we didn't speak and German. He knew about 10 words of English but somehow Erica and I were still able to have a nice lunch talking to him. It was truly amazing. We finished up lunch, walked around and bought some treats, had some kind of delicious dough covered in vanilla sauce and cinnamon sugar for dessert, and went back to the hostel where we spent another few hours talking to a guy from Galway, Ireland. I mention all of the people we met because later this week I plan to bring them back up in another post.

We headed home last night and arrived early this morning, and I've been doing work for finals ever since. It's my goal between studying and packing this week to get two more posts in: one about Christmas is Europe and one as a reflection of my time here, which I can't believe (or accept, really) is almost over. But I've got to get back to work. Here's some of the videos I took this weekend. Enjoy!


Riding the oldest Funicular Railway in Austria

Sound of Music Tour

Bells in the Munich Clocktower

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