|World Trip Home||Post Eleven|
The European trains are, without a doubt, the best in the world. Comfortable, fast, quiet, and clean, you can travel the continent without ever having to resort to flying. The main train stations are often right in the center of town so enabling very easy access. On our train from Berlin to Munich, our compartment had tables with electrical outlets allowing us to plug in the laptop. The food was pretty decent too.
Germany has some of the best beer in the world and Munich is home to some of the finest brands. While the famous Oktoberfest occurs only in September (oddly enough), there are also beer halls that operate year-round. Perhaps the most famous is the Hofbrau Haus. Hundreds of years old, today it has oompah bands, fair-haired waitresses carrying liter mugs of beer and plenty of tourists (with quite a few locals as well). In this photo Julia is savoring her 'helles'.
I saw this futuristic looking escalator in the Munich metro one night coming home from the beer hall. Karen, Julia, and Matt all waited patiently for me to snap a few photos before we lumbered on back to our hotel.
|Dachau Concentration Camp|
Dachau lies about 30 km northwest of Munich. In 1933 the Germans built one of their first concentration camp here. I am quite familiar with the story of the holocaust but even seeing the remains of the camp and the photos in the museums, I cannot begin to imagine what it must have been like.
They say that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. But perhaps even if we remember it we are doomed to repeat it anyway. It's been 60 years since these ovens were in use but today the hate and the ignorance that spawned them lives on in the world. Ever the optimist, I do believe things are getting better, but violence seems to be part of human nature and it will take a lot of teaching before we learn to control this instinct.
After visiting the former concentration camp, we walked around the town of Dachau before taking the train back to Munich. It was quite a nice little hamlet and it's unfortunate that most people only see the camp and therefore associate the name 'Dachau' with evil. When I think of Dachau, I also think of the beautiful castle we visited with the grand ballroom and the fantastic flower garden out back.
South of Munich lie the Bavarian Alps. We stayed in a town called Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which was the site of the 1936 Winter Olympics. When we arrived it was gray and raining but the next morning the skies cleared and we were greeted with a stunning view of the surrounding mountains. The town looks exactly like what you would expect for Bavaria. Seeing it in person, I have to admit that Leavenworth, Washington has done a pretty good job of imitating it. This is a photo of the guesthouse we stayed in.
No visit to the Bavarian Alps would be complete without a trip to King Ludwig's Neuschwanstein Castle. It's completely touristy but it still takes your breath away. Ludwig was an insufferable romantic (in the classic sense of the word) and his castle is the one you would expect to find illustrated in any fairy tale. Behind the castle are trails through the woods and up into the nearby mountains. We were able hike up above the castle for a great view of the surrounding area.
Scott & Karen Semyan