(No judging, you try coming up with blog post titles)
Our wheels are spinning even faster now, and in the past week we
have been in 3 countries! Sunday night we left München, Wednesday afternoon we left Austria, and we are now in Italy. O.o
Our 3 days in München were all amazing. Like I wrote in my last post, we got to CS our whole stay, with a guy called Dirk that gave us a bed, towels, wifi, apple torte, breakfast, maps, and fun conversations. All you can want in life and in a CS host. 😉
Our first day in München we just walked around the city and saw a lot – a famous brewery, a large glockenspiel in the Rathaus, the large city park and the surfers that use the river (THAT was cool to watch!), one of the classic art museums… we wrapped it up by satisfying a craving for some good sushi. When in Germany…
The next day we went to Neuschwanstein (literally “New Swan Stone”), the castle that inspired the Disney logo castle. It was several hours by train from the city but we both find the train rides enjoyable- a time to read, write, get some things done, and of course get a better view of the scenery then from a highway. When we got to Neuschwanstein it had started to pour so we bought some of those geeky looking rain ponchos and waited in line at least 30 minutes to give away money and be told the next available tour was in 4 hours. We wiled away the time looking through the line of tourist shops and having some dessert in a restaurant next to the lake. When it got closer to our tour we split up for a while, Olivia took the bus while I took the foot path up the hill to the castle. It had stopped raining by then and was actually beautiful weather for the walk.
We couldn’t see the castle in the hills when we’d arrived, but now there it was – built on a rock hill, surrounded by taller forested mountains, white and loftily shaped. The image that pops into your mind when you hear the word “castle” would probably either look like the gray castles in Ireland, or like this castle.
We took all our pictures then waited in the courtyard for our tour. The place was crowded and a new tour started every 5 minutes – definitely a popular tourist attraction, plus we’d come on a Saturday. Our tour was therefore pretty fast, about 25 minutes with a guide, then we walked through the last few rooms on our own.
The castle is very new, as far as castlesngo. It had been built – or rather, started – by King Ludwick the II in the late 1800s. He built several castles in his time and Neuschwanstein was his project, aimed at copying the “Romanesque” style. The castle was still uncomplete when he died – in fact he lived in it for less than half a year before passing away! While they’ve finished some rooms since, a lot of the castle rooms remain bare and unfinished. A history major’s dream! [Insert more history on the castle here I have no time to write]
My favorite part of the tour was the view from the castle of the lake, mountains, and village below. It wouldn’t have to be a castle, I’d be perfectly content with a hut, a shack, a cave if it had that view! The sun was a few hours from setting, a sight we unfortunately couldn’t linger to see. We walked down the hill and took the bus-train-metro ride back. End München day two.
On Sunday we enjoyed a long breakfast of coffee and Brötchen and toppings with Dirk and one of his roommates, then took the train to Dachau.
Dachau.. was a work camp during World War II. It is free to visit, though I paid for an English audio guide. Olivia had already been there, but was brave enough to follow me as I wandered through, listening to the guide on one ear.
I could go off on an entire talk of my feelings about WWII… a time of history that especially tugs at me. But that would take up another entire post.. you can see some of my thoughts here. I will say that WWII… was unique (all of these words, any words seem too light to talk about it) – not because of the suffering – I do not know history intimately, I don’t know what circumstances to refer too, but I know WWII is not the biggest oppression or atrocity that has happened. No, it is unique because it was the biggest attrocity that has happened that we could then record.. movies, pictures, accounts – we have stacks. For the first time, we have the blackest side of humanity recorded, there for us to learn about and remember. To those who claim humanity can improve, like a moral evolution, here’s our chance. We have no excuse, we are told our worst capabilities, now will we repeat it?
Maybe the problem is people just don’t grow up being told about history and what’s happened. Yes, maybe the dictators and oppressors and evil people in the world are only the uneducated. Ha. Thoughts?
Anyway… I could say more.. but yes, traveling. 🙂 After Dachau we came back to München and did a ride share into our next country – Salzburg! In Salzburg we accidentally took the right bus the wrong way (which I guess really makes it the wrong bus), so we didn’t get to where we were staying until close to midnight. The pastor of the Calvary Church and his family, friends of friends, opened their house to us during our Salzburg stay. They had 4 girls (8 years – 4 months old) that took a little bit to warm up to us, but were soon wiggling into our laps asking all sorts of questions and shyly admiring our things. One night when we watched a movie together they let us braid their hair – girl bonding!
In Salzburg we spent one day just walking around the town, buying presents for people at home, climbing into ancient catacombs formed into the stone hill, wasting money on a paper silhouette from a street artist that looked nothing like us. 😛 It rained all day so we were glad for the umbrellas we’d borrowed from the family.
The next day we made a short jot back into Germany for a tour of the Salt Mines – where the town earned its name (Salz=Salt). It was 16 euros and a 2 hour wait, but we got to put on jumpsuits (which are really comfortable. My new goal is to find a job where I get to wear one), slide together down smooth wood rails twice, take a short boat ride across an extremely saline underground lake, and ride a small train in and out of the mines. Quite fun! 🙂
On our last day in Salzburg we got an early start (after getting goodbye hugs from all of the girls) and bought a bus pass to see all of the areas they’d filmed the movie “Sound of Music” – the movie that draws a lot of tourists to the town, but a lot of locals haven’t even watched it! We saw the houses, the convent, the garden, other small spots, and even went out of our way to see the actual Von Trapp home, which is a small hotel now.
Then we took the 4pm train… to Venice! It brought us to the city close to midnight. We missed the stop on the mainland, before the train actually crossed the bridge to the city, because it was COMPLETELY UNLABELED! And we couldn’t understand anything the conductor said… (goodbye German…) so we had to take the 12:40 bus back to the stop closest to the family campground where we’d rented beds in a structured tent. It was close to two am when we finally rolled into our beds and got reacquainted with sleep.
And Venice in the next post! Whew! 😛
It is a bit crazy planning everything right now, as it feels like we barely get to a place before we leave again, but every town has been a great experience, and it is good to know that in no time at all,  we can settle down a bit on the island of Ireland for our 3 weeks there.