Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Munich!

We're nearing the end of our Euro-trip and our seond last stop is Munich! Just like before, four becomes three. Cosmo was going off home to Romania after we finished our trip so to save her a rail journy on her interrail pass, she skipped Munich and went straight to Prague where we'd end up meeting her later.
I wasn't really fussed about going to Germany. It's never really called out to me as a country that I really wanted to visit but it was on Carmen's list of places she wanted to visit and its another country to tick off my list! I ended up really liking it though, even if we were only there for a very short time. Another thing on Carmen's list was visiting a beer garden. You can't really visit Germany without going to a beer garden to be fair! Luckily there was one about a 15 minute walk away from our hostel (which you can see a small part of in the picture above). 
The beer garden was massive and there were so many people there. It was in the middle of this massive park and there were loads of different stands serving different foods and of course, beer. I had to go for traditional German food seeing as we were in Germany so I went for sausages, chicken and pretzels. Didn't go for any beer though because unfortunately I absolutely hate beer. It was all delicious though and it was a gorgeous day so after we'd stuffed ourselves, we went to lie down on the grass in the park and chilled out there for a bit. For some reason, we were under the impression that Germany would be slightly cooler than the other places we'd visited but boy were we wrong! It was absolutely boiling and I'm pretty sure I got sunburnt sitting out in the sun, eating my typical German meal. Am I being a tad stereotypical?
If you're in Munich and don't mind having a very somber day, you should take the train and visit the Dachau concentration camp. It's only about an hour train journey, maybe even less than that and it is definitely worth it. It is so informative and so emotional and its worthwhile to go there and find out what the prisoners went through. It's also free to get in. We spent only about 2-3 Euros to get the audio-guide which is worth it. There are actual tour guides which you can attend but I think its better to go around at your own pace and really spend the time that each section deserves. The audio tour not only gives detailed descriptions of all the different areas in the camp, but it also has a huge amount of testimonies from survivors of the camp and some of the liberators which are very emotional to listen to. 
Dachau was the first of the Nazi concentation camps opened in Germany, intended to hold political prisoners but ended up holding all different kinds of prisoners. Dachau was the camp that was in operation the longest, nearly all 12 years of the Nazi regime, and during that time there were 32,000 documented deaths in the camp and thousands of undocumented deaths. Not only do you get to walk around the grounds and view where the barrack were, and see the crematorium, but the main building itself houses a massive exhibition which goes into extra detail about the camp. There is also a documentary that you can view at certain times that is harrowing to watch. In the grounds there are a few memorials that are so powerful to see. A pathway leads down between giant granite slabs and as you get lower down the downward slope, the sculpture by Nandor Gild looms over you. It encompasses fence posts, ditches and barb wire which are reminiscent of the security facilities that surrounded the camp. The human skeleton entangled in the barb wire commemorates those who jumped into the barbed wire fence, in order to commit suicide and escape the horror that they were forced to live in. At the lowest point of the pathway, the view to another monument opens up: a sculpture made up of giant chains that have triangles on them, symbolising the triangle badges that marked evey prisoner, showing what they were imprisoned for. Sadly, the memorial does not contain the black triangle that represents the 'asocials', the green triangle for the category of of 'criminal prisoners' or the pink triangle representing homosexuals in the camp. At the end of the monument the words 'Never Again' are written in Yiddish using Hebrew letters, and in French, German, English and Russian. An urn with the ashes of an unknown concentration camp prisoner lies before it, symbolising the tens of thousands of victims that died during the lifespan of the camp. 
There is also a giant sign after you enter the gates of the camp that states "May the example of those who were exterminated here between 1933-1945 because they resisted Nazism help to unite the living for the defence of peace and freedom and in respect for their fellow men." 
As you can probably tell, if you visit Dachau it will be a very emotional visit but also a very informative and worthwhile one.
To end this post on a happier note, it is obvious that Munich is the place for stag and hen do's. There was such a party feel in the main area that was really infectious. We even saw a party tram go by which looked amazing. I didn't even know those existed. I knew party buses were a thing, but not party trams. As soon as we saw it we immediately wanted to jump on but unfortunately we couldn't. We walked to the Marienplatz (the central square) and there was so much going on. So many people out drinking and having fun. I was in awe of the city hall as well. It was absolutely gorgeous. We found a little pub to have dinner and drinks in and afterwards, when we were walking back to catch the train back to our hostel, we could see the nightlife really coming alive. If we were there for longer I think we would have spent a night out in Munich but unfortunately not. It looked like so much fun though and I would recommend it as a fun weekend away with your friends even just by looking at the atmosphere!
If you're in Munich, you should also get the train to go and see the Neuschwanstein Castle. We unfortunately didn't go. I think it was on our list of things to see but we just didn't have enough time to take the train and go and see it. I didn't mind at all until someone we met in our hostel in Prague (he'll feature later on) asked us if we had gone to see the 'Cinderella Castle' and when I googled it because I didn't make the connection between the two places, I actually felt like crying a little bit when I saw it and saw how beautiful it was. Not gonna lie, I was a little heatbroken. 
I mean look at that, doesn't that look like a fairytale castle? Of course it wouldn't look exactly like that in the summer but it would still have been absolutely gorgeous. 

So there you go, a whirlwind tour of Munich. I wish we had spent at least another day there but cest la vie! Let me know if you've been to Munich and what you did when you were there, or what you're planning on doing!

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