Saturday, June 30, 2018

Friday, June 29 - Clarah

Hello all blog readers, it's Clarah!  Today we went to Dachau, a concentration camp.  It was very surreal and sad. 

After that we went to lunch and a lot of us got ice cream.  We then traveled to the Deutches Museum (NB from Frau S - Germany's Smithsonian) and we saw a reconstruction of a mine, information about oceans, and solar systems (NB from Frau S - there is also lots more to see but we had limited time).  We then had a few hours for dinner and a little shopping time before bed.  We all spent time starting to repack our suitcases to head home.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Friday, June 29 - Zoe

I knew today was going to be rough.  I expected to cry my eyes out and be depressed for the rest of the day.

Today we visited Dachau, the first concentration camp.  Inside the camp, the perimeter walls still stood.  Two barracks were reconstructed and the crematorium haunted the back corner.

Everyone knew the mood of the day.  We thought we were prepared, but as soon as you stepped past the gate, which states "work makes you free" the air felt hotter, heavier.  No one, and nothing, can prepare you to visit a World War II concentration camp.  We watched a heart wrenching documentary, walked through the museum, the barracks and the crematorium.  I think for everyone, the crematorium was the hardest part.  First you walked through a forested area which hosts mass burials of ashes.  Thousands upon thousands of human remains lay right beneath your feet.  Then, you walk past execution sites, paths are worn into the ground where tourists will walk 5 feet back to the wall to touch the surface that was once stained with blood.  I don't know if anyone from our group did that, no one wanted to get that close.

The crematorium consisted of maybe 6 rooms.  Rooms where piles of bodies were once stored.  Rooms where clothes were stripped from the deceased.  Rooms where prisoners would shovel fellow prisoners bodies into coal burning stoves.  You can still see the ashes. Each step I took tightened a knot in my stomach, chipped away at my emotional strength, and reaffirmed my lack of faith.  We all asked ourselves how and why.  I want to share this experience with you, but if I write more I will cry again.  I get chills just thinking about it.

Leaving Dachau lifted a weight from everyone's shoulders.  We went to lunch afterwards.  Just a quick meal near one of the train stations.  I felt really, really drained.  I fell asleep 3 times on the 20 minute ride and if you know me, you know that I NEVER TAKE NAPS.  I became exhausted just climbing the 15 steps in the station.  After lunch I went back to the hostel.  I couldn't do any more except sleep.  My whole being was emotionally drained.

Okay.  I know I've written a lot.  But I like to write.

The whole day wasn't bad.. Hannah and I shopped for souvenirs at the Marienplatz, and navigated around our second major city together.  We make a pretty good team.  We shared some laughs and bonded while eating crappy pizza then rushed to our meeting point to find the rest of the group.

Now I am packing.  Tomorrow is our last day, then home.  Honestly I am so ready to hug my parents and sleep in my own bed.

Thursday, June 28 - Hannah

Today we got up early, ate breakfast, and made our way to Mike's Bike Tours.  We rode 2 hours on a bus until we got to Neuschwanstein Castle.  After arrival, we hopped on our bikes and took a one hour bike tour through the woods along the mountain.  The scenery was beautiful and despite the rain we all survived the bike ride.  Post bike tour we ate a yummy lunch at a restaurant and I ate the beef goulash.  After lunch we faced the biggest challenge of the day, the dreaded hike up to Neuschwanstein Castle. This hike is 20 minutes up a steep hill that never seemed to end.  On the way up we were all jealous of Frau and Mrs. Laufenberg because they got to take the bus up (NB from Mrs. L - we have done the climb on previous trips LOL) but in the end I felt proud that I conquered the hill.  The view on the top was also a bonus.  We then went on a bridge and saw a view of the castle and then toured the interior of the castle.  We got o see the detailed mosaic floor of Ludwig's throne room and other cool paintings throughout the castle.  After the tour we hopped on the bus and went back to the youth hostel.  All in all it was a good day.  :)

Before the hike up to the Castle

Schloss Neuschwanstein

Bavarian Countryside Bike Ride

Wednesday, June 27 - Caleb

Hello all!  We spent the day today taking in the sights of Munich.  After breakfast, we walked down to the Marienplatz, one of the central locations of Munich.  From there we split into groups to do a scavenger hunt.  We went throughout the city in search of historic sights.  We saw quite a few churches that were really beautifully built.  After that, we started on the bike tour of the city.  (NB from the Frau's - we had a private guided bike tour of the city with Mike's Bikes and the most amazing tour guide ever Dani - she did the tour 2 years ago as well and remembered us!) My favorite sight of the bike tour was the English Garden.  Its this massive park, larger than Central Park in New York with a manicured lawn and a small stream running through the middle.  After that we got lunch at the world's second largest biergarten.  After lunch we went to see the river surfers.  After the tour we spent the rest of the day at the Modern Art Museum (NB from Frau S - Pinakothek der Moderne).

Wednesday, June 27 - Peter

On Wednesday, I did a walking tour around the city and go to see most of Munich (pictures included).  I was able to see many of the amazing buildings and memorials including a community made memorial for Michael Jackson.  Later on we went to the Modern Art museum in Munich and we saw lots of weird looking objects and many famous paintings too.  We were there for about 2 hours.  After returning to the hostel, some people decided to do makeovers.

Tuesday, June 26 - Emma

Today we woke up in Salzburg, Austria and left for Munich, Germany on a train.  The trip was 2 hours long, and when we arrived we had a busy day ahead of us.  After checking in to the youth hostel, we went to the Schloss Nymphenburg gardens and looked at the scenery.  My favorite part of the garden was the statues of the Roman gods around the fountain at the back.

After the gardens we went to the Olympic Tower and the Rock 'n Roll Museum.  The view was breathtaking from the terraces at the top, and the jukeboxes had some great songs.  It took a while, but eventually we got the jukeboxes working, and listened to "Hound Dog" by Elvis, "Under Pressure" by Queen, and "Imagine" by John Lennon.  By the time we finished at the tower, it was getting late, so we rode a couple of trains and walked back to the hostel and finally went to bed.

Monday, June 25 - Izzy

On Monday we went and saw the Hohensalzburg Fortress.  It was beautiful.  Frau S, Kira, and I did the audio tour.  We went into the torture chamber, which is the only access to the castle dungeon.  Then we went to the watch tower and we could see all of Salzburg!  We could see everywhere we went on the Sunday bike tour.  You could see the old city walls.  The audio tour was actually really cool and informative.  After that, we walked through the King's quarters which did not have a heat source. After that we walked through the marionette museum.  Once we finished at the fortress we went to lunch and shopping.  Elisha and I found an ornament store and it just kept going.  The store was massive. Once we got back to the youth hostel we did face masks and it was super awesome.