May 16, 2014 I woke up this morning to another amazing breakfast at Haus Lukkas, and a noticeable change in the mood of my fellow tour-mates.
I forgot to mention in the two previous posts that all of that Emergen-C didn’t help: Myself and nearly all of my fellow Contiki-ers had gotten the plague. We were coughing and sniffling all over the place. This, combined with the fact that someone mentioned over breakfast that we were 2/3rds done with our tour and only had a week left, and suddenly we were all a bunch of Debbie Downers.
Our spirits weren’t lifted when we said goodbye to Hopfgarten this morning and went straight to Dachau Concentration Camp, the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in Germany pre-World War II.
Entrance into the Dachau courtyard
While visiting Dachau is an experience that I would recommend to anyone, it’s not because it’s “awesome” or beautiful, like the other places we visited on tour. I recommend this because I think every person living today should understand the terrifying and hateful acts that humanity is capable of. Without knowing our past, we risk walking into a very dark future.
Dachau courtyard, where prisoners would stand at attention for hours at a time for roll call.
My last photo at Dachau was the one you see above. It felt odd to me to keep snapping photos like I did at other stops…we were essentially walking into the grave site of so many.
Pat and I wandered into the museum, where the entire history of both Dachau and World War II was laid out in pictures and stories. After the museum, we walked through the barracks, including rooms packed tight with bunk beds (each twin-sized mattress could sleep up to four people when the camp was operational), and the bathrooms, which consisted of a dozen toilets all facing each other.
Dachau weighed very heavy on my heart, and Pat and I opted to forgo visiting the gas chambers, where prisoners were told they would be going for a “shower” before meeting their end. Many others were tortured or experimented on, or they deteriorated from sickness or starvation.
We all met back at the bus after about an hour, and had a very somber bus ride to Munich. We had to work pretty hard to shake off the down mood, but as we embarked on a walking tour with Jon Snow, we started to come back to our usual energy level.
Jon walked us through downtown Munich, and directly to the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, a clock that chimes and depicts old Bavarian stories from years past. It wasn’t a must-see, but it’s nice to say I’ve been there.
After this, we had a short time to wander and grab some food before heading to Mike’s Bike Tours for a spin around the city. A group of us stopped in at a market, where we got sausages and bread. I had the best sausage hot dog I’ve ever had in my life! Delicious.
Next up was Mike’s, where we each grabbed a bike and pedaled out into the city with an awesome guide who kept us laughing at every turn. This optional extra cost 20€, or $27 USD, and was definitely worth it! We saw all the sites of Munich before pedaling into a biergarten in the middle of the city. We stopped for a beer and relaxed for a bit before jumping back onto our bikes and finishing the tour.
Most of the swastikas in Munich were removed during the Denazification, but a few are still hidden around.
After the bike tour, we had some time to head to the hotel to check in (Comfort Hotel Munich Ost) and get ready for our night out in Munich. This was the nicest hotel we’d stayed in so far…it reminded me of the quality of a Marriott or similar in the states. The outside was not impressive, but the inside was ultra-clean and seemed newly refurbished.
Once ready, we went straight to the famous Hofbräuhaus in the center of the city. This was definitely one of my favorite nights out on tour. After about an hour of trying to find a place to sit (we were there on a Friday night and it was absolutely packed), we settled in for a fantastic meal. I got the HB sausage platter (pork, Viennese and pfälzer sausages with sauerkraut) and a dark beer, and both were absolutely delicious.
Photo credit: Sam K.
We found the rest of our group after and spent the rest of the night drinking beer and chatting with the locals. I met one couple who lived in the SF Bay Area for years before moving back east (seen above), and it was so nice to chat with them and feel connected to home for a few minutes. It’s so odd to me that when you’re living life here in the Bay Area, you really don’t make time to talk to strangers, yet as soon as you meet in another country, you’re like family. Another one of the benefits of traveling.