I got to visit five different countries this summer, but Germany was my absolute favorite! I had so much fun and learned a lot of German culture.
My trip started in Germany's bustling city of Frankfurt. After a quick trip through customs, we found ourselves headed to the center of town, where traditional-style buildings loomed over our heads. We had our first meal in Europe, a traditional bratwurst sausage on rye bread. (I found out that if you order food in German, your water comes carbonated; if you ever order water in German, ask for Leitungswasser!) We also managed to enjoy a cup of tea in a small coffee shop before heading out to look around and shop a little. It was raining, so many people carried umbrellas; we even saw a group of schoolchildren carrying matching orange umbrellas, jumping in puddles with delight. We only spent a short time in Frankfurt, as our final destination for the day was the small town of Rothenburg. We walked along the city walls, admiring the red rooftops of the buildings. The streets were narrow and made of cobblestone. That night, we watched the Euro 2012 tournament in our hotel room, a small house-like hotel in the outskirts of town; we were kept up till 2 in the morning by fanatic Germans, celebrating the win over the Netherlands.
The next day we traveled to the countryside of Bavaria, with our final destination being Munich. Our first stop for the day, though, was the world-famous Neuchwanstein Castle. We had to walk up a long, steep hill just to get there! The castle was large and ornate, and seemed like a fairy tale had come to life, with us as the main characters. We enjoyed lunch at the bottom of the hill, then headed to Munich. The afternoon was spent in the Marienplatz, shopping and gawking at the sights. Dinner was roast pork with a beer to wash it down. We then returned to our hotel just outside Munich's airport, Hotel NH Muenchen. That evening, we watched Sweden play England. (Being a big Sweden fan, I was saddened when they lost!)
The next morning, we headed to the former Nazi concentration camp of Dachau. This was probably my favorite place to visit in the trip; while I understand the dark history of the place, I enjoy studying about Nazi-era Germany. This visit was very different from the other places we had seen; no one was talking as we walked through the museum, which told the history of the camp and the Nazi regime. We watched a video of the camp's history; let it be said that the silence in the room was maddeningly deafening. After the video we toured the camp's grounds; where the barracks had stood were now gravel plots. At the end of the barracks were a Jewish monument, a Catholic monument, and a small Russian Orthodox church. We then walked the path to the infamous crematorium. The furnaces still sat in the rooms, having been unused for many years. We also stood in the gas chambers, which were disguises as showers back when they were used for exterminating whole groups of people. It was quiet as the dead of night, even though the room was full of people. The only sound was the clicking of cameras. When we left the camp, everyone felt like a weight had been lifted off their shoulders.
The afternoon was spent watching the Glockenspiel and entertaining ourselves at a tavern for dinner. When we went to bed, we were beyond exhausted, but ready for the next day.
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