Today was a really fun day in Germany, because we got to take a sightseeing trip to Munich! We got up early to take the train into the city, and as soon as we arrived I was struck by how much busier it seemed than Augsburg. It turned out that that was in part due to the fact that there was a celebration in Munich that day. There were tons of people in the streets and in traditional clothing, lots of parades, music, and prayer. It was a little overwhelming at first compared to the relative quiet of Augsburg, but I got used to the bustle of people and it was really cool to see the celebration.
After walking through the city for a bit, we took a walking tour of some of the important sights in the old part of town. We got to see the old and new town halls, the residence of the old ruling party, as well as learn about the history at each place. It was amazing to me how much history is in every monument or building. Even a simple monument could have a whole story about what it means to the people today and in the past, or about what was torn down in order to place the statue there, or the political and social reasons behind it. It’s made me very aware of just how young a country America is.
After the walking tour, we had around 4 hours of free time to explore Munich. We first went up St. Peter’s Church tower, and climbed the skinny 300 steps to the top for some amazing views of the city and the alps in the distance. It was a beautiful sight, but what struck me was the lack of skyscrapers in the city. Even though there is a population of about 1.5 million people and it is the third largest city in Germany, the city is sprawling rather than tall, and differs a lot from large cities in America.
After the tower, we were hungry from all of the walking we had already done, and went to lunch at the market square. The market square is filled with different vendors from wurst to cheese to fruit, so my group picked up some bread and cheese and enjoyed the beautiful weather by eating outside. After resting our feet for a while, we continued our tour of the city by wandering around the different streets and trying not to get too lost. For a while we walked along maximilian straße, where all of the really high end stores are located. It was interesting to see the difference between the people and atmosphere in that area compared to the rest of the city we had seen. While elsewhere most people were out for the celebration with jeans and sneakers and their cameras, the people on maximillian street were all dressed very fancily, and the street was lined with almost only Porsches and BMWs. We felt a little out of place in our sneakers and backpacks, so we continued our tour by heading back to the old ruling family’s residence we had seen before. We explored more around it, and wandered around those less crowded streets for a while before heading back to meet with the rest of the group for dinner.
The walk to dinner was rather long, but that didn’t bother us too much. After enjoying some really great burgers, Brad told us that our train was supposed to leave in 10 minutes, and that we needed to book it to the train station. It was the one time that I almost wished for the consistent lateness of American transportation, because we knew that in Germany if the train is set to leave at 8:03, there is almost no chance that it will still be at the station at 8:04. But, after a brisk walk (run?) to the station, we made it, and had a peaceful journey back to Augsburg. As a whole, although we walked a lot more than usual and are definitely feeling it, it was awesome to be able to see more of Germany and experience the a busy city in Europe.