Our final day with the entire group began with an InterCity Express train bringing us from Augsburg to the city of Ulm. Upon arrival, we immediately began a perilous trek up 768 narrow, steep spiral steps to the top of Muenster, the tallest steeple tower in Germany. After giving myself long enough of a break to rest my exhausted legs after walking up the first 200 steps, I mustered the courage to slowly make my way all the way up so I could enjoy the view of the entire city. If there’s one inference I can make, it’s this: the beauty of a panoramic view is directly proportional to the sheer amount of work you have to put in to climb an ancient staircase.
After my wobbly legs carried me back down to earth, we began a guided walking tour of Ulm. The tour guide was excellent and explained many interesting and funny facts. For instance, she explained that each stone brick in the Muenster church was marked with a special sign for each individual worker; if the quality of a brick was not good enough, the worker who made that specific brick would not get paid. German engineering and quality control certainly go back a long, long way. She also explained the history of the zodiac clock on the town hall: back in the olden days, people in Ulm didn’t know that a solar eclipse was, so they made up a story to explain the phenomenon. Their story involved a dragon eating the sun, then spitting it out and disappearing. Hence, there is a large gold dragon across the town hall clock.
The tour guide also walked with us along the Danube River, which was a peaceful, calming experience. I thought it was interesting how the pavement close to the river was marked with the names of nearby cities and how far away they are from the Black Sea. Out of all the walking tours we’ve had on this program, I think this one is my favorite; I’ve really learned quite learned a lot.
As our stomachs growled loudly, we were more than ready for lunch after the tour and eagerly filed into the Allgäuer Hof, the first pancake house in Ulm. Their menu is probably one of the most intriguing menus I have ever laid eyes upon. I ordered one of their specials for the day: a pancake (looks more like a crepe) with blueberries, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, yogurt cream, and almonds. I must say, it was quite an interesting dish.
After munching on our pancakes, we spent free time roaming around Ulm and visiting areas we found interesting. I decided to go back to Muenster and take more pictures of the interior. I thought it was quite interesting that the church used to be Catholic and then became Protestant in the 1500s. From the outside, the church looked Catholic, especially because of its architecture and impressive stained glass windows, but there were no bowls of holy water at the entrance, nor were there places to kneel in the pews. Also, as a LEGO enthusiast, I thought the highly detailed LEGO model of the church near the entrance was really awesome. Putting together thousands of pieces to make a near-exact replica must have taken a lot of hard work (just like walking up the tower took a ton of hard work).
In the evening, we enjoyed a goodbye dinner with the German students at the Ratskeller in Augsburg. My presentation group members and I gave Pitt T-shirts as gifts for the three German students who presented with us. They accepted the gifts with much joy and happily gave us big hugs! We then proceeded to feast on pork schnitzel with French fries, which of course was amazing, while enjoying conversations with the German students. This final get-together was a perfect conclusion to our program, and I’m thankful for sharing this moment with the friends I have made.
My prediction for the amount of fun I would have today was correct; I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the aesthetically pleasing city of Ulm and spending time with the German students at our final group dinner.