Knock knock knock knock knock. I woke up this morning in a haze to someone pounding on our door. I thought it was the maid, and I was ready to give her a piece of my mind for waking me up at an ungodly time in an ungodly manner. Thankfully, Liv answered the door. “ANNA GET OUT OF BED.” I checked my phone. It was 8:15. We were supposed to be in the lobby at 8:10. It turns out Bob and Derek came to wake us up.
I tumbled down the stairs. It was as if I was in a TV show – everyone erupted into laughter at the sight of my unkempt hair, clothes from the night before, half-shut eyes, and the fact that we would be going up into the Alps later that day and I was convinced a tank top and flip-flops would suffice. I am glad Arielle assured me I had enough time to run up and grab a sweater, at least. I went to say, “thank you,” but my voice was gone. My vocal chords were tired of me talking non-stop, so they just decided to notwork during the final days of the trip.
Anyways, I hit a huge reset button for my day. This morning, we stopped at a restaurant to enjoy a traditional Bavarian breakfast with Weisswurst and soft pretzels with senf. I have had Weisswurst before, so to me it was nothing brand new, but it was definitely refreshing to eat it in Bavaria! I knew my father was going to be super jealous when I told him about it. The food is definitely something I was going to miss about Germany. I am willing to try almost anything, and it was so nice being able to step outside of my comfort zone during this trip. Although my mother still cooks a lot of German food at home, nothing compares to eating it in Germany!
After breakfast and a scenic view of the Bavarian countryside, we continued our journey to our next destination: Oberammergau, or as most people pronounced it (including me), “Obama’s House.” It was a cute small town filled with tourist shops. I stopped to get ice cream, for the second-to-last time in Germany, and it was delicious! I usually stuck to tiramisu-flavored ice cream this entire trip, but today I tried a banana flavor. I was overjoyed when I passed by a soccer shop, where I proceeded to pick up another Bayern Munich jersey (this time it was for my younger niece, not me).
Our next stop was up the Bavarian Alps. The goal was to tour Oberammergau first in hopes that the clouds would lift from the mountains, and although it cleared up somewhat, it wasn’t a clear day. I did not mind, actually, it added some sort of mysterious character to the view. We went up a cable car, which I loved! I have never been in a cable car before and this was the perfect first experience. Once we reached the summit, I was blown away by the view. It was truly incredible, being so high up and seeing the village below us, as well actually being amongst the clouds. Again, I have never appreciated nature more than this moment. Wow.
On the cable car ride down the mountain, my group decided to sing along to Sweet Caroline and Don’t Stop Believin’. Liv provided the music and all of us chimed in (even me, with my damaged voice). It was such a good moment to know that the people in this cable car with me were now some of my closest friends, even though I had no clue who they were five months ago (except for Liv). That’s where the title of this post comes from, too, since it was one of the songs we sang, and these people were no longer “strangers” to me, they were my friends.
After we took one of the last few group pictures, we went back to Augsburg to get ready for our farewell dinner with the German students. We had two hours, so naturally, I dedicated one hour to a well-deserved nap (after this morning’s fiasco) and one hour to actually make myself presentable again. When I woke up, my voice was still gone. It was even worse than it was earlier! At the dinner at Ratskeller, I sat with Lukas, Dominik, and Josipa again, as well as my BMW group. Everyone enjoyed listening to me attempt to talk, and Liam even commented that I sounded like Elmo at this point. It was pretty funny, I’ll admit. At dinner, I ordered schnitzel for the last time. However, it came with cranberry jam, something I thought was very peculiar. I ate schnitzel my entire life, but never once did I have it with a side of jam! I saw the other German students smearing it on their schnitzel, so I gave it a try, as well. Let me say – it was a heavenly sensation to taste the schnitzel and cranberry jam together. I mean, it was one of the first things I told my mom when she asked how dinner went and I informed her that from now on, there should be a side of cranberry jam next time she makes schnitzel. It was so good.
The time finally came when we had to present the German students with our gifts, say our farewell to most of them, and take our final group picture. Lena, Sara, and Lucia absolutely loved the gifts we got them – Pitt water glasses with a box of Reese’s Pieces.
I said my goodbyes to some of the German students that I would not be seeing later that night or tomorrow night. It was pretty sad, a little comical because of my voice, but I am glad that I met them! I was very sad to say goodbye to Sonja, who had become one of the greatest friends I made on this trip. She and I had so much in common – growing up in foreign countries from our parents’ native Slavic homes but still trying to integrate as much Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian culture into our lives. Puno pozdrava, Sonja! (Many greetings, Sonja).