Our last full program day in Germany started off in a rush! My phone died while I was asleep so my alarms didn’t go off, meaning that Anna and I were awakened by Bob and Derek pounding on our door while everyone else was waiting for us downstairs. After getting ready at lightning speed, we joined the group to begin our plans for the day, starting with a traditional Bavarian breakfast in Baindlkirch. The dining hall seemed to the in the middle of nowhere, but the land provided a nice view in the early morning. Our breakfast included Weißwurst and pretzels. My table lucked out because Dr. Feick sat with us and helped us figure out how to cut and eat the sausages properly. It wasn’t my favorite food but I felt more connected to the culture of Germany and especially Bavaria, where we have been staying.
From breakfast, we headed to Oberammergau. I have been very excited about Oberammergau mainly because I had no idea what is was or what we would be doing and it has an interesting name. As it turns out, Oberammergau is a cute, quiet town with lots of small souvenir stores (many of which were Christmas themed which was a bit confusing) and of course, ice cream. We milled about for a while in hopes that the fog would clear, so that we could take a gondola up to the top of the Alps. We decided to take our chances and headed over to the loading station. I don’t really consider myself scared of heights, but honestly, it was kind of a spooky experience. These gondolas were like pods that held a bunch of us standing, suspended by a wire significantly high above treetops. It really was spectacular to watch the town shrink as we ascended, though. Megan unfortunately did not get to experience the view because she had her eyes shut the entire time, so trying to comfort her was a nice distraction from my own fear. After what felt like forever, we made it to the top. The fog cleared enough for us to take some photos, including a group selfie, and to really enjoy where we were. Heading back down definitely felt faster than the way up. After a few minutes of silence, I thought it would be funny to play our school’s song “Sweet Caroline” in the gondola, and then a full on singing session broke out and lasted until we were back down.
We ended out night with a goodbye dinner at Ratskeller back in Augsburg with the university students. I sat with Jess, Alan, Grant, and Benedikt. Benny told me that if there was anything I needed to try before I leave, it had to be Käsespätzle, which is like the German version of mac ‘n’ cheese. Of course, I trusted him and loved it. It was the spaetzle noodles with cheese, but my favorite part was the pile of fried onions on top. Benny also taught us some important words that, when used, truly meant you are Bavarian. The best one was “Oachkazlschwoaf ” which meant squirrel’s tail. As a group, Alan, Jess, Grant, and I gave Benny some gifts from Pittsburgh to thank him for working with us over the past two weeks. I think he liked the t-shirt because he immediately put it on, and then we got a group picture outside with him wearing it. We also got a picture of the group as a whole and then sadly had to say a round of goodbyes to those we wouldn’t get the chance to see again. I’m trying to save most of my sappiness for when I compose my reflection blog, though I will say that I still cannot believe that our time with them is over, though I definitely already have plans to come back and visit as soon as possible. At least I still have one more day to look forward to! Tomorrow I’ll be spending the day with Anna’s family in Stuttgart.