We made it to Germany! Though a long day travel-wise, it was so exciting to finally touch down in Munich. I had never flown internationally before today, so it was quite the experience. I was unable to catch much by way of sleep but made use of the tiny television screen in the back of the seat in front of me to watch a movie and to stay entertained. This was also the first time I had airline food — and you know, it’s not half bad! That said, as a teenage guy with a big appetite, my opinion should probably be taken with a grain of salt because I’m known to eat just about anything. The big bummer was that my seatmate Anna passed on accepting a meal (because of a previous bad experience with airline food), so I didn’t get to eat hers too. Josh and I fixed that on the flight home when we proudly accepted, and ate, her breakfast while she was sleeping. That probably sounds more horrible than it was as we knew she would not otherwise take a meal or eat it.
At the Munich airport all went smoothly with retrieving our luggage and soon we were on our way to our ‘home away from home’ for the next two weeks — Augsburg! The first thing I noticed on the bus ride from Munich to Augsburg was Germany’s beautiful, rolling green hills. We passed quite a few agricultural fields — some of which displayed the brilliant yellow flowers of the canola plant stretching as far as the eye could see. In the distance we could just barely make out the silhouette of the Alps. The landscape was truly breathtaking!
After dropping our bags at Hotel ibis Augsburg Koenigsplatz, we were off to explore the city of Augsburg! Our first stop was at a little bakery not far from the hotel, called Ihle. Being a hungry guy, I decided on a pretzel sandwich. To my amazement, the pretzel part of the sandwich looked less like a roll than I expected. While the pretzel was split in half (as a roll would be), the ham and pickles were literally showing through the holes in the pretzel, but boy was it good! While I was admittedly quite sleepy, it offered enough energy to help keep me attentive throughout our city tour. Augsburg is like no other city I’ve ever seen! It’s picturesque, with its narrow, cobblestone roads lined with quaint, little shops and lovely outdoor seating which beckoned those who passed by. Though we were all pretty exhausted, it was a great introduction to our new ‘home base’ city. I especially enjoyed learning a bit of Augsburg’s history, including a tour of the Fuggerei – a walled enclave for those less fortunate founded in 1516 by Jakob Fugger the Younger (also known as “Jakob Fugger the Rich”). It’s impressive to think that this catholic, social housing complex built in the 16th century is still in use today offering exceedingly low-cost housing to Catholics in need, just as the Fugger family envisioned! What a legacy the Fugger family has left! As we toured the model home furnished as it might have been in the 16th century, I couldn’t help but imagine a family living there literally hundreds of years before.
We finished the evening with some wonderful food and fellowship by having dinner as a group with several of the German students at a restaurant in the heart of Augsburg called Bauerntanz. I had a schnitzel dish served with spätzle and covered in gravy of deliciousness. This was followed by a scrumptious apple strudel. It was all so seriously good! While I’m all about the food, I also really enjoyed the chance to meet and converse with the German students. This was our first interaction with them, so it was very interesting to pick each other’s brains and talk about how our lives and theirs were both similar and different. I’m especially looking forward to working with and spending time with the German students during our two weeks in this Bavarian utopia. As we all go our separate ways, I’m excited for all that is to come! My first impression of Germany is a fabulous one! I’m exhausted but exhilarated as I dropped into bed and quickly fall asleep, possibly before my head even hit the pillow.