Thursday, May 17
With the looming cloud of the final presentations behind us, it was time to have some fun again. We skipped the hotel breakfast in favor of a traditional Bavarian breakfast in the nearby small town of Baindlkirch. The restaurant we entered was not like any we had experienced thus far: it was one large room with tables and benches situated in rows, one counter for drinks and one counter for foods. However, it seemed to be a really popular place for breakfast, as it was packed with people.
Our group occupied three or four different tables. For each, we ordered a basket of Brezeln (pretzels) and an order of Weißwürste (white sausages). The Weißwürste came as one long chain, floating in a pot of hot water, with a jar of traditional German mustard. I am not normally a mustard fan, but I thoroughly enjoyed it today!
After polishing off as many of the Weißwürste as we could, we got back on the bus to go to Oberammergau (or, as many of us started calling it, “Obama’s House”), which is another small but famous town in Bavaria. Every ten years, the town puts on its famous Passion Play, a theater performance that portrays the final period of Jesus’ life. From prior experience in Oberammergau, I learned that the origin of this tradition happened in the 1600s, when, it is said, the town asked God to spare them from the Bubonic Plague. In return, every ten years the citizens would produce a play depicting the life and death of Jesus Christ. The death rate in Oberammergau dropped later that year, and the villagers, believing that they had been saved, held up their end of the bargain. To this day, the play is performed repeatedly over a period of five months in every year ending with a zero.
As it was 2018, we didn’t get to witness this famous cultural event, but the town was quaint and beautiful to walk around. Many of the buildings were painted with colorful murals. We had a little bit of free time before we needed to meet back near the bus. The first stop for many of us was, of course, at an ice cream parlor. After that, I walked around with a few other people and browsed some touristy souvenir shops. I didn’t buy anything, but we did come across one shop keeper that showed us some of his elaborate cuckoo clocks in action. One of them even used real water to spin a large water wheel!
After meeting back up with the rest of the group, our next stop was the Laber Talstation in Oberammergau, which is a ropeway tram ride up to the Alps. The ride up the mountain lasted about ten minutes. The view became increasingly vast as we rose, until we entered a cloud of fog near the top.
Unfortunately, much of what would have been a more spectacular view from the top was blanketed in fog. But what we did get to see was amazing! There was a viewing platform and a plaque depicting the landscape with the land formations labelled. There were many opportunities to take pictures of our group at the top of the mountain, despite the cloudiness.
After many of us got cold, we rode the trams back down the mountain and got back on the bus to return to Augsburg. It was approaching 5:00 when we returned, and our next planned activity was the goodbye dinner at 6:30. My family had requested certain items from Germany (mostly candy for my sister), so in this down time I made a trip to the Karstadt department store to pick up the things I needed. When I got back, I played cards in the lobby with a few other people before we had to leave for the Ratskeller.
The company groups all sat together on two long tables situated in the middle of the hall. It was nice to be able to interact with the German students in a context outside of academics. We talked about our schools, discussed the Plus3 program in general, and told riddles. Before we knew it, dinner was over and it was time to leave!
We walked out the back entrance of the restaurant to take one last big group picture of the Germans and the Americans together. None of us wanted to leave each other, so we wound up staying on the staircase and just talking for another twenty minutes before finally saying our goodbyes.
It was hard, but the trip is not quite over yet…
Step count: 10,288