Today we started out the day again with a yummy in my tummy breakfast at the hotel. The new thing I tried at breakfast today was a waffle with Nutella, it was so good I think I am definitely going to have another one tomorrow.
We then got on the bus to head to Hirschvogel for our company visit. When we first got there the first thing, I observed was how big the plant is. As it was the headquarters for the company it made sense that is was so big, but for my expectations I was shocked. When we got there the first thing we received was a presentation from the vice president and head of advanced engineering. He explained what Hirschvogel made, what they had sectors producing, what they are values are and some details about their company. They also explained how their innovative processes work. One of their procedures for new ideas that I thought was interesting was that if employees see an error in efficiency, they can propose an idea or an innovation that they think will be helpful to increase efficiency and improve the workplace.
As we began the factory tour, the big thing that I noticed was that the main focus of their company is using forging to make car components. I was really surprised with the large scale of their production for each part. It was amazing to see their organization within their plants; with so much going on they are able to be fast, efficient, and know exactly what is going on at what time. Some differences in the way their company works in opposition to America companies is that German companies come together on research and development even when they are competitors. They do what they can as a team and get help from a research institute in order to solve a problem. Another difference is that for younger students they have apprenticeships available where students are able to work, learn and get trained at the company and they will help pay for your higher education although it is very specific to your job.
We then made our way towards the village of Oberammergau, on our way there I noticed was that there was a ton of renewable energy being used, such as windmills and solar panels. And when we got to the village, many of the buildings and houses also had solar panels even though it was a small town in a rural valley among the Alps. We had read about the Germans care for the environment in the little books we got about Germany before the trip, but it didn’t quite occur to me the extent of how much they really care. In addition, I have noticed that they do not use as much plastic, all of their bottled water is in glass bottles including many other drinks such as sodas or juices. In the bathrooms, they have these reusable towels which also is a big way to save paper. Oberammergau was a small village, but I really loved it, it was filled with touristy shops that sold tiny trinkets, and a ton of cafes, restaurants, and places to stay overnight.
I was really surprised with some of the items they were selling as they were so American, they even had postcards with historical figures from American history, and sweatshirts with American places on them. The restaurants in the town were also so diverse, we passed by a Chinese restaurant at one point and that really surprised me, because in a small town like that I was not expecting to see that. The small town was really beautiful, you could see the Alps clearly from there and that was already getting excited because of that but it was nothing compared to the view from the top.
We then took the gondola up the Laber mountain. I didn’t realize how far up we would be going until we were already on our way up, the length of the ride and the fact that you could see all around really gave it away. At the top of the mountain, the first view you get when you get off the gondola and walk through the door is a view of the Alps filling the horizon.
We then got a chance to walk up a little higher so you could see the view from every direction. It was really warm up there, and we were prepared for it to be about 30 degrees at the top, but it felt more like about 60. The top of the mountain was also filled with snow, which made it even more astonishing that it was so warm. I don’t think I will EVER forget the view, it was stunning, and words really can’t describe it. But I think it will go in one of the top five moments of my life. It was hard to make our way back down, as I just wanted to stay up there forever. We then took the bus back to Augsburg, where I got a much-needed nap.
When we got back, for the first time so far, we were on our own for dinner. A couple members of the group and I made our way to an Italian restaurant called Vapiano’s. I got some pasta that tasted really good, and I was really satisfied with my meal. This restaurant had employees that were in the majority English-speaking but it is a global chain so that might have been why, but it sure made it more convenient to order and make sure I got vegetarian food. I am vegetarian if you couldn’t tell from the previous sentence, but it has been a little more restrictive in Germany; as expected. Many of the dishes that I wanted to try included meat so that was a little difficult at times.
In addition, I have noticed that there are so many dogs in Augsburg, which is great for a dog person like me, and many times they are so well behaved, and they followed their owners even when they didn’t have a leash. There was an especially cute dog at the gondola station, and he was carrying a stick bigger than his body. Sorry for the tangent, but I didn’t think that would be the case in a city like Augsburg I wouldn’t think that the dogs would have enough space and people would have time to walk them every day. I live in a very open area, that is almost rural so in my head a big dog like the ones I have seen in Augsburg would need lots of room to run around. After getting home at the end of another long day I quickly crashed.