Our departure time was at 9am this morning, so we finally got to sleep in a little more than usual. We walked over to the train station, which was not too far from the hotel. The weather forecast said rain all day, which made us all question whether we were in Pittsburgh or Augsburg. The train station was similar to train stations back home, but I was surprised to see that some trains were delayed, as I thought all forms of transportation in Germany were always exactly on time. It was about a 45-minute ride to Munich, which parallels the 45-minute train ride I take to get to Philadelphia. Big cities in Europe can still take a bit of travel time. Upon getting on the train, I noticed that many men had large quantities of beer with them, sharing them with their group. This is a sight you would never see in America. I also noticed that many people save seats for their friends/family that are getting on at a later stop. Not everyone seemed extremely friendly, though there were some people who offered my classmates seats next to them. Another thing about the transportation in Germany is that tickets are not always checked, like on the streetcar. I think that Germans are more trusting of each other than Americans are.
Once we arrived in Munich, there was an immediate change of scenery. Augsburg is quiet and small, but Munich is loud and filled with people. Some compared Munich to New York City, but I feel like Munich is not nearly as big of a city as New York. We did a city tour first and began in the Marienplatz. It was fascinating to see the iconic Munich landscape right away. I learned that the new Town Hall was built after 400 years because the city was growing, and the old Town Hall was not big enough. Munich is about 1100 years younger than Augsburg, and many of the buildings were modeled after architecture in other European countries. There was a magnificent gold cathedral called the Theatine Church that a king built because he and his wife had finally had a baby son.
After the tour, we had about five hours of free time in Munich. Everyone was starving and decided to go to the original Hofbräuhaus for lunch. I ordered the Bratwurst and a pretzel, and the meal was amazing. I have never had real, authentic sausage and sauerkraut before, but it was definitely worth getting here in Germany.
Once we ate, a smaller group of us went off on our own to explore a few of Munich’s landmarks. First, we went to St. Peter’s Church and walked over 300 steps up to the tower of the church. The view at the top was gorgeous, and the hike up was a preview for the 768 steps we will be climbing in Ulm. I noticed a few skyscrapers in the distance, which saddened me because skyscrapers should not be mixed in with the short, classic European buildings in Munich.
We had spotted the market from the top of the tower, so when we went back down we bought and shared a box of strawberries. These strawberries were the best that I have ever had. At home, there are only Driscoll’s strawberries. We then walked quite a bit to Eisbachwelle, an area with surfers and a few parks nearby. The surfers surf in a river on a continuous wave no matter what temperature it is outside. They are all good and have experience, but I cannot imagine being able to spend all my free time surfing in one area of a river.
After seeing the surfers, our group split up, and Lucas and I went off to find some souvenir shops. We got a little lost and nearly gave up trying to find a shop, but then we came upon an entire street filled with souvenir shops! I bought some small gifts, and then it was time to head back. As we were approaching Marienplatz once again, it was evident that something was going on in the main area. It turned out to be a protest against abortion, which I was surprised to see. It showed me that other countries have political tension too. Earlier in the day we had seen another small protest, and the police had come to talk to them.
We had a group dinner at this really good burger restaurant, and I could tell everyone was exhausted because some people could barely stay awake. The food was excellent though, and each table shared a plate of fries. I ordered a burger with mushrooms and chive sauce, which was surprisingly good, though the sauce was a little messy.
Today was exciting to be able to see a major European city, but it was a long day (I walked 10 miles)! Tomorrow we are going to Dachau, which will be a somber and heavy day for us.