Day 10: Münster or Monster?

My day started off the same as usual, with a breakfast of scrambled eggs, croissants, and yogurt with fruit. We were going to the city of Ulm today, and I was ready to climb the tower that Dr. Feick had been telling us about for a while now (or so I thought). The unusual part of the morning is that we took a train to Ulm rather than our normal bus or streetcar. We took a high-speed ICE train, and it was amazing to be on a train that was traveling so quickly.

When we arrived in Ulm, I was surprised to see modern-looking buildings in the center of the city, as I was expecting a city with buildings like those in Munich. There was lots of construction in Ulm, which seems to be a trend throughout Germany. The Münster was under construction, which was not that surprising considering many of the churches and cathedrals we have seen so far were also under construction. It makes sense that construction is needed, but it is a shame that so many historic landmarks must be repaired.

Modern buildings contrasting the Münster in the distance

The Münster is the tallest church tower in the world, and we climbed all 768 steps to the top! I personally thought that it was worse going up the tower than going down, though many felt that it was the other way around for them. The stairways were narrow and spiral, and there were hardly any railings for support. There were three sections of stairs, and after each section there was a landing to walk around, look at the view, and catch your breath on. I think I went up the stairs in the first section too quickly because I felt a little nauseous afterwards. The rest of the way up was rough, but I took it slow and even managed to help Lucas through his fear of heights during the last flight of steps. It was all worth it though, as the view at the top of the entire city was magnificent. I walked around the entire perimeter, taking in the fresh, crisp air and admiring the view. After a while, I decided to head back down, which was not as dizzying as I expected it to be. There are separate stairways for the way up and the way down, and of course the stairway going down ended up in the gift shop. At first, I thought the only reason for the separate paths was to avoid human traffic jams, but I forgot about marketing strategies for tourism.

The beautiful view!
The narrow, spiral stairway

After our physical exertion, we had a city tour of Ulm with our tour guide, David. I learned that nearly 80% of the city was destroyed by the bombing in December 1944, but the church was miraculously unaffected because it was used as a reference point by planes (most of the stained-glass windows exploded though, with the exception of two windows). My favorite building was the Town Hall because it had Renaissance paintings on the exterior, and there is a beautiful clock that was made based on the idea that the earth is the center of the universe.

The only two original windows left in the church
Ulm’s Town Hall

There were many typical European streets with unique houses, and it was very peaceful walking around. I really enjoyed walking next to the Danube river because there was a park there, and we saw so many cute dogs! That area just reminded me that even though Ulm is a city, it does not mean that the environment is similar to Philadelphia. In addition, as we walked through the houses and villages, there were small rivers/streams running through, which added to the calm atmosphere. It seemed similar to Venice at times, and the idea of houses being built on water has always amazed me.

A river running through the town

Overall, Ulm surprised me because there were parts of the city that were much more contemporary than what I was expecting, yet there were also areas that made me forget we were in a city. I think Ulm is definitely a city worth visiting in Germany.

After the tour, we ate lunch at Pfannekuchenhaus, a restaurant that specializes in crepes/pancakes, and I ordered a savory crepe with chicken, tomato, and mozzarella. I was expecting the crepe to look more like a wrap or burrito, so I was surprised to see the filling laid on top of the crepe. Nonetheless, it was delicious, and everyone was starving so we all finished our food quickly. The owner of the restaurant also baked Eamonn a strawberry shortcake for his birthday the previous day, so we all had dessert as well.

My delicious lunch

We were back in Augsburg by the afternoon, and everyone worked on their final presentations with their groups for the majority of the evening. My group is ready for tomorrow’s presentation, but I am a little nervous for my part. I’m excited to see everyone’s presentations, although I cannot believe the farewell dinner is already almost here because it means that the trip is coming to an end ☹.

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