Only the brave are cut out for the Munster Church Tower ascent, and I am proud to say that I defeated the odds. In all seriousness, I am over-exaggerating the trek a little bit, it is manageable for everyone!
This morning, we took the ICE train to the city of Ulm, which is the fastest passenger train in Germany. It travels over 100 miles per hour, so it was cool to fly through the German countryside. I am amazed how efficient public transportation is here. However, Freddy (one of the German students), explained that the trains here are known for not being on time. The train system has been a big political debate in Germany; they government is debating whether to privatize the train system. It is easier for public transit in Germany to be better connected than in the United States solely because of the size of the country. Cities in Germany are much closer together.
When we got to the historic city of Ulm, the town center was not what I imagined. I thought Ulm would have been an older, classic city with more of a village culture than a big city. However, I was greeted to the city center by a Rolex store and an expensive shoe store. With a town population of only about 120,000 people, it is less than half of the size of Augsburg.
The church that we scaled was called the Munster Church. During the bombing of Germany in World War II, 80% of Ulm was destroyed, but no bombs hit the church. It is thought that the church tour was used as a land marker for pilots and for the U.S. army when they were slowly infiltrating the Nazi regime. The trek to the top of the tour was long, but the views were fantastic. The day was clear, and I was on top of the highest vantage point in Germany for hundreds of miles. It was a tight space up top, so a couple students who do not like heights were a little worried, but I give them credit for making the trek to the top with the group!
We took a small walk around the city with our tour guide, David. He was extremely passionate about the city, and you could feel his passion for the history of Ulm. He impressed me with how he could strike such passion into an audience while speaking in a second language. While we were walking, he asked us about the Pittsburgh Steelers, and I brought my terrible towel out to take a picture with him at the end of tour!
During the city tour of Ulm, we took a walk to the old fortification of the city when the town was built within the city fortifications. Today, a portion of the wall is a trail for walking or jogging. We also saw the most uneven house in the world (certified by the Guinness Book of World Records), which is one of the oldest buildings left in Ulm; the house was part of a small portion of the village that was not destroyed by bombs. Back when it was constructed, the people of Ulm were taxed based on the amount of land your actual building occupied. So, in order to save money while building a bigger house, a portion of the house was built on a stream, and the second floors extended further than the original base floor of the house.
Because we only had a small window of time, our tour was cut off a little early, and we ate lunch at a crepe place that was just okay. The crepes were not completely cooked.
We drove back to Augsburg after lunch because we needed to get back to work on our presentations. My team met at the University of Augsburg again, and we had a lot of work to do for the night. The Americans in my group met for over four hours working on our presentation. We had so much information to present but had conflicts with getting our presentation under the 20-minute limit.
We were on the grind all night, and we made plans to meet again as a team to run through our presentation in the morning. The presentation is really making me think about coming home. But I know that once I get through the heavy work, my mind will be clear, and I will want to stay in Germany for another week.