May 14th – Ulm

Day 10:

I started off today excited for Ulm, as we would be able to see the view from the top of the tallest church in the world, the Münster. To get to Ulm, we took one of the faster trains that you can take in Europe, the ICE. We departed right from Munich, and it was both fascinating and nauseating to see the world passing by that quickly. After about a forty-five-minute ride, we arrived in Ulm.

The ICE we took back to Augsburg that afternoon. I didn’t get a great picture of the one we took to Ulm, but that one was a little bit more modern than this one.

I was immediately taken off guard by the sheer amount of construction going on around us. There were construction sites, cranes, and other machinery throughout the walk from the station. What was weird to see was all of them actually working at the time, as in the United States, usually if I see a construction site it is completely still.

The largest construction site we saw while walking around Ulm. Nearly every crane in that you can see was being operated when we walked by.

We continued to make our way through the city, and all of a sudden, we turned a corner and there it was- the Münster. The Münster is the tallest church in the world at a height of 530 feet, which is 5 feet shorter than the Cathedral of Learning. The footprint of the Münster is massive too, and according to the paths I laid out on Google Earth, it covers an area larger than a football field. It’s impossible to appreciate its scale in photos as it is still looks like a traditional church from the outside. When standing next to it, you realize just how massive it is.

The Münster. Standing next to it and seeing how intricate it was in person was extremely menacing. The construction of the Münster began in 1377 and was finished in 1890, with a 300 year hiatus in the middle of construction.
This is a cropped portion of the very top of the spire in the previous picture. Here you can see the balcony that we were on and better get an appreciation of the scale of the Münster. The fencing that you can see here is at least 7 feet tall, as when we were on that balcony it completely enclosed us.

At this point, I was still excited to climb the Munster, and we all started right away. To the top, it is 768 steps, and we the height we finish at is 17 meters from the point of the spire. About halfway up the church was when it really got interesting for me, because as it turns out I can get pretty afraid of heights. I have only ever been this afraid of heights once before in my life, and that was on the Eiffel Tower. The combination of the open windows on the spiral staircase letting you see how high up you were, wondering how the church could possibly be standing and be structurally sound, with the wind that was rushing around us, just made me absolutely freak out.

After conquering each one of those 768 excruciating steps, and with the help of some of my peers (Michelle on the way up), I made it to the top. Once I gathered the courage to stop looking a the floor I was standing on, the view was breathtaking. We were there on a cold but sunny and clear day, and you were able to see for miles. I managed to get some pictures, but I couldn’t pull myself together enough to get a panorama.

In this view, you can see the construction site that we walked past on our way to the Münster.
Here you can see the other two, smaller spires of Münster.
In this picture you can see the Danube. Ulm is located where the Blau and Iller rivers converge to meet with the Danube, which helped in the formation the in the area.

One thing that kinda sucks about climbing up 768 steps and being extremely afraid of each step is that you also must climb down those 768 steps. I personally thought the trip down was much worse because when you looked out the windows on the walls of the staircase, you were looking directly downward. Eventually, and again with the help of my peers (Eamann on the way down) I made it to the bottom. Now, not only can I say I climbed the Munster, but I never have to ever again.

After that experience, we waited at the bottom for our tour guide to take us around the city. He was extremely knowledgeable about the city of Ulm, and he was a fantastic guide. On the tour we saw many interesting parts of Ulm, including one of the few full-functioning astronomical clocks on the planet, the inside of the Munster, and the Danube.

Here you can see a sculpture representing a story from the Bible about the stabbing and killing of a snake (the story of St. George and the Dragon I believe). This sculpture itself was erected during WWII by the Nazis to replace the original. This was was meant to more clearly represent a powerful figure, with arms raised, and a sword which replaced a spear in the original. When we asked the tour guide wasn’t sure why the sculpture wasn’t replaced after WWII, and he said that every time you enter the church it is a reminder of that time in history.
This is looking down the center aisle, where you can see the vaulted ceilings and their supports, which are 130 feet tall.
The Ulm Town Hall, complete with intricate murals and the famous astronomical clock.
A portion of the wall that surrounded the entire city of Ulm in the 1800’s, with the Danube to the left.

Something I found really interesting that I learned on the tour was that nearly 80% of Ulm was destroyed during a 3-hour bombing of the city that took place in 1944, and that nearly everything we were seeing was rebuilt, except for the Munster. It remained untouched during the bombings. The reasoning behind that is because the church, already being built at the highest point of the town, was also extremely tall, and acted as a landmark for pilots and enabled them to see where they were in relation to it. I think that it was probably a combination of this and the Allies recognizing the Munster’s importance.

A picture taken in April of 1945, just after the bombings of Ulm by the Allies in December of 1944.
A picture I took of us walking up to the Münster, 74 years after the previous picture was taken.

Another thing on the tour that I thought was cool were the small rivers/creeks running right through the village of Old Ulm. I have always loved things like this, with the sound of the water running as you walk over, and looking down and seeing the curve of the stream.

Photos along the River Blau, one of the streams that flow right through the town.

We finished the tour directly in front of the restaurant we would be eating at for lunch, a Crepe place called Pfannakuckenhaus. There, I had veal with a mushroom sauce that was amazing. After lunch, we made our way back to the train station and rode the ICE back to Augsburg

That night, my presentation group and I worked on our company presentations for the next day. We were back from Ulm around 4:00pm, and worked late into the night to finish up everything that needed to be done.

Takeaway of the day: World War II is unavoidable today.
Everywhere we have been so far has been touched in one way or another by WWII. Many of the places we have been were bombed severely during the war, even where we are staying in Augsburg. The Town Hall with the golden ceiling in the Golden Hall was rebuilt completely after the war. It was difficult for me to resonate with this destruction for two reasons. The first was that there was no such destruction in the United States for me to relate to. The US was never subjected to anywhere near the level of destruction in Europe.
The other reason is how nice everything looks today in the cities that were once in ruins. You can see in the 1945 picture of Ulm the destruction that took place, and it is hard to believe that the second picture is of the same city. Going online after visiting and seeing some pictures of the destruction and comparing them to what we were able to see in person was incredibly moving, and helped me to see the settings of the cities we have visited in a different perspective.

Car of the Day: Mercedes-AMG G63

Mercedes-AMG G63

This is now the old model of the G63, having been just recently replaced by the 2018 model. This model has a 5.4 liter twin-turbo V8 producing 563 horsepower, which is more than the giant 4×4 squared that won Car of the Day in Munich. This truck can get from 0-60 mph in just 5.2 seconds.

Motorcycle of the day: Moto Guzzi V7 II

Moto Guzzi V7 II

Today was a slow day for cars because we weren’t really on any streets in Ulm, and we didn’t travel much once we were back. That being said, we did see this Moto Guzzi motorcycle that I thought looked really cool with a matte yellow gas tank. These modern but classic styled motorcycles have always been my favorites, and it’s not too often that you see them instead of the more sport-oriented motorcycles.

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