Castles, beer halls and a Concentration Camp
20.08.2008 - 23.08.2008 20 °C
Today we were back on the bus and heading for Munich. We were prepared for a long trip from Lauterbrunnen but it wasn't too bad. Before leaving Switzerland we stopped off at a town called Lucerne. Here we went to a Swiss watch shop where everyone buys their Swiss Army knives. Grant bought a white swiss army knife as you can only buy them in Switzerland, whereas the red can be sold in other countries (...or so they said). In between Switzerland and Germany we stopped at Leichtenstein, one of the 4th smallest countries. So now we have seen 3 of the smallest countries the Vatican City, Monaco and now Leichtenstein, only one more to go!
Once we got to Munich it was a quick shower and change before heading off to the Hofbrauhaus House, one of the famous beerhalls in Germany. The beer hall was big and loud, exactly what you would imagine it to be. There was German band playing traditional music and dressed in the traditional gear. There were bar maids carrying 6 steins at a time and waitors run off their feet serving pork knuckles! It was great fun!!
After the lack of meat in our diet so far in our travels, Germany was a welcome surprise...meat we could actually afford!! Grant was in heaven, chowing on a massive pork knuckle and drinking a stein of beer!! His plate was spotless!! I have never seen him so excited by a meal before! The pork knuckle tasted good but there was no way I could have finished one of those things! I stole Grant’s stein glass from the beer hall, it was so heavy, I don’t know how we will get it back to London!
Now a slightly disturbed sleep was had this first night in Munich. Sleeping in a room with strangers hasn’t been so bad until now! Our Kiwi roommate came in at whatever time very very drunk, and it was the most bizarre thing I have ever heard. He was making extremely loud weird noises, words can’t describe the noise but it was scary.. He kept screaming and swearing, it was like he was fighting someone in his sleep. He had a really deep voice so it was very disturbing. Then in the morning he just put his shoes on, picked up his back and left! We all just looked at each other and went what the hell was that!! Peter our South African friend was on the top bunk with this crazy Kiwi on the bottom, said he woke up in the middle of the night thinking he was in a fight!
After an interesting night we headed off for an interesting day touring Dachau Concentration Camp. Today was one of the most interesting and intense days of our trip. It was also upsetting and disturbing. I don’t think anyone can visit a Concentration Camp and not leave feeling slightly deflated and confused at how something like this could happen. I didn’t think it would have such an impact, there is a feeling in this place that can’t be explained. Dachau wasn’t the biggest camp but it was the first and around 40,000 people were killed there, no where near as many as some of the big camps in Poland.
We seen the incinerators which was a hard thing to see, then we walked through the gas chambers. Our guide said to us before we entered that he wasn’t going to talk in there he just wanted us to imagine and to think. It was upsetting to walk through but well worth it. There is a memorial set up that contains different coloured patches representing the different groups of prisoners. However there are 3 patches missing. A pink patch that represents homosexual men, a green patch to represent criminals and a black patch that represents Roma gypsies. After lots of protesting an empty patch has been added. This is so that people can see a black patch for the gypsies if they want. It is the noughties and there is still no pink patch though!
After the tour we went to the glockenspiel in Marienplatz, such a strange thing! At 11am and 5pm, this clock thing started playing this strange freaky tune, then a red and a blue knight moved in a circle 2 times, the blue knight jabbed the red knight (Austria), and that was it! Quite bizarre, hundreds of tourists all watching this 2 minute thing with camera’s out ready, then at the end everyone looks around going what the hell, was that it! Dinner was in a Beer Garden, and consisted of more sausages, potatoes and cabbage!
The next morning we were up early for a bike tour. We were actually very mistaken, we thought the bike tour was of Munich but no, it was a tour of the “Disney” Castle which was a 2 hour train trip out of Munich! The castle was built by the crazy King Ludwig. The King died before the castle was finished and there are a few conspiracies about his death. The official story is that he killed himself or accidently drown. However there was a bullet hole in his coat, and some masked people a few years ago released video footage of them X-raying the body in the Church where he lies and finding a bullet hole in his spine, so who knows! After a killer uphill walk we made it to the castle. Two of the floors were never finished. The King’s bedroom was amazing, his bed took wood carvers 4 years to make, that’s how detailed it was.
After the castle we were beginning to wonder when the bike part of the tour kicked in. After a 40 minute walk from the castle we finally got to the bikes. By the time we got to the bikes it had started raining so it became a bike tour with ponchos! We rode to some lake called Swan Lake in the sprinkling rain but by the time we got to the lake it had become quite heavy rain. And the Swan Lake had one lonely swan swimming in the middle! I had a mission getting back as the rain was getting into my contact lenses, so I had to wear Grant’s sunglasses and it was already dark without the glasses!