this Texas girl has finally made it to Europe! the plane ride was long, but our arrival in Germany was perfect! we made our way to Mainz, Germany where we ate our first brat, settled into our hotel, and tried to beat the jet lag. the jet lag was REAL and trying to stay up till we actually needed to go to sleep was hard. the weather was beautiful, sunny, and nothing compared to the Texas heat. our second day, we headed to the train station and headed to Munich. the whole process of traveling by train in any place is difficult, but there is a new level of difficulty added when you can't speak German or read German. we accidentally boarded the wrong part of the train, hopped off in a random German city, and then got stuck in that random German city. we FINALLY got to Munich by the afternoon and had dinner in Marienplatz. Munich was full of history, old buildings, and churches. I felt like I had traveled back thirty years in time and landed in Munich.
the next day, we headed out early to venture out to the small city of Dachau, Germany. we decided to visit the memorial site of Dachau Concentration Camp. we knew coming to Germany we wanted to see part of the rich history, and touring the memorial site was a good place to start. seeing first hand what took place where we were visiting was extremely hard to even process. Dachau was the first camp installed during Hitler's reign. a lot of political prisoners were kept here, along with Stalin's son. it's hard to even take the measure of what it was like to walk the grounds where so many others have walked but under different circumstances. it's one thing to watch documentaries, read about what happened in history books, but it's a whole new thing when you see it first hand. it's hard to even grasp the history that occurred here. Dachau was the last of the Concentration Camp's to be liberated after WWII. when walking through the gates of the camp, it was like time stood still and there was a cloud of sorrow that covered the grounds. Dachau was used as a propaganda camp and held prisoners here for that reason alone. on our tour, through the camp, we saw the housing for prisoners, the gas chambers, and the crematorium. the quote that was seen several times throughout the camp was "never again" and "honor the dead, warn the living." it was a hard day emotionally, but to be able to say we saw that part of history was important. years from now, we will be able to tell our families of the importance and how we got to see the history right in front of our very eyes. I toyed with the idea all day if I should take pictures or not. I thought it might be disrespectful to take pictures at such a somber place. after a lot of thinking, I thought it would be okay because I am documenting the history and the lives that were unfortunately lost. taking pictures in a way honors the history and the lives and the pictures are a way to bring the history back home and explain everything to my friends and family. after a long day at Dachau, we headed back to Munich for a traditional German meal that included schnitzel, fries, and cranberry sauce.
our second day in Munich, we decided to travel to the famous German castles. we headed out early into the German country side and stopped at Linderhof Palace. it was a small castle, but the interior was extremely ornate. the fountains, the flowers, and the exterior were all so beautiful. this small palace was home to King Ludwig II. we hopped back on the bus, and headed for Neuschwastein Castle. being able to see the German country side took my breath away. it was filled with rolling hills, cattle, and mountains in the distance. we stopped in this cute little German town and got lunch and pretzels. we came up on some cute cows in a field and they came right up to us and we got to pet them! Neuschwastein Castle was the model castle for Cinderella's castle, but let me tell you that the German castle was WAY better. as soon as we made it to the very top, it started to rain. luckily, we got some pictures before we become drenched from the rain. this castle was also a home to King Ludwig II. there were many stairs to get to the top, but the view was worth it and being able to see the romantic and gothic style castle was a once in a lifetime view. we boarded the bus back to Munich, and called it a day since we had been traveling for 10 hours and exhausted from the rain.
all in all, Germany has been a dream! I had recently taken a DNA test and found out I was 60% German, so being able to see where I come from was really cool. the weather was fantastic, the scenery was picture perfect, and the food was amazing. there is so much history embedded in Germany, and you can definitely tell that just from traveling around to the different German cities. the train rides were spent looking outside the windows and taking in the scenery of the countryside that fills up so much of Germany. auf wiedersehen Germany! next stop, Austria!