Greg made a trip out to Munich, Germany way back in November for work. He was there for just three days and he raved about it to me. I have always wanted to see Germany and I was so jealous of him! So, when it came to planning our May trip, Germany was what I rooted for. And because Greg had loved Munich so much, we put it on our list of cities to see. In total, we were able to explore Munich, Dachau, Nuremberg and Berlin during our short trip over Memorial Day Weekend. Not too shabby! Oh, and we ate tons of ridiculously amazing Asian cuisine, oddly enough.
We caught an evening flight out of Southampton so Greg could put in a full day of work and not have to take any vacation time for our trip. Hashtag clever. But, because our flight didn’t get us in to Munich until a little after 9, by the time we got to our hotel (the same one Greg stayed at for his work trip and loved) it was almost midnight. We were starving and nothing was open except for a McDonald’s about a half hour walk from our hotel. So yep, we made that trek and scarfed down some German Micky-dees, and then called it a night.
The next morning, we woke up bright an early, took advantage of the free hotel breakfast (hooray for deli meats and cheeses!) and then headed to the train station to make our way to Dachau. We had the hardest time trying to purchase train tickets, though, as the machines at the station didn’t take cash or credit cards that weren’t German. Luckily, a nice guy behind us in line saw our struggle and purchased our tickets for us using his German credit card (we paid him back in cash). So, much later than we planned, we were on the train to Dachau to visit what was once the Dachau concentration camp.
Established in 1933, Dachau concentration camp was the first concentration camp used by the Nazis. It went on to incarcerate almost 200,000 Jews before liberation in 1945. It was incredibly sobering to see. The area was so much bigger, so much more desolate and horrible than I had imagined or was prepared for. You enter the camp through the same gate the Jewish prisoners would have been forced to enter, the words “arbeit macht frei” (work sets you free) staring down at you. To your left are where the barracks were (most are gone, two have been reconstructed), to your right is what was once the maintenance building, but is now a memorial museum. Greg and I wandered through the barracks and then made our way down the camp road towards the crematorium. Walking through the crematorium was heart-breaking. It was so silent,
even with all of the other visitors walking through at the same time. Passing through that building, through the gas chamber and the now empty room which once held hundreds and hundreds of dead bodies, is something I’ll never forget. Afterwards, Greg and I walked down a path in any other circumstance might have seemed pretty. But every couple of feet down the path was a plaque pointing out the horrors that took place there: the otherwise unmarked patch of earth where ashes of hundreds and hundreds of unknown Jewish bodies are buried, the wall Jews had to line up in front of before being executed. It’s unbelievable how much torture and murder and sadness went on in that place some 60 years ago.
The rest of the afternoon we spent exploring Munich. We had a picnic of brats, fries, German beer and prosecco in a park, wandered around the city centre, saw the Odeon and Marienplatz, and climbed up to the top of the St. Peter’s Church tower. That night, we got dinner at a Chinese restaurant near our hotel, played on a playground we stumbled upon, and then called it a night.
The next morning, we took advantage of the free breakfast again, and then picked up our rental car and made our way to Berlin!
One item on Greg’s bucket list is to drive on the autobahn in a German vehicle. Check! The majority of the autobahn has no speed limit, which means you can drive as fast as you want (while still being responsible, of course), so Greg set the cruise control on our Mercedes to 100mph, and we cruised on down the autobahn towards Berlin.
We stopped for lunch in Nuremberg because it’s a city I’ve wanted to see since I had to do this huge project on the Nuremberg Trials in 10th grade. We walked up the steep hill to Nuremberg castle, which seemed even steeper because it was almost 90 degrees out, and then got lunch at a nearby cafe. I tried weinerschnitzel and some homemade German potato salad! We didn’t get to spend too much time in Nuremberg, but I’m glad we got to stop for a little bit. Nuremberg is beautiful! Hopefully we’ll be back some day.
After dropping our rental car off, we hopped on the bus to our Airbnb, which was located in what would’ve been East Berlin had the wall still been up. We explored the area around our airbnb and grabbed dinner at a delicious Japanese restaurant called Takumi NINE. That night, we tried to figure out where the Berlin wall would’ve been in relation to our airbnb, and then fell asleep watching a documentary about the wall.
The next day, we slept in a bit and then got breakfast at a nearby cafe before setting off to explore Berlin. We saw the Berlin Wall Eastside Gallery, the Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Checkpoint Charlie, got pizza for lunch on the river, and snacked on ice cream in a park. That night, we got dinner at an amazing Thai restaurant my friend, Nat, recommended to me, called Lemon Leaf (thanks, Nat!!) and then wandered through a Berlin Wall memorial just a few blocks away from our Airbnb. It’s hard to imagine that not even 30 years ago Berlin was divided by that wall, and that so many innocent people lost their lives just trying to escape East Berlin for a better life.
We got up before the sun began to rise the next morning to catch our plane back to England. I really enjoyed Germany, and hopefully we’ll be back some day so we can see more of it.
Our next visitor is TRACY!!! I cannot wait to explore more of England with her!