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Deutschland Uber Alles June 6, 2013

Posted by mcwaples in Travel Log.
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Hi there, readers 🙂 In the past 2 weekends, I have travelled to Berlin, and (though unexpectedly) to Geneva and Munich. I will begin with my encounters of Berlin (and I apologize for the absence of photos, the upload function in the post doesn’t seem to work, but I will figure some way of showing pics and avoiding further comma splices).

Round 1: Berlin

 Admittedly, it’s kind of tough to see such a massive city on a 2-day weekend (especially when it is cold and rainy the whole time). However, I was nonetheless pleased with how much I could see in such a short period of time in inclement weather.

Naturally, Brandenburg Gate is a great sight as it now stands for the unity of the German nation and lies in the heart of the city. However, I was much more impressed by the Reichstag building (the German government building). While the building itself has stood through fires and war, the addition to the top is fairly recent. Adorning the roof of the building is a glass dome, inside of which is a tornado-shaped structure made of 360 mirrors that enable tourists and citizens alike to see into the government process. If unity and transparency are the main goals of the new German government, I see no better structure to promote it than the Reichstag. Berlin also maintains some remnants of the wall that divided the city in two for much of the late 20th century. Being able to freely go around these barriers  seems almost trivial to an uneducated passerby, but for one who knows the history behind it, you can feel the anguish that the wall produced for years to East Berliners. While other buildings including a nice museum were visited, I feel the aforementioned three were the best to speak upon. If in Berlin for longer, I would advise seeing as many memorials, museums, and as much of the GIANT park as possible.

BONUS TIP: Get the Doener in Berlin. Those kebaps kept my group and I happy and full for the entirety of the trip for very little cost. I am very compelled to start the industry up in the US, but we need a little more Turkish influence first.

 

Intermission: CERN

To begin the next weekend, my roommate and I travelled overnight to Geneva to visit the Council for European Research Nucleare (or CERN). The tour brought out every bit of nerd in me: large hadron colliders, Higgs-Boson, really expensive magnets…the list goes on! It was truly humbling to see what the greatest minds all teamed up together can accomplish there. If you are nearby, I would highly recommend a tour (it’s free too)!

 

Round 2: Munich

While in Geneva, my roomie and I learned 2 things: our original plans of getting to Barcelona fell through and Switzerland is expensive/not especially fun (sorry, statue of John Calvin). In a completely spontaneous move, I looked up trains to Munich, saw one leaving in 5 minutes, and asked my roomie if he wanted to go. I had to keep up with him running to the track as he was so excited (and for good reason).

Munich is one of the most exciting places in Europe right now: the culture and history are rich, the beer is refreshing, and everyone is super hyped about FC (Super) Bayern for their success in European football! After some recon of the city, we went into the famed Hofbrauhaus (beer hall) and were amazed by the friendly environment and patriotism towards their team. Every few minutes, someone was bound to start a chant about SUPER Bayern. I couldn’t help but feel pride for where I was too, and moreso after practicing my German on friendly locals for a while.

As I travel more and more, I like to develop my own style or philosophy on how to go about things. Trains and hostel bookings are straightforward, but people differ on how to get to know a city. Some just stare at maps. For me, I go for a long run! I saw more of Munich in a 2 hour stroll than I had the entire previous day. Seriously, try doing this in the mornings when you travel: it is a great kickstart to your day and gets you acquainted.

To the South of Munich lies the land of castles (specifically Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein), which is where we headed next. While the weather was again rainy and cold, I was stunned at the beauty of the area: two castles in the mountains with a clean lake in between is quite a site (though I learned it is a cold lake the hard way). While neither castle bears any remarkable historical, dimensional, or monetary significance, I still found the area to be rather enjoyable. The juxtaposition with the lake, waterfalls, mountains, and all sorts of nature really hammer in that these castles were from the romantic period.

Our last day was spent at Dachau for a very somber finale. While I had read plenty on World War II and, consequently, concentration camps, nothing could have prepared me for the sights of Dachau. Between the bunks, labor sights, guard towers and fences and gates, furnaces, and the infamous gas chamber, one cannot help but feel ashamed that members of the human race ever subjected their fellow man to such hardships. While I wholeheartedly believe that man can be good in intent, a sight like Dachau demonstrated to me that humanity has its dark side, and that it is up to all of us to ensure that tragedies such as this never happen again.

 

Tune in next time for…PARIS, City of Lights

 

 

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