International Adventures: Augsburg, Salzburg, and Munich

 

Intro

To be completely honest, I was more excited for my second week than my first week. I would be going to only three cities: Augsburg, Salzburg, and Munich, meaning I wouldn’t be traveling every day (thankfully). Munich was on my list of original cities. Augsburg was added for because of the Reformation-orientation of the trip, while Salzburg was added last, due to the suggestion of my mother.

I couldn’t decide whether to end in Salzburg or Munich. I made the decision to fly out of Munich because of cheaper prices, so I went to Salzburg first and then came back to Munich.


Augsburg, Bavaria Augsburg, Bayern

Friday, December 15th Freitag, 15. Dezember

What I Did/What I Saw

  • Train ride from Erfurt to Augsburg
  • Walked to hostel and checked-in
  • Walked around the town, seeing sites like the Rotes Tor, Hercules’ Fountain, St. Anne’s Church, and Rathaus
  • Ended the day at the Christmas Market

Three Things I Liked

  1. The train ride. There was a lot of variety in the views outside, from snowstorms in the mountains to lush green fields.
  2. This city had some of the best architecture I’ve seen in Europe. I really like the long boulevard.
  3. After the rainy deluge of the previous day, it was very nice to have sunny weather, and a nice sunset.

Three Things I Disliked

  1. The hostel didn’t have the kitchen, and my room was right next to the smoking room. The smoke permeated through walls into the room.
  2. I was having a good conversation with a Turkish guy, but then he got very anti-Kurdish, basically calling them terrorists. I stopped listening after that.
  3. There wasn’t an outlet by my bed.

What I’ll Remember Most The woman who checked me in at the hostel recognized that my last name, Merck, was German. And running into Patriots fans at the Christmas market.

German Words I Learned 🏫 rotes = red, brod =bread, speck = bacon, nudel = noodle

Random German Fact/Observation 🤓 The country of Germany didn’t exist until 1871; prior to that, it was a loose collection of small nations. Augsburg was an important city in the Holy Roman Empire, one predecessor of modern-day Germany.

Random Travel Tip 💡Always try to learn a few words of the local language. I usually try to learn yes, no, please, thanks/thank you, no thanks/no thank you, you’re welcome, Do you speak English?, I speak English, hello/hi/hey, goodbye/see you, excuse me/sorry, and the numbers 1-10.

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The main stretch in Augsburg

Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria

Saturday, December 16th Samstag, 16. Dezember

What I Did/What I Saw

  • Train from Augsburg to Munich, then Munich to Salzburg
  • Check-in at Hostel
  • Mirabell Palace Gardens
  • Hiked around Kapuzinerberg Park, a large hill in the middle of town
  • Went to the graveyard where Mozart’s father is buried
  • I walked around town and went to the Christmas Market at night

Three Things I Liked

  1. The chocolate-covered giant pretzel I bought at the Christmas market was scrumptious.
  2. Seeing some Sound of Music sights.
  3. Going hiking!

Three Things I Disliked

  1. The hostel is next to a graveyard. I’m not superstitious, but it’s still a little weird.
  2. There’s a kitchen at the hostel, but there were no utensils and all the cabinets were locked.
  3. Seeing trail creep while hiking, and about slipping on the stairs because of the mud.

What I’ll Remember Most: The train ride, which was the prettiest train ride I’ve ever been on, and getting to hike in the city with its amazing overlooks.

German Words I Learned 🏫 salz = salt, kaffee = coffee, Wien = Vienna, Österreich = Austria, republik = republic

Random Austrian Fact/Observation 🤓 Apparently Italian is a big language in Salzburg. That doesn’t help me at all.

Random Travel Tip 💡If there are places you want to go in a city, you can star them on Google Maps so you remember where they’re at.

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View from my hike

Sunday, December 17th Sonntag, 17. Dezember

What I Did/What I Saw

  • Went to Hohensalzburg Fortress; I did an audio tour, went to a couple overlooks, and went through some of the museums and exhibits inside
  • Salzburg Cathedral
  • A nunnery with early Romanesque artwork
  • Many other smaller churches around town
  • I did my nightly ritual of going to the Christmas market again.

Three Things I Liked

  1. The Fortress was just WOW. Great panoramic views of the city and of the Alps.
  2. There was a light snow that just felt right for the city.
  3. I think that Salzburg’s Old Town may be my favorite old town.

Three Things I Disliked

  1. The room was very hot and stuffy at night. I could not fall asleep.
  2. The Christmas markets here really focused on souvenirs and not food.
  3. I wanted to go to Hellbrunn Palace, but that didn’t happen.

What I’ll Remember Most The peace and quiet in the morning, the snow, the Fortress, and the artwork in Salzburg Cathedral.

German Words I Learned 🏫 exzellenz = excellence, sankt = saint, berg = mountain

Random Austrian Fact/Observation 🤓 Like Germany, Austria is a federal republic. It has 9 states.

Random Travel Tip 💡If you can, purchase online tickets. This helps save your cash, and they sometimes offer discounts.

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A fortress on the hill
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The Alps in the distance
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The castle’s main area

Munich, Bavaria München, Bayern

Monday, December 18th Montag, 18. Dezember

What I Did/What I Saw

  • Early morning walk to bus stop
  • Bus ride from Salzburg to Munich
  • Checked-in at hostel
  • Walked around the city; Glockenspiel, Asam Church, Siegestor, Munich Residenz Gardens, Feldherrnhalle,
  • Evening Christmas Market

Three Things I Liked

  1. The bus ride; like the train ride, it was very pretty.
  2. Seeing the Glockenspiel performance at 11. This is something everybody has to do while they’re in Munich.
  3. Walking around the Old City; it felt very relaxed.

Three Things I Disliked

  1. I was disappointed with the Frauenkirche; it was under construction, and there wasn’t a lot of artwork on the inside.
  2. I thought the point of the Schengen Zone was to not have border checks, yet we had one on the bus ride. They didn’t really care about my passport, but they collected all the Austrian passports. They took forever, so we were very late getting to Munich.
  3. The bus said there was wifi, yet there was no wifi. This was unfortunate since I actually had stuff to work on.

What I’ll Remember Most I wear a paracord bracelet that was given to me by my ex-girlfriend in 2013. We broke up in 2015, but I kept wearing it. Every time I’m near some body of water, I dip the bracelet in it. I haven’t been able to do that a lot this trip, but when I saw an easy path to the Isar River, which runs through Munich, I made sure to dip my bracelet.

German Words I Learned 🏫 bundes = federal, Deutschland = Germany, Deutsch = German

Random German Fact/Observation 🤓 West Germany and East Germany were reunited on Oct. 3rd, 1990, after 40+ years of separation.

Random Travel Tip 💡Always try to carry some cash on you; you never know when your cards may not work. I also try to carry at least two currencies (the currency of where I’m at and US Dollars), because you never know what may happen.

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The Rathaus and Glockenspiel
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The Siegestor

Tuesday, December 19th Dienstag, 19. Dezember

What I Did/What I Saw

  • S-Bahn from Munich to Dachau, Bus from Dachau to Dachau Concentration Camp
  • I went through part of the museum and watched the film in the theater.
  • English Guided tour at Dachau; the tour guide was an American, and most of the group were native-English speakers.
  • After that ended, I walked around and finished going through the museum
  • Instead of taking the bus back to the train station, I walked the path that prisoners had to walk. It was a 3 km journey from the train station to the camp.
  • I took the S-bahn back into Munich and ended my day on a happy note; at the Christmas Market, there was a choir singing and a band playing music from a balcony on the Rathaus.

Instead of my normal Like/Dislike, I’m going to do something different, because it’s hard for me to say what I liked about Dachau.

The Six Most Powerful Things/Moments at Dachau

  1. The film. It was such a brutal video to watch.
  2. The final thing the guide told us was “Have we actually learned anything from history?”
  3. The tour went through the various stages of prisoner arrival, from arrival at the gates, registration, shaving, and cleaning. It was a very effective way to do a tour.
  4. Seeing the transformation of sleeping conditions in the reconstructed bunker; at first, in 1933, prisoners had fairly sturdy beds, with a small shelf and a little room to move around. By the end of the war, the beds were basically a shallow box in to which prisoners were crammed in.
  5. Walking through the crematorium, and seeing the ovens.
  6. There were so many haunting photos around the complex; I’ll never be able to forget them.

What I’ll Remember Most I’ve been to some harrowing places (Gettysburg, Antietam, Arlington), but they don’t compare to Dachau.

German Words I Learned 🏫 linke = left, kinder =children, garten = garden, Kaiser = Caeser (literally) & emperor, = king, platz = place

Random German Fact/Observation 🤓 Dachau was the first concentration camp, and many camps were created later were based on Dachau’s design.

Random Travel Tip 💡If you plan to be busy, City Passes are usually worth it. If not, they tend to be a waste of money.

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The entrance
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Two of the ovens
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The original gate; in German, “Arbeit macht frei”. In English, “Work sets you free.”

Wednesday, December 20th Mittwoch, 20. Dezember

What I Did/What I Saw

  • I took a tram to Nymphenburg Palace, a former summer residence of the elector, then King, of Bavaria. I walked around the large garden complex and then did an audio tour of the palace.
  • I took the tram back into central Munich
  • I went to St. Peter’s Church
  • I hunted for souvenirs at several stores and also walked around the Christmas Markets for a couple of hours. There was a choir again that sang some hymns.
  • I watched FC Bayern Munich vs BVB Dortmund while enjoying a pizza, and chatted with two students from Ireland about language policy and education.

Three Things I Liked

  1. I originally wasn’t going to go inside of the Palace, but I’m very glad I did.
  2. I’m glad I was able to listen to the hymns; they were in German, but I recognized many of the melodies.
  3. I’m not at hostels to meet people usually, but talking to the Irish folks was pretty neat, especially since it was a really geeky topic.

Three Things I Disliked

  1. I had such a hard time finding souvenirs; the biggest frustration was that I couldn’t find a sticker that wasn’t sparkly.
  2. I get really frustrated when Americans tell foreigners things that aren’t true, especially when they cast a bad light about the US. For example, this girl said that the 21-year old drinking limit was enshrined in the Constitution. I almost burst out laughing, because that is not correct at all (it was set in a 1984 law that tied drinking age laws to federal highway funding; if states didn’t conform to the national limit, they would have their funding slashed). Learn your history, people! And technically, it’s a purchase ban, not a drinking ban. States can legislate the actual drinking age.
  3. I was still sad that I couldn’t go to the soccer game. There were so many people wearing red in town for Bayern.

What I’ll Remember Most: Ending my trip on a high note with the Palace.

German Words I Learned 🏫 apotheke = pharmacy, weiss = white, nord = north, süd = south, osten = east, west = west

Random German Fact/Observation 🤓 Munich is the capital of the Free State of Bavaria and was capital of the Kingdom of Bavaria until 1918.

Random Travel Tip 💡 Break big bills at large stores; a lot of smaller stores or street vendors won’t take large bills.

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Nymphenburg Palace
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The ceiling painting in the Great Hall
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The Palace from the garden

Thursday, December 21st Donnerstag, 21. Dezember

What I Did/What I Saw

  • S-Bahn from Munich Central Station to Munich Airport
  • Flight from Munich to Riga
  • Flight from Riga to Helsinki
  • Commuter train from Helsinki airport to city center
  • Bus from Helsinki to Jyväskylä

Three Things I Liked

  1. Amazing sunset on the second flight
  2. I was worried about transfer time from the airport to Helsinki; I made it in plenty of time though and was able to eat at Subway.
  3. Starting the process to go home; I was ready.

Three Things I Disliked

  1. I’ve flown so much this year; I’m so sick of airports, planes, and security. After flying home, I won’t have to fly until May.
  2. I tried to order in Finnish again, but they didn’t understand me. Again.
  3. Leaving Germany. I had had such a wonderful time.

What I’ll Remember Most The sunset on the plane. I hadn’t seen the sun a lot recently, so it was just cool.

German Words I Learned 🏫 flughafen = airport, guten flug = good flight

Random German Fact/Observation 🤓 The German spoken in Bavaria is different than the German spoken in northern Germany.

Random Travel Tip 💡Be as ready for airport security as possible; have your liquid bag ready, your laptop accessible, your jacket unzipped, and place all loose items in your jacket or backpack. It makes the process so much easier.


My trip was nice and long, but I was ready to head home (via Finland).

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