Europe Express: Pushing through Munich to peaceful Rhine Valley

DAY 7 – GERMANY

Looking rough after a nap on the coach!
Looking rough after a nap on the coach!

An early start – 6.45am. Breakfast in Italy, lunch in Austria, and dinner in Germany!

We are exhausted before we even reach Germany, though. All 46 passengers were asleep on much of our journey, so didn’t get too many photos of the view.

Please prepare yourselves for a lot of text, and not many photos during our stop in Germany!

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DACHAU CONCENTRATION CAMP

Driving through the rain, we were told we would be stopping at Dachau concentration camp.

In the middle of suburbia with flats and hotels, it was extensive, yet, well-hidden.

The imposing bars of the gate leading into the concentration camp was the first insult. Above the gate read ‘Arbeit Macht Frei‘ meaning ‘work will set you free’.

This was what the prisoners would have read on their arrival to Dachau.

Walking in, I was shocked at how easy it was to imagine the horror that went on there. A huge, gravelled open space was where we paused to get our bearings. To the left were replicas of the cabins where hundreds of people were trapped with no where to move. To the right was the museum, which had so much information that an hour wasn’t enough to see it all.

Around the corner was the crematorium and gas chambers. The gas chambers were not used on mass at Dachau concentration camp, but the crematorium most certainly was.

We wandered around for about an hour and a half. I found the museum most upsetting because we were looking at photos of the absolute torture that had occurred, only to look outside and see the exact landmarks where it all happened.

Unfortunately, a family of three Asian visitors were power-walking around the museum, not only speaking very loudly, but also pointing and laughing at various objects and horrific photographs around the room.

After gesturing to them politely to keep the noise down, in the otherwise silent room, they merely ignored me.

It wasn’t until they continued taking photos and laughed even louder, that I turned around and gave them an almighty long and violent “SHHHHHHHH!!”

The woman’s face dropped, but the husband and son chuckled at me.

Needless to say, they did quieten down. I couldn’t fathom the insensitivity – whether or not one can speak English, it was quite obvious why Dachau is an historic place in need of respect.

Leaving the camp on an all-time low – which is to be expected, anyway – me and the rest of the coach tour walked through the drizzle back to the bus.

Visiting Dachau concentration camp was something I am glad I have done, as reading about history in books is so different to visiting the locations in person. The absolute terror of the time was best understood by being there.

MUNICH

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Casual advert for cigarettes – a common site in Munich.

That night, we went on a tour through Munich in the pouring rain. We were quite unprepared for the wet after being in 24 degree heat in Italy only hours before.

I found Munich to be quite a grey city, almost as though we were walking through an industrial site. The flat, balcony-less buildings reminded me of how I’d imagine parts of America to look.

2016-06-16 19.12.07Every now and then, however, we would be confronted with an almighty gothic building, or even a palace; before the city was flattened by bombs during the war, Munich was a place made for royalty.

Judging by the mere two hours we were in the city that night, I found the people to be a tad rude. Walking along the narrow pavements, if we were walking too slow for a fellow pedestrian they thought nothing of giving us a good shove without saying a word.

Accidentally picking a particularly posh restaurant, the waiters rolled their eyes, and found our every decision or question to be an issue.2016-06-16 19.11.25

Personally, my 13 euro salad – the cheapest dish on the menu – was my issue.

WiFi name found while on the bus outside a block of flats

A city that gave me the impression of being a bit rough, and not the prettiest or friendliest, I can conclude that Munich is not a place I’d like to return to in a hurry.

An exhausting and emotional day was followed by an early night in the hostel.

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DAY 8 – RHINE VALLEY
The next day we travelled to Germany’s Rhine Valley.

A collection of villages along the river, Rhine. The villages were sweet with open streets and overlooked by castles perched on the surrounding mountains.

2016-06-17 20.57.51We got caught in an epic thunder and lightening storm so we didn’t wander too far. But we did have a river cruise to look forward to.

Embracing the rain!
Embracing the rain!

Sat on the open top floor of the ferry, we managed to get a few happy snaps of the valley before being drowned out by the rain.

We huddled together in the restaurant below, where we didn’t dare eat or drink anything due to the high prices.

That night, we stayed in a local castle. On the outside, it was a typical castle one would expect to find in a children’s book. Inside, however, was a typical low-cost hostel.

The worst part was probably the glass-door showers in the open-plan toilet block!

Unfortunately, I didn’t join in on the castle party that evening due to being completely exhausted. But I enjoyed the view of the sun setting over the Rhine river.

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