We left Austria bright and early the next morning. If there's one thing on this trip that I can't complain about, it would definitely be the weather. Other than a pretty cool day when I first got to London, and a sprinkle of rain in Florence, it was gorgeous the whole way through!
We stopped not long into our drive at this pretty, glassy lake just for the chance to take a few photos. The side we were on was still shady as the sun hadn't had a chance to rise over the mountain behind us.
After a little more driving, we stopped in a small town, near another glassy lake, for a chance to buy some snacks.
There were strict regulations on how many hours a driver could be driving the bus. And mandatory 45 minute stops after every few hours. Luckily this gave us lots of chances to get off the bus to stretch our legs. Below you can see people hanging around, enjoying every last second of that 45 minutes.
As we entered each new country, our tour manager Jude would give us a bit of a history lesson. Being German herself, she had lots to say about this particular country. Of course, we all know that Germany has some rather infamous historical events attached to it....it was also curious to see what memories it brought back from my Social Studies classes in high school. We did a very in-depth study of the World Wars in Grade 10 (or maybe 11? it's all blurring together....) so it was territory that I was at least familiar with.
Our first destination of the day was the concentration camp memorial site in Dachau.
Arbeit Macht Frei......"Through work one will be free."
Considering the context, well, I think it says a lot.
One of the other Canadian girls on the bus took a few minutes as we were pulling into the parking lot to tell us about her grandmother and grandfather, both of whom had been in concentration camps during the war. Her grandfather had actually been in this particular camp, so this stop was understandably emotional for her.
What she said that stuck with me most, was how her grandfather rarely talked about his experience, but that at a family dinner he mentioned how he had never expected to live to see that moment. How he hadn't expected to be free, sitting once again at a dinner table surrounded by his children and grandchildren. And for how grateful he was to be alive to see it.
There was a museum of set up in one of the remaining buildings with more information than you could fathom about this concentration camp as well as the others scattered across Europe. The model of the camp above was housed there. The museum is in the U-shaped building on the middle of the right hand side of the picture. The two rows of long buildings above it, in the top right corner of the picture, are the rows of prisoners barracks.
Below is an aerial shot of the barrack buildings.
It's hard to imagine these buildings ever holding up to 2000 people. Looking at them now, you can't even imagine where they would have physically kept that many people...
Of course, the most chilling part of the visit, as one could imagine, was seeing the crematorium.
It was so stark.....and clean....
It was (and still is) completely mind-boggling for me to stand in that place and try imagine the atrocities that occurred in these places.
"May the example of those who were exterminated here between 1933-1945 because the resisted Nazism help to unite the living for the defence of peace and freedom and in respect for their fellow men."
So, after a quiet, introspective morning, we arrived in Munich for the afternoon.
This is the "new" town hall, which, visually, looks older than "old" town hall.
I didn't have any plans for Munich, so I just wandered up the busy shopping street from the Marienplatz, the square in the photo above where the town hall is located. It was incredibly busy, with throngs of people everywhere.
There were a few street performers out and about, which is always entertaining.
I went inside just one church, the Frauenkirche. It serves as the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Munich and is the seat of its Archbishop.
(Almost made me wish I had bought one....except I would never wear it again. Well, maybe at Halloween. :)