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Friday, July 19, 2013

Europe Trip Day 2: Munich

Today our journey continues in Muchen starting with a trip to Dachau Concentration Camp.

Early the morning of May 26th we walked the few minutes to our subway stop and took the subway then the #726 bus to Dachau. You buy a XXL day pass to do this. It takes around 45 minutes to get there.

It was colder than the day before and raining off and on but really that just added to the somber mood of the concentration camp.

The first stop was the visitor center to pick up the audioguides for 3.50 Euro a piece. It was very informative and allowed you to pick a shorter or longer version of exhibits.

Although not as well known as Auschwitz, Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp and was where those running all the other camps were trained. It started as housing political prisoners and later become a departure point for those shipped east to the gas chambers and a center for medical experimentation on inmates. About 32,000 died in Dachau. Then even after the war, Nazi officials arrested were held there.

Infamous entrance gate made of iron with the slogan Arbeit macht frei (work makes you free). Inside were buildings for processing prisoners, the bunker, the barracks, the crematorium, etc.

They turned the camp maintenance building into a museum organized chronologically. We listened to our audioguides at the different exhibits learning about prisoner life, their work, their food, diseases and the ware related medical experiments of human tolerance.

Artwork created by one of the camp survivors to honor those imprisoned at Dachau

There is a short documentary they show inside the museum building every hour so we made sure to catch that as well.

We walked through barracks that were recreated to give an idea of sleeping and living conditions. There were 34 barracks, each 10 yards by 100 yards.

Down this long road is where the furnace was. In the winter of 1944-1945 there was not enough coal to burn all the bodies so they dug these giant graves outside the campsite and put people in those instead. We would have walked down to it but at this point it started raining pretty hard and was very windy.

I am sure it would be so strange to currently live in a town that had a concentration camp but most of those living there even while it was active didn't really know what was going on. They thought the prisoners were just being put to work.

You may find it strange we wanted to go to a concentration camp but I think it is an important part of history and shouldn't be forgotten. Being able to see it firsthand is so different than reading about it or even watching videos.

Since after doing Dachau you need something to lift your spirits we decided on the BMW complex since it was still rainy outside. We took the the bus again back to the subway and then a couple of subway lines to get there.. Europe public transportation really is great. In Germany it's pronounced bay-em-vay because all W's are pronounced like V's.

We had late lunch in a little cafe inside. It was pretty basic foods like hotdogs, soup and sandwiches. I actually had a great pesto tomato mozzarella panini. There are cheap lockers downstairs to put your stuff if you don't feel like walking around with it so we stowed our rain jackets there.

At the BMW-Welt (which is free) we wandered around the exhibits and looked at all the cars and sat in them.

We could also see and read about some of the new technologies and products that BMW is working on.... like leather seats that don't get hot from sun exposure.

And we can't forget the motorcycles.

Across the road is the museum in a cool round building but we did not end up going to that. We did sit down for a few minutes to regroup.

After that, we decided to find a dessert place to take home dessert for later. We found a cupcake place a few doors down from where we had dinner the night before.

We each picked out a cupcake from the tiny shop. The lady spoke pretty good English but at one point she said "you going from far" while gesturing at a covered take out box and a plastic bag. Megan immediately replied with "we're from America!" The lady looked at her a little puzzled and Keith recovered with "yes we'd like a box". I'm not even sure how he kept a straight face because it was all we could do to get out of the store before bursting into laughter.

That evening Megan and I had a girls night in while the boys went to the Hofbrauhaus. We aren't really beer drinkers or into traditional German fare so this worked out perfect. We had wine and we made spaghetti with zucchini. Our biggest challenge was having no olive oil or spices to cook the zucchini... it definitely wasn't the best I've ever made. We figured the apartment would have those few cooking basics but it did not (although strangely it did have flour).

After the usual photo taking we decided to eat our cupcakes and discovered they were not good at all. Although very pretty, they were dry and just did not taste very good. I think I ate some grocery store shortbread cookies we had bought instead.

The boys returned from their dinner. They had a good time drinking and eating at the Hofbrauhaus even though they said it was a bit touristy. They were glad that everyone there spoke great English so there was no trouble ordering. Here are the photos they managed to take with their phones while there.


Next up is our Crazy King Ludwig Castle tour day!

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