Today, we woke up extra early once again to try to experience as much as we can and still have time for a round beers with some great new people (trying to make the impossible and so far I’m making it work, with the occasional curve ball of course. Our first destination was the concentration camp near Munich, called Dachau, and just so happened to be the first of its kind that the Nazis built. Going to visit a concentration camp is not necessarily something you want to do but I knew when planning the trip I had to see at least one while I was in Europe. We chose to rent audio guides to get a better idea of what we were seeing. Although the added information may have dragged our visit a little bit longer than I expected, they provided interesting stories from the actual survivors of the camp and soldiers that arrived to rescue them. It was surreal to see the sign “Arbeit Macht Frei” or works makes you free. While standing near a tour I overhead that the sign was used as a motivator for the Jews and the rest of the prisoners. The Nazis promised freedom if you worked hard enough to their liking, which rarely ever happened. I could not believe how many people were fit in this relatively small complex (over 40,000 prisoners jammed into unlivable barracks). To be walking on the same grounds that thousands of people were manipulated, tortured, and worked to death literally, was very emotional. A film in the museum showed footage of the aftermath of this horrible tragedy, including scenes of hundreds of naked, dead bodies piled on top of each other (I’m sorry if this may be be difficult to read but I am trying to describe the experience so that it is as real to you as it was for me). After walking through the rest of the grounds we ended our tour at the crematorium and gas chambers. The building does not appear to be much from the outside but housed a factory of murder. As cliche as it may be, you have truly stand there to fully grasp what happened sadly not that long ago. Even though the building was packed with tourists, the sight of these death machines left everyone speechless. I stood where Nazis watched and carried out the death of many innocent people and where the victims of indescribable crimes were lulled into a sense of safety by being told the gas chambers were for showers. From there, we checked out Olympic Park and walked in and around the Olympic Stadium. The visit was not really worth it but since we were denied entry into the Olympic Stadium in Berlin we had to see at least one. Before eating again at Hofbrauhaus I wanted to see St. Peter’s since a certain St. Munditia is housed here in all her skeleton and bejeweled glory. After playing I Spy for a while and running into trouble with church security, I finally found her (kind of creepy staring at a full skeleton, especially if you happen to be praying within a foot of her in her own special chapel). As for Hofbrauhaus, it fulfilled my every desire once again. I ordered their original beer with lemonade in the only mug they offer, a full liter, with a pork knuckle of all things, red cabbage, and a potato dumpling. In addition we started off with a pretzel as an appetizer that was at least two times as large as an pretzel I have seen in the States. Everything was delicious; the lemonade beer was an Arnold Palmer that bumped into John Daly after a rowdy night at the pubs, a deceptively smooth and refreshing drink. I did not know what to expect from the pork knuckle but it seems to be a delicacy in Bavaria so I figured why not. This pork knuckle was enveloped in fall off the bone, purely tender protein. I craved some Black Forest chocolate cake but none was to be found so I just drowned my sorrows in the most dependable thing in sight (some more Hofbrauhaus beer). Needing to walk off my food baby, my dad and I went to see Germans surfing in the river??? This man made river had enough water flow to allow some legitimate surfing at what they call Eisbach. To end the night, I am trying to search for a way to get to Switzerland before heading to Austria by way of Salzburg into Vienna if only this bloody Wi-Fi would work. Once the whole hassle of booking hostels for Zurich was completed I was able to finally watch the opening game of the World Cup.
Day 17: Dachau