Posted by: rngerlach | June 15, 2007

Vienna, Salzburg, Munich

Vienna:

The day and a half spend in Vienna was full of relaxation and biking, of course what else.  Vienna was a very laid back city and a great spot for our hangover from Berlin and Prague.  Dana and I used the one day there to rent bikes and tour the city for ourselves. We got split up in no time because European streets and corners are rather confusing.  It was ok though, I figured with no map and a bike in Vienna, this could be really fun.  I rode around for a good two hours on the streets jamming the ipod until I hit a peaceful park with ponds and huge grassy areas among more Austrian sculptures.  I stopped for a moment to collect some thoughts in the journal. Being an idiot, I set my ipod down on the bench and completely let the peace of the park set in. Needless to say when I went back to get on the bike, no more ipod for Robin.  Of course, the first emotion that hits is anger and confusion on how I could be so careless.  No use in wasting energy there, thats just part of life. Some lucky Austrian is now cruising around Vienna with a sweet new shuffle jammin all tracks from Tupac to the Beatles.  I could not let this ruin my day or my image of Vienna.  The Austrian people were by far the most friendly and helpful to us in our whole trip.  I rode around a little more and got lost to the sound of silence in the Vienna parks.  I ended up meeting up with my brother back at the hostel around 8pm stripped of one more possession.  But hey, like John Lennon said Imagine a world with no possessions.  I actually felt better for getting it stolen, weird yes but revealing as well.  Overall I thank the people of Vienna for being so kind and friendly and wish the lucky new owner of the ipod well.  Next stop Salzburg….

Salzburg:

Salzburg is a smaller city on the border of Austria and Germany nestled just north of the Alps range.  This was only a one night stay but what a time we had here.  We had little time to waste after checking into the hostel at 3pm.  We were taking off for Munich the next morning so we had to cover as much as possible.  Salzurg is well known for being the birthplace and home of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is also known for the movie The Sound of Music.  The only tourists in Salzburg are Japanese and Americans mainly because of the Sound of Music. We found it funny that most locals in Salzburg had never even seen the Sound of Music movie but they sure loved profitting from it from the American travellers, I can not blame them.  Instead of dealing with any of that, we ascended a steep cliff on switchbacks to get to the castle and check the views of the city along with the history of the magnificent fortress.  The view was breathtaking.  Salzburg off to the north and turn around and you see the beginning of the Alps range. Coming from the west were some thundering dark rain clouds. How sweet it was.  We had to wait it out in a little fortress until the rain passed with two friendly girls from Aorland, which is an island between Sweden and Finland.  Anna and Jenni were very fond of the English language and hoped to learn it more someday by moving to America.  Of course, I gave a plug for Colorado and San Diego being the best spots in America to visit.  Anna hopes to visit someday in San Diego. 

The rain passed and we descended split ways and continued to the hostel, which by the way was our favorite hostel of the trip so far.  We had an incredible dinner served up there for 5€ which.  Then we made our way to the bar in the hostel for the remaining of the night.  The staff of the hostel was three very good looking Austrian women, hard to leave that plus there was not much of a nightlife in the city so we were content rounding the night out chatting with Rob, Haley, Steve, and Herman.  Rob was in his mid 30´s and is a dairy farmer from the island of Tazmania which supposedly makes a good living.  Good enough to take 2 months a year in the low season to travel.  Haley from Vancouver just graduated college as well and is going to be the top accounant in Canada, or so she says.  Herman from Peru was just passing through for a night like us. Steve from Rhode Island is a hockey player and found some time to travel Europa. This was quite a fun crew to say the least and topped off our tour through Austria the right way.  Next stop, Munich…..

Munich:

Known as the beer drinking capital of the world, Munich has two of the largest beer gardens in the world.  We have three days here, today (Friday 15th) being our last day here.  Our first day was spend by doing what else than touring Munich via bicycle.  I think Im falling in love with biking through European cities.  Our tour ended at the second largest beer garden in the world, Chinese Tower.  It was a great stop to get some good donor kebabs and 1Liter beers. The Liter beers are time consuming, one could say.  Once again, the rain clouds came rolling in with mean thunders.  We had to move our table under the Chinese fortress and finish off the Liter beers while watching an amazing rain shower roll through the gardens. 

The next day, yesterday the 14th was by far the most emotionally gripping day as we visited Dachau, a concentration camp just northwest of Munich.  Dachau wasnt just any concentration prisoner camp, it was the first and the model for all other camps that were built during the 1930s.  They have preserved much of the camp and turned it into a memorial-museum.  The five hours we spent here had me speechless and unable to find any thought but a deep sympathy for the prisoners that lived and died in Dachau.  Right after Hitler and the National Socialist party took control of Germany in 1932, they wasted no time on their extermination in trying to have a purely German nation.  Dachau was built in 1933 and became the most feared and known prisoner camp.  Heinrich Hemmler, Hitlers right hand man, started the SS officers who were the men trained (brainwashed) to hate, torture, and inject pain to any human being not German or against the Nazi party.  The museum was placed in the old bathhouses and torture rooms with accounts from different prisoners on what it was like to be treated as less than human.  We saw the bath house which is where they were first brought and put into the zebra suits and get their heads shaved.  The words over the entry of the camp read “Work your way to freedom” in German of course.  Prisoners were expected to work dusk to dawn with maltreatment and malnourishment.  If the prisoners couldnt work anymore, they were either killed or sent to extermination camps (Aushwitz being the famous one).  Seeing the hooks where they used to be hanged and the table where they used to be strapped down and beaten were the most intense.  We also saw the barracks where they slept.  Dachau was originally built for 6,000 prisoners and by 1942-43 60,000 prisoners were overflowing the barracks.  I could continue about all the different things they did to the prisoners but I should spare the details and not depress you too much.  Dachau was closed on April 29, 1945 by American soldiers who came and liberated the prisoners who were still alive.  Ive never felt so proud to be American knowing our role in WWII.  This day was the most humbling of many on this trip.  I ask that you be greatful for what you have and thankful that none of us have to ever endure a Concentration camp. 

Onto a much lighter note, Munich is a great city.  It is much more trendy than Berlin, people are all about designer clothes here. However the mullet is still very much prevalent here in Germany.  Some of the people are stuck in the 1980´s which makes it fun to people watch.  Germany has been a great country for the beer drinking and the history. By far the history we found more important and incredible.  Next we embark on our two days of travelling to Athens.  We train it from here to Bologna, Italy. Then night train from Bologna to Bari (south Italy).  Then take a 18 hour ferry ride to Greece.  Should be very exhausting two days of travel, but we are used to it by now. 

Next Stop, Greece baby!

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Responses

  1. Reading this portion just got me even more excited about leaving for Germany in a month. All of the reasons you mentioned above are why I am so passionate about Germany. I think the one of the best things that I like about Germany and all of the Germanic Countries is that once you have time to meet the people, the rigid German sterotype of them being well so rigid melts away!

  2. great entry brother! I can only imagine the emotions you were feeling at Dachau. Enjoy Greece!

  3. Wow that was intense.
    Vienna- Awesome to get a chance to really take in the quiet even if you lost your ipod, way to look at the positive.
    Salzburg – I love how many people you have gotten to talk to and learn from =)
    Munich- gave me goose bumps, all to often we get way to caught up in “progress” and material things and forget what is important. Even though I come from a long line of military I still forget what our country has gone through. Thanks for that reminder, started my morning off right.


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