Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This picture of us is at the gate to Dachau. It says “Work makes free,” which, ironically, didn’t prove to be true for those who were brought here during WWII. We all have sad faces, except Ed, who didn’t get the message. Can you really say you had a good day when you spent the major part of it at a concentration camp? Since the day ended on an upbeat, I guess you can. Our most difficult part of the day was getting our car out of a very tight parking spot in our hotel in Rothenburg. With both Crystal and I guiding (yelling at) Ed from outside the car, we finally managed to wiggle it free and we were on our merry way. We followed the Romantic way, which wasn’t very romantic, but we saw a lot of country roads and a few castles along the way. I don’t think we lost any time by driving on the back roads. Some Dutch tourists told us the freeway to Munich was full of construction and the going was very slow. We had no construction on the Romantic Road, but several accidental detours when the road wasn’t well marked. We had to tell Brenda (our GPS unit) to shut up for a while, as she didn’t understand that we didn’t want to take the shortest and most efficient route to Dachau.

So, can you believe Dachau is free? I wonder who pays to maintain it? We did have to pay 3 Euro to park, but that was all. We took the reading tour, rather than the audio tour, which was about 3 Euro each. It wasn’t the money so much, as the inconvenience of having to listen to everything on the audio tour. We like to go at our own speed, which was a little inconsistent and we lost Brittany and Amanda each for a short time. The camp had a lot of history to read about. They talked about how it was created in 1933, how it became a place for forced labor as well as a place to process people and send them to work camps all over the country. It wasn’t a place of mass executions, but many people died here from starvation, disease, overwork, and a variety of other reasons. They cremated many people, as well as buried many in mass graves when the crematoriums didn’t work. You ask yourself, how could people be so cruel to other people? There is also a lot about the drive to rebuild the camp as a memorial to those who died here, and a reminder of what happened. I don’t think I’d want to visit another concentration camp. One was enough. The parking lot was full of buses. Most of them seemed to be German school kids on field trips. The camp was gigantic, though, and the crowds didn’t seem large. We got hungry by the end of the tour, but I can see how people might not like to see lemonade stands on the grounds.

I’ve had lots of opportunities to try out my German here, except when people approach Amanda first and she tells them she doesn’t speak any German. I want to say, “Ask me, I’ll give it a try!” When I say I only speak a little German the people always repeat themselves very slowly. It works great for me. I tried my charm on the Dutch tourists at breakfast, only to get blank stares. I was relieved to know the problem wasn’t so much my German, as the fact that they spoke better English than German.

Everywhere we go we run into bees. Crystal, especially hates bugs, but when it comes to bees we’re all a little anxious. They are with us at every meal (indoors and out), especially if that meal includs jam or soft drinks. Ed has become adept at catching bees in empty glasses.

The Hilton Park Munich is right on the English Garden. Someone told me it’s the largest city garden in the world. You’d have to believe it! We walked a lot of it tonight, but I think we only did the tip of the iceberg. It was full of joggers, walkers and cyclists. It has a lovely little lake, which rents boats. We decided to take a boat ride in a paddle boat, but were shocked to see it was 70 Euros for half an hour for 5 persons. We didn’t realize the Germans write their 1’s like a 7. We were so happy to find out it was just 10 Euros. Amanda and Crystal, who did all the paddling by themselves, were glad we only got ½ hour. Brittany had the job of steering, and Ed and I relaxed in the rear of the boat. It was great! We ate dinner by the lake—bratwurst and potatoes, followed by crepes for dessert. It was perfect weather, and fun to be outside. We are now happy to be back at the hotel and resting our weary bones. Tomorrow is going to be a lot of walking—all over Munich!

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