An eye for the expensive...

Trip Start Feb 21, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Germany  ,
Sunday, April 22, 2007

Or maybe I'll live here in Munich, I don't know.... it is a freaking awesome city!  Only I found out later it is the most expensive city in Germany, even over Berlin... dammit.  Well the last couple of days I've spent exploring Bavaria: took a day trip to Füssen to see Neuschwanstein and its nearby neighbor of Hohenschwangau, and of course got the classic postcard picture of the N-castle (I´m lazy, what can I say?) from the Marien Brücke (Mary's bridge).  The whole area encompassing N-castle is a fantastic place to do some serious hiking, which was great after spending 2 hrs sitting on my butt just to get there!  First you get a tour of Hohenschwangau, which has something to do with swans in the name... the schwan part. Like place of swans or something.  King Ludwig's pop had a thing for them apparently, and the decor in this castle influenced Ludwig's romantic streak, inspiring him to renovate N into what it is today.  Unfortunately he died before his throne was even made, so the 3rd floor as well remains incomplete (this is in the N castle).  But back to H-castle, this is where Ludwig grew up.  His family was friends with Wagner - he even had his own piano there (sweet!) and actually a fair amount of his compositions were inspired by the H-castle and his experiences there.  N-castle of course is everything you see in the postcards, and the interior that IS finished is extravagant and impressive.  But if you want to know what the inside looks like, you might as well buy the book b/c the tour flew us through so fast, literally the guide was like, well, now we move to the hallway where to your left you have the servants quarters, then we pass an office with one of the oldest telephones in Europe, then we climb 33 steps to the 4th floor b/c there technically isn't a 3rd floor, where we enter into the Opera room, which is where we go now.  WHAT?  Ok so by the time you try to digest whatever she just told you about the throne room or whatever (minus the throne of course!), I'd already forgotten to look for the telephone until I was at the top of the stairs and she was on to the Opera room.  And there's no turning back with this tour.... sigh.....

But around the castle is GREAT, with some intensely steep paths for great views, and on my way down I decided to check out this path that led down to the river that goes beneath Mary's bridge in little waterfalls along the way.  Well at least there's stupidity in numbers, eh?  I followed these other people and it kept going down and down, and finally I'm thinking, hey this is great, maybe it's one of the paths on the map and then I don't have to go back up again!  Yeah we were off the map, literally.  Fortunately only a km or so away from the map again, so not all that bad, and I didn't have to go back up.  Lesson learned though.  And if I had an extra 5 hrs of sunlight to kill (2 1/2 round trip granted you don't fall off the path or something), there's a path that goes to the highest peak in the area which gives you an even greater view supposedly of the area.  But that will have to wait for next time I think....

The following day I headed to Dachau.  I was really debating this one, but after having conversations with many other travellers about the importance of actually going, no matter how much I already think I "get it," I decided I owed it to myself and the rest of the world (it's a responsibility thing I think) to go.  From what I've heard of the other camps, this is probably the 'easiest' one to digest.  The bunkers are all gone except for two recreated, and a giant SS one which is now an incredibly long and extensive, chronological and thourough museum.  I wandered off the beaten path a bit, freaked out and came through the museum the back way, so I stopped where I could and moved on.  The important things to know about Dachau is that it was the first concentration camp, and was propagandically billed as a sort of 'reform' camp, you know like our boot camps and such in a way.  Of course it quickly developed into anything but that.  Dachau also had every kind of torment and torture pass through there that was distributed to the following camps; the exception is that it has a gas chamber, but was never actually used before the war ended (thank God).  It is all well to read about these things but another to see of course... like these people were actually sick - the kinds of medical experiments shamelessly made on the people, the multiple forms of torture for the most minute minute things (heck you might as well get shot for coughing) - it is nauseating.  It is hard to comprehend and yet you see a small sqaure of dirt with the ashes of 11,000 people below it, or still smell the lingering burn in the crematory oven rooms and it all hits home only too fast... then you think about the massacres and genocides happening right this minute in other parts of the world and you really start to wonder - what is keeping us from improving the situation?  We all have a repsonsibility to ourselves and each other and those not yet here... to care and give a shit and get off our butts and do something however seemingly small that gives aid to sending our world, our home, in a better direction than that in which we're currently headed.
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