The Day It Rained, Again

Trip Start Jul 17, 2010
Trip End Aug 07, 2010

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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Saturday, July 24, 2010

From Greg: Today was an all-around busy day. We got up early and made our way to the underground station. Because of Cari's utter fear of strangers, we bought the wrong tickets. So, we purchased new tickets and hopped the train to Dachau (pronounced with a "clearing your throat noise" in the middle).

From Cari: It was raining again this morning, but we took the train (the S-Bahn which is above the ground out of the city and underneath in the city center) to Dachau. We had to buy another ticket because Dachau was one stop too far out of the inner white ring, but, in my defense, there wasn’t any option for a three day combined ticket, so this was the only way we could have done it anyway. We arrived in the city of Dachau in about thirty minutes, hitching a bus to the front gate of the concentration camp.

From Greg: Dachau was the “model” concentration camp with 32,000 people dying there.

From Cari: Dachau was considered the “model” camp because it was the first and every type of atrocity committed at any of the Nazi camps was committed to some degree at Dachau. It was really sobering. We had an obligation at 1230PM, so the visit was quick, but we were able to listen to the “highlights” (if that is the correct word) and go through the museum. When we entered the camp, you have to go through the jourhaus, which was the original gateway to the camp. On the gate was written, “Arbeit Macht Frei” or “Freedom Through Work.” We passed onto the roll call field, where prisoners were made to stand for hours and subjected to humiliating treatment.

In the museum, we learned more about the camp. It was truly disgusting what the Nazis did to the people unfortunate enough to be deemed an “enemy of the state.” Human experiments with altitude and hypothermia (just a couple of the types), completely inhumane living conditions, murder, torture, and...the more I read the angrier I got. Most shocking of all for me (mainly because I had never heard of it before) was that foreign journalists would come to visit Dachau, but the prisoners would be “elsewhere” and the parts of the camp the journalists would see would be sparkling clean. The museum had some of the articles and letters written by the journalists supporting the camp. One article claimed that the inmates had a swimming pool (which was true, but it resembled more of a pond and the inmates were forbidden from swimming because it was full of infection) and a letter claimed that the prisoners were better off in the camp than at home. It was truly sickening.

From Greg: If one removes the disgusting nature of a concentration camp, there were a couple of “interesting” features. One, with the surplus of inmates, a number of businesses popped up to exploit the use of free hard labor. The inmates became a small economic driver. The inmates would occasionally have to go on marches, which were considered rather precarious from the inmates perspective. The guards would intentionally let an inmate fall behind so that he could accuse the inmate of attempting to escape and shoot him. The guards were financially rewarded for shooting escaping inmates.

From Cari: After the museum, we walked around the camp in the pouring rain (it was oddly appropriate). We saw the barracks, and even though they were reconstructions of the originals, you could still get a sense of the cramped conditions. The barracks had different setups in each room, demonstrating the worsening conditions as the war progressed and the number of prisoners increased.

In the corner of the camp were the old crematorium, the new crematorium, and the gas chamber disguised as a shower. For me, this was the most somber part of the camp, and even the audio guide asked for visitors to be respectful. We finished our tour heading back to the jourhaus and listening to a final thought about the crematorium on our audio guides. Apparently, the Nazis originally tried to blame the invading Americans for building the crematorium and gas chamber as a scheme to gain support against the Nazis at the end of the war. Both Greg and I scoffed at that one; nice try but I’m not buying it. We boarded the train in Dachau for the return trip to Marienplatz, grabbing sandwiches from a bakery on the way back to the hotel for lunch.

From Greg: After Dachau, we returned to the hotel with just enough time to meet Gunter. After seeing Gunter, I have decided the Germans all do indeed dress like King Hofbrau. Once politely greeting, we made our way to the first brewery on our trip, Spaten.

From Cari: We walked off the elevator and there was a man dressed as if he were about to go yodeling. Part of me was hoping that he wasn’t Gunter, but mostly I knew that it had to be. He was nice enough, and, as Greg said, we made our way through the rain to the underground station and out to the first brewery.

From Greg: Spaten sucked. It turns out that they are owned by AB-InBev. The tour guide knew absolutely nothing about how they made beer and anytime there was something that I wanted to go look at, I was informed I could not. Hell, the brew kettles we saw weren’t even ever used for brewing, they were for show. The tour concluded by me getting yelled out by taking pictures of the bottling line, like I was going to steal some sort of secret from that. Screw Spaten. If you get the chance, don’t drink it.

From Cari: Greg really hated Spaten. And he wasn’t found of the tour guide either. It was just a brewery tour for me…pretty standard (but AB’s was better in my opinion). The “English speaking” guide spoke hardly any English and it was an hour and a half of lost-in-translation. Two things that I thought were interesting: (1) our tour guides hated each other and were battling for talking time, and (2) the history of the brewer’s star (which, ultimately, was a VERY small portion of the tour). At the end of the tour, Greg got a free Spaten glass (probably as a wedding present because everyone thinks we are married), and I had to convince him to keep it.

From Greg: Gunter did make up for the shitty Spaten tour by taking us to the Octoberfest grounds, which was kind of neat, and a little microbrewery in the area. I, again, didn’t really learn anything, but I didn’t hate them, and the beer was kind of tasty.

From Cari: The Octoberfest grounds were interesting. The tents are being built right now because they tear them down and rebuild every year. Each brewery has a tent and each tent has a different theme (i.e. the English speaking tent with all of the Americans, British, and Australians). It was a construction sight and I was freaked out the whole time that we were going to get in trouble for trespassing. Gunter told me that the Germans don’t sue by accidents caused by their own stupidity, so there aren’t excessive trespassing laws.

            In addition to the microbrewery, Gunter also took us through the rain to the English Gardens, where we watched a couple try to surf. On her first try, the girl faceplanted. It was very funny. I was a little disappointed when I saw Mike’s Bike Tour pull up. We were going to try to make it back for it, but Gunter assured us it was going to keep raining. Lies.

            We rode the street car back to the hotel where we parted ways with Gunter. After cleaning up a bit, we headed out to find food and road maps. We found the maps at a bookstore, and we ended up eating at the restaurant across the street from our hotel. It wasn’t that great, but there were a lot of locals, or at least other German tourists (you could tell because there was a lot of German being spoken). We bought ice cream at a store around the corner, found me a pin for Munich at Hofbrahaus, and headed to the hotel for the night.

From Greg: On a concluding note, the potatoes in Germany are very odd. They are like a spongy ball of mashed potatoes. Though extremely odd, they are extremely tasty and go very well with the beef broth that covers everything in this country. The end.
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