25.03.2008 - 03.04.2008 16 °C
I have a friend!! YAY! On arrival in Munich, I met a New Yorker, an actress, a crazy lady and I love her...she has a ridiculous amount of personality and so Ive spent a lot of my German time travelling with this other solo female traveller- there are so few of us out there!! Maybe Mary and I will even work together in Spain in the summer.
Mary and I spent a few nights drinking a lot of beer in the very touristy beer halls of Munich and meeting other groups of tourists. There are so many Americans, not so many Aussies or Asians. The Englishgardens was a highlight of Munich, becase despite the temperature (of about 17 deg) there were a couple of naked men just lying on the grass drinking there beer...along with thousands of other clothed people playing games and drinking...a nice, relaxing experience. Munich is another beautiful city, with dozens of huge buildings, but the arcitecture is much simpler than Italian, probably more modern, and definitely cleaner. There is NO rubbish, no graffitti, even the dogs are behaving themselves...its quite crazy. Im getting a little tired of going into every building, so in Munich, Heidelburg and Frankfurt, I have just been walking through and enjoying the scenes from the outside.
I went south to Fussen one day, where there are some MASSIVE castles...MASSIVE and they have massve names... Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein (google their images). These were King Ludwig II...who just loved to be extravagant, so they are decorated everywhere (lots of swans) and just everything is ahead of its time...like the throne which reclines back!! Lazy king!
Next day we visited Dachau, the first concentration camp to be built. More than 200 000 were sent there, much more than 30 000 were killed...but they dont have accurate figures of the murders. At Dachau, it is silent, cold and everything has a horrible feeling. There is dust everywhere, but even outside you can smell a smoke. Interestingly, the crematorium was located just outside the camp where the wind blew in the direction of the camp, so the prisoners could even smell their fate. Everything here is a reminder of the horrors of the Nazi dictatorship, and Sachsenhausen in Berlin was no nicer. Walking through these camps and the museums really made me feel sick and on entering the pathology labs in Sachsenhausen, I just burst into tears...you really cant help it. So while Ive written many pages of these camps in my diary (and you can ask me about them later), i dont want to talk anymore about them here.
In Munich we also went to Olympic Park, which was really nothing special. Although we didnt see it, there was a memorial for the Israli athletes that were killed in the Olympics- I guess what makes Germany so fascinating is all of the recent and violent things that have happened, particularly AFTER WWII (You would think people would have learned some important lessons).
Heidelburg and Frankfurt are nice little cities to walk through, and when it was not raining, thats all I really did. In Heidelberg there is a castel that I explored and (the scientists are going to love this)...there was a musuem of PHARMACY. So it was pretty funning reading how medicine was so intrically associated with the Gods and religion. The highlight though (CDCO'ers...are you ready)...I saw the first centrifuge!!! It was wooden and held 4 large glass tubes in the open (not in a box or enclosure)...and guess what, you HAND SPUN it!!! WOW. So there was a handle to the side which you rotated and it spun the tubes (faster than what the person was spinning but still, not that fast). Can you imagine me spinning blood using a hand centrifuge! HAHAHAHA!!
Heidelberg also has the first universtiy (I think in the world, maybe just Europe). And in the early days the uni was given the right to excercise punishment over the students, so the headmaster set up a prison! If students were caught drinking, "womanising", or making loud noise at night they were asked to go the prison! At first the students hated it and some even quit their degree before going there (they were starved a little), but eventually it became a joke and students happily went there to play cards and get out of class. Its really very bizzare with graffiti EVRYWHERE.
Frankfurt is the only European city with skyscrapers...but it is hard to call them skyscrapers really. I met a guy fom Sweden who told me about the involvement of Sweden in WWII...very interesting. Sweden was neutral, but practically had to co operate with the Nazis...and his grandfather was working on a train stations and were terrified of the Nazi soldiers that came through.
Anyway, Berlin is next and was absolutely my most fascinating city.