Today, our CR group is back on a train through Germany; this time we are headed to Interlaken. (Update: just did a train change in 9 minutes. That was more hectic than I expected). As I look back on the past few days I realize how different my experience in Berlin was from my experience in Munich.
On our second day in Munich, I woke up unable to put much weight on my right ankle meaning I wouldn’t be able to walk. Due to this unexpected injury, Dr. P had me stay at the hotel to rest for the day. Taking care of myself is incredibly important, especially since this is a marathon not a race. That one day of taking rest definitely helped me get back to a point where I could enjoy the rest of our time in Munich. (Probably sprained my ankle a little bit: I am very accident prone)
The dreary weather that we experienced our first day in Berlin followed us to Munich. These two cities, however, could have been more different. From the second we arrived in Munich, you could tell it approached its history in a very different way from Berlin. The strong Bavarian roots of this city are evident, in the well preserved architecture of the buildings, the structure of the city, and the culture of the people. During the one day I got to explore the heartbeat of Munich, I found the beauty in preservation of culture. The people in Munich are incredibly proud of their Bavarian heritage. Munich tries its hardest to keep its culture unique: a remnant of the thriving Bavarian culture of the past. This can especially be seen in the massive mansion that resides in the center of the city. The Residence is so grand that it doesn’t need any other name as it is an embodiment of the rich history of Munich. This opulent residence contains rooms adorned with massive tapestries, hand carved wood work, and corridors that one can get lost in.
After spending hours wandering through this massive structure, it was refreshing to experience everyday Bavarian culture as we walked through an open air market. Also located in the center of the city, this marketplace of fresh goods was incredible, even in the pouring rain. Finding stands full of fresh fruit, cheese, honey, bread and chocolate was a fun way of interacting with the local people of Munich. You could tell that these citizens were proud of their past and the heritage of their city.
While Berlin is a city that embraces its past, it modernizes the structure and delivery of that past to make itself more accessible to all people. They use their history to become a place of learning for the future. Munich embodies an opposite mindset. This city finds strength in maintaining its history. The people of Munich utilize their traditions to solidify an strong sense of identity. Munich’s landmarks are the cornerstone of what people identify as German culture. Preservation of the positives parts of your past is just as important as pushing yourself into the future. So thank you to Berlin and then Munich for teaching me how to face both the future and the past with understanding, curiosity and appreciation.
After my day of rest, I was determined to go visit the castles of Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. After 2 trains, a bus, and the aide of a horse drawn buggy I was able to make it up half of the mountain without causing any additional injury to my ankle.
The walk up (and subsequently down) was well worth any discomfort as the castles were remarkable in person. These retreats from the everyday life of Munich were monuments to the ornate and exquisite experiences of their past owners. The architectural wonders protrude from the mountains surrounding Munich, framing the castles as adornments of the landscape. The beauty of these place only serves to further the proud history of Munich; the preservation of the historical is incredibly important to this culture. These castles serve as hidden gems and a reminder of the rich culture and history that the people of Bavaria love so much.
We spent our final day in Munich at the Dachau concentration camp. Visiting this impactful historical landmark was one of the most unique opportunities that I have ever experienced. The emotions and understanding of that place require a completely separate blog post to truly do it justice. As I process this difficult emotional journey, I hope to write a post to articulate what an important moment this was for my CR experience and my life so far.
Overall, Munich is a city that is full of wonders from the past. Their culture is based on the pride of their history, and this showcase of a time long passed is evident in every aspect of the city from the massively ornate edifices to the traditional feel of the everyday culture.
We got a little taste of the wonderful landscape of Europe on our hikes to the castles. I can’t wait to see more of it in Interlaken. Till then!