While abroad in Budapest, Hungary, my friends and I planned to venture to Germany during one of our free weekends. Because of our university program, travel plans were limited to Saturday and Sunday, with a return deadline of Sunday night.
We knew we wanted to make the most of our German adventure, but how can you pack a full cultural experience into under 48 hours?
The answer is a 3 a.m. airport journey, quick flights, 12 miles of walking and prioritizing sightseeing based on personal desire and historical significance.
After arriving in Munich at 7:15 a.m. and a quick breakfast, our first point of interest was the Nazi concentration camp, Dachau. The 1933 establishment only took 45 minutes to reach by a bus and train combination. Formal tours lasted either three or six hours, so we opted for a self-guided walking tour instead.
The most astonishing fact about Dachau (besides the thousands of murders) were the original camp structures, preserved and unchanged over 80-plus years.
The cold, textured concrete walls of the buildings still displayed the stained, original, now peeling paint which begged to tell tourists a million stories of the horrors that haunt them.
Since the site is now a museum, everything original is maintained excluding some lighting updates and occasional floor repairs for safety. To stand in a courtyard where countless people were exterminated for their faith or values is simply sickening, if not one of the most powerful experiences you could have.
To empathize is merely not enough. Though not the most Instagram-worthy experience, the concentration camp is an absolute must-do while in Germany. Dachau forces visitors to connect with the victims and take away an overwhelming desire for humanity in the world.
With heavy hearts, my group decided to cheer ourselves up by visiting the famous Victorian flea markets of Munich, where vendors were selling fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, cheeses and sausages that surrounded our senses.
The square was like most farmers markets, tourists and locals swiveling throughout each tarp or tent with woven baskets of garden-fresh food and newly-picked flowers. With a slab of cheese and a carton of strawberries, the group wandered over to the English Gardens.
We picnicked under a willow tree in a grassy field overpopulated with chamomile flowers. A small waterfall flowed into a lazy river that looped around our fatigued bodies as we fell asleep.
An hour or so later, we woke to our friends calling us for dinner. While in Munich, the one thing tourists need to do is eat at Hofbräuhaus. If Germany is known for anything, it’s the beer and sausages.
The famous beerhouse of Germany, Hofbräuhaus bursts with energy from happy customers drinking liter-sized beers. We easily spent three hours at our table, laughing and drinking with people from around the world.
It was getting late, rain began falling and our energy was fading quick. My friends and I decided to retreat back to our hotel for some well-deserved sleep before our flight the next day.
With sunburnt faces and heavy hearts, we flew back to Budapest for class the next morning. Though we only spent 36 hours in Munich, Germany was definitely not the WURST place to visit.