As I mentioned before, we flew into Munich, Germany at the start of our trip, but spent the first two nights in Austria. But before we drove there we walked around the Christmas markets in Munich. We got there a little after seven in the morning, but by the time we got our luggage and drove to downtown we had arrived just in time for vendors to set up and open their shops. It was so enchanting - seeing all the decor, the hand crafted toys and trinkets for sale, the delicious Gluwein (hot spiced wine), etc. We strolled through the markets and enjoyed the sights but ultimately made our way to the Hofbräuhaus for some breakfast. And by breakfast, I mean sausage, pretzels and really large beers. Welcome to Germany!
We left Munich for Austria, but knew we'd get to come back and enjoy it a bit more. Unfortunately, when we came back to Germany from Prague, we came back on a bad note - our friends apartment in Amberg was broken into (while we were in Prague) and many of their possessions were stolen. Aside from that major downer, we enjoyed our time in Amberg. We stayed at our friends place for one night and got to walk around their neat little city. Amberg is also were Daren lived briefly before he deployed to Afghanistan so it was nice to get to see a little part of his life I had never seen. In addition to seeing Amberg, we drove to the military post in Vilseck and I got to see the memorial for all the Soldiers 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment has lost in the War on Terror. Miles had already seen it, as he went to Germany with his family for the memorial dedication in 2011, but it was only a few weeks after Finley was born so I was unable to attend.
After visiting Daren's memorial we headed back to Munich for our last night in Europe. We arrived a little early so that we could go to the Dachau Concentration Camp. Never having been to a concentration camp, I knew it would be a somber experience, and while it was very powerful, it was also really beautiful. That may sound odd - but the sun set while we were there casting a peaceful sky all over and it was really touching to see so many other people there visiting and paying their respect. It may not look it in the pictures I took below, but there were lots of other people there the same time we were, which was just before closing.
Going through the pictures top to bottom, left to right:
The view as you walk into the camp
The gate you walk through -Arbeit Macht Frei - Work Brings Freedom
Small portion of the camp
Where one of the living quarters used to stand (all but two have been torn down, but number markers
designate where they all stood - this one had flowers next to it)
Never Again memorial sign
View of museum which used to be the admin offices of the camp (the poles are part of a monument in front
and represent the gates surrounding the camp)
Sunset overlooking the camp
View walking down to the Jewish Memorial
After visiting Dachau we drove back to Munich to check in to our hotel and get ready for dinner. We had planned on hitting up the Hofbräuhaus once again, but it was insanely crowded - I can't even imagine how crazy and fun it would be to go there during Oktoberfest, though from the pictures Craig and Michelle have shared, it definitely looks like something for the bucket list. Instead of eating there we found another really great restaurant in downtown Munich and enjoyed our last night, thankful for such a wonderful trip with great friends.
Thank you Europe and thank you Nelsons - can't wait to go back!