Chronologically, this takes place before part 1, but the other one was quicker to write.

Jake & I met up with some friends to spend a few days in the Munich area before our conference. We had a great time with them and made some wonderful memories, which I will hereby share with you.

Our first day in Munich, we took a walking tour of the city, given by a guy who was knowledgeable enough but I think he was really just there for the beer. I would agree with him, however, that witnessing the Glockenspiel firsthand is waaaay overrated. After a bite of lunch we took the train to Dachau.

"work makes free"

"work makes free"

The closest thing I can compare this to is a cemetery: eerie, but also very peaceful. The eeriness is multiplied exponentially; tens of thousands lost their lives there, but hundreds of thousands suffered horribly and in addition, this was the model used for other concentration camps. But it also feels very much like a memorial, as if all the tears shed and prayers uttered have sanctified it somehow. Definitely a very powerful experience and one I’m glad to have had.

Later that evening, we were on a city train and heard part of an announcement urging passengers to make sure they were on the proper half of the train as it would soon be splitting. We dashed off our car, sprinting to get to the front half of the train, when Jake called after us to inform us we were on the right car. We stopped, did a quick about-face and started sprinting back, only to have the doors close in our faces. It takes very great talent, my friends, to miss the train you are sitting on.

The next day we decided to take a half-day and go see “the Cinderella castle,” which is what English speakers call Neuschwanstein Castle, probably because they can’t pronounce it properly. And also because the Disney castles are modeled after it, apparently. Let me pause here to note that we were well aware of the German reputation for punctuality and planned carefully to catch the 8:30 bus outside our hotel. At 8:25, we rose from breakfast in the lobby, just in time to see the bus pull away. Apparently Germans also abide by the “on time is early” maxim. No matter; there was another bus at 9. We made sure to catch that bus into the center of Munich, where we caught a city train to the regional train station. We then rode a regional train out to the middle of nowhere and switched to another regional train, which delivered us to Fussen. From there we caught a bus that took us…I’m not really sure; it was possibly a small village? or maybe just the tourist center for the castle? and we purchased tour tickets and hiked up (and I do mean UP) to the castle. We looked around and then just waited for our tour to start. Finally, it began – with our “fluent” tour guide speaking roughly 3 words per minute. It was………the most…………………irr.it.a.ting…………….thing ever. I will say that it was absolutely beautiful inside. Of course some parts were overdone and gaudy but the murals were lovely and the throne room floor…oh, it was breathtaking. I was going to get a picture of it – it’s this incredibly amazing mosaic of animals – but pictures were illegal. Not that that stopped me; I was going to get the floor picture after the chandelier picture but this German lady yelled at me and let me point out that Germans are really, really scary when they yell. So, I give you this:

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RANT: This is not the sort of place where photography is prohibited because the flash will damage something. It is prohibited SO THEY CAN MAKE MORE MONEY OFF YOU (after paying the overpriced tour fee and all the expenses to travel there) by forcing you to buy THEIR pictures in the gift shop. They don’t even have any good pictures of the floor in the stupid gift shop; here are the best 2 I found online: one and two. For a non-capitalist country some sites are very into ripping people off. END RANT

NEW RANT: if you are going to force me to purchase one of your overpriced postcards, at least provide one of the freaking masterpiece on the floor. END RANT

We finished the less-than-inspiring tour and looked around outside some more, then hiked back down to the village thingy to catch the bus back to Fussen. We realized that all the eateries in Munich would be closed by the time we arrived back there so we decided to grab something quickly in Fussen before the train left. Unfortunately, being 6:00 or so, none of the eateries in Fussen were open yet (Europe doesn’t seem to change its normal pattern for tourists). We found a kabob place and while our traveling companions had the foresight to order kabobs, Jake & I inquired and determined we had juuust enough time to get pizzas. We waited anxiously for the pizzas to cook; I was practically wringing my hands. They were ready with 2 whole minutes to spare! We grabbed them, threw our money down and literally sprinted out the door and through the tiny town. As we came upon the train station, some teenagers shook their heads at us and said, “Too late.” But we couldn’t be too late! We were right on time! Right?

Wrong. “On time is early” struck again and the train had departed early. For a brief moment we were worried we were stranded in Fussen of all places, and were pleased to discover large luggage lockers nearby as our lodging. We made ourselves comfy on the train platform to wait for the last train of the night. We caught it, and the next regional train, and the city train, and by this point we had to take a taxi to the hotel because our half-day trip had taken 15 hours.

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