August, for me, came with three entire weeks of freedom. After leaving my host family in the mountains, I spent one night in the city doing laundry, unpacking, and repacking. The goal of the next week was to visit a friend who lives in Jena. For this week I chose to travel by train (with a Eurorail pass-I’d totally recommend it) so instead of being on a train for 11+ hours at a time, I stopped in Munich on my way. I was not disappointed.
Sunday I spent most of the afternoon on the train, and arrived in Munich early evening. S/O again to hostels and traveling solo. I met some awesome people Sunday evening who I had dinner with and chatted with late into the evening. Monday was my only full day in the city, and I made the decision to spend most of it outside of the city, accompanying a newly found friend to the Dachau Concentration Camp.
I don’t know how to find words to explain this part. So I’ll bullet point a few of my thoughts.
- It’s hard. It’s heavy.
- I spend hours in school studying the holocaust, reading books, writing papers, and I realized after arrival that I had little comprehension of the magnitude of what happened. Because there’s such a strong difference between reading numbers on a page, and seeing where these numbers lived. Where these numbers slept. Where these numbers worked. Where they died.
- It’s scary that a single human being, a person, like you and me, could convince other human beings that some lives are worth absolutely nothing.
- If you ever have the opportunity to visit a concentration camp, go. See it. Take it all in. Remember it, remember what happened.
After retuning back into the city, I had a few hours of daylight left and walked through the old, historic center of Munich.
To end my short two nights in Munich, I went out with some hostel friends for my first ever beer garden experience. It rocked. The friends I met in Munich, were some of my favorite. I’m forever grateful to all the people I meet while traveling, they make cities so much more memorable.
Tuesday morning I caught an early train to Jena, arriving in the afternoon just as my friend, Tim, finished his university for the summer. Sophomore year of high school I met Tim while he was in Lancaster for the German exchange program. I had been looking for a time to visit him again, and thankfully our schedules finally lined up. The next five days were such a fun time. Normally, when I visit a city, I pack my days full of sightseeing and city exploring. I had already visited Jena, so this trip was much less touristy. Instead, I enjoyed catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in years, meeting new friends, and just relaxing.
On my last evening in Jena I booked a hostel in the small town of Nuremburg, for a stop on my way home. I tried hard to allow myself to be spontaneous during my travels in August and it was one of my greatest traveling decisions I’ve made. Traveling solo and allowing yourself to be spontaneous makes for an incredible trip, I promise you. So Sunday afternoon I arrived in Nuremburg, with less than 24 hours to spend. I’m convinced that this town is straight out of a story book. The houses, streets, and rivers could make anyone fell transported back in time. Since I knew almost nothing about this town, I signed up for a walking tour. Afterwards I passed through my hostel, made dinner plans with my new roomie, and then strolled through the famous Nuremburg castle within the last hours before closing.
To finish my short day in Nuremburg, I grabbed dinner with my new roomie friend who also happened to be an American. I listened in awe over dinner how she told me she had finished university, worked like crazy to save money, and was now traveling Europe solo for over a month.
I love hearing people’s stories. We might all have different reasons for traveling, we’ve all come from drastically different backgrounds, but we all share one thing in common: we want to see more of this majestic world.
Monday morning I headed back home to Milano. I spent less than 12 hours in the city before heading out again Tuesday morning, this time in the opposite direction: south. Because, you know, it’s summer, and what better place to spend summer than in the south of Italy? Next blog post: Napoli.