Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Couple of Castles

I've been super behind on my blogging lately, so I'm trying to knock a couple good blogs out in one night. It's not that I've been super busy, just super lazy. It's been so so cold here lately that all I want to do when I get home is light a candle, drink tea, clean and watch a good movie. Clearly leaving little time to blog. But it's time to play catch up. About 2 and a half weeks ago, I went to visit a famous castled called Neuschwanstein (I definitely just spelled that right the first time....no spell check! This is the castle that Disney modeled their castle after. This one is a bit more impressive in my opinion.

So a bit of history I remember on the castle(s). The first one I visited (the yellow one called Schloss )King Maximilian of Bavaria and his Queen Marie lived here. Well first they lived somewhere else but they vacationed and then raised their kids in this castle in Hohenschwangau (wow I spelled that right too... I feel so German) which is the city where the castles are. Anyway, the king and queen had 2 sons, and once Max and Marie died their eldest son, Ludwig II became king. He's also known as the Mad King Ludwig or the Fairy Tale King. He wanted to build another castle just for him...Neuschwanstein. Anyways the plans he had for this place were ridic and took years (obviously) to complete. He only spent about 170 days in the actual castle. Well he was only King for 2 years and was fired more or less for being 'mentally ill'. Which in hindsight may or may not be correct. He spent all his money making this castle beautiful and modern (complete with a cushioned 'toilet' right off his bedroom as well as his own private chapel...he was very Catholic). He was deemed mentally ill because (if I remember correctly) because he went totally broke after building his castle and it wasn't even finished yet! This is where the story gets sketchy. The day after he was 'fired' he and his doctor were found dead in a shallow part of the lake near the base of the castle. Murder? Suicide? Dunno. Here goes for some pictures....remember the white one is the Disney one. Oh and I wasn't allowed to take pictures of anything on the inside of either castle...bummer.

Side view of the castle

Entrance to Neuschwanstein

This is the view from the top of the mountain where Neuschwanstein is. Gorgeous right? Also note the lake where King Ludwig II was found dead. (See the tinyyyyy yellow castle in the middle to the right? That's his parent's castle Schloss)
My girls and I :)
Schloss Castle
The Kitchen :)

The view of the city of Fussen
Well that's about all for the castles! They were beautiful! I wish I remember all the history the guides told us though.


Saturday, November 13, 2010


Partnach Gorge.was.beautiful

After we went to visit Munich and visited Dochau, the girls came back to Garmisch with Emily and I and we did a little exploring of my beautiful town! They were only able to stay one night and one full day. During that day, we went to the Partnach Gorge. As I was the one who 'knew my way around town' I googled how to get here and it sounded easy enough, take the bus to whatever bus stop and follow the signs. Easy right? Wrong. When we got off the bus, we literally we in the middle of nowhere. Except for oh, the Olympic Stadium that held the 1936 Olypmics. So, I took us on a short detour. This detour ended up being just gorgeous.

Oh, this was not the right sign to follow. We weren't supposed to go left. Woops.

Anywho, once we actually got to the gorge, it was amazing. Not a whole lot to do but walk through it and take beautiful pictures. So here goes!

As we were getting back into Garmisch, we stumbled upon the cutest market in downtown. It was the Martini Market (St. Martin) and it was so much fun! They had all these food tents with gluhwein {red wine with all wintery spices all warmed up....delicious!} and other tents with things to buy. It was just one of those wonderful Sunday afternoons that I hope I'll never forget.
THE most German thing I've eaten so far. Spatzel with sauerkraut and sausage.




A couple of weekends ago, we met up with my girls from Vilseck in Munich to go visit Dochau concentration camp. The entire experience was at the very least incredibly sad. We went on a tour that took us from Munich to Dochau. One of the very many things that shocked me about this place was that Dochau is a city. It's an actual place people live and do things in. Weird. Even more weird, it was a city a long time before there was a concentration camp there. I feel like it's really odd that it still is a town. The concentration camp site is probably about a mile and a half from the city center.

Our tour guide was extremely informative and knew a lot about the history of the place. Dochau was the very first concentration camp to be opened under Nazi rule. All the other concentration camps were modeled after Dochau. It was so sad to see all the ways that the gestapo de-humanized the people that came into any concentration camp. It was unreal.To hear these stories and actually physically see things that killed and tortured people seemed unimaginable. One of my girls that came with had 2 grandparents that survived 3 separate concentration camps {including Auschwitz} during the Holocaust. With all the knowledge and stories she's had from her grandparents, this day trip was especially hard for her. It was interesting to realize how little we were all talking to anybody. We're usually a chatty bunch of "loud" American girls. But walking around anywhere on the site I think we were all just shocked. It was eerie to think that where I was standing, or walking someone may have died not too long ago.Especially walking through the crematory. A few pictures of my experience here:

This is the 'new' crematory. This one had 5 working ovens to dispose of bodies. Originially, Dochau was equipped with the 'old' crematory that had 2 ovens. The gestapo was unsatisfied with their death quota per month, they wanted a bigger crematory so their numbers could be higher. The new one was called: Barrack X because the people would walk through the rooms in the crematory in a path resembling an x. They would first undress, then go into 'shower' rooms, before their bodies were burned.
This is the front gate of Dochau where the prisoners would enter. On the front of the gate it says: Arbeit macht frei. This literally translates to 'work makes free' or in a way that makes more sense in English: 'work will set you free'. It was pressed upon the prisoners that the harder they worked, the sooner they would be released back into society. Funny thing was, the harder they really worked, the weaker they were physically. Which made them more of a target to be murdered.
As soon as the prisoner's entered Dochau, the first stage of de-humanizing them was 'renaming' them. They literally took away their names and gave them numbers instead. Anything and everything that they came in with was seized. Absolutely everything. Birth certificates, clothes, jewelery, wedding bands, family photos. This is part of what was taken away from people.
This is part of the prisoner's barracks. They went through 4 stages {I think...} and this was the final stage of what the 'beds' looked like. Practically a big wooden box that was meant to fit 250 people. With the people being as skinny as they were, they could fit more than 2,000 people in them.
This is about 1/2 of the cells where the prisoners who got 'specialized treatments' were. These prisoners were ones who were being punished even more or they were part of the church or even the government opposing the Nazi rule. Two of the most incredibly unreal things I learned they did here. One: They would put people in pitch black rooms for months at a time, getting a meal every fourth day. When the were released back with the rest of the prisoners, they were simply thrown in midday in the middle of the camp to find their own way. Obviously they could not see a thing. And I thought it was hard turning on my bedroom light on in the morning. Two: They had a room people would go in for FOUR days. All they would do is stand. The room was so small they couldn't do anything else. No food, sitting, or bathroom.
Sometimes people would jump on the electric fence surrounding the camp to kill themselves or they'd be thrown on there. The guards would not remove them them for a few days as a constant reminder to the other prisoners. This is a statue/memorial of those lives.

United States troops liberated Dochau in 1945. This is a photo of the celebrating people in the camp after seeing United States troops take over Gestapo posts. Yay USA :)
Although I am incredibly grateful for this experience and I learned a great deal; I do not plan on visiting a site like this again. I hated the feeling I had while walking around and being there. It was eye-opening, but I don't think I could handle it again. It is unimaginable what people did {thinking they were right and protecting German culture} and what people went through during the Nazi rule.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Germam Halloween weekend!


So another student teacher came to Garmisch about 2 weeks ago {which is such a blessing, I finally have someone to go do things with in Garmisch}. Anyways, we met some people at a place downtown that was supposed to have a Halloween party, Peaches. Peaches is the place where a lot of Americans go. We were supposed to dress up, so I had to borrow a costume from my old teacher's daughter, Well anyway, we got there pretty early because that was the last bus that took us from base to down town {by the way, can't wait to be back home and not have to rely on a stupid bus system to get practically anywhere!}. Anyways, we got there pretty early before anything was happening, so we were the dumb Americans in costumes waiting for any other Americans to show up! So it was pretty awkward for the first 2 hours or so that we were there! Emily was dressed up as a cat and kept getting meowed at by creepy older men. I felt the need to turn around and tell them just that...that they were creepy. Seemed to do the trick, no more meowing.

Anyways, when other people finally showed up, it ended up being pretty fun! The next night, a teacher from school at a Halloween party at Keans Lodge. Keans lodge is an American lodge that pretty much is made for big camps and overnight things. There's tons of space and tons of bunks. But the party was fun! Lots of teachers from school were there, interesting to see them all outside of school. All in all, my first {and probably only} German Halloween was a bit of an awkward success.

Ps: BEST schnitzel I've ever had: