The Bavarian Land

Today we are headed home from Munich. This was our last group trip, and yet again we were lucky to have exceptional weather. The trip from Münster to Munich on the train takes about six hours total. However, this is not too bad when you are on Germany’s nice ICE trains. As finals are approaching, most of us utilized the time to study or to take some power naps.

Munich was definitely a fun destination. The Bavaria region is beautiful and has more of the German-town look that I truly enjoy. Also, there are plenty of Biergartens in Munich if that is what you are looking for. The Biergartens have large pretzels that are very tasty. The gardens in Munich are generally covered by chestnut trees and, while we were there, the trees were blossoming with white flowers. There are also chestnut trees with pink flowers, but we mostly saw white ones. The Biergartens are very popular spots during almost all times of day as they provide shade, food, drinks, and a space to socialize.

The first day in Munich, we toured the National Socialism Document Center. This really emphasized the theme we have been discussing throughout our semester in Paideia. The goal of this center is to answer the question, “What do we do today?” that many people have when learning about the Holocaust. The Document Center focuses on the Nazis before, during, and after they came to power. It emphasizes that the Nazis did not just randomly come into power; it was a process long in development. Our tour guide did an exceptional job trying to highlight areas we might not have learned about yet. And believe me, even with a whole semester on this topic, there is still so much to learn.

On a lighter note, later in the afternoon, we went and toured the Residenz. For those of you who may not know anything about this place, the Residenz is the former royal palace during the time of Bavarian dukes, electors, and kings. If you decide to tour the Residenz you will see different architecture, room decorations, and former royal collections. This collection is called the "Treasury" and contains jewelry, crowns, swords, pottery, etc. There are lots of prized goods in this place but they were just a piece of the Residenz. The Residenz was foremost an administrative and representative building but has been changed and grown over the centuries.

The next day, the group split up according to the destination they wanted to visit. Five students went to see Neuschwanstein Castle and four students went to Regensburg. I went with the Regensburg group and we had an amazing day.

Regensburg used to have a huge Roman legionary fortress surrounding the city. Now, there are only a few stones or lines on the ground outlining where the fortress used to be. The town itself is really cute and has a bridge from the 12th century that is still in use today. The city is the fourth-largest city in Bavaria and is also a world heritage site. During our time in Regensburg, we also went on a nice 45-minute boat ride to see Walhalla. I did not even know this place existed but I am very glad we got to see it. Walhalla looks like it should be in Greece with its architecture but inside are busts of notable German men and women. Naturally, we saw Beethoven, Martin Luther, and Einstein. But of more importance to the math major in me was good ole Carl Gauss! Walhalla was beautiful as was the Princess boat we took to and from Walhalla. To conclude the day, our group ate at a nice Bavarian restaurant for dinner which was delicious.

We also went to the Deutsches Museum, which is huge. I would suggest picking a few things that interest you and focusing on those in the museum. Kia and I went to the astronomy section, which has multiple floors. There was also a glassblowing section, a computer science section, a ceramics section, and more! On the last day, Dr. Steding again gave us a free day where most of us went to the zoo about one kilometer from our hostel. It was nice to just be outside, enjoying the weather and the playful animals.

Munich was amazing, and I think we all enjoyed the sunshine and food. It is crazy that that was our last group trip. Even more crazy is that two weeks from today our Münster semester will officially be over. We have definitely enjoyed the memories and times spent in Germany so far and will enjoy the last two weeks just as much.

A view of Walhalla before climbing lots of steps to get to its entrance.
Just an elephant at the Munich Zoo enjoying the sunshine too!
A picture of some of the prized goods in the Residenz.
Half of the group in front of the Neuschwanstein Castle! Supporting Luther of course.