Hello, Kelli here!
The Nottingham Program involves extensive travel, and part of this travel happens during Christmas break. The University of Nottingham has a month-long Christmas break, and students spend this time traveling. One of my flatmates and I began planning our travels a few months ago, and it’s hard to believe we’re finally here.
The first stop on my trip was Munich, or München, Germany. Myself and two of my flatmates, Anna and Meghan, spent our first day orienting ourself in the city. We took a guided tour of Munich where we learned about the city’s history and sites. After the tour we went to explore some of the sites we learned about. At St. Peter’s we climbed 300 rickety steps to the top of the tower to enjoy views of the city. Our last stop was the Royal Residenz, the home of the Bavarian monarchy, the Wittelsbachs.
We started our second day by enjoying the many Christmas markets in Munich. Germany is famous for its Christmas markets, and Munich did not disappoint. We devoured giant pretzels, ogled the beautiful ornaments, and drank a warm mug of gluhvein. We ate lunch at the famous Hofbrauhaus before setting off to take a Third Reich tour of the city.
Munich has an interesting relationship with the Third Reich because it is the city in which Hitler rose to power. We learned about how he became involved in politics and how his influence spread. Kristallnacht was declared in the old town hall, allowing Jewish homes and businesses to be smashed and citizens to be terrorized and attacked. The tour showed us some memorials to the victims and survivors of Nazism, including a golden line painted on the sidewalk to remember the resisters of Nazism. These resisters attempted to avoid making the Hitler salute at a Nazi monument by taking an alternative route, but they were often caught by the Gestapo. The gold line ends where the resisters were caught.
Our third day was spent on a day trip to the Bavarian Alps and Neuschwanstein Castle. We took a train south towards the Alps, enjoying the beautiful views during our two-hour ride. We spent some time admiring the views of the castle and the beautiful Alps before going to the nearby Museum of Bavarian Kings. Here we learned more about the Wittelsbach family. A member of this royal family, Ludwig II of Bavaria, built the castle and multiple others in the area. After losing much of his power when Germany moved towards unification, he retreated from the public eye to build his castles. He became wildly unpopular in the political realm because of the money spent on his castles, and he was soon declared insane. Soon after, he was found dead in a lake from unknown causes. Since then Ludwig’s castles and legacy have more than made back the money he spent on his castles through tourism.
On our last day in Germany, we went to Dachau to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial site. Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp opened in Germany. At the memorial site we were able to see prisoner barracks and walk the grounds learning about the horrendous treatment of the prisoners. Meghan, Anna, and I split up and spent time walking the grounds alone. It was incredibly difficult to walk through the crematorium and gas chambers, but the experience provided me with a deeper understanding of the horrors of WWII. We spent most of the rest of the day discussing what we had experienced at Dachau. The trip was extraordinarily challenging but I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to learn and remember all those imprisoned at Dachau.
My time in Munich was throroughly educational, enjoyable, and exciting. I am glad to have spent time in the city and am looking forward to the rest of the month!
All for now,