Deutschland tour is officially over which means I am officially depressed. Two weeks spent with 55 of the best people on this Earth and now they're all home missing tour just like me. The relationships you make with the people in your district are unbreakable. You can't help but love every single person there and that's why it's so hard to leave them.
But now onto the details of tour...we visited 12 cities in 14 days. Heidelberg, Freiburg, Mainau Island, Fussen, Oberammergau, Munich, Dachau, Rothenburg, Dresden, Berlin, Schwerin, and Hamburg. We stayed in hostels in every city we went to and stayed for either one night or two. The hostels were nice and I enjoyed staying in them. Plus I got to share rooms with 4-6 girls so that was always fun. We ate breakfast and dinner in the hostels and lunch out in whichever city we were in for the day.
We moved from city to city on one of those buses you always associate with tourists. The bus rides were one of the best parts of tour. Everyone was standing up and dancing to latino music or laying across each others laps laughing and talking. There was always food and drinks being passed around which is probably why all of us were sick by the end of the trip. Our drives were one to six hours long so there was a lot of bonding time.
In the cities we mainly walked or used public transport rather than our bus. The walking was almost as fun as the bus only more tiring. We always listened to music and got funny looks from the people passing us. I liked the feeling because it felt like I was part of something and it was something awesome. Yes I am an exchange student. Yes these are all my friends from around the world. Yes we are all a crazy family. And yes you can stare if you want because this is who we are. #exchangepride
The first day of tour was my birthday (October 8th) so as you can imagine it was a very fun and exciting day for me. It couldn't have been a more perfect 17th. We were in Heidelberg that day which was one of my favorite cities of the trip.
We stayed in Heidelberg for one night. On the 9th we walked up a bazillion stairs to the castle pictured above. After our tour of the castle we left for Freiburg.
Our next destination was Mainau Island. We didn't stay overnight there but spent a full day exploring the island. It's on Lake Constance which connects Germany, Switzerland and Austria near the Alps. Its shorelines lie in the German states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, the Austrian state of Vorarlberg, and the Swiss cantons of Thurgau, St Gallen and Schaffhausen. The lake is also connected to the Rhine river.
The island is owned by the Lennart Bernadotte Foundation which was started by Prince Lennart Bernadotte, originally a prince of Sweden. Some members of the family still live in the family house on the island. Mainau Island is known for its incredible gardens including an indoor one with thousands of butterflies and picturesque views of the lake. I didn't want to take my camera out in the butterfly garden so unfortunately I don't have any pictures of that but I did take a lot of pictures with friends & flags.
We visited two of the best castles in Germany next but somehow I made the mistake of not having my camera with me that day so of course I don't have many good pictures of them (nice work Kaeleigh). I can tell you that they were incredibly beautiful. We took tours inside both of them and my favorite part was definitely the murals. Every single wall was decorated with incredibly detailed paintings. The first castle, Schloss Hohenschwangau was the childhood home of Ludwig ii of Bavaria. Ludwig ii was the king of Bavaria from 1864 to 1886. He became king when he was 18 years old and loved palaces and castles so much that he spent all of his money building Schloss Neuschwanstein. He never got to see the castle completed because he died mysteriously before it's completion. All that is known about his death is that he was went on a walk with his doctor in the castle grounds and the two were found dead a few hours later in a lake near the castle. Many tried to prove Ludwig the 2nd insane because of his incredible spending on Neuschwanstein.
The darker castle is Schloss Hohenschwangau which was built by Ludwig's father. Ludwig ii lived in the castle and watched through his telescope as Schloss Neuschwanstein was being built in the distance. Walt Disney visited Schloss Neuschwanstein and used it as inspiration for Cinderella's castle.
Unfortunately we were unable to stay overnight in the castles (too bad I know). Instead we went to Oberammergau. I don't know who found this place because it seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. There was a ski lift so I believe people go there to ski which we didn't do by the way. There wasn't snow yet. We had to walk up to the "house" it wasn't a hostel but it was bigger than a house and it hailed the whole time. 30 minutes of walking uphill while hail is pouring down. It was sucky in the moment but looking back it could've been worse. The view from the house was incredible plus we had some of the best food of tour there.
Next up, Munich. I really enjoyed it there. We went to the center of the city and got to spend some time walking around and shopping. I enjoyed the part we went to because there were few cars, just lots of people walking around in the streets.
Something cool that I learned in Munich is that the music played by the Rathaus-Glockenspiel at the Munich town hall (pictured above, middle, top row) changes every year on New Years. So every year you come back to Munich it will play a different song.
Also in Munich we visited the Deutsches Museum which is a technical museum as well as the BMW museum. We took a tour of the BMW factory and got to see exactly how the cars are made. It was super cool.
After Munich we stopped at the Dachau concentration camp. The camp was opened in 1933 by Heinrich Himmler with the purpose of forced labor. The camp was built and then torn down and rebuilt by the prisoners to hold more people. There were 32,000 documented deaths at the camp.
Rothenburg was our next destination. It was the "typical" Germany every outsider expects. Red roofs, colorful walls, and cobblestone roads. Being someone who's not German I enjoyed seeing the "typical" Germany found in Rothenburg.
I'm at 1,170 words and I still have four cities to go. I'd just like to give a round of applause real quick to you Mr./Mrs. Reader. I'm very proud of you for making it this far. Thanks for reading and don't leave yet I'm just getting to my favorite city, Dresden!
We spent two nights in Dresden and got tons of free time there. The architecture of the buildings along the river was what made Dresden my favorite city of the tour. And lucky for you it's where I took the most pictures. Another thing I liked about Dresden was that it was very lively. There were lots of people walking around and a lot of musicians playing on the streets. We could hear music almost everywhere we went.
After our second day in Dresden we hopped on the bus and went to the Meissen porcelain museum. We did a tour to see how the porcelain is made, detailed, and painted then viewed the museum. I didn't expect to learn about porcelain on this tour but I did and I guess I feel changed as a human being???
Next stop, Berlin. I took some cliche Berlin wall pics because it's an obligation...
Other than the wall we went to the biggest mall in Europe (Mall of Berlin), the Jewish memorial, Berlin concert hall, Brandenburg Gate, and German Parliament. Plus Dominos Pizza, can't miss that one.
On our way to Hamburg, the final city we stopped in Schwerin to see Schwerin castle. I took lots of great photos there which you might've seen on Facebook but if not I'll put some here as well. One thing I really noticed over the whole tour was how everything seemed to be under construction. You couldn't look out over a cityscape without seeing a crane. It made me really realize how the effects of World War 2 are still being dealt with. Germany is still advancing/growing and in some cases at an incredibly fast rate. Many historical buildings were destroyed during the war and are still being rebuilt to match how they used to look or are being updated to a more modern/usable version.
In Hamburg we took a tour of a new part of Hamburg called HafenCity. It's an old warehouse district of Hamburg that is being modernized and will become the home and workplace of thousands of people. It was very interesting to see because you can look one direction and see all of old Hamburg and then the other direction to an incredibly modernized Hamburg. I saw some of the most modernized architecture I've ever seen in my life there. It was definitely different from all the architecture I had seen in the previous cities.
On our final night in Hamburg we had an "end of tour" party. The night started happy and ended in tears because it was the end our oldies (exchange students who have been here since January) final tour. As I mentioned at the very beginning, the relationships made with exchange students are very strong. Having to say goodbye was incredibly hard for us newbies but more so for our oldies who leave Germany in the next few months.
This tour was incredible and I wish more than anything that I could turn back time and do it all over again. Instead I'm unpacking my bags, mailing my postcards, and getting ready for school tomorrow. Good news is exchange students never accept the fact that the party is over. I'll be seeing them all again very soon. 1,775 words and I think I've covered it all. Here concludes the summary of my two week adventure touring Germany with my exchange family.
Until next time, Ice Queen/Cream