When I made a list of places I wanted to go to while studying abroad, Germany was on the list. Partially because of the pretzels, but mostly because it is the one place I can clearly link my heritage too. My Oma (great grandma) and my great grandpa were both born in Germany before immigrating to the U.S. While I was never able to meet my great grandpa, I was fortunate enough to know my Oma. No one in my family has been back to Germany since my great grandparents left so I wanted to see where my family is from and experience the culture. Luckily I had the opportunity to do just that!
Our journey started early in the morning on a bus to the Dublin airport. Our bus driver informed us that there may be delays on the way to Dublin and that we may be behind schedule. We did not book our bus to get us there too much before our flight so this made me a little nervous. As we got closer to Dublin we were in major traffic. I watched the time on the clock and as it got closer to when our gate was supposed to close, I got more nervous. After getting to the airport almost 40 minutes after we were supposed to, we ran to security only to be slowed down by a family who apparently had never gone through security before. As soon as we got through we sprinted to our gate. Margaret didn’t even have her shoes on. We got there just in time and luckily that was our only almost transportation disaster.
Our flight landed in Bremen (where my great grandpa was from) and we had a few hours to explore before our bus left for Berlin.
This was our first of many bus rides around Germany. After five hours on the bus we were finally at our destination! I was excited for Berlin not only because I had heard great things about it, but also because it is where my Oma is from.
After taking longer than it should have to find our hostel, we were exhausted from our day from travel. We drank our free welcome beer and headed to bed. The next morning we went on a free walking tour. We had done this in London and it was a great, cheap way to get acquainted with the city. We started at the Brandenburg Gate and worked our way around East Berlin.
Our first stop was at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. This was a breathtaking memorial. We learned about the history of Berlin starting with World War II and then moved on to learning about the Berlin Wall. We ended our tour at Checkpoint Charlie and learned about Berlin rebuilding after the wall came down.
After the tour was over we decided to find the East Side Gallery, the longest part of the wall that is still standing and was given to artists to decorate. It was amazing to see how something that had separated a people could be turned into something so beautiful. This was one of my favorite experiences in Berlin.
After a few more sights and some food, we headed back to our hostel to get our stuff and head to the bus station for our overnight bus to Munich.
We arrived in Munich early in the morning and made our way to our hostel. We dropped our stuff off and made our way to the train station to go to the Dachau Concentration Camp. We knew that we could not go to Germany without learning more about the history of World War II. It was eye opening and heart breaking to get a glimpse into what people had to go through in these camps. As we got ready to leave it began to snow.
After a quick nap and shower (turns out sleeping on a bus doesn’t give you the best nights sleep) we headed to the Hofbrauhaus. How could we go to Germany without going to a beer hall!
When we walked in we were overwhelmed by how hectic it was. We had no idea what to do and after walking around for a little bit we eventually had to ask . We were informed we could just sit anywhere so we began our hunt for a seat. This was not an easy task as it was a Saturday night. As we stood looking lost, an Italian man called out to and told us we could sit with them. They made some room and we sat down. Soon we had a liter of beer in front of us and basically no food in our stomach. Knowing this would not go well, we spotted a girl selling giant pretzels. We bought two and that made up our dinner.
The atmosphere in the Hofbrauhaus was amazing. Everyone was happy (thanks to the beer) and making new friends. Our new friends were three guys from Italy, a guy from England and a girl from Korea who was studying in France. As we got to the end of our liters, everyone at our table encouraged us to chug the last few sips. After finishing our drink the waiter came over and told us we were not allowed to do that there and we took this as our cue to leave.
The next morning we explored downtown Munich a little more. We climbed to the top of St. Peter’s Cathedral and got one of the best views I have ever seen. We then headed to the bus station to head to Heidelberg.
We had basically no plans when we got to Heidelberg. The castle was right above our hostel so we thought that would be a good place to start. We hiked up to the top and explored the grounds. Once again we got a beautiful view.
After the castle we were hungry and decided to find a place for brunch. After a leisurely lunch we decided to check out the bridge.
As we were standing on the bridge we saw a path going up the hillside and people hiking up it. We decided to go and find this path. We eventually found it and started the climb. We were definitely not dressed for a hike and this was definitely not a walk in the park. We eventually made it to the top and got another breathtaking view of Heidelberg.
As the sun started to set we decided it was time for dinner. After getting a few recommendations we ended up at a restaurant called Vetter. I ordered spätzle and Margaret got a Sausage plate. When our food arrived we were surprised as to what was on Margarets plate some of the strangest sausage we had ever seen. Luckily there was enough familiar sausage to fill her up and we headed back to our hostel.
We were talking to two guys who were staying in the room with us and told them about the sausage. They laughed and told us they were at that restaurant and saw a girl looking horrified at her sausage.
We left the next morning to take a bus up to Cologne to head home. We were going to explore Cologne a little bit before our flight but when we got there it was hailing and we were tired so we decided just to go to the airport.
It was a whirlwind trip to Germany and we packed a lot into our short stay!
Check out my video about our trip: