My train left for Munich around midnight on Friday (...late Thursday night to be specific but I guess that would technically be midnight on Friday right?). I decided to hang out in Metz for the night until my train left, so I walked to and around the city for a few hours. I was hoping to go into the cathedral because I haven't yet, but it was already closed. I'll go eventually! I ended up running into a few friends downtown, who were also waiting for the train to Munich. They were on their way to a karaoke bar, and I decided to tag along and hang out until it was time to head to the station. The karaoke bar was a blast! The French are so funny when it comes to karaoke. They're not as crazy about it as Americans are. They definitely take it quite seriously, though. Every French person that sang had a great voice! We were definitely the worst singers in there...hahaha. I had my first couchette experience on the train ride to Munich. It went quite well despite the fact that everybody in the room with me was already asleep when I get on, and I accidentally woke the person below me up in the process of setting up my bed. I couldn't get the bed locked in, and it took many tries, lots of help, and grunts of frustration from the guy below me to get it all set up. I was pretty embarrassed as I went to sleep but whatever. I slept well and enjoyed the couchette experience!
I got to Munich early in the morning on Friday and had the full day to myself since Anna, Joe, and Katie weren't coming in until later in the afternoon. I decided to explore Munich for a while before heading out to the German country to visit a small town called Landshut. Munich is an incredible mix of an old German village with a cosmopolitan city center. There are so many beautiful parks, statues, and buildings to walk around and see, but there was also awesome shopping! There were 4 H&M's in a row in the Marienplatz area. All of them had different themes/styles too! There's too much about Munich that I loved to desribe it all. I walked through the Frauenkirche (largest brick cathedral in Europe) and roamed around the market place in the city. The market was an organic dieter's dream come true. Once I was satisified with getting my bearings straight in Munich, I headed back to the train station to catch a regional train to Landshut, which is about 2 hours from Munich by train.
I am so happy I chose to go to Landshut! It was fun to go off on my own and explore the Germany countryside. I felt like quite the world traveler. Landshut is a beautiful, quaint German town. Two large, cobblestone streets lined with shops and cafes run through the center of town. There is also a large brick cathedral and a castle that overlooks the town from a nearby hillside. I spent my time exploring the city on foot and hiking up to the castle. I hung around the city for the majority of the afternoon before taking a train back to Munich to meet up with Anna, Joe, and Katie. Hanging out in Landshut made me want to travel throughout the rest of Germany visiting small, off-the-beaten-path villiages.
My reunion with the group didn't go exactly as planned. Anna and Katie got of the train, but Joe was no where to be found. It turns out they had to sprint from their train in Stuttgart to get on the transfer to Munich. They all got split up, and Joe got left behind in the process. We went back to the train station later to see if he was able to get on the next train from Stuttgart. It turns out he did, so there was nothing to worry about.
We spent the night exploring the city of Munich. Anna and I went off on our own for dinner and had a great time enjoying the old city area and good German food. Friday was definitely a great start to the weekend.
We took a trip to the Dachau concentration camp on Saturday, which was quite the experience. I have been to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, but it was quite overwhelming to stand on the same ground where so many prisoners of the camp lived and died. Probably the most erie moments of the visit were entering through the same gate that was there during the camp's operation and standing in the gas chambers and crematorium. I'm really glad we chose to visit, and I think it was good that we paid our respects to the past and learned more about the evils of WWII. I'm not sure if I would ever go back, but I might want to visit Auschwitz one day.
We spent the rest of Saturday hanging out in the old city center of Munich. We went shopping and found all sorts of neat things. I had my fair share of fruit from the market and German eis. Munich is the perfect "let's just hang out" city. I had the best time just walking around and talking. There were all sorts of fun things going on in the streets. There were tons of street performers to watch, markets to explore, and cafes/parks to relax at. One of my favorite street encounters was a man on a horse giving out free pretzels! Before going out to dinner, we had to find a place to stay for the night, which was a bit of a challenge since Depeche Mode had a concert that night in Munich. We ended up fitting all 4 of us into a double in a 3-star hotel near the train station. I haven't talked much about my hotel/hostel experiences, but let me just say that staying in a 3-star was something I hadn't done up until then because the more stars, the more exensive the hotel is. I'm pretty much a 1-star kind of guy. We got a good rate though and splitting the room 4 ways made it a good deal. We decided to have dinner that night at the renowned Hofbrauhaus; it was definitely a worthwhile experience and maybe even a little overwhelming with all the people that were there.
Sunday was a packed full day of Munich. We walked all around the city visiting churches, parks, markets, and famous buildings. There was also a huge festival going on in the city with tons of cool things for sale. We spent a few hours just walking around and looking at stuff. It was like being at a German version of the Dogwood Festival! The highlight of the day for me was going to the Allianz Arena (soccer stadium for Bayern Munich). I'm still waiting for them to call me about signing a contract with them :P
....but yeahhh there's a lot more to say about the weekend. However, I don't really have time because I'm leaving for my next one soon! I'm super excited about this weekend because tonight I'm going to an August Burns Red (one of my favorite bands) show in Strasbourg before training up to Amsterdam. It should be quite the experience; I have no clue what to expect from a show in Europe!