9 days, 3 countries, 4 cities ALL ON MY OWN
Fall break was upon us here in Madrid, as some students prepared to go on the group trip to San Sebastian and Bilbao others were prepping for Ireland, London, Amsterdam, Switzerland, Paris, Rome, and more and I was prepping for the trip of a lifetime.
On Saturday October 19th I packed up my duffel and set out for my first ever solo trip. My first stop was Munich, Germany. I spent two days exploring the city and venturing outside of it to see the Neuschwanstein Castle. This was about a 2 hour train ride outside of Munich and was built beginning in 1868 and was ready to be lived in by the end of 1873 though renovations were continuous. Settled on the mountains, it was a retreat for King Ludwig II who did not like to be around people. The hike up to the castle could take quite a while but I enjoyed a trip in a horse drawn carriage up to the top to see the castle below.
The next day I got to see the Glockenspiel in the centre of the city. The Glockenspiel in a huge cuckoo clock that chimes at every hour. At 11 am everyday the chimes are special. Once the clock stokes 11 the music starts, and the figurines around the clock begin to move. I have known about the Glockenspiel for quite some time now and was ecstatic to watch the show. Although I’m 21 for about 5 minutes I felt like I was 4, it was really enjoyable. After the glockenspiel finished I enjoyed my first authentic German pretzel and visited a number of churches in the area.
That night I was on my way to Oswiecim,Poland. I took my first ever night train, let me give you a little advice: never take a night train that arrives at your destination at 4:45 in the MORNING! Yes, I arrived in Oswiecim, Poland at 4:45 in the morning and waited till Auschwitz was open for tours. World War II is the time period in history that intrigues me most. Everyone has history that they love to read and watch movies about and WWII is mine. I have always wanted to go to Auschwitz since the moment I first learned about it. My second piece of advice comes now: don’t go to a nazi concentration camp by yourself. There is a lot to process throughout the experience and it can be nice to talk about it with a friend. It took me two days to really process everything I saw. Auschwitz was an awful place but it holds so much history. It was weird to think that I stood in the same place as thousands of people who were persecuted for the most absurd reasons. I stood where thousands upon thousands of people died… I can never forget that. The image is burned in my brain. I have so much to be thankful for and so much that I take for granted everyday. Below are just a couple images of the entrance to the camp.
After I left Auschwitz, I headed to Krakow to catch my night train to Vienna Austria. It was the beginning of the the end for my week of travels. Austria has always been a place that I wanted to visit and I couldn’t wait to get it started. Vienna is the city of music, of Mozart and more. I enjoyed sitting in the outdoor cafes listening to the quartets play away to those passing. I saw several churches, theatres, and walked through the major park in the city. Vienna is definitely one of the prettiest places I have ever been.
To end my 9 day journey I hopped on a train to Salzburg. This was the moment I was waiting for, the cream of the crop, the holy grail of european cities; I was entering the city where my favourite movie EVER was filmed and historically took place, The Sound of Music. Salzburg is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. I visited every significant site from the movie. I walked up the mountain that the city is built out of, I ate schnitzel and bratwurst, and I rode a bike. To be specific I participated in the Fraulein Maria Bike Tour, it was easily the best experience I have ever had; if I felt like a 4 year old at the Glockenspiel, I felt like a kid in a candy shop for two and a half days while I was in Salzburg. My hostel even showed the movie every night at 7, and yes I watched The Sound of Music 3 nights in a row. Even though I spent such a short time in Salzburg I know it is the place for me! I can’t wait to go back some day. Enjoy the photos of my favorite place! And, check back to see where the end of my semester takes me!