Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Well, here we go..."


On April 26, we departed Harding University's Artemis Hotel... fly out of the ATH for my 8th and final time this semester...

...and leave the land of the Greek airline companies like Olympic and Aegean (whom we flew with)... arrive in the land of the Lufthansa...

...and some mighty foreboding clouds.

But alas, we had completed our stay and studies in Greece to be turned loose upon the European continent for 17 days.

First stop: Munich, Germany.

Welcome to my whirlwind tour.
So, as some of you may have noticed, I have been a little absent of late - my posts stopped for the 17 days I was abroad. Why? Because I was completely absorbed in the traveling... oh, and I had very little internet connection during the trip.

Anything other than Blackberry, I mean. By the way, here's a shameless plug: If you find yourself traveling abroad for any length of time, go get a cell phone that can seamlessly travel from all points on the map. My weapon of choice is the Blackberry 8830 World Edition. Remember I traveled extensively through such places as Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and now all through Eastern and Western Europe and RARELY ever had a lack of full digital data service.

Anyways... just FYI.

So, my friends Mandy and Sarabeth and I decided to begin our experience in a transportation hub of central Europe: Munich, Germany. From here, they would depart the next morning to meet a few friends near Interlaken, Switzerland, and I would enjoy a day in Munich by myself before moving on.

I woke up at the crack of dawn (about 5:45) on this first day to see them off at the train station and I began my day...

...which began at Munich's skyline-dominating Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady).

I hope he got the camera-phone picture he was looking for.

Anyways, otherwise, this church looks like just any other church in Europe on the inside... except its a little different on the outside.

Two steeples with two clocks... I guess its a pride thing.

Or maybe it is this way so you can always see what time it is... if you can't see one...

...because it has clocks on all sides... yes - that makes for 6 clocks total.

But then again, it could be that the people of Munich just love their clock towers.


Because they're everywhere.

Yes, that one has two per side...

And if you turn around from this, you see:

...yet another pretty clock tower.

And so, checking the time on my watch, I realized not much is open at this time of the morning... so I headed out of town to something that I knew would be:

Dachau - the first concentration camp.

A quick 15min train out of Munich stands one of the first Nazi concentration camps and the model for all the others constructed from 1933-1945.

Some quarter-million undesirables were interred here - from political prisoners who disagreed with the 3rd Reich to some actual prisoners such as the man who attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler - they all were sent here to work.

Hence the sign at the gate "Arbeit Macht Frei" ("Work Makes One Free") Dachau was intended to be a work camp - not an extermination camp - although close to 40,000 met their deaths here whether it was by execution or (more often) disease.

This was an "execution hill" intended to absorb the bullets from pistol executions since it was done at close range and the shooters did not want the bullets ricocheting back.

The rifle executions were done from a distance with less likelihood of ricochet...

...notice the wall damaged in "just the right way".

This was mostly concrete back in the day and the ditch here was built so the blood would not run back onto the walkway here (where I stood).

And, of course, with many bodies comes a way to dispose of them... well as the infamous "smoke stacks" talked about so much by the inmates of such prisons.

On the side of this building are two vents - they look like the dryer vents people have on the sides of their houses to release the heat.

I assure you it wasn't heat that was vented here.

But Dachau was an extremely enlightening experience. The guide books say "give yourself 5 hours for the tour". Well, I self-guided as usual and still took almost 4 hours to do it alone.

It was just that in-depth.

The poplar trees here were planted in front of each one of the barracks (which were all destroyed as the Nazi's evacuated in 1945 - only their foundations and two reconstructions exist now). The trees were planted by the first prisoners here.

It was difficult to escape the importance of this history. The photographic mind that I am really enjoyed the photographs. Sometimes, they would show a then-and-now photograph by erecting a transparent panel in the approximate location of one of the photographs showing the piles of dead... pretty powerful stuff.

You see what they endured and wonder if you could have done it yourself.

The history is so profound. I guess that's why they bring army recruits to places like this - similar to the Israelis going to Masada - to say, "Let this never happen again."

And so that was Dachau.

I then returned to Munich and moved on to a less depressing place...

BMW's headquarters.

Now that's a happy place! And I'll explain how I made that aerial photograph soon...


Especially for a car-dude like me...

...its really pretty cool to see cars that aren't quite released in the States. Like this car here, the BMW 120i.

These car-configurations programs aren't just for playing, by the way.

If you want, you can really order a car per your liking and have it build right here at the factory. You take delivery upstairs...

...the car on the right is being shown to its new owners. The car on the left is just arriving. The car in the background (through the window) has just come off the elevator from the factory floor a few stories below.

Yes, my friend, that's the way I want MY car.

I like BMW.

Now, next door is the Olympic park...

...with its adjacent housing for the athletes - is kinda famous.

Anyways, the park was pretty cool.

There was a mighty cool tower, too, which most German cities seemed to have.

So, since I was in Munich... and I was there by myself with no other responsibilities or things to do...

It was like... really tall... like, flying standing still.

And then return to earth...

...and return to the BMW headquarters.

I bought a hat. A BMW hat.

Munich was just full of big monuments - like this Arch of Constantine copy...

...or a plethora of the Golden Arches.

Yes... one 50mm... or if you really want some exercise, you can walk almost a football field in the other direction for a different one.

Hooray, Munich!

That finished off the first of a few really amazing days in Europe. I went to the train station and waited for the 10:20pm train to my next location...

...which I won't tell you about until tomorrow's post.


Stay tuned...
~Noah D.

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