Germany : Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Munich
Travel is an important part of experiential education. I fully support this educational philosophy. Of course, I believe in reading and listening and watching, but there is nothing like doing or seeing first hand to drive home a lesson. This is, after all, where the dreaded practice of homework got its start.
Every three years, I organize a journey, bringing travel opportunities to students and adults from my tiny cornfield community in flat, northwestern Indiana. I travel through a company called EF Tours. You can check them out here. I have had good experiences with them. (Please mention me if you decide to organize your own group travel.) Previously, we have traveled on the London, Paris and Barcelona and Costa Rica: Touch of the Tropics tours. This year we tackled Germany, Italy and Switzerland.
I’m breaking the tour into three separate blog posts due to length and the many photos I want to share. Each part of the tour held its own Ah… and Aha! moments. Scenes of intense, breathtaking beauty, morphed into nostalgic cityscapes, which in turn changed to dynamic modern snapshots. Along the way we witnessed classic European old city architecture in medieval, gothic and baroque styles, amazing stained glass creations, paintings, monuments, and craftsmanship of the highest order.
Of course, the food was spectacular as well. I always love to sample the local traditions, and it is fun to see how “American” food is treated outside the states. Hint: Burgers just aren’t the same! Gelato became an instant favorite of our group and we sampled plenty, trying out various flavors and shops along the eight-day journey. We became gelato snobs of sorts, comparing the various offerings along the way.
One of the most surprising parts of the trip for many was the amount of money spent on toilets and water. We paid to put it in, then paid to let it out! The most expensive toilet was in Venice (no surprise there) at one and a half Euros; the cheapest in Germany at half a Euro. The majority required one Euro or one Swiss Franc, depending on the country.
Our first stop was in a quaint medieval town south of Frankfurt called Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It was saved from bombing during World War II, as the story goes, because the American general in charge of planning the bombing in that area had a grandfather who came from the town. The general remembered the name and spared the town. Today, it is remarkably well-preserved. The park is beautiful and the streets, city wall, and moat make it simple to make believe you have been transported back in time to the nineteenth century.
Bavaria is a beautiful part of Germany. They make amazing pretzels and sandwiches made with pretzel dough are pretty tasty, too. Our group traveled to Neuschwanstein Castle. Translated, it means, New Swan Stone. Germans have a way of adding words together to make super long compound words. It was built by King Ludwig and was used as a model for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. The castle was never finished due to the mysterious death of Ludwig.
Next week: More of Munich + Dachau Concentration Camp