Marcy and I both agree, every place we went in Germany was a great place to visit.  We always found interesting places to visit with lots of history.   We visited Cologne, Berlin and Munich.  Although Germany has its dark side of history, it also has beautiful architecture and great food.  Of course like most of Europe, the train system is great – no need for any cars on this trip.

COLOGNE: Our first stop was Cologne. First thing we saw within a few steps off the train was the Cologne Cathedral. Of course we had to climb up into the one of the towers.  It is 475 high. You climb these small circular steps up 332 feet. With a staggering 533 steps to the top it is a killer!  We felt it in our legs for days. But the views from inside at the top were worth every step. Some of the pictures were taken from inside the top of the towers. Great shot of Cologne and the Rhine river. One of the nice places to visit in Cologne is the Lindt Chocolate Museum. They actually are making  chocolate there plus you can taste it.  It is on a little island off the main street near the Rhine river.

BERLIN: Berlin is a unique city. It is very large but easy to get around on the subways or by foot.  There is an abundance of history in Berlin, most related to WWII and the horrific nature of that period of time. The awesome Brandenburg Gate, then and now.  The older pictures above were taken in one of the subway stations.  The picture with the Gate in the distance was taken from the viewing area in the Berlin TV Tower (Fernsehturm) below. While walking to the main train station (Hauptbahnhof), we stumbled on this memorial. It was unique with the uneven grey boxes on 4.7 acres of land. The museum was underground below them.  It was a very tough museum to walk through and as expected, very depressing (as it should be). We had to leave because it was just to much to take. Damn it was a nasty war on a harmless population.

We decided that we should take a day and visit one of the concentration camps while in Berlin.  The closets was Sachsenhausen, about an hour train ride North of Berlin. Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp is in Oranienburg, Germany. It is now a museum.  Most of the buildings are gone now, but they have a model of what it use to look like.  Some of the buildings have been restored so that you can see exactly what “life” was there.  “Arbeit macht frei” is a German phrase, literally “work makes (one) free,” meaning “work sets you free”. The slogan is known for having been placed over the entrances to a number of Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust.  Some 30,000 inmates died in Sachsenhausen from exhaustion, disease, malnutrition or pneumonia from the freezing winter cold. Many were executed or died as the result of brutal medical experimentation.  This is one of those places that makes you believe in the saying “we must learn from the past so that we are not doomed to repeat it”.

MUNICH: Munich was one of our last stops on our European vacation.  After almost three weeks, we were almost vacationed out but there was still a lot to see in Munich.  Of course the most talked about thing in Munich is Octoberfest.  A massive beer party basically.  Our hotel was a block away from the main Octoberfest fair grounds. The picture above on the left is a statue who looks over Octoberfest each year. The next picture is a much much smaller beer garden that is open all year. There is always good beer in Munich. I tried beer in almost every country we visited, but I think Munich beer is still the best. The other two pictures above are from Marienplatz.  It is in the heart of Munich. The square is dominated by the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus). The monumental, 79 meters (259ft) high town hall was built between 1867 and 1909 by Georg Joseph Hauberrisser in Flemish Gothic style. At 11, 12 and 17 o’clock each day, visitors can watch the famous Glockenspiel or carillon. The figures perform the Schäfferltanz or cooper’s dance, which was originally performed in 1517 at the Marienplatz to commemorate the end of the plague.

Another famous place to visit is the BMW plant and museum in Munich.  It is a very large building.  We walked through but were disappointed to find out that the actual factory tours were sold out. We found out we needed to get those weeks in advance.  Oh well…  we did get to walk the floor of the main building/lobby that is pretty much like a museum where you can sit on the motor bikes and sit in the cars.  At one point they had a professional motor cycle rider riding through the place, including up and down the stairs.