By: Julie Pike, Staff Writer
One thing that I would highly recommend to all students who are hoping to travel is to get the experience of exploring a new place by yourself. I know that sounds like it may be boring or dangerous depending on where you go, but it is an eye opening experience that everyone should have.
Most people are used to traveling with someone else, whether that be family or friends. However, traveling with others means plans are always going to be a compromise of what everyone wants. You don’t get the opportunity to do things on your own schedule. When you travel on your own, you don’t have to worry about everyone else. You get the chance to go where you want to go and at your own pace.
This past weekend, I visited Munich, Germany. The main purpose of this trip was to visit my sister Luci; she lives in Munich as an au pair. However, I was also looking forward to visit my favorite city in Europe. Although for this trip I was not entirely by myself, I had the opportunity to go out and explore the city on my own.
I had visited Munich before this past Spring with my dad, and I absolutely loved it. I was getting to go back to my favorite places and explore new ones. I took a self-guided walking tour of the city, which is filled with a mix of gorgeous gothic and modern architecture.
At the center of the city lies Marienplatz, a large open square that houses the towering New City Hall. In the main tower of New City Hall is the infamous Rathaus-Glockenspiel. Imagine a life-sized cuckoo clock, but instead of birds, it is human figures dancing around. The Glockenspiel goes off twice a day and has for over 100 years. It is a show that brings hundreds of tourists into Marienplatz to watch. A little known tip to get a view of the Glockenspiel is to climb to the top of nearby Church of Saint Peter. It is close to 300 steps to the top but well worth it to take in the beauty of Munich from a bird’s eye view.
I had just gotten to the top of the church and was walking around the balcony when a friendly couple from South Dakota informed me that the Glockenspiel was about to start. Another great part of traveling by yourself is getting to meet a variety of people. When you are by yourself, you are more likely to reach out to other people. Often you will run into other people traveling just like you, and you can share stories or tips about your travels—as well as enjoy talking to someone in your native language.
The language barrier is nothing to worry about in Munich, as most people speak English. I did not run into anyone that was not able to speak or understand English. Most of the public transportation will also make announcements in both languages. However, it does not take long to pick up some German phrases to try to fit in. Most of the time, you can convince locals that you know German by just using a few words such as “halo” (hello), “danke” (thank you), “bitte” (please and you are welcome) and “entschuldigen” (excuse me).
From Marienplatz, I walked to Odeonplatz—where the main attraction is Feldhernnhalle. It was on that site where Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party attempted to seize Munich to use as their base in 1923. In this case, they were unsuccessful in their attempts. However, Munich would eventually be known as the birthplace and capital of the Nazi movement.
A big part of Munich’s history lies around Hitler’s reign and the Nazi Party, but today the city is completely different. It is hard to imagine that one of the world’s most notorious dictators took residence in Munich. Today, the city is putting those dark years behind them and has transformed into a place full of culture, art and a high quality of living. Munich is by far the cleanest city that I have ever been to, even the public transportation is well maintained and clean.
The rest of my walking tour consisted of various statues and monuments throughout the city, as well as a walk through the English Gardens, where you can see surfers taking turns to surf the waves produced by a water pumping mechanism. It is an odd site to see, people surfing in the midst of a big city, but it is impressive, nonetheless. It also draws a lot of spectators to watch those who are brave enough to take on the waves.
To end the day, my sister and I enjoyed a radler (a drink that is half beer and half lemon soda) at a beer garden, of which there are hundreds throughout the city. Most beers are only served in one liter, which is about 35 ounces, so it will take awhile to get through it. No trip to Germany is complete without enjoying a beer and a soft pretzel that is bigger than your head, in one of the many beer gardens and beer halls.