I am writing this as we are waiting to leave on our last train to arrive at Toulouse! I am very excited to get to my home for the next month and begin meeting everyone in my program and the local French people we will be with! I am also excited to start classes and really immerse myself into the language and hopefully be able to pick it up quickly. I do not like not understanding people or being able to communicate.
After Amsterdam we traveled down Koblenz, Germany to get onto a scenic cruise down the Rhine River. On our way there, we were able to stop in Koln and go see the gigantic cathedral right by the train station. It was so ornately detailed with paintings and statues and shrines. It was very crowded with tourists and a lot of the church was blocked off with gates so it did loose a lot of its religious significance in my mind which was sad. But none the less, it was a beautiful building.
On the cruse down the Rhine we saw so many old castles quaint little German towns. We also got to see the German vineyard that were planted on very steep inclines up the sides of the mountains. The views were breathtaking and I think this was one of the most beautiful scenic route I have ever witnessed. We got off the boat in this cute little German town called Ruedesheim where we enjoyed some typical German food served to us by waitresses wearing lederhosen.
Our next leg of the journey took us to explore the city of Munich, Germany. Within an hour of walking around the city, we had run into 5 Catholic churches right in the middle of the city. I was blown away by their beauty and history. What also impacted me greatly in these churches was that in each one of them, there were people praying, mass going on, or adoration in progress. To me this was so comforting and even though I didn't understand what they were saying in German, I still knew what was happening because the Church really is universal. One of the churches let us climb up to the top of their bell tower so 311 steps later, we had a breathtaking view of the entire city of Munich. We could see for miles and there was even the alps (I think) in the background. Totally worth the crazy walk up. After seeing some of the other big sights of Munich (like the Glockenspiel) , we headed to the original Gofbrauhaus! We enjoyed the huge steins of German beer, pretzels bigger than my face, and a yummy German dinner all accompanied by traditional German music. We then walked around the city a bit more in search of the Golden Line, a small little monument that honors the discrete resistance some of the residence of Munich showed to the Nazi's. It was a very small but sincere monument to those brave people.
The next day we got up early and made our way over to visit the Dauche Concentration Camp memorial. It was very well down and really hit hard. The atrocities that occurred there and many other places as well become real when you see it up close. It is very hard to explain just how impactful it was but I will say if you get the chance to go and experience it yourself, you most definitely should. It is also a call to each and every one of us to learn from what happened there and never let it happen again. There are different forms of the same atrocity happening all over the world even right now and it is up to us to recognize it and not be passive but take action. Work with love for one another in everything you do.
After Dauche we have been making our way to Toulouse via trains with a night stop in Strausburg. I am anxiously waiting my arrival in Toulouse. Here are some things I have learned/noticed so far on this trip:
- Trains are very fun to ride and pretty reliable. They get you where you need to be while also giving you great views and a wonderful place to people watch.
- I have a really good ability to sleep on trains. If I am on a train for more than 30 minutes, I pass out every time. Mom and Dad have been taking bets on this.
- I really really really hate pigeons. They fly right at you and if you don’t move, I swear they would run right into you!
- Beer is better out of stines. Also beer is just better in Germany.
- Train station food is really good.
- All food is really good here actually.
- I haven't been able to run here in over a week and I do not feel gross… which I believe is because the food is so much fresher and without so many additives. It is really nice.
- People are beautiful.
- There are more ways to communicate then with words, you can find a common way to talk no matter where you are.
- God's love is really universal and always there no matter how far you go from home.