Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Germany - Munich and Stuttgart

We headed to Munich, Germany on Wednesday, July 9th and arrived around 11:00 pm.  A childhood friend of mine, Ashley Knoettgen, lives close to Würzburg with her husband Thomas. We had been trying to plan a trip to visit them for a while and it finally worked out. She met us in Munich late at night on Wednesday and took us to her in-laws apartment where we were able to stay for two nights.

On Thursday morning, we woke up and grabbed some fresh bread at a bakery and some fruit at Aldi for breakfast before heading to see the Dachau Concentration Camp. Ashley stayed back in Munich because she had been there before.  We joined a guided tour at 10:00.  The tour was really interesting and I'm glad we did it but it was also really hard seeing everything and hearing the stories about the prisoners.

The entrance of the camp had a saying "Work makes (one) free."  There were different kinds of concentration camps which I didn't realize or remember from studying it in middle school and high school.  We were told on the tour that there were work camps and extermination camps.  Dachau was a work camp which basically just means the prisoners there were forced to do hard labor for hours and they believed it could make them free but it didn't.  There was a ranking that the prisoners were given to put them in to different work groups from easier work (checking in new prisoners) to harder work (moving sand from one pile to another for 12 hours without a break to only repeat it by moving it back the next day).

This is the roll call area.  The prisoners had to line up here and stand for 3-4 hours for roll call every morning and every night in rain, sun or freezing temps.  Over the 12 years the camp was open there were over 200,000 prisoners recorded to have arrived at Dachau and around 32,000 died.

We toured the prisoner barracks where some of the men had to stay for disciplinary reasons.  There were some rooms that were called standing cells where a prisoner might have to stand for days.  The size of the cell was about 29.5 inches by 31.5 inches.  We heard that one prisoner had to stand for 10 days.
Next on the tour were the barracks.  The barracks were actually torn down after the camp closed but they rebuilt one of them to show us what it would look like.  There were 34 barracks and each barrack had 6 rooms.  Two of the rooms were for sleeping, two for toilets and cold showers and two for lockers to put their clothes.  The sleeping chambers changed over the years as the camp grew in numbers.  The first picture (on the left) shows beds that were sectioned off so each prisoner had their own space.  They also had a straw pillow and blanket.  The middle picture shows the beds without a board separating the space in between each prisoner but you can still kind of tell where your space started and stopped.  The last picture was just a big open space.  It is kind of hard to tell but there is a walkway around the beds and then three large, flat areas where the prisoner slept.  I guess 2000 prisoner had to share that space and only about 800 of them could lie down on the beds so the rest had to stand or sit around the floor.
The cold showers and the toilet room.  This camp had only male prisoners.

We walked passed where all of the barracks were and at the end of the camp road there are several memorials set up by different religious groups.
Our last stop on the tour was to see the cremation ovens and the gas chamber.  They didn't do mass killings in the gas chamber like they did at Auschwitz but they used it occasionally.
 Cremation Ovens
Gas Chamber
We walked back to the train station on the same path that the prisoners would have walked from the train to the camp (but in reverse).  We didn't know about the walk on the way to the camp so we walked along the trail in reverse on the way back to the train station.

We met Ashley in Munich after visiting Dachau and hung out with her the rest of the day.  We walked up a church tower to look over the city.  We had a great view!

Ashley did a great job telling us all about Munich, the history and what some of the buildings were.
We grabbed lunch at an outside market.

After lunch we walked around the city.  We stopped to watch some people surf on a river.

We visited the Hofbräuhaus but we decided not to eat dinner there because it was pretty crowded and hot. 

 Instead we had a great dinner across the street.
 Ashley and I split half of a chicken and Jake had a huge hunk of meat and a potato dumpling (I think that is what it was called).
I had some ice cream after dinner even though it was a little chilly.

If you've been reading the blog for a while now you know I've become quite fond of public transportation.  I really like seeing how different cities organize their public transportation so I took a few pictures.

I really liked the sign at the top of this picture showing all the S lines.  What I didn't see until after Jake and Ashley pointed it out was the girl standing in the middle giving me a not so pleasant look.  Apparently she thought I was taking a picture of her which I guess technically she is in the picture but really I just like public transportation.  I'm sure if I told her that she would have understood, right?  Public transportation is a normal thing to get excited about :).

We headed back to the apartment after listening to some street musicians and just talked before heading to bed.  It was so great catching up with Ashley and spending the day with her.  We really appreciated her hospitality and company while we were in Munich!  The next morning we were up early to catch a train to Stuttgart, Germany!

Jake and I have wanted to go to Stuttgart, Germany for a while.  Anyone know why?  The Porsche museum and factory are located there.  I have always loved cars and I remember waiting 16 LONG years before I was able to drive.  I love driving.  It clears my head and brings a smile to my face.  After Jake and I started dating of course I started loving Porsches too.  We were excited to finally be able to visit a place we've been talking about for so long.

When we planned this trip we knew we could visit the Porsche Museum whenever we wanted but the factory tours were only given during the week.  Jake emailed them to ask if we could get a tour and they asked us to email them back a day (even though we had already included that in our first email which, should have given us our first clue that things might not go as planned.  We emailed them back on a Friday and finished booking train tickets and hotels over the weekend assuming things would be fine.  After booking tickets we got an email back that the tours for all of 2014 were fully booked. We were bummed but they said we could show up at 10 am and see if anyone else didn't show up and then we could join the tour.  We also went ahead and booked the Mercedes factory tour for 12:30 pm that day just in case we couldn't get into the Porsche tour we wanted to see at least one factory.

We took a train from Munich to Stuttgart at 6:30 am to get to the Porsche factory tour by 10:00 am.  After waiting to see if we could join a tour we were told they were full.  We talked to the guides about possibly changing their form email that they use since it implies that getting a tour would be no problem.  After talking with them they added us to the 2:00 pm tour, which we didn't even know was an option.  So we skipped the Mercedes factory tour and we spent the next 4 hours walking through the Porsche Museum and eating at the restaurant.

VW Bug
This car was my favorite, too bad they only made 200 of them.  Jake might have to start looking now since it might be kind of hard to find :).
There were a couple of school groups there on a field trip which just made me smile.  They also had a special exhibit called "24 Hours for Eternity" which was a neat exhibit about the 24 hour Le Mans race.

We took these pictures for our nephews.  We thought they might like seeing the police car and the tractor.

 If I picked a Porsche as my everyday car it would probably be this Porsche Macan which is a smaller SUV.

I think this Carrera GT would be Jake's pick.

We had lunch at the Porsche Museum restaurant before the 2:00 pm factory tour.  We both had schnitzel for lunch and it was good.  I had a Mezzo Mix for lunch which is basically Coke and Fanta mixed together and it was really good.  Jake had a beer.
We met the tour guide at 2:00 pm for the factory tour and found out that because of construction that started at the plant during 2nd shift we would only be able to tour the factory where they assemble the engines and not the factory where they assemble the cars. What? We were bummed.  We were thankful to be on the tour but still bummed that we had been looking forward to it all morning only to find out it wouldn't be a complete tour.  To make up for it they were offering a free guided tour through the museum, the one we just spent three and a half hours walking through.  We passed on the guided tour of the museum but we did enjoy the small part of the factory tour we were able to see.  

Unfortunately, we weren't able to take any pictures of the factory.  Some things that I thought were interesting was their goal of keeping their workers relaxed.  Each station has three minutes to complete their task.  They know that it would only take maybe half that amount of time but they don't want to put so much pressure on the workers that they get stressed and then become unhappy because that could potentially make them cause mistakes.  I thought that was an interesting perspective.  They care more about careful work than pumping out as many cars as possible in a day.  We did get to ask lots of questions about the number of stations with people versus machines.  They told us how they cold test the engines in the middle of the line and then again at the end and if there is an issue they can pull them off the line and run a few tests to figure out the problem.  They also have floaters whose job is just to go around and assist other people who may be having an issue with something so they don't have to stop the whole line to fix a problem.  One other really neat thing was they had these robotic carts that delivered the parts to the station right as the parts were needed.  That was really cool.

Before leaving the Porsche museum we walked back through the museum to take one more peek at our favorite cars.

 Checking out my favorite car again :).

These pictures aren't great because they were taken through a window at the Porsche service center but this is the new 918 Spyder hybrid that is capable of going 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds and it gets 80 miles per gallon (but not at the same time).

We headed back to the hotel for a little bit of downtime that night before heading out for dinner.  We tried going to an Italian restaurant but it had a really long wait so we made reservations for that place for the next night and walked a couple of blocks to a different restaurant and it was SO GOOD.  Jake ordered beef tips with buttered noodles and I ordered a traditional food from, it was similar to ravioli with spinach and cheese inside.  It was such a great meal in a fun little bar (yes I put fun and bar in the same sentence).

After dinner we walked around Stuttgart.  It was a really nice evening.  We got some gelato and listened to a few street musicians before heading back to the hotel.  We stayed a little outside of the city center at Hotel One.  It was right on a U-bahn line which was really convenient to hop on to get to the city.

The next morning, Saturday, July 12th, we headed to the Mercedes Museum.  The Mercedes Museum was a lot different than the Porsche Museum.  It was a bigger museum and it told a lot more about the history of how Mercedes started as well as world history at the time Mercedes was making cars.
The museum was 7 floors and you started at the top and walked down in a spiral around the building.  There were 6 main floors and 5 extra exhibitions.  On the ramp going down to each next level they had news from that time period along the wall letting you know what happened in the world at the time.  I thought that was a really neat added bonus to the museum.
A few pictures for our nephews Andrew and Nathan.
 They wanted to do some testing on the cars but if they put all of the equipment in the car it was too heavy so they rigged this up.  They had a cable running to a car that drove behind the car they were testing and the car in the back had all the heavy equipment.
 Not a great picture but the back of car with the test equipment.  This reminded Jake of my dad because he does testing on planes and so these pictures are for you Dad!
 The car used in the Lost World Jurassic Park movie.

 I had schnitzel again for lunch just like I had the day before at the Porsche restaurant (and the Porsche one was better).
We stopped by the dealership on the way out and looked at a few cars.

Overall the Mercedes Museum gave a lot more information about cars and engines and gave us a history of the world since the invention of cars which was nice but had I been a huge Mercedes fan I think I would have been a little disappointed.  They didn't have a lineup of the current 2014 models like they did at the Porsche Museum (and that could be because they have so many more models) but there just weren't that many original cars, they were replicas, or even really that many cars that most people would recognize as a Mercedes, in my opinion.  I'm glad we went but it was definitely a different experience than the Porsche museum.

We walked around the city after visiting the museum and had dinner at Il Pomodoro.  It was pretty good and we sat outside in beautiful weather which was a nice touch to the evening.  We listened to some more street musicians that were really good before finding a big outdoor tv screen showing the 3rd place World Cup game.  We watched the game for 30 minutes or so before heading back to the hotel.

The next morning we were off to Mulhouse, France to watch the Tour de France and I answered questions about Germany and France if you want to read about those click on the links.

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