After backpacking for four weeks, you finally start to fall into the groove of living the nomadic life. Packing isn’t annoying anymore. You know exactly where your boarding ticket and ID’s are. Most mornings you have a coffee in hand and are not surprised
that you are watching the sunrise on a train platform. This is where my mom and I were at on our Europe Trip when arrived in Munich. Mentally, emotionally, and physically. Our train came in the late morning and it was very early spring so there was a cool mist of dew around us that made it necessary for a sweatshirt.
Traveling from England through Belgium and France, and then down through the Mediterranean countries up to Bavaria was a very diverse and interesting route to take. It was hard to not have any premonition about Germany and the experiences we would have there. I had never been to Germany and honestly, I wasn’t so sure how interested I was in visiting (which by the way was entirely unfair of me). I thought the people were going to be hard, strict, unsmiling people. I must have been crazy to think that all Germans were the Germans depicted in movies. But, what an amazing surprise and delight it was to meet the people of Germany! Our bed and breakfast was full of genuine, happy, friendly folk and it was such a pleasure to be introduced to this country through such a lovely place.
My mom and I are huge history buffs and one thing that we were sure that we wanted to do in Munich was a historical tour of World War II. We found one walking tour that covered the Third Reich. It may seem strange to some people that we were adamant about doing such a tour but it was extremely important for me to do this. I have always had a strong connection with the events of the Holocaust/WWII and have had an important belief that as
part of humankind we should all keep the memory and story of these people alive.So we signed up for the tour. To our surprise, we were guided by a very hip musical fellow from Texas. He had been living in Munich for many years at this point and had a degree in History. Perfect person to take a tour from. Not only did he know just about everything about the Third Reich, but also about Munich and every hidden street in the entire city. He was incredibly approachable and lively.He took us to monumental places of Hitler’s reign, where he gave speeches, where Jewish people were designated to shop and walk, where the bombs hit buildings in Munich, and every piece of that history in existence in Munich. It was fascinating and so real. It really took me a while to be able to swallow everything. It was one of the
greatest things I have ever done in all of my travels. To top it off, we had such a great time with him that he invited us to attend a Ska Band concert in Marienplatz (square) where he was performing that afternoon! It was incredible.
Recently, I was in a discussion online with other travelers about how authentic tours are and whether or not to do them. I have done tours from art museum tours, to walking city tours, to tours snorkeling in old ship wrecks. When traveling to another city or country or continent, the point is not to become the other culture you are entering. It just isn’t. Anyone who tells you differently has licked one too many rain forest frogs. You will never, ever become any other culture than you already are. You can immerse yourself in it. You can observe it. You can relate to it. But you will never become that culture. I can’t think of any better way to immerse into a culture by learning about their art, history, food, or landscape and in MY opinion the best way to do so is through tours (or an afternoon in a pub). Even if you are being shown around a village in the Amazon by a local…that is still a tour my friend! Wandering on your own is fantastic and should be enjoyed as well while traveling! But being included in a tour has always been “my door into the world” that I am visiting. I highly suggest taking one or two when arriving in another culture. You will definitely take away more from the experience.