Europe 23.06.15

Tuesday the 23rd of June

My Contiki Company and I have been extremely privileged to share the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures over two weeks time whilst being able to party all the while. For this reason, our excursion of the morning was a refreshing change as the indulgent celebrating had been, for the moment, replaced with a sombre visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp.

“Dachau:
The significance of this name will never be erased from German history. It stands for all concentration camps which the Nazis established in their territory.”

Not once on this trip have I seen an attraction so plain. The white walls looked almost clinical and daunting, the only feature was this solemn structure in the empty vicinity of the large flat expanse. The main living building had been converted into a museum in remembrance of all those who died in the duration of World War Two. The gas chambers stood opposite these cabins – although Dachau was a concentration camp rather than an extermination camp, it did have chambers but which were rarely used in comparison to the places of mass killing such as Auschwitz. I could see three such buildings in my line of sight and an a much taller stone building that is safe to assume were the gas chambers and incinerator used for the respective ‘euthanasia’ and discarding of those who could no longer work or be of a constructive purpose to the regime. Prisoners of War and racial groupings were contained within the prison where fear of death was prominent as the supervisors threatened to shoot at any mention of misconduct. The camp was also used to stimulate propaganda in favour of the German National Socialist Party by appearing as a rehabilitation centre for criminals and racially stereotyped individuals to promote antisemitism also. Our time in the place where such inhumane practices occurred was spent entirely in silence out of respect for those who had perished.

Birkenstocks and Cuckoo Clocks

The afternoon was spent in the Rhine Valley learning about the cultural elements of St Goar. We visited a stein store which sold stone mugs designed to keep the last sip of beer as cold as the first. We also saw the largest free hanging cuckoo clock in the world and went into a store for the Birkenstock Shoe that originated here. Our last event for the evening was a wine tasting held in a cellar by the stores we had visited early that day. First a red, then a rosé, a white and finally a very syrupy ice wine that tasted like honey. I found my favourite in the first two and shared a bottle with Sam for our evening drinks. The night ended on a brilliant high with our Contiki Company packed around the small dining tables beside the bar drinking beer and frozen daiquiri! Michael and Paolo joined us this evening for a memorable last night in Germany. Our next stop was the Netherlands where I would be showing the crew how things are really done – and pronounced.

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