Despite the heavy thunderstorms overnight, it was still hot and muggy the next morning. We were up early and on the road for the short drive to Dachau. Walking round the first of the Nazi concentration camps might not be the most cheerful way to spend a Sunday, but it’s important that we don’t forget the evil that took place in our very recent history.
Admission is free, and we chose to pay for the audio guide handsets. Walking through the “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate, we found ourselves in the huge parade ground used for the twice-daily roll calls. We were in time to catch an English language showing of a black and white newsreel-style film from the 60’s, telling the story from Hitler’s rise to power through to the liberation of the camp by the Americans in April 1945. Opened in 1933, well before war broke out, Dachau was the prototype for all of the other concentration camps which followed. Early inmates were mainly political prisoners, communists and the like, but as time went on extended to the clergy, gypsies, homosexuals and, of course, Jews. It really is a horrific story, but even now I still find it hard to believe that all this was happening just 20 years before I was born.
Once the film was over, we walked around the grounds reading the information boards and listening to the audio guide. It really was harrowing to stand in the vast room where dead corpses were once piled high, and to then walk into the next room and see the four ovens where the bodies were cremated, three or four at a time in each one. It’s hard to comprehend man’s inhumanity towards other men.
Before leaving, we made our way to the museum and spent a while viewing the displays, but there really is too much information to take in all at once – you could easily spend a whole day there. By early afternoon we’d seen enough, and it had become very busy with visitors arriving by the coach load, so we called it a day.
It was only about 20 minutes drive from Dachau to the Allianz Area, home to Bayern Munich, on the outskirts of the city. It’s a really well designed complex, with its own exit from the motorway and situated a short distance from the U-Bahn station with trains into the city centre. An area of the car park is dedicated as a stellplatz, and for €15 a night you can park and take advantage of the free electric hook up, so it’s a very popular with motorhomers wanting to visit Munich.
We set the alarm so that we were up nice and early the next morning, catching the 8:59 into the city centre.
Neither of us had been to Munich before, so all we knew about the place was what we’d read in the Lonely Planet book, but what we did know is that there simply wasn’t time to see everything in a single day, and so we focused on visiting the old town and the English Gardens.
Getting off the U-Bahn, we found the tourist information office in the Rathaus and paid €0.50 for a tourist map. We took a circular route through the old town to the English Gardens and back, stopping for a coffee on the way there and lunch on the way back, where we sampled the local sausages which were delicious.
Munich has a sizeable Turkish population to the west of town and, as we’ve been craving a Turkish dinner for a while now, we looked up a restaurant on the interweb within walking distance, and sure enough we found one with rave reviews. We went to check it out mid-afternoon and it was more canteen than restaurant, but packed full of mainly Turkish customers, a sure sign that it was good.
We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling around the shops in the old town, taking a break to do some people watching.
Back at the Turkish restaurant we both went for the doner kebab with rice and salad and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I should point out that the doner meat was very different to that which gets served after pub kicking out time in quality take away establishments and vans all over the UK, as it was made up of actual slices of chicken meat.
By the time we made it back to the van we’d walked over 12 miles over the course of the day, so were only too happy to get the chairs out and crack open a beer.
Bad Aibling was a stopping point on the way to Austrian border near Salzburg. We chose it because it had a good stellplatz, and we weren’t disappointed. We arrived at around midday and bagged a good spot and went for a walk into town once the weather had cooled.
There are loads of towns in Germany called Bad- something or other. Bad translates as Bath, and the towns are rather like the spa towns in the UK, though there are rather a lot more of them here. Like many of these towns, Bad Aibling has a big spa complex using water from the thermal spring. After we’d had dinner I went to the outdoor baths for a swim. I’m rubbish at swimming, but thought it would be rude not to go swimming in at least one of these towns. It has started raining, so I was the only one there and had the pool to myself. The water was a nice 25˚C and it made a nice change to be able to swim without chlorine stinking the place out and stinging my eyes.
We’re now going to treat ourselves to a mini-break based at the stellplatz of another Bad – this time Bad Reichenhall. Tomorrow we will be catching the train across the border into Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart; on Friday we’ll be catching the bus to Berchesgaden; and on Saturday we’ll spend the day in Bad Reichenhall itself.