Saturday, 23rd June 2018 – Munich
Wow! Our time in Europe was almost over. After months of unforgettable experiences we said goodbye to our host families which wasn´t easy. But we knew that we still had two amazing weeks ahead of us. We all met at Munich central station to start our trip across Europe. After receiving the first information about Bavaria and its capital we started an interesting sightseeing tour at Stachus. We learned about the most important royal houses, the history and development of the city. The Frauenkirche was also part of the tour. We were told the famous legend of the devil´s footprint inside of the church. The Marienplatz and the town hall, of course, were one of the main attractions. Afterwards, we had a little bit of free time to explore the city by ourselves. In the evening we were all hungry and were lucky. We got to eat a real Bavarian Schnitzel at Schnitzelwirt. With that, the first day of our trip started perfectly. At the hotel we already had to pack our suitcases to get prepared for our next stop: Vienna…
Sunday, 24th June 2018 – last day in Munich and first day of Vienna
After a nice breakfast in the hotel, we locked away our suitcases to explore more interesting parts of Munich. Our first stop was the English Garden, where we learned about the royal family of King Ludwig. He apparently had a particular preference for romantic architectural styles, which lead to the construction of Schloss Neuschwanstein and many other constructions, like the English Garden. One of the most impressive things we saw were the surfers on the Isar. Yes, there are people surfing in a river. It looked as amazing as it sounds. Afterwards, we walked on to the city center. We learned a lot about medieval cities, different trade unions and their development. Furthermore, we were informed about the welfare in Germany like the unemployment, health and accident insurance. In the Hofbräuhaus, we were impressed by all the beer glasses, which were stored there for regular customers. Since we didn´t have a lot of time left, we got ourselves a Döner, before we caught our bus to Vienna. After a short rest in the hotel, we went to Europe´s biggest music festival at the Donau islands. It was incredible! There has been all kinds of music we danced to and every kind of food, which we got to eat. Unbelievable what we´ve already experienced in the first two days!
Monday, 25th June 2018 – Vienna
On our first full day in Vienna we visited the castle Schönbrunn which we found enormous. The palace court was impressive and on the inside we felt like we were in a fairy-tale. Bert and the audio guides informed us about the life of Sissy and Franz, their marriage but also about the historical connection between Hungary and Austria, the fall of the empire and the concurrence of the European and other countries which lead to the two world wars. It was all very interesting and helped us connect a lot of information. Bert also explained to us that there were recognized minorities in the different countries, that used to live in the multinational state of central Europe, in which the origin of a person didn´t matter. After all of this information we took our time to see the opera and the Stephansdom. Since we were all hungry, we had lunch in a typical Biergarten. Afterwards, we had time to explore the city by ourselves again. Bert suggested to go to the Spanish cavalry. A couple of us used the time to visit the Prater, a funfair with many, partly historical, rides. In the evening we met to have dinner together and went back to the hotel.
Tuesday, 26th June 2018 – next stop: Budapest!
After a great breakfast and the check out, we left Vienna and went on to our next city: Budapest. Our hotel was located in the city centre which was perfect, since we didn´t have long distances to our sights. After a proper lunch, we went to the bus station to go to the impressive Matthias Church. On our way we passed the presidential house, which is close to the royal palace. We also got to see the foundation walls of the first settlements and their wells to collect water. In the Matthias Church Franz Josef was crowned. The church is very beautiful. It has a great roof and through its light blue coloured building stones enters sunshine. For dinner we had Hungarian specialities and ended the day with a short walk to the fortifications of the city and its water wells.
Wednesday, 27th June 2018 – And another day in Budapest
After a good breakfast we took off to the Jewish district. It was a short walk since the former Jewish ghetto is right in the centre of Budapest. In this part of town you can also find three big synagogues, Jewish stores, restaurants and butcher shops. In the Kazinczy Synagogue we had the opportunity to see the prayer room. In general, the synagogue was very interesting since it didn`t have a lot of decoration but looked pretty simple. You could tell that the faith is of most importance. We learned a lot about different beliefs, the development of the religions and which consequences had each affiliation to a certain religion. In this context we didn´t only learn about the pogroms but also about the holocaust, the modern way of approaches to religion and the challenges which are connected to the freedom of religion in Europe. Here we talked again about the different minorities who nowadays live in nationalist, conservative and partly populist states.
After all this information, we needed something to eat. Afterwards, we had some free time to go shopping and finally got to relax our legs on a boat tour. The boat brought us to the parliament and after that we went to the so called “Whale”, a popular venue. We got to eat pasta and also something very special: Baumkuchen! We loved it. We actually liked it that much, that we even ordered more than we could actually eat. Happy, we went back to out hotel.
Thursday, 28th June 2018 – Our last day in Budapest
This time we went by train to the other side of the Gerllért Hill. We walked up to the Hungarian statue of liberty. Not only the way was beautiful, but also the view we had from the top of the hill. Right in front of the statue was the best part because we were in front of a medieval market with all kinds of attractions. We used the opportunity and practiced to shoot using bows and arrows. Afterwards we had lunch close to the German embassy. The food was amazing and there was a huge range of Hungarian specialties. On the way to the embassy we still had a little time to think about our questions we prepared in the last couple of days. We were welcomed warmly at the entrance and after the typical security check we were invited to sit down in an assembly hall in which we got to ask our questions after a short introduction and documentary. It was very interesting and we had the feeling to be taken seriously with our questions. We asked about the financial situation of the country, refugee politics and the general life in Hungary. After the talk we had to hurry. We really wanted to see the Columbian soccer game of the world championship. Of course we were hungry afterwards. We cooked at home but also bought the Baumkuchen, which we fell in love with the other day.
Friday, 29th June 2018 – Off to Rotterdam!
With our take-away breakfast we went to the airport to fly to Rotterdam. After a short break in our new hotel, we already met to go to the city centre and visit the harbour museum. We walked a lot… first to the Erasmus Bridge and afterwards to Delverhaven. We learned about the cities connection with Erasmus of Rotterdam, the actual difficulties in Holland, the economy, engineering in Holland, which is famous in the whole world and even played a big role developing the former Prussia. We crossed the indoor marked to go to a popular district of Rotterdam in which we had dinner in an Indian- Dutch restaurant. Our last stop that day were the Cuba houses which are unique in the world of architecture. All of these new impressions let us sleep very well.
Saturday, 30th June 2018 – Amsterdam
This time we directly went from our hotel to the train station where we had breakfast in a typical café. It was very handy, since we could take off to Amsterdam immediately afterwards by train. There we first visited the city harbour and learned about the development of the city. After that we went to the city centre. There we had time to lunch and see all of the different sights, for example the typical Dutch canals, the kings’ palace, the market and a lot of the big and small churches. In the evening we met again and went together to the famous Price Street to eat the typical Dutch pancakes. These you can get in all kinds of variations: with cheese, ham, or cinnamon and sugar. After this great day we headed back to the train station while taking a couple of pictures. We left Amsterdam with fascinating memories and impressions and were looking forward to the next stop of our trip.
Sunday, 1st July 2018 – Last day in Rotterdam and off to Brussels!
After breakfast we still had a couple of hours to fill until our bus left to Brussels. Bert let us therefore do a special Rallye. He divided us into two groups and told us to organize a short city tour of Rotterdam including sights we hadn’t have seen at that point. Our job was to find 6 interesting places or people, take a picture of them, collect information and to think about a way of presenting these to the others. It was a lot of fun to walk around and discover the rest of the city by ourselves. When we came back to the Café where we had breakfast we still had time to do some research and to talk about the way of presenting our findings. By bus we went to Brussels. Of course we were hungry, so we stopped at a pizza place close to our hotel to have dinner.
Monday, 2nd July 2018 – Brussels
After a very healthy breakfast we finally had time to present our results about Rotterdam. That was really interesting and the best presentation even got a small price. Then we went to the city centre and first of all we saw the impressive place in front of the old bourse. After that we continued to go to the big market place. There, we were overwhelmed by the splendid buildings. The Grand Palace, the town hall and the guildhalls are simply stunning. Close to the Palace we ate the best Belgian chips in town and fried chicken sticks. After this decent meal we should search for the Manneke Pis and also visit at least the Stiftskirche. Afterwards we had some leisure time to discover the city by ourselves. We had even enough time to visit the exhibition in the old bourse. When we met in the evening, there was a lot to tell the others.
Tuesday, 3rd July 2018 – Brussels
We knew that we would not have any free time on this day. There was still a lot to discover and we were looking forward to this. At the beginning we visited an exhibition of the Parlamentarium, straight in the European quarter where the important politics for Europe is done. The exhibition does not only have historical references but shows how the EU is working and how it is characterised. That impressed us a lot and we could have stayed there all day. But there was so much more to do. After a short lunch break we went to the King’s Palace and the corresponding garden. We learned a lot about the Belgian royal house, about the parallels to other royal families in Europe and about the structural changes concerning the palace and park facilities. More beautiful buildings, that used to be built for administration and science, are located next to the palace. From there it was not far to the Mont de Arts and the central station, from which we drove to the Atomium. The former expo-ground shows with which vision at that time this area was created and today is used as a local recreation. We learned a lot about people’s fears about the use of nuclear energy, because that was the subject of the Expo. From there we had a nice walk through the extensive parks to the king’s castle in Laeken. From there we had to return to the hotel, because we wanted to celebrate Maria’s birthday. We bought a bit of decoration and Maria could choose the cake. This was a really great celebration and we also heard sung birthday congratulations in Taiwanese. We were all looking forward to the next day, because it went to Paris.
Wednesday, 4th July 2018 – Paris
After our arrival at the Parisian accommodation we took the metro to Montmarte, the highest quarter. In the past it was a meeting point for the artists of the city. Today, particularly the painters attract the tourists. On this occasion we visited of course the beautiful basilica Sacré-Cœur which is located at the peak of the hill. We learned a lot about its formation process and the meaning for the Parisians. Subsequently we took the metro to the Moulin Rouge which means “Red Mill” in English. That is what it looks like. Different types of shows take place here. During our visit we learned about the meaning of the entertainment district where the Moulin Rouge is located. Then we took the metro again to go to the Palais du Trocadéro, a historical exhibition palace. During a trip to Paris the visit of the Eiffel Tower cannot be missed. There, we had some time to take pictures. After this we had pizza. We realized that it got more and more important to eat after such long days. We waited until it darkened to see the flashing of the Eiffel Tower and we went back to our accommodation.
Thursday, 5th July 2018 – Paris
After a nice breakfast we had a long day upcoming. First we went to the Louvre. Despite the many people, we could sneak a peek at the popular Mona Lisa and snatched even an original snapshot. Afterwards we walked to the Notre Dame, one of the oldest gothic churches in France. We learned a lot about its importance. Subsequently we crossed the famous bridge which leads over the Seine. Again, we were really hungry, so we could go to eat lunch independently. After this we had an amazing boat ride. Since we saw the Eiffel Tower only from the outside the day before, we went upstairs this day. The view was breath-taking! For dinner we had pasta close to the tower. The French seem to love Italian cuisine as we do! Afterwards we went back to the hotel.
Friday, 6th July 2018 – Disney Land
This day was sensational. We visited Disneyland! We spent the whole day using the rollercoasters and all the different attractions. At the evening, there was an amazing firework. That was a perfect end of our journey.
Saturday, 7th July 2018 – The end of our stunning journey
On Saturday we had to get up very early. That is why we took our breakfast again with us. We went to Mannheim by TGV, got on the plane there and flew back home with all our experiences and adventures in our intellectual luggage.