The last week has been filled with a plethora of cultural experiences that have been both enlightening and delightful. The journey of our most recent week first took us to Geneva, Switzerland. The most amazing part of the trip was the train ride to Geneva. We travelled through the hilltops above Lake Geneva, enjoying breath-taking views of small towns near the lake with the Alps just beyond. Geneva was really cool, but it was difficult to thoroughly explore the area given the down-pouring rain we had the whole time. The best part of Geneva was taking a trip to the CERN research facility, which was something I have always wanted to do. It was definitely a nerd activity, but was exciting to be at one of the most influential research labs in the world where CERN scientists created the internet, the large hadron collider, and discovered the Higgs Boson. CERN is also featured in the book and movie Angels & Demons.
After Geneva, We headed to Zurich for the rest of the weekend. I think the team definitely enjoyed Zurich more, if only because it didn’t rain quite as much! It had a wonderful city center and it was very enriching just to walk around aimlessly. Unfortunately, all of the shops are closed on Sundays, so we weren’t able to partake in a shopping excursion. We found an awesome café though, and sipped on delicious coffee and tea while taking in the local culture. The café appeared to be a favorite among the locals, which convinced us it was the real deal. We also had dinner at a fondue joint called Swiss Chuchi, recommended by an Hungarian girl working at our hotel. She said it was traditional Swiss cuisine, so we had to try it. It wasn’t the ideal cuisine with beach season coming up, but was worth it to get a flavor of the culture.
We headed back to Munich Sunday night ready to dominate the work week. Monday night, we went to a traditional German restaurant where we ate weiner schnitzel and ragout with asparagus and dumplings. It was the best German food we have had so far. Tuesday, we were able to find a gym nearby that wasn’t too expensive. It seems that Germans don’t exercise the same way as Americans. The gyms we’ve found have been small and costly. Working out at this German gym was certainly an interesting cultural experience. After the workout, we needed some carbs so we went back to our favorite Italian restaurant, and it was just as fantastic as the first time. The next day gave us a taste of German culture that we hadn’t sampled yet. We were walking through the city center and stumbled upon a huge market (called Viktualienmarkt) with tents filled with all types of food, drinks, and gifts. It was so interesting to walk around and see all the different things that the local culture offered. We then happened upon the original Hofbrauhaus, and, of course, we had to stop in. After a drink and a pretzel, we checked out the English Garden a bit more and got to see a spot on the river where people surf. On our last full day in Munich, we took a trip out to Dachau Concentration Camp. This trip was sobering. It was surreal to be seeing a large Nazi concentration camp and a key war area of World War II. The site definitely did a good job at communicating what happened and of presenting the information in a way that allowed us to learn a lot. Nonetheless, it was quite an experience to cap off a week full of cultural immersion.