First Couple Weeks in Den Haage

After spending the first few weeks staying in Den Haage some of us decided to make our first trip outside of the Netherlands.  This trip was to Dublin and 7 of us went.  There were 6 students from U of L and my roommate Alex who is a senior at a school in Michigan.  We took the train late Thursday night arriving at the airport in Brussels very early the next morning and waited for our flight with anticipation.  We were all very excited for our first trip.  As soon as we arrived in Dublin we went straight to the hostel and dropped off our bags.  Next up was some food and a free walking tour.  These free walking tours are in cities all over Europe, and the ones I have been on thus far have been very interesting.  On the tour I learned a lot about Ireland’s history and the struggle they went through to gain their independence.  That evening we went on a pub crawl which was a lot of fun.  They took us to five pubs and one disco.  We had tons of fun and met people from all over the world.  We made friends with some Americans that are studying in London.  They offered to show us around London when we made our trip there.  The next day we went on a tour of a prison and to the Guinness factory.  When you reach the top of the Guinness factory your tour concludes and you can have your free drink at the top bar where there is a gorgeous view of the entire city.  The following day we decided to take a tour through the countryside.  It was everything we expected.  It had beautiful rolling hills and we even got to see a castle.  The next trip we took was to Munich for Oktoberfest.  For this trip we rented a nine person van.  Two of us were U of L students; there were boys from Wisconsin, Maryland, California, two French boys, and two French girls.  We bought a tent and decided to camp for the weekend.  We drove all night Thursday and arrived Friday morning, and went straight to Oktoberfest.  We got into the first beer house; it was a grandiose building with ornate decoration on both the inside and out.  We had a blast meeting all different kinds of German people.  The beer houses were so amazing.  They were decorated with lots of pictures of the German countryside and people dressed in lederhosen.  Actually, many of the people attending Oktoberfest were dressed in the traditional lederhosen.  We all decided that when we go again, and I’m sure we will, we will attend in the traditional lederhosen.  They had thousands of people sitting at tables drinking big glass steins full of beer.  Our waitress came up to table carrying 10 steins, each holding a liter of beer.  We then went back to our campsite exhausted and slept all night.  The next day we got up early and went to the tents again.  It was just as amazing as the day before.  The following day we took a walking tour of Munich.  On this tour we learned an enormous amount of Nazi history.  The next trip we took was to Hamburg and Berlin.  We again rented a car but this time it was just four of us.  The people that went were two U of L students, a friend of the other U of L student, and the boy from Wisconsin.  We got a late start on Saturday so we did not arrive in Hamburg until about one am.  We decided to still go out, so we parked the car and arrived at the area where most of the pubs are located and had an amazing night.  The pubs do not close until after 6 a.m., so we stayed up all night.  We went back to the car at about six and slept for a couple of hours then woke up and continued our trip to Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp near Berlin.  The concentration camp was so moving.  It was what Hitler deemed to be the ideal concentration camp.  It was originally a prison camp before everything began with WWII.  The day we went was very gloomy and rainy and that felt fitting.  You could see some replicas of what the buildings looked like.  They also had stone blocks where the other buildings would have been.  Many of the buildings contained old pictures and newspapers from that time.  After the camp we continued on to Berlin.  We found a hostel and decided not to do the walking tour that day because of the rain.  We took a nap and got ready to go on the pub crawl that evening.   

Even though it was a Sunday the pub crawl had more than thirty people on it.  They took us to five different pubs and a disco.  We had tons of fun meeting people from all over the world.  Even on a Sunday night the pubs in Berlin were busy.  The next day we woke up and went on a walking tour of the city.  Berlin is a beautiful city.  Most of the buildings are new and that is shown through the architecture.  Our tour began with our tour guide showing us the hotel where Michael Jackson dangled his baby over the balcony.  We then continued on to the Jewish Memorial.  That was one of the most moving pieces of art I have ever seen.  It was interactive and you could walk through it.  We then saw the location where the bunker in which Hitler committed suicide had been.  It rained for most of the tour so the tour guide gave us the quick story.  A very interesting thing that I learned was that the Berlin Wall was not straight; it wiggles throughout the city.  There are gold bricks in the streets to remind everyone where the wall had been.  Our tour ended with the tour guide telling us his very elaborate story of how the Wall “actually” fell.  We then went home with a new picture of what was going on in the world at that time.