It’s hard to believe I have been in Munich for nearly a year. And now it’s hard to believe I feel like a local. I am starting to kind of understand some of the language eine sehr bisschen (a very little). I plan next year to get serious about learning some Deutsche. I love asking a local German person “Sprechen sie English?”. always they hesitate slightly, and they say eine bisschen, and then we are talking normal English. They say “a little” because if they are not perfect in their English, then they will say “a little”. I am fortunate here since most Germans under 40 speak fluent English, and most of them enjoy doing it.
Here is a quick re-cap of what I have seen and experienced. We have traveled a lot and have seen Munich of course and still am seeing new stuff here all the time. One of my favorite places in all of Munich is the Deutsches Museum. It’s the German version of the Air & Space museum, but about 10 times bigger. I experienced my first Oktoberfest, and I can’t wait to ride the ferris wheel next year. All the huge ginger bread cookies were quite a sight, everywhere you looked, there they were! We have seen Salzburg (Salt Castle) and really enjoyed the Mozart House museum. We then visited Innsbruck (bridge over the river Inn) and stayed at a bed and breakfast nearby that was surrounded by the Alps. We have seen Vienna and watched an opera from a huge outside screen at the world famous Vienna Opera House. I took a tour of the famous St. Stephans church there. The impressive Haus Der Musik in Vienna is a must see for Classical music lovers. We saw the Blue Danube river at the edge of Vienna, and it’s not blue. We have visited our French relatives. When in Paris we heard the most heavenly singing at Notre Dame for Good Friday, and venerated THE Crown of Thorns. And of course I visited my favorite place in all of Paris, St. Chapelle. We visited Prague in the Czech Republic and really can’t wait to visit again. The Charles Bridge at the right time of day when there are not a zillion tourists is a very special place to be. The Czech specialty Goulash was eaten several times, it’s great.
Then we went on The Italy Trip. Our rental car was a Mercedes, what a treat. The big three. Venice, Florence and Rome. Yes, we did the Gondola ride in Venice and that was special. But I really fell in love with Tuscany and Florence and can’t wait to return. We went on a wine tour in the famous Chianti region of Italy close to Florence. And how can I forget that view of Tuscany from the outskirts of Siena at Villa Veronica Hotel? But perhaps most amazing to me is how a human being (Michelangelo), with his hands and some tools created the magnificent statue of David? It does not seem possible to me, but I saw it with my own eyes. Of course all roads lead to Rome they say. Just walking around the ruins is amazing. And being inside the Colosseum is incredible, to think about what happened there back in the day. Now watching “Gladiator” has special meaning. The Sistine Chapel is also incredible. And I was not prepared for the sights in massive St. Peter’s Basilica. The Pieta made by a young Michelangelo is stunning.
When I first arrived in Germany I felt like I was on another planet. The first few months of adjusting to a difficult and challenging job went well. And now I am very comfortable in my role and I feel like I am back on planet Earth. Right now I Integrate complex test programs for testing the Tri-Core Microprocessor. It is used by all the major automobile manufacturers. That means Mercedes, BMW, Audi, VW, etc. And the way cars are using more and more electronics these days, this means the future is bright for my company Infineon for this market. I really have enjoyed making new friendships with colleagues, which actually work in Munich, Austria, Italy and Singapore.
Of course I need to mention what I have learned about Munich’s dark past as the birthplace of Nazism. When living in the US I wondered what it would be like in Germany since WW2. Since I am now living here, I see the German people dealing with their past and not sweeping it under the rug. The German school children are required by law to visit 2 former concentration camps and are encouraged to study on their own to come to terms. I have attended several “Third Reich” walking tours in town and have learned much about how and why Hitler came to power. Personally, what I have learned is it is dangerous to be prejudiced against a group of “undesirables” no matter how different they are. This can lead to blaming said group for all your problems, which can lead to destruction of the group. Looking back, this thinking caused the death of millions and 80% destruction of Munich. The city has since been mostly rebuilt. What is most interesting, the city has not erased signs of their past. There are still remnants, but you need to dig to decipher the past. I have been told this has been done on purpose so the people can learn from their past mistakes. On a more positive note I have learned about the Weise Rose Society (White Rose), and Sophie Scholl and a hand full of followers. They stood up to Hitler and disagreed with the lies coming from the Nazis and paid the ultimate price. Sophie is now a National hero and also one of mine.
The hardest part of the move was of course being away from my precious children and being away from my wonderful wife Nadine for the first 10 weeks after I arrived. She had a major hip injury right before I came out and was required by her insurance to rehabilitate before she could go to Germany. We even thought she might need surgery. But the Doctor finally gave permission for her to fly to Germany. I remember right after her arrival taking her straight to the Augustiner Beer Hall for a proper introduction to Bavaria. This is a special place to eat, near the heart of Munich, Marienplatz. Shortly after her arrival she too felt she was on another planet.
I can now say without a doubt this was the most interesting and difficult at times year in my whole life. But I can also say I would do it again in a heartbeat if I had to. And I look forward to living the dream in Europe for I hope several more years. Keep watching for more trip updates through 2015.