The Hofbräuhaus brewery is located in Munich Germany and was originally built in 1589, it was however not opened to the public until 1828. The building was completely renovated in 1897 when the brewery moved to the suburbs of Munich, however during World War 2 the brewery was destroyed from bombing, all that remained was the historic beer hall. The Hofbräuhaus was then reopened in 1958 to and has been open to the public ever since.

The Hofbräuhaus originates from Wilhelm V. duke of Bavaria, he found the beer in Munich so  bad that he imported beer from Saxony. Wilhelm eventually asked his royal court to find a solution and thus they built their own brewery in Munich.

Other then Oktoberfest the Hofbräuhaus is Munich’s largest attraction. As a whole we were lucky enough to have dinner there. The meal we had consisted of pretzels, bread with cheese dips, two types of pork, potato balls, and mixed berries on top whipped creme for dessert.

The Hofbräuhaus has stein lockers for the local members, they are able to leave their steins in their locked locker until they next return for drinks. The Hofbräuhaus  also has assigned tables for these members, the only way you’re able to sit at the members table is to be invited to the table by the members.

Back to the Netherlands

Today, we left Bremen, Germany and headed to the Netherlands.  Our first stop was for lunch at the city of Arnhem.  The city has a nice downtown area that has plenty of restaurants and stores.  This was the last chance for students to do any shopping before returning to the airport.

After lunch, the group drove to the Operation Market-Garden Museum which is very close to Arnhem.  Operation Market-Garden was an allied offensive operation in WWII with the goal of re-taking some key bridges across the Rhine River.  Doing so would give the allies an easy way to move equipment into Germany itself.  The bridge they wanted was the main bridge of the city of Arnhem.  It was a significant battle, but in the end, the operation failed to hold the bridge.  Many were lost or taken prisoner during the battle.  The basement of the museum tried to recreate the conditions the soldiers experienced in the battle.

After the museum, we headed to the town of Nuspeet for our final night in Europe.  After dinner and class discussion, students had time to swim in the pool and hang out for one last evening.

My time in Dachau

The main thing the group did today was go to the concentration camp, Dachau. Some of the feelings I experienced were expected, others not. I expected to feel heartache for what had happened to the people imprison, I did not expect to feel as angry as I did. I expected to feel relieved that the horrible things done by the Nazis are over, I did not expect to feel like humanity hasn’t come very far.

Not to downplay the autrocities done by the Nazi regime, but I started wondering why Western society seems to ignore the other terrible things humans have done to each other, not just in the past but in the present day. I think we often would like to believe that *our* family would be one of the families to hide Jewish people, but at the same time we ignore the needy in our own city. Oftentimes for me it circles around to slavery; many people don’t think human trafficking is a big problem, or if they do they assume it’s an “over there” type of problem that they cannot do anything about. The fact is that in our country, in our state, even in Grand Rapids, tragedies like sex trafficking occur regularly.

I think to truly have a changed heart by seeing what the Jewish people went through in the Nazi Holocaust, we cannot look past the injustices when they happen right in front of us. I’m not sure how, but I truly believe this is a call for me to try to do something to change the world I’m in, even if it’s only in a small way.

Phew, We’re Almost There

Oh boy. Do you ever get tired – like really tired. The type of tired that doesn’t go away after getting a good night of sleep. That’s the kind of tired I am. That being said, I can chalk this exhaustion up to one thing: fun. This trip across Western Europe has been anything but unenjoyable, but I can only hang out with the Dutch locals in their pubs for so long, ya’ know? 😉

In all seriousness, I am beyond thankful for the opportunity I was given to visit such beautiful countries and beautiful peoples. In our visit to the Dacha, I was humbled. Growing up, American children learn a great deal about the Holocaust, but it always seems so far away. I’m only 22 years old, so WWII might as well have been a thousand years ago. But it wasn’t. Concentration camp survivors still live to tell their horrifying past.

Walking through the uninviting camp through equally inviting weather gives one a meager fragment of what life there may have been like for some, and even that was too much for me. Me in my warm puffy coat, wool socks, and longjohns. It wasn’t until I looked at the camp’s creamatorium that I realized how close I was to this tragedy. It wasn’t the ovens themselves, but the ash. The ashes of thousands of innocent people coating the insides of these ovens. In that moment I found myself utterly humbled, questions without answers forming in my head. As I go forward I suspect some may be answered and others not.

As our trip winds down to its inevitable end, I can say with the utmost honesty that I have seen more cathedrals than I hoped, walked more kilometers than I hoped, learned more than I hoped, and grew closer with God and many of my wonderful classmates more than I hoped.

The Fearless Bus Driver

Bold. Daring. Informative.
These words all describe the greatest tour guide and bus driver who ever lived. Born in the Netherlands, Joop (pronounced like “hope” but with a Y) grew up driving a backhoe to install pipe. After ten years he took this precision driving and became a bus driver. Joop has been leading tours all over Europe for 35 years, and has been working with Calvin for 21 of those. He speaks at least 4 languages fluently and knows the best local food stands. When he’s not home with his wife, he likes to build elaborate remote controlled model trucks. He loves listening to 70s and 80s American music, and travels to the USA once a year. He has been to 33 states, and lately enjoys the warm weather in Florida. He introduces us to every city we visit and fills us in on the local history and legends. He is a joyful soul and waves at every tour bus he passes. However, he is not afraid to squeeze though narrow side streets with only an inch of clearance on each side, or cut across 5 lanes of traffic in the Arc de Triomphe circle. In to these capable hands, we entrust our lives.