For Christmas vacation, I decided to take a trip to Germany. My family came from Germany about 4 or 5 generations ago, and I studied German in high school, and it wasn't too far or too expensive to go there. So Germany was a natural choice. I decided to v isit München (Munich) for a few days.

I took the train to get there. It was a long ride, but the train wasn't too uncomfortable. Then the first thing I did was to go looking for a place to stay. [rathaus]

I was in for quite a shock when I got there. I couldn't understand anybody! Little did I realize that Bavaria has a dialect which is quite different and distinct from the Hochdeutsch I had studied in school. It took a day or two before I was finally able to start understanding what people were saying.

[Fancy building]

Once I was in Germany, I found that one can have a very good time alone in a foreign country. I got a bus pass each day I was there. I'd go riding off somewhere, and if something looked interesting, I'd just hop off the bus and go see it. That's something you can't do so easily if you're not by yourself!

I had to get to the Hoffbräuhaus at least once while I was there. I don't care if it is a tourist spot, I had a good time there, and the music was great.

By a pleasant accident, I went to a Latin Tridentine Mass while I was there. It was at the Church of St. Peter. I didn't know what it was at the time; it wasn't until much later that I found out why I couldn't follow what was going on.

I liked going to the Englischer Garten. This is a picture of the Isar River there.



There were two towns in the suburbs that I enjoyed visiting while I was there. One of them was Starnberg, one of my very favorite places in Germany. It's a pretty little town near the water. (The other city was Freisig.)

The little church in Starnberg is beautiful. And it had some of the biggest, prettiest swans I ever saw! People would go and feed the swans. I used to save some pieces of rolls from breakfast at the hotel, to take with me to Starnberg to feed to the swans . This is a picture of a couple of kids feeding the swans.



For Easter, I decided to go to Lourdes, the most popular place for pilgrimages in the world.

At first, I wasn't sure whether to go to France or back to Germany for Easter. If I went to Germany, I would have had the opportunity to go see the Passion Play at Oberamargau. I would also have been able to see Die Unendliche Geschichte (The Neverending Story), which was playing in Germany at the time. But, since I had been to Germany but never been to France, Lourdes won out.

That was a long, uncomfortable train ride. And once the train finally gets to Lourdes, I was surprised to find it was just a small, minor stop on the train's route to Spain. You don't want to fall asleep during that 24-hour ride!

[Lourdes] I was told that the first thing you should do when you get to Lourdes is to buy a map. Lourdes is a very small town, but the streets there are very confusing. I did get a map right away, and I was certainly glad I did! At least once I remember getting los t trying to find the hotel where I was staying.

Lourdes is a great place. They weren't at all like the unpleasant descriptions I'd heard of French people. They were very kind and friendly.

At night there is a candle procession and the recitation of the rosary in many languages. For someone who loves languages as much as I do, that is quite a thrill. And everybody chants the Creed (III). It makes one wonder how many Americans would be able t o chant that, which Europeans have no trouble with.

Another thing that made that trip fun, was that there was a group of pilgrims there that day from England, who could often be heard sitting around singing. I'll never forget listening to them all singing "Pack Up your Troubles".

I was surprised at how easy it was to pick up some French, after knowing a bit of Italian. (It also helps when you have to be able to speak it!)

This concludes my tales of my Year In Italy. Come back again sometime; I may be adding more pictures and stories from time to time!

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