How Hostels Have Changed


So much to blog about!   In Berlin the power of the past still moves me.  We had a theme of the history of the Reichstag (above) as a constant connecting Imperial Germany to today – and the diverse episodes of war, fascism, division, etc. – can be linked when viewed through that perspective.   I will blog about that – but not today.  I also have started blog entries about the joy I still feel when I encountered unified, free Berlin!  The changes over the last 25 years – a city in constant transition – excite and amaze me.

I have at least two blog entries to write on that.

Today after a train ride to Munich I gave the students a seminar that started at Odeonplatz, where Hitler’s “Beer hall putsch” of November 9, 1923 met its demise.   I now joke with my students, I’ll be talking about something and I’ll say “give me the date” and they’ll yell “November 9!”  That was the day the Kaiser abdicated and Germany was declared a republic in 1918, Hitler’s “putsch” attempt, Kristallnacht of 1938, and of course when the wall came down in 1989.   Apparently, Germany is a Scorpio.

So we discussed Hitler’s rise, then went down the street not more than a kilometer to the memorial to Sophie Scholl, my personal hero (along with her brother and others in the White Rose).   At Geschwister Scholl Plaza (meaning literally ‘Siblings School Square,’ though it doesn’t sound as awkward in German as in English) we talked about her story and its aftermath.  I also talked at length about the film made, “The Last Days of Sophie Scholl.”   As we finished I walked by a newspaper stand and the headline on Bild Zeitung was that Alexander Held’s wife (Held played the Gestapo interrogator in the film) died from internal bleeding, and he found her dead at home.  Yikes.

I’ve got a big blog entry to write on that, and how cool it was to use place to connect history and emphasize both the evil and good expressed in Germany’s past.   But not tonight.

I can’t blog and be a solo instructor at the same time.  I don’t have time to craft a thoughtful blog about a subject of importance.  So tonight I’m going to end with a short look at how hostels have changed.

My first time in Munich was 30 years ago.   I recall going to the hostel, lining up and waiting over an hour for them to open the doors and assign rooms.  It was first come first serve, the doors didn’t open until 3:00.   We were in a barracks like room, and had a midnight curfew – then the doors closed.   There were lockers for valuables at least.

In the morning one showered in a large shared shower, and then at breakfast I was handed a brotchen, slice of cheese, bad coffee, and that was it.  It felt more like prison.  We had to be out from 10:oo to 3 as they cleaned.   But it was cheap!

An awesome group to travel with!

An awesome group to travel with!

Now at Hotel Wombats the place is open 24 hours.  We’re warmly greeted by staff who tell students to get their bedsheets and make their beds (they don’t allow sleeping bags or your own bedding for sanitary reasons), there is free wifi, a bar on the premises (students each got a free drink voucher), a shower in every room (though rooms can have 8 people), and a fun atmosphere.

Their breakfast is a buffet style with brotchen (rolls), different kinds of bread, toasters, jams, different kinds of cheeses, salami, different kinds of meats, cereal, cukes, milk, juices, coffee, eggs, and more.   Yet it’s still pretty reasonably priced!

I thought of that as I walked through Munich’s train station tonight, realizing that it is nothing like how I experienced it the first time.  I could see how the old station fit generally in the structure, but everything was different.  There’s a blog entry about that coming up too.

But not tonight – and maybe not until after the trip is done.

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