In 2017, upon my high school graduation I decided to neglect the conventional path to college and so I packed my bags and moved to one of Germany’s oldest cities: Augsburg.
Located in southern Germany in the Swabia, Bavaria region and only 50 km West of Munich, Augsburg is a university town and the third-largest city in Bavaria.
My journey began on September 17th, 2017. Hopped on a flight from DFW to ORD and finally Munich International Airport. My plan originally was to take a train from Munich to the small town of Augsburg, on paper, this plan should have worked flawlessly. If I’m being quite frank however, I underestimated how challenging it is to travel to a foreign country by yourself when you are 18. First and foremost, I failed to account for one of Europe’s and more specifically Germany’s most well-establish cultural norms: everything is closed on Sundays. This was especially problematic considering that I arrived at Munich at 9 pm, with barely any battery on my phone and having four years of German suddenly vanishing from my head. In what seemed like an unexplainable miracle, I managed to arrive to the city of Augsburg, now it was time to find where I was staying for the night and yes, you guessed right, I was once again lost. As a night wanderer in the lonely streets of Augsburg, I found myself beyond stressed out and accepting the fact that I had failed. Enter what in the next few weeks would become my two guardian angels: Ferdi and Becky. Two Augsburg-native teenagers who were walking back home when they stumbled upon a foreigner sitting on a bench with a bunch of luggage, they asked if I needed help. “I don’t know how to get to the Jugendherberge, where I’m staying” this was an accomplishment in itself given that thus far, this had been the only sentence in German I had managed to formulate. For the next couple months – Ferdi, Becky and I spent the days drinking coffee at Heyzel Coffee, playing bingo Tuesday nights at Henry’s and taking the Banhof together to Augsburg University.
In a matter of a couple weeks, I had found a home away from home. But what is there to do in a small town like Augsburg, you ask?
The city of Augsburg is the epitome of the perfect intersection between a historic, cultural, artistic and culinary wonders. After Neuss and Trier, Augsburg is the third-oldest city in Germany and was founded by the Romans in 15 B.C. In its inception, the city was a free imperial city and the home of the Fugger family who dominated European banking in the 16th century.
Kept through time, The Fuggerei is the oldest social housing complex in the world. It consists of 140 flats spread across approximately 67 buildings. To this day, after almost 500 years of operation, people still live onsite and its inhabitants pay only €0,88 in rent a year. Once there, you can visit the onsite museum and the WW2 bunker with some impressive memorabilia.
The Augsburg Rathaus & Perlachturm
The Rathaus is Augsburg’s Town Hall, however it is not like any other Town Hall. In its interior, the “golden hall” it’s a grand room covered with gold elements that clad the walls and ceilings with an origin in the Renaissance period.
Next to the Rathaus is this 70-meter-high tower that punctuates the sky of Augsburg’s city downtown. If you are up to the challenge, you can climb the 261 steps that lead all the way to the top and although it is athletically challenging, you will be rewarded with startling panoramic views of the city.
If you are someone who enjoys delicious dinners with a view, this particularly colorful street is the place for you. Walking through Maximilianstrasse is like travelling through the ages, with Gothic, Renaissance, Rococo, Neo-classicist and post-war buildings that make this road the epitome of art history.
Believe it or not these are only but a few activities that one can enjoy in this small but full of wonders Bavarian town. By the end of my trip, around December 2017 not only was I extremely comfortable walking and exploring around the streets of Augsburg but had also the chance to hop on a train and visit around eight other German cities. As I’m sure you would understand, I found myself incredibly un-willing to come back home. I found that once you give yourself the chance to experience the unknown, a landscape full of possibilities present themselves to you; today I invite you do the same and explore the small towns around the world, they hold the biggest treasures.