We’ll traverse Germany as we search out the distinctive aspects of its history and culture, studying modern Germany in the context of the events and people involved in the rapid changes since World War II. Guest lectures will guide our understanding of the culture – including music and art, and the differences between northern and southern Germany – and the history of the country.
We’ll spend time in Berlin and examine this capital city, then and now, before traveling to Leipzig to experience this city of music. Then it’s on to Nuremberg to discuss the Renaissance, Reich, and reckoning in this town known for the boom of Nazism, but also for the war trials. Finally, we experience German hospitality and gemütlichkeit in Munich, where we explore Bavarian culture.
Of course, we will also experience the incomparable Passion Play, which comes around only every 10 years in Oberammergau. Along the way we’ll ponder such questions as …
1. To what extent does Germany’s past live on in the present? How familiar are today’s Germans with that past? Do you think that today’s Germans have come to grips with the Nazi past, or are they still in the process of reconciliation?
2. What vestiges of East Germany before the fall of the Wall continue to impact the united Germany? Are there still traces of differences between east and west? Is the mentality of a current day young German different than that of its grand parents? How?
3. An important notion in talking about Germany and German culture is Heimat. While this term does not have a good English equivalent, Heimat relates to the notions of identity and collective memory. Specifically, it can refer to places or events or monuments which are linked to German identity and to the significance of those places or events in the collective identity of Germans. What examples of Heimat will we encounter during our travels? What do these places mean for Germans today? Has the meaning of these places changed over time?s
4. The roots of The Passion Play are historical, but the Play itself has evolved considerably over time. How? Why? What do you think The Passion Play represents for inhabitants of Oberammergau today? Does it represent the same thing for visitors and tourists? Do you consider The Passion Play to be primarily a cultural event, a religious event, a commercial event, or something else? Before witnessing The Passion Play, what did you think the experience would be like? How did you react to the event as you were witnessing it? Once The Play was over, what can you say about the experience of witnessing it?
Two spaces are available for sharing a double or twin room. ACT FAST because registration must close July 18. Use the Register Now button above to join us.
This program was custom designed to search out the distinctive aspects of Germany’s history and culture and take in the once-every-10-years Oberammergau Passion Play. The itinerary is subject to change. Travel demands flexibility. We will strive to balance adaptability with remaining on schedule. Please trust that, when it is not possible to follow the plan laid out below, your program leaders will work to find substitutions that retain the quality of this Study Travel program. Various details may be added or changed due to information obtained while making reservations, or perhaps on site, especially because of the weather. BLD indicated included group meals.
Tuesday, Aug 30 Depart U.S.
Individual departures from the United States.
Wednesday, Aug 31 Arrive Berlin (D)
Upon arrival, make your own way to the group hotel. The program will start with introductions and a group welcome dinner. Overnight at Albrechtshof or similar.
Thursday, Sep 1 Berlin (B, L)
Our theme in Berlin will be “Capital City, Then and Now.” Guest lectures on this topic will be added in closer to departure. Today starts with a panoramic city tour by private motor coach with a local guide and occasional stops, including Brandenburg Gate, Unter den Linden, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis Kirche, and the Kudamm. Group lunch. Afternoon free and dinner on your own. We’ll book an evening concert at some point during our stay in Berlin, once performance schedules are announced. Overnight at Albrechtshof or similar.
Friday, Sep 2 Berlin (B, D)
This morning we’ll take an audio-guide tour at Checkpoint Charlie, followed by a guided tour of the Memorial of the Murdered Jews (Holocaust Memorial). Lunch on your own. This afternoon we’ll have coffee, cake, and a visit at the Reichstag, including the dome. Group dinner. Overnight at Albrechtshof or similar.
Saturday, Sep 3 Berlin (B, L)
We’ll begin our day with a guided tour of the Gemäldegalerie, followed by a group lunch. Afternoon free and dinner on your own. Overnight at Albrechtshof or similar.
Sunday, Sep 4 Berlin – Leipzig (B, L)
Transfer in private motor coach to Leipzig. Our theme in Leipzig will be “City of Music.” Guest lectures on this topic will be added in closer to departure. Upon arrival, group lunch at Auerbachs Keller, followed by a guided tour of the Forum of Contemporary History (Zeitgeschichtliches Forum). Check into the hotel and free time with dinner on your own. Possible concert or opera, depending on schedules not yet announced. (Recommended option of no group concert: Dance World Cup.) Overnight at Seaside Park Hotel or similar.
Monday, Sep 5 Leipzig (B, L) Labor Day, U.S.
After breakfast we’ll take a guided walking tour of the Old Town, including inside Thomaskirche and Altes Rathaus. Group lunch. Afternoon free and dinner on your own. Overnight at Seaside Park Hotel or similar.
Tuesday, Sep 6 Leipzig – Nuremberg (B, L)
Transfer in private motor coach to Nuremberg. Our theme in Nuremberg will be “Renaissance, Reich, and Reckoning.” Guest lectures on this topic will be added in closer to departure. Upon arrival we’ll have a group lunch, followed by a walking tour of Old Town, including inside St. Lorenz-Kirche. Dinner on your own. Overnight at Dürer Hotel or similar.
Wednesday, Sep 7 Nuremberg (B, D)
We’ll start today with a guided tour of the Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände (The Documentation Center Nazi Party Rallying Grounds). Lunch on your own, followed by a guided tour of the Nuremberg Trials Memorial & Courthouse. Group dinner. Overnight at Dürer Hotel or similar.
Thursday, Sep 8 Nuremberg – Munich (B, D)
This morning we’ll have an audio-guide tour of the Albrecht Dürer House and lunch on your own before transferring in our private motor coach to Munich. Our theme in Munich will be “Bavarian Culture.” Guest lectures on this topic will be added in closer to departure. Upon arrival in Munich we’ll embark on a guided walking tour, including Neues Rathaus, the chiming of the glockenspiel, and Frauenkirche. Group dinner at Hofbräuhaus. Overnight at Steigenberger Hotel or similar. (We are working on a hotel closer to the city center; unfortunately there is an international congress taking place during our visit and hotels are booked.)
Friday, Sep 9 Munich (B, L)
After breakfast we’ll take a guided tour of the Englischer Garten, followed by a group lunch. Afternoon free and dinner on your own. Overnight at Steigenberger Hotel or similar.
Saturday, Sep 10 Munich – Oberammergau (B, L, D)
Transfer to Oberammergau in private motor coach (probably box lunch en route). We’ll attend the first part of the Passion Play, have dinner during intermission, and then attend the second part of the play. Overnight accommodations in Oberammergau are pending; possible return to Munich tonight.
Sunday, Sep 11 Oberammergau – Munich (B, D)
Transfer back to Munich, if we didn’t last night. Lunch on your own and free time. Farewell group dinner. Overnight at Steigenberger Hotel or similar.
Monday, Sep 12 Depart Germany (B)
You must be in good physical shape to participate in Alumni & Family Travel programs, with the ability to walk several miles unassisted and participate in 6–8 hours of activities each day that include walking on unpaved surfaces, uneven pavement, stairs, and hills, and a great deal of standing. Good balance is required. The program is not recommended for slow walkers or travelers using walkers or canes. We reserve the right for group leaders to restrict participation, or in some circumstances send travelers home, if their limitations impact the group’s experience.
Hotels will be tourist class (three or four star) with private baths, air conditioning, and English-speaking staff.
You should plan on seeing your family physician or a travel doctor at least four to six weeks prior to departure, preferably earlier, to talk about routine vaccinations. For more information on travel health, visit cdc.gov or who.int.
As a condition of participation in this program all attendees must have received a COVID-19 vaccine and received a booster shot at least 2 weeks prior to attending the program. The Centers for Disease Control now say all adults can and should get a booster shot once they are six months past their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two months past their single Johnson & Johnson dose. If, by departure time, you are not yet 6 months past your second dose or 2 months past your single J&J dose, you will not be required to have a booster. Because changing conditions may result in additional or different participation restrictions, we will strive to keep you promptly informed of any changes resulting from the ongoing pandemic.
What happens if you develop symptoms or test positive for covid while traveling on the St. Olaf program?
- we will expect everyone to follow the isolation and other protocols of the host country and will provide those to you, to the best of our knowledge, closer to departure, as they may be updated frequently in the next several months
- our itinerary cannot be altered, so if it calls for the group to move to a new city/hotel, we will do so
- group leaders cannot stay back with sick or covid-positive individuals
- the injury and illness coverage provided with your program fee includes covid-related illness. Here is the language from the latest FAQs:
Is there coverage for COVID-19? (new as of 5/1/21)
Yes, participants diagnosed with COVID-19 would have the same coverage as if they had any other illness.
Is there coverage for pandemic quarantine? (new as of 5/1/21)
Yes, if the participant is required to quarantine while on a covered trip due to exposure to, or a confirmed case of a virus/illness due to epidemic/pandemic not requiring hospitalization, the policy would provide up to $5,000 of benefits for food and lodging. If the participant requires hospitalization, the basic emergency medical coverage would apply.
You can read more, including the full FAQ and a Summary of Coverage document, on our Travel Insurance page.
The program fee is $4,950 per person. Based on double occupancy, it includes accommodations, breakfast daily and group meals as listed on the itinerary, admissions for group activities, the Passion Play dinner/ticket/overnight package, ground transportation (except airport transfers at the beginning and end of the program), gratuities for group meals, drivers, and guides, and some limited medical travel insurance. For single occupancy, add $815.
Airfare between the U.S. and Germany is not included. Participants are solely responsible for all expenses not specifically included in the program fee. Examples of excluded expenses are: International airfare • Airport transfers • Any passport fees • Any recommended immunizations or vaccinations • Baggage insurance • Trip cancellation insurance above $2,000 lifetime coverage • Beverages at most group meals • Gratuities to housekeeping staff • Laundry • Dry cleaning • Phone charges • Room service or other items of a personal nature • Expenses incurred during free time or non-group activities • Lunch and dinner, unless specifically included on program itinerary.
A $500 per person deposit is required upon registration. View the full Payment and Refund schedule below.
This schedule is based on payments St. Olaf College must make to program vendors to guarantee group rates. We highly recommend that you purchase travel insurance at the time of registration to recover your payments should you need to withdraw from the program. Check with the insurance provider regarding their policy on refunding premiums if St. Olaf cancels the program.
Because of ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, it is possible that a program could be postponed. In such a case, while we will strive to make full refunds when we can, there are certain expenses that may not be refunded to either St. Olaf or the participant.
Deposit due: $500 upon registration
Refund if you cancel: $400 until April 30, 2021. If the deposit is made after April 30, 2021 there is no refund.
Interim payment due: $2,000 by May 1, 2021
Refund if you cancel: $1,000 until April 30, 2022
Final payment due: May 1, 2022
Refund if you cancel: None, unless the program is full and your place can be resold
Cancellations must be in writing.
Some limited travel insurance is included in your program fee.
- Check the Center for Disease Control (CDC) immunization recommendations.
- Review the International Travel section of the U.S. State Department, including Before You Go, Country Information, While Abroad, and Emergencies.
- Prepare for your adventure by checking out a variety of resources, including frequently asked questions, general health information, included travel insurance, safety overview, and more.
This Program is an Official Go
As a condition of participation in this program all attendees must have received a COVID-19 vaccine and completed the vaccination process at least 2 weeks prior to attending. Because changing conditions may result in additional or different participation restrictions, we will strive to keep you promptly informed of any changes resulting from the ongoing pandemic.
Meanwhile, registered participants should feel free to purchase your flights. We strongly recommend you consider adding flight cancellation insurance to that purchase. Here are some additional notes:
Additional short reads:
Article, “Centuries-old passion play returns after pandemic break” from the Associated Press
Article, “Passion Play makes a post-pandemic return in Oberammergau” from The Catholic Spirit