Sopron Bark Beetle Conference: Munich-Dachau-Sopron

Saturday was a very full day. We took a train and a bus to visit the Dachau memorial site just northwest of Munich along with a small group of workers from Bangalore, India who were also staying at the hostel. Franz, who lives in the town of Dachau, led us on a remarkable tour. He has been doing this twice a month for 15 years, and from a personal perspective, provides a historical context for the war and the Shoah, as well as linking the tour to the importance of human rights today.

Camp entrance, Dachau


When we asked what had changed over those 15 years, he said that at first mainly survivors and their families were coming; now the visitors are mainly international and students. We were so inspired by his integrity, honesty and courage; the tour left us feeling a lot of hope about the world.

After, we stopped at the main train station Hauptbahnhof to get our tickets to Sopron, then stopped at Mairenplatz. The ornate Rathaus city hall building is gorgeous and there were thousands of people in the plaza and pedestrian areas. We spent a long time downtown and in the market area and managed to resist most of the temptations apart from Italian ice cream before returning to the hostel.

bikes parked downtown Munich

On Sunday we caught a train to Vienna and after stashing all our gear, discovered that some seats are reserved 😮 But people were friendly and helpful; we ended up sitting with some Hungarians and Brazilians. At Vienna we caught a smaller train to Sopron, an hour away; altogether the trip from Munich took about 6 hours.

Sopron is a beautiful city whose history pre-dates the Romans. The hotel where the conference was taking place was a 15 minute walk away from the train station.

Pannonia Hotel, Sopron: site of IUFRO Conference

Ater checking in, we unrolled all the art in a large gymnasium, and went for a bite. They gave us a beautiful room with a small patio and allowed us to pay at the conference rate. But contrary to what our Lonely Planet Hungarian phrasebook said, Euros were not yet accepted everywhere and we needed to change some into Forints. The rate has been around 268 Fts/Euro. This means most prices are in the hundreds and thousands. No wonder most store clerks point to the final price; tourists like us struggle to count to 5 in Hungarian!

view of Sopron from our room at the Pannonia.

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