Once again, I took this trip on my own, leaving bright and early on August first. Most of that Monday was spent on the train, which taught me that reserving a seat does not necessarily mean you're going to get that seat! When I changed trains in Fulda, I went to find my seat on the new train, just to find another lady, probably in her fifties or sixties, sitting there. I asked her to move and showed her my ticket, but everybody around us started calling me “rude and inconsiderate,” because I was kicking an “elderly lady out of her seat,” and I should just go find another open seat. After arguing a little bit longer, I finally went to find another seat, but the experience did not put me in the best of moods for the start of my trip.
The hostel experience was a lot different from any other trip I had taken during the year. For one thing, although I found the place on Hostelworld, it wasn’t a true hostel- it was a campsite! Aptly named “The Tent,” the place had two large tents with bunk beds inside, and when I checked in, they handed me several heavy blankets. There were also grassy areas where people had pitched their own tents. It wasn’t the most comfortable of places, and it wasn’t very quiet at night before quiet hours started at 1 am, but it was a good way to meet a lot of fellow travelers and save a few euros in the process.
After a quick dinner at the Tent, I headed out to Marienplatz, the center of the city, to walk around and absorb some of the energy around me. After originally getting off at the wrong stop on the tram (Mariennenplatz is different from Marienplatz!), I walked around and took in the sights of the New City Hall with the clocktower, St. Peter’s Church, the marketplace that was closed for the night… and the gigantic Apple store. I never can get too far away from home! As I could no longer go into any of those places, and I’m not one for enjoying the local liquid culture on my own, I headed back to the Tent to make a game plan for the next few days.
Tuesday, I woke up and immediately took the train to Dachau so I could go to the concentration camp located there. I’ll write that experience up in another blog post, as there is so much I can say about that trip. As I completely expected, though, it was a fairly depressing day. As I headed back to the campsite, I didn’t have a lot of emotional energy left to go out that night, and planned to just laze around for the evening. However, on the crowded train ride back, there were two Irish girls next to me, talking on and on in English. One of the Germans on the other side of them started asking them about life in Ireland and if he would be able to find a job there. When they mentioned the stop they were watching out for, I spoke up and asked if they were also staying at the Tent, which they were. After the German left the tram, we started talking. When they found out I was studying in Berlin, I found out that I have the potential of being a popular person at hostels in Germany: I’m an outgoing American and English is my native language, so people don’t have a problem speaking with me. But at the same time, I can go out with them and translate information, figure out the train system, and ask questions in the local language! I started talking to them for longer, we grabbed dinner and a few beers, and when it started growing dark, we joined the camp bonfire and met several others. By the end of the night, I had met people from England, Canada, Italy, Spain, and other Germans, plus Anna and Tara from Ireland, and a good time was had by all.
Wednesday morning, I headed out to take a tour of Munich, hosted by a company that normally does tours for staycationers, thinking it would be held in German. What a shock when the lady started speaking to everyone in English! The tour was decent, mostly sticking to the areas around Marienplatz and the Viktualienmarkt, although I thought we could have gotten more information for the length of the tour, almost two hours. I know I give more information than that on my tours of Davis! After the group broke up, I went over to see the clock tower of the Neues Rathaus (New City Hall) dance around. Then I went over to St. Peter’s Church. Unfortunately, the church itself was closed for cleaning, but I went up the tower and was able to see the city from above. From there, I crossed the square to the Frauenkirche. This is the church that has the “black foot” at the entrance, because when somebody stands right at that spot, they cannot see any of the side windows. However, when they take one step forward, windows come into view. The story goes that, soon after the church was built, the Devil came in to see the new place of worship, As he looked around, he thought it was silly the people didn’t put any windows in, and so he started laughing and took a step forward to continue enjoying the terribly-designed church. But when he took that step forward, the building was filled with light from the windows, and he became so upset he stomped on the ground and left behind his footprint.
I stopped at a sidewalk café after the Frauenkirche, to try a German specialty of spaghetti ice cream, another “I’ll do that someday” thing I had put off too long. While I was sitting there, people-watching and enjoying my ice cream, it started pouring rain. I made my way back to the campsite, where I ran into Anna and Tara again. After making some pasta for dinner in the kitchen, I dragged them back into the city to go to the Hofbräuhaus, arguably the most famous beer hall in Munich. We found a table and ordered our beer, and talked some more. The table next to us heard us speaking English and invited us to join them, two men and a woman from Australia. One of the guys was actually quite drunk and a bit rude, but the other two were very friendly. As the beer hall started emptying (as beer halls don’t sell beer after 11 pm in Munich), Anna, Tara and I said goodbye to our new Australian friends and headed back to the Tent and went to sleep.
Thursday, the three of us headed to the Deutsches Museum, a museum about Germany’s influence in science and technology. The other two were a little disappointed as we went into the first room about oil drilling, because none of the information was translated into English! I myself was struggling to understand the information. Fortunately, when we moved on to the room about ships and naval services, the signs were translated. I’m glad the others were able to learn some things at the museum. We stayed there until the museum closed at 5, and then headed back to Viktualienmarkt. Anna and Tara were leaving that night to continue their trip, so after a little while there, we wished each other safe travels and went our separate ways. I went off to a beer crawl, hosted by another hostel in the city. We went off to the Augustiner Keller, one of the oldest beer gardens in Munich, where several people, myself included, bought dinner. The guy before me in line tried to order something from the menu, and struggled with the long German words, although the men behind the counter understood him well enough. I happened to order the same thing, but didn’t struggle. He immediately turned to me and said, “Showoff,” which caused everyone in the area, Germans and tourists alike, to laugh. Also at the Augustiner Keller, I started talking to one girl, Adi, and found out that she was a 2009 Aggie grad! We really are everywhere! After everyone finished their beers, we headed over to the Löwenbräu beer garden. We learned about the “test” to see if somebody is too drunk to drink more beer: an intricate arm-twist around the body with a full liter of beer, and don’t lose a single drop. I couldn’t do it, not because I had had too much beer, but because I’m so uncoordinated and such a klutz that I wouldn’t be able to do it sober!
The night ended, I headed back to the Tent…or at least I thought I did. Even though the tram that goes to the campsite runs at night, it didn’t come when I thought it did. Instead of taking the 17, I got on the 18 and went in the wrong direction. So when the tram got to the end of the line, I simply took it around and took it back to my original stop. And then there was no time posted for when the next 17 was coming. Deciding to go against my cheap-traveler ways, I hailed a cab and got back to the campsite at about 3 in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, it probably would have been safe for me to wait, even alone, but I really wanted nothing more at that point than to get back to my bed.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to sleep the entire morning, like I wanted to, since I had to check out of the Tent and take another 7-hour train ride back to Berlin. But since I had a couple of hours to kill before the train came, I walked around the outside of Marienplatz again. I found a statue of a Bavarian king, which was covered with pictures and notes to the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson. I honestly can’t even remember which king the statue was memorializing. I also found a small church and a small little market street, places most tourists wouldn’t find. I love finding places like that! Unfortunately, my time in Munich quickly came to a close, and I found myself on the quiet, relaxing train ride back to Berlin, my home for the next six days.
I am very glad I decided to go to Munich. It’s a lovely Bavarian town, rebuilt after the war in a similar medieval style. I met a lot of very nice people, both Germans and tourists, I was able to experience the “liquid culture” everybody raves about, and I didn’t even have a single problem with the accent, something even native Germans sometimes struggle with! Munich is definitely a city I will want to go back to in the future.