About a seven hour train ride later, including a quick stop in Fulda along the way, we arrived in Munich.
At this point of our vacation, I had learned how to recognize a couple of very important words in German. I am not claiming to be able to pronounce them, but at least I started to know what I was looking for. The first one was ‘ausgang’ (exit). This was critical in learning how to find our way out of the labyrinth-like train stations. The next was ‘Straße’, (street). This was important when looking for our hotel or other destinations. It will probably never cease to amaze me at how incredibly long street names are in German (our hotel was . The last one was ‘gas’ (gas as in carbonation). Every time we would buy water, we would end up with carbonated water. Kassandra and I would examine the bottles of water, trying to determine what signified gas/no-gas. It got to the point that I would start shaking the bottles of water at the store trying to establish which were gas or no-gas until the shopkeepers would take pity on my ignorance.
Our hotel was right just a couple of blocks from the main train station, which meant that I was able to easily find our hotel (this is the one and only city that I will be able to say that we didn’t get lost trying to find our hotel from the train station). Of course this also meant that it was nestled in with several strip clubs, casinos (of which I didn’t go to any – I know Kate won’t believe me, but it’s true!), and dubious looking people that Kassandra kept referring to as the mafia (the Munich Mafia does have a nice ring to it).
That night we dined at a German restaurant, which was chosen based on proximity to the Marienplatz and Karlsplatz shopping area and the fact that they offered a menu in English. Also the atmosphere was fun. It was only 4:00 and the place was loud and crowded and people were already playing drinking games. Unfortunately, it was one of the worst meals that we had in Europe. The service was bad and the food was bland and expensive. Not to mention that when I went to add some pepper to my dish, the top of the pepper shaker came off and a large gob of pepper poured onto my food (this pic is pre-gob). I am sure it was some idiot before me that thought this would be hilarious to do to someone. I wasn’t laughing. Add in the fact that Germans think all water should be served with carbonation, and I was eating gobs of pepper with no real water.
After not getting any help from the waiter with regards to the pepper or water issue (on top of him being slow, bringing out my dish 5-10 minutes after Kassandra’s, and being a bit rude), I was honestly tempted to dine and dash for my first time. But alas, I am a good person… or maybe it was because Kassandra was with me, or maybe it was because I was in a foreign country and knew I would be lost and wondering back around the restaurant a million more times… whatever it was, I paid my exorbitantly high check and left.
The next day we went back to the Marienplatz and Karlsplatz shopping area, which also has a lot of old and interesting buildings to look at.
It was a mixed area of your typical stores like H & M and then it also had the more unique stores like Bavarian clothing shops where you could pick up some lederhosen and dirndl dresses. Kassandra would have killed for a really cute red and black dirndl dress, but the cost of about 150 Euros ($200 US / 720 AED) for the whole ensemble was high enough that she could be convinced to walk away. Although, mom, she does have plans to beg you to sew one for her during the summer so be prepared for that.
For dinner, we opted for Thai food to satisfy my craving that I have been having since December (it is the little things you start to miss living in Al Ain). We went to Manam Thai restaurant as it had high ratings online. It was the smallest restaurant that I have probably every been to with such a large number of people crammed in. Based on the reviews and the crowd, I thought I was in for some fabulous Pad Thai, but it was just okay. I still prefer the Thai food in Portland.
Our last day in Munich was a looooong one. Since we were only traveling with a carry-on suitcase and a backpack, we had a limited amount of clothes with us. Add in the vomiting incident, and we decided that it was time to do some laundry. So, we bagged up everything we wanted to wash, and I tracked down a laundromat a few train stops away from our hotel. Everything was, of course, in German, but the woman working there was quite helpful, and she showed me how to work the machines. While we waited for our clothes to be done, we had lunch at McDonalds. Yes, I know that seems like a cop out, but I convinced myself that I was allowed to do that since we couldn’t go to far from our clothes. We were able to get that fresh clean clothes feeling again. It made me really miss having a real washer and a dryer in Al Ain (again the small things).
After doing laundry, we had to check out of our hotel. However, the train leaving for Paris wasn’t due until 11pm, so we had a plenty of time to walk around the other parts of Munich. We took the train pretty far out and then slowly walked our way back towards the train station. Kassandra wasn’t thrilled with all the walking, but we made some of our best discoveries getting lost, wandering, and walking.
As we walked along Maximilianstraße, it made me think of the Bavarian guys my sister and I met in Vegas one year ago. They were wearing lederhosen (in Vegas!) and one was even named Julian Maximilian. I never could have imagined a year ago when I was talking to them, that I would be walking along the streets of their city. It is amazing how much life can change in just one year.
After hours of walking around, we couldn’t handle the cold any longer and my knee was killing me (injury from tripping up the escalator at the train station). It was time to go back to the train station – not that the train station was any warmer, but in theory, we felt warmer since we were indoors. Then just like that, our 2 nights in Munich were over. It was time to say goodbye to Germany and say hello to the next country of our voyage.