Monday, November 16, 2009

Munich: Hey, why not?

I'm sitting here in breakfast, trying to comprehend the fact that my buddy – the driving force behind the creation of the Snorflog – could not sleep last night. And why? Why wouldn't he sleep last night? Because someone was snoring too loud for him. I know this culprit. He was in the bunk right beside me. I heard him snore woke up, and immediately fell back to sleep. But no – not for he who keeps up awake. Ironic? Perhaps. Fantastic? Of course.

That is some crazy princess and the pea stuff. And speaking of the princess and the pea – I don't understand that story. What is desirable about a wife that can feel something as small as a pea through twenty mattresses? Let us for a moment pretend that these are straw mattresses - assumedly common in the time of Hans Christian Anderson – and not new aged memory foam made by NASA. Still, one pea – if I ever dated a girl who could not sleep because of such a tiny obstacle that would be it, she would be out my door so fast, not headed right to the alter for a quick, and painful wedding.

I mean – honestly – does this princess not go camping? I once spent a night on a lot of spiky red rocks in northern Ontario. True story. It was not the least painful night I'd ever had. But it wasn't a sleepless night either.

Good friend DeeDub sent me an email with a quote from Douglas Coupland in it. First, I want to take a moment and state that I love Douglas Coupland, regardless of the fact that half his books are pretty terrible. And I know. I've read the all – and I am also quite excited that his new novel came out a month ago, when I wasn't looking.

But enough of this, back to the quote:
“I believe that you've had most of your important memories by the time you're thirty. After that, memory becomes water overflowing into an already full cup. New experiences just don't register in the same way or with the same impact. I could be shooting heroin with the Princess of Wales, naked in a crashing jet, and the experience still couldn't compare to the time the cops chased us after we threw the Taylors' patio furniture into their pool in eleventh grade.” -Douglas Coupland

Now, it's important to keep in mind that most of his characters are cynical creatures who are strung out on far too many drugs, and that might also be the reason that their memories are impaired. But – that doesn't take any of the truth away from this statement. The older I get, the less and less things register to me.

I've always thought it has more to do with the fact that we get the passion knocked out of us. We are taught not to care as much, and we start seeing people who do view the world through that overly indulgent lens as being strange, odd, people to be cast to the sidelines. I mean, honestly, imagine someone filming a plastic bag blowing around in the wind, and claiming it was the most beautiful thing they had ever seen, at twenty six. That just doesn't fly. If you're fourteen? Sixteen? Fine – but not twenty six.

I think back to a cold winters night, a loud pop, and the pounding of feet on snow-covered asphalt. This is my strongest memory, and wandering the canals in Amsterdam, strolling through Auschwitz, or stepping out of the plane into Helsinki can't even begin to hold a candle to it. Maybe, just maybe, standing on the Eiffel Tower with she who Never Learned To Swim, can come close. But still – it's no night with a string of red spots, trailing being a group of delinquent teenagers.

But, when I reach the age of thirty five, will I look back on this trip in the same way? The memory is always better. Distressingly, I'm already starting to view high school as some of the best years – despite screaming they were just to opposite, and scrawling those words in many books – during the days themselves.

But that's how memory works, yeah? It all becomes disconnected – and much like with child birthing, skinned knees, and god awful dental surgeries, the pain is forgotten in time. And that's for the best – except when you're trying to tell one of those people in the situation that it will get better. Telling someone with a soldering iron in their mouth, being used to burn away excess gums, that the pain will be all but forgotten – well that probably won't help much. I imagine the results are the same telling a fifteen year old that life goes on – despite the hells of the secondary school halls.

Munich would need some exploring. And here's where travelling with other people gets interesting: you can't just think “I want to go here,” and then go there. You have to put it before the committee. And then everyone has to mull it over, think about it, weigh the pros and the cons, and eventually decide that “yes, this is a good plan.” But this takes twenty minutes.

And when considering how to get from point A to point B – well that's another matter too. We need to rent a car. On my own, I would go to the website, look it up, rent it, and be done with it. But now there is need for a committee – reasons need to be explained why renting an economy over a BMW is the reasonable choice, even though we are in Germany. Yes a Volkswagen is just as good. Then where to pick up, where to drop off need to be decided. And then, thirteen hours later the car is still not rented. Our captain is now off on a pub crawl. He swears he'll rent it when he gets back. I'll bet.

But – after our company meeting we did head out for the day, and it was good. Everyone needs a meeting now and then – it just works to extend breakfast. Which was awesome. And there was unlimited juice. Though I did get a strange look for downing four cups before filling a fifth and walking it back to the table. Hey – UN-LIMI-TED. I don't make the rules. I just abuse them.

We headed back down the shopping street – because that's how you get everywhere in this town. Well everyone in the inner city. Our mission, to head under a giant arch, make a right, and end up in the large park. Entering the park, there was a large wall covered in some not so terrible graffiti. Nothing that compared to what I saw from the train as we neared the station (I wish I knew how to get back there) but some good stuff never the less. The only real problem? The best piece caused me to stand precariously close to the riverbank to take a shot. Odd of me falling in? Ten percent. This may not seem like a high percentage, but when the mud is slick from the rain, it's still a very real likelihood.

In the middle of the park in a Chinese tower. Made as good a reason as any to go there. What the authenticity of this Chinese tower is, I do not know. But it was a destination, and in this journey – as is so often the case – the destination hardly mattered at all. It was just an excuse to walk that far out.

From the tower we headed to a restaurant suggested by the woman who worked at the hostel. It was said to be an authentic Bavarian restaurant without many tourists. Sounded good to me – better than the campy beer hall from the night before. I like my passersby in Germany speaking German – and being authentic citizens, not tourists on the lookout for people wearing costumes from times that may never have existed at any rate.

There was just one stop on the way. A grocery store. Where I found chocolate. It was to be the highlight of my afternoon – and the focus of my video of the day. I don't normally like chocolate, but I've had a hankering for it lately. It may have been from my growing love of Nutella.

I saw a bar of 70% dark lemon chocolate. It's not the 100% dark I so desperately crave, but I love lemon, and I love dark chocolate – so why not. But – as I was checking out – I saw a seasonal bar. Winter Chocolate. I don't know what that means. At least I didn't at the time, so there was but one way to check it out. Buy a bar. Two bars in hand, I found my change purse contained just the right amount to buy them both. It was clearly fated, or some such other nonsense.

And let me tell you? Winter Chocolate? Amazing. Like some sort of gingerbread man made in chocolate bar form, with spices, and tasty treats hidden throughout. The lemon would have been equally as good, but when placed side by side – well, even the most beautiful girl in your town looks a little frumpy next to a supermodel. Unless she doesn't. In which case you're probably in love, and that's sweet, and you should totally ask her out – or at least offer her your number. Don't be intimidated. Remember, pretty girls so often get over looked because people think that they're not good enough – and as such, he who has the courage may just be rewarded. And if she says no? Well – that's ok too. But in my case the girl in question is actually a delicious candy bar, and lemon flavoured, and I didn't need to wine and dine it before it was eaten. And for that, I consider myself blessed.

But chocolate can only last so long – oh look, a pretzel, the purchase of which was forgotten, has just been found in a coat's breast pocket. Good for it. I'm told it's still chewy and delicious.

The restaurant was quaint, and delightful. Upon entering and seeing the menu at the door, however, I realized a problem that may exist from eating at a real local spot. This problem was overlooked looked by others. Until the moment the waitress came up to us:

“Hello gentlemen, great to see you here, anything I can do for you? I hope to fulfill all your culinary delights on this rainy day!” is what I assume she said. In reality it sounded more like “Ich werde Ihre erste Kind geboren zu verschlingen, und höchstwahrscheinlich bringen ein auf Ihr Haus Pest.”

We stared blankly, looking at each other, looking at the wall, looking at the table. I looked back, “Menu?” a soft timidness in my voice. The type brought on when often talking to the aforementioned most-beautiful-girl-in-the-town.

“Ah yes, you are not speaking the German. I'll get you menus.” And from that point on the fear was removed, and the lunch turned from potential disaster to fantastic cultural experience.

The waitress suggested I try a specific beer, which was to be the largest and most potent, filling me with virile energy and a great sense of manliness, another – who may not be the best with a big beer in him – was suggested a half coke half lemon-aid mix, and the final with nothing to prove to anyone had a coke/lemon-aid. It was pretty delicious.

[authors note: the Australians call 7UP and Sprite Lemon-aid. Do they not have the real stuff there?]

Before ordering the drinks we were offered taster cups. Basically a 75ml sampling. Look, I don't know about you, but in Canada that's the normal size for a soft drink at some restaurants. And here it was the “just see if you like it, and if not, don't worry” sample. I wonder if Baskin-Robbins has foregone the tiny spoon and just hands out a one scoop cone here.

My lunch was the authentic version of what I should have had yesterday – pork and dumplings swimming in a two millimeter deep pool of gravy covering the entire plate. This. Was. Heaven. And if that weren't enough the meal also came with a sauerkraut salad. I can say with all honesty that it was the best salad I've ever had. And I've had some good salads. I've had wonderful Caesars, homemade Greeks, and fresh Gardens – but nothing, no salad ever, has won me over like this one did.

With drinks downed, meals polished off, and me being requested to take an awkward picture which may or may not have included one of my party members with the waitress, we headed out. To be sure though, in this picture the waitress didn't have a dead smile on her face, as the one in the touristy beer hall did. She seemed rather to enjoy or quirky American ( We're Canadian. Our beer is strong. Honest. I know you don't believe me miss, but it really is.) ways. In fact, she even came running down the street to catch us, to inform us that an Advil bottle had been left behind.

Best, restaurant, ever. It's a shame I can't remember what it was called. But it is near the Lehel subway station at the corner of R. Kochstr. and Tattenbachstr. I'm not sure what the real street names are, as these are just the NewEurope map short codes, but if you look it up, it shouldn't be too hard to find. If you go, tell them the bearded Canadian sent you. They'll have no idea what you're talking about, and you'll probably look like a fool. It'll be great! Well – for me. I like when other people come across more foolish than me. It lowers the bar, makes my standing seem a bit higher, relatively speaking.

After food, it was just a straight walk back to the hostel, passing over the Munich River (blocked off and drained in one large section for construction work), down the tourist street – were sporting good store offering all number of football scarves, and electronic stores (Saturn) were explored briefly.

And then we're back. Well we headed to the train station first to look into renting a car. And then we didn't rent it. Because we were going to do it online. But then our captian headed off on the pub crawl I mentioned earlier. One wonders if he'll ever return. If I had a magic eight ball it might reply outlook is grim, but here's to thinking positive. If he doesn't return, I get a free netbook upgrade! Nice.

[authors note: Nick and I just spread the gospel of Doki Doki Panic / Mario Brothers 2 to our fellow travellers. No word yet on Stew. Presumed missing in action, or dead.]


  1. Who left the Advil behind? And why was it even out to BE left behind? Are you boys mixing booze with your pills?

  2. headaches happen - and a restaurant is no place for boozing, with the possible exception of swiss chalet, if it's during anime north. i'd recommend anyone do whatever they could to dull the pain to deal with those shrill cosplayers


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