What’s this? A timely update? Nooooo. Maybe.
Right now I’m on a train from Starnberg to Jülich, a town near Cologne where a friend of mine lives. And, as promised, I shall now recall my days in Munich.
Though the train from Berlin was slightly delayed, by only one hour, it was much more pleasant than getting to Berlin. The train was comfortable, quiet, smooth, and without incident. I arrived in Starnberg, a little late, and was greeted by excited cousin Ariane. She’s the third of three Ariana’s, the first being my great aunt Ariane, and the second being my mother. It seems like a popular name. It was a bit late so she took me home, picked up one of her twin boys, Valentine, and we drank beer and ate the most amazing klops I’ve ever had. It may seem like all meat and bread, but I do love Bavarian food. I really had no plan for Munich and Bavaria other than meeting and visiting my relatives, so Ariane made me a small list of possible things to see and do in the city the next day. After much visiting I retired for the night in what may only have been a couch, but was easily the most comfortable bed I’ve slept in since London.
The next morning, after waking and having breakfast, I found a week long rail ticket on the table waiting for me from Ariane. I would have no trouble getting on or off any of the trains in the city during my stay. I walked to the station, through a lovely trail in the small woods in the town and the hilly side streets, and made my way to the station to go into Munich, activity list in hand. Within 45 minutest had made it from Starnberg to the centre of the city, and headed towards the BMW Welt and museum. The English guided tour had sold out, but I spend the next two hours exploring the museum on my own. I’d known BMW had been around for quite some time, but I had no idea their history of motorcycles, airplane engines, and Motorsport research. I was impressed. I’ve wanted to be able to afford a BMW for quite some time, but that is only more cemented in me now.
After BMW I made my way back to the city centre to go on one of the walking tours I’ve become so fond of. That day our guide was Tom, even though his name tag said otherwise, and we took a fantastic walk through Munich, hearing all about the history and culture and of course, the beer. At the conclusion of the tour, Tom let us know that he would be leading the beer garden challenge that evening, their Bavarian take on the standard pub crawl. Not only would they be going to several beer gardens, beer halls, and bars, but Tom would also be sharing history, trivia, and his knowledge of the beer. I was sold. I had a little time to kill, so my made my way to the meeting point in the central station, regrettably got some McDonald’s, and not so regrettably some Starbucks while I waited. Tom materialized shortly, and so did a few other brave souls; a young man from Singapore, and young lady who did not look like she was as old as her claimed 30, born in Taiwan but having spent he last 15 years in New York, and finally a gentleman from South Africa who again did not look as old as his claimed 30. Normally they need 5 or more participants to run the beer challenge, but as my Asian compadres and I had been on Tom’s tour earlier and he really liked us, we pressed on with just the four of us.
The beer hall challenge: make it to the end of the tour and still be sober. Sounds easy, we’ll only be making four of five stops tonight, right?
Stop one: a beer outside the central station. Because its Germany, you can buy a beer on almost every corner and drink while you walk! And we did just that. A bottle of beer for each of us, and toast, and we were on our way to the first garden, beers in hand. We drank our beers and arrived at the garden, the name of which escapes me and I did not note it down anywhere. Silly. It had been raining most of the day, so the awning was out over the garden, but it still felt like the outdoors. Beer number two, another bottle, but keep in mind bottles of beer in Germany seem to be half a litre each. So we’re at a litre of beer. Next stop: Hofbräuhaus, the most famous beer hall in Munich. Many famous people have visited Hofbräuhaus, and some infamous as well. And because we were such a small group, we were able to sit right in the noble hall! Beer number three, a full sized litre of amazing Bavarian beer. Live traditional music, dance displays, whipping demonstration, and amazing smelling food. Hofbräuhaus was fantastically impressive. But we had to keep moving! We finished our impressive mugs of beer inside 45 minutes and it was off to our next stop; a pub if I recall. Beer the fourth, another fantastic Bavarian Weißbier. Quickly becoming my favourite variety of beer. Yes, even more than Guinness. The Germans, specifically the Bavarians, really have it figured out. After finally breaking the seal, it was time to head to our last stop: European youth backpackers hostel. They have a bar! Our last top is one last bottle of beer, our 5th beer by my count, and a shot of Jaegermeister. Because Germany.
I was holding my own quite well at this point, Taiwan (I’m not racist, just bad with names) had taken a breather at our last stop and thus dropped out of the challenge, South Africa was seemingly just as sober now as he was after his first beer, and Singapore was right out. He passed his Jaegermeister to Tom, and then quickly made for the men’s room. Tom awarded the championship title to South Africa, and then bid us a good evening. We split Singapore’s beer between the three of us, and South Africa and I took turns checking on Singapore in he men’s room. Eventually we got hungry, so we told Singapore we were stepping out for some kebab and we should be back soon to check on him again. We made our way down the street, got some delicious kebab, ended up losing track of time and visiting with some friendly Americans from Oregon (Oregon trail jokes abound) and we eventually made our way back to the bar to check on Singapore. He was gone. Luckily he was staying at the same hostel as Taiwan, and we were already at South Africa’s hostel, so we bid him goodnight and started walking towards the other hostel, hoping to find him on the way. No sign. We got to the hostel and Taiwan was able to find out from the front desk which room he was in and checked his bed: sound asleep. Phew. But when she came down again to share the good news, we realized I had missed the last train to Starnberg and was stranded in the city. Uh oh. The next train was at 5:20, and it was 2am. And I’d been up since 8. Thankfully Taiwan volunteered to sit up with me until she couldn’t stay awake anymore, and the gents at the desk were okay with me waiting out the night there. So we sat and visited until about 3:30 when she couldn’t keep h headland more and went off to bed, and I sat in the foyer and read and played video games, as I do. The hour finally came and I made it to the station to catch the first train to Starnberg. I was back into down shortly after 6, and in bed by 6:30, just in time for everyone to be starting their day. I could hear Ariane hilariously telling Valentine and his twin brother, Alexander, about her phone call to me the enlightened before making sure I was okay, and then getting a text from me saying I had missed the train. I then quickly fell asleep.
The next day was a day of rest. I was much more exhausted than ill, being up all night and having walked all day, so I didn’t mind the down time. I also had a lot of batteries to recharge and photos to curate. It was a nice, relaxing day. When Ariane returned home from teaching I told her all about muddy and night, and we had many laughs. And then a beer or two. Because Germany. And also pretzels. Because Germany! Stories and laughs, crafting sights and activities for the next day, and then to bed.
I again slept in the next morning, still gathering lost rest from the adventure previous, and once I awoke and had breakfast, I made my way to the city again to finish off at BMW, see Olympic park, and a few sights downtown. The BMW Welt is very interesting, basically a show room for all of the current and future cars and motorcycles. You can sit in many of them and, if you choose, renting for a test drive. I was more interest in many of the bikes more than the cars, and had lunch and a beer in their cafe. I then headed to Olympic park which, much to my excitement, had been completely taken over by the X Games! Unfortunately, thou, due to the rain there really weren’t any events taking place, but I was able to get a ticket for the Rallycross event, explored the grounds, got some merch, and some photos, before making my way back to the city centre and home again to Starnberg. It was a short, but fun, day. I had also left my list of things and places at home, which also made for a small list of activities. But I didn’t mind. I wasn’t trying to squeeze everything in like the other cities I’ve been in. That evening Ariane and I went to Lake Starnberg for a beer and dinner, to see the sunset, and also to meet her boyfriend Hubert. A lovely evening.
Up early the next day, and activity list in hand, I made my way into the city to see the central market and beer gardens. Sampling the local cuisine and drinking more beer, the weather finally started getting nice after being so rainy for so long. I explored the city, made a stop at an out doors store to see what sort of neat things they had, a quick stop at the apple store to use their wifi and plan my router a little, and I was off in search of the Eisbach: an artificial rig that runs through Munich that is very special because at one point there is a 1m high cresting wave that people typical surf on. While trying to find the Eisbach I happened across the English Garden that Ariane had suggested I see. A fantastic garden park full of flowers and fountains, and a lovely and large gazebo in the centre that happened to house that afternoon a cello player. Moving on I was unable able t find the Eisbach and spent what was easily over an hour just taking photos and watching the surfers. After my stop at the X Games the day before, I was wearing an X Games hat and lanyard with my key on it. I didn’t think anything of it at first, but I was approached by a few people who thought I was actually the with the X Games, even an actual X Games employee! The Rockstar team was also there and chatting with me, and gave me some samples to check out while I was watching the surfers. I found it quite hilarious.
I then decided, since everyone thought I should be there anyway, that I should head to the X Games and see how they were going now that the sun had finally come out. When I arrived it was in full force. I got a beer (as you do, and a full litre of Weißbier, of course) and some food, and eventually found myself in the Oakley’s VIP deck overlooking the BMX Big Air competition. I really did blend in that well! After the BMX event finished up, I returned my mug and made my way towards the arena for the motocross events. I missed the first event, but watched the high jump event (I can’t recall what it’s actually called, but it’s basically high jump with dirt bikes) and the speed and style event, which has two riders racing head to head and also getting some big air. It was very exciting and a lot of fun. I’ve always been a fan of motocross and this was the first time I really got to see a real competition up close. Little known Steve fact: I’m actually a big fan of extreme sports, and once aspired to be a BMX racer. And of course I was drinking beer and eating pretzels the whole time. Because Germany. The events ended pretty late and my made my way home on what has been the most crowded train since being in London. I told Ariane all about my day, and the retired for the night.
The next day, Saturday, was another off day of recharging. My feet had grown quite sore, and many of my batteries were again dead, and it was nice to just relax some more. I was able to Skype with Will the night before and tell him a few stories, and Skype with Nick that morning before is tarred the long process of uploading the previous days photos. And also realizing that I had filled my iPads storage with said photos. That’s only a good thing, in my mind. And of course there were more beers drank and more pretzels. Eaten.
The next day Ariane and I got up early and drove out to the country to see one of the palaces of King Ludwig. It was definitely something else, and unfortunately we were not permitted to take photos inside. But I have plenty from the outside, and of the grounds and gardens and fountains, and the hand-made grotto. It was definitely something else. We had a be and lunch in the town before heading back to the city so I could get to the Rallycross event. I’m also a big fan of Rallycross and was very excited to see it for the first time in person. And of course, beer and pretzels around. Afterwards I my way to the city centre to find a washroom, heading to McDonald’s because I knew exactly where it was and that they would have a good facility. While there I also shamefully gave into my inner beer drinker and had a Big Mac. But hilariously, because of course I was still wearing my hat and lanyard, I was approached by a young man asking me if I knew where the X Games after party was, because he assumed I had worked there. I laughed and told him no, and then made my way home. More beer and pretzels later, and it was off to bed.
The next day was to be my last in Munich. There was a pipe shop I wanted to visit, that was unfortunately closed for the day, and I made my way into the city to meet Ariane and to shop for lederhosen. That’s right, I now have lederhosen. Because Germany. Afterwards we went to a beer garden and had some beer and some Bavarian food. I can’t remember exactly what it was called, but it was basically a meat salad. And damn was it tasty. And of course, pretzels. We made our way back to Starnberg and parted ways as Ariane had a few appointments to go to, and I returned home with my lederhosen and of course had another beer. When Ariane returned we went to my great aunts old house which they are renovating so that Ariane and her boys can move into it, and also to the cemetery so I could at last say hello to my late great aunt. We then ventured back to lake Starnberg for a beer and dinner and to see the magnificent sunset. Returning home I got my train ticket in order for today, and retired early so I could get up nice and early in the morning and repackage my now bursting backpacks.
And that brings us to today. I got up early this morning, said goodbye to the boys and Ariane and got a few last photos with them, had breakfast and drank coffee, and replaced my backs before walking to the station to catch the train I now type all of this from. In a few hours I’ll be in Cologne, and then eventually Jülich, where I will meet up with Micha for some good fun before heading back to London to conclude my European adventure.
It’s really hard t believe I’ll be back in Canada in a week, and then home in Saskatoon only a few days after that. It’s all gone by so fast, but it’s been an amazing trip that I’m so glad I went on.
Anyways, that’s all for now. Later days!