Friday, September 21, 2012

Oktoberfest Prelude

Germany was such an unremarkable part of my trip twelve years ago that I almost viewed stopping through Munich this time as merely a necessary transfer point and little more... Almost. That would have been a mistake.

After the initial getting lost hullabaloo, trying to find my hotel from my vague directions, and dodging random beer bottles, used cigarettes, and wayward teens on a Saturday night frolicking around the dark surrounds of the train station, I found a new destination that should be a part of everyone's list of places to see and be - Munich. First, this should be no indication of my competence in the German language, however it was surprising, and a thrill, that I was finally in a city again where I could at least order my dinner without the use of hand gestures, picture cards, and/or PowerPoint presentations. Oftentimes, even on an international journey, a food lover will take solace in what they know - even if it adds no country-specific cultural value - and this time it was the döner kebap. Next, to get my bearings in the dark of night, I decided to stay close to the hotel, but find significant forms of life (apart from wayward teens). Eventually, I found the Anna Hotel bar, that was a stylish place, and three lovely local German ladies who spoke English (the loveliest of whom spoke unimpeded sober English) and were kind enough to make my acquaintance. Once again I strive to keep up foreign relations for you people; you're welcome. It was a rather nice time, as I do so enjoy meeting new and interesting people on my journeys.

The next morning, I seemed to find the largest church in town for a noon Sunday mass by way of some very quiet and mostly empty streets. The people who were out were already enjoying some steins of beer with/for breakfast. I had a cappuccino. Afterwards - and what I would most like to communicate to you - I found Munich to be a very clean, modern, relaxing, and beautiful place to be. It is a big city, but it is safe and inviting. There are biergartens everywhere, which seem to be imbedded in the culture, that can be simply patio dining for a restaurant or tables in the park where you can bring your own picnic or go grab some house ribs and potato salad. Oh yeah, and enjoy fresh and simple really big beers. The places I sampled were quite festive and family affairs that weren't about intoxication, but about conviviality. Biergartens are celebrations of life, and perhaps much like the impending Oktoberfest that I missed by a week, seemed to me a last opportunity to enjoy perfect outdoor relaxation before the coming cooler months. However, my guess is that this part of culture endures, in some form at least, indoors when necessary. The best part of my day, though, was walking along the river through the trees and into the very large English Garden, complete with streams, hills, frolicking (yes, don't forget the frolicking), and of course, what else but another biergarten! Lovely.

You should go here. It may have been even better on bicycle, but perfect for walking. And if you surf (that's what I said)... there's even a part of the river for that as well. I would definitely return.

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