Munich, Germany ::
I would be lying like an oriental rug if I told you that today was truly Sunday, June 4. I’d also be bending the truth if I were to tell you that yesterday and the last few days were not one of the best times of my life! I am certain that I’ll be saying that a few more times as our trip pushes onward. It is actually June 7 (Wednesday), and as you can see (or infer), the good times have torn me my traveler’s log loyalty…not a bad thing at all! I am currently lounging on the fourth floor of a flat in Prague, the most beautiful city in the Czech Republic. Stand by for a rundown on the last few day’s events.
I slept surprisingly well on the 9-hour ride in 2nd class, however, I was still anxious to search München for what we’d call home for the next two adventure-filled days. The tourist office didn’t open until 11:00 AM (it is Sunday, remember?) We managed to kill some time in a small pub just down the street from the terminal. Hmmmm, we really are in Germany, aren’t we?! It is Sunday–the tourist office doesn’t open till late morning, but the pubs have been open since the crack of dawn! We ate a plate of frankfurters, sauerkraut, and some mineral water. Take note that the water, which has been rather scarce on our trip thus far, is usually seltzer (gaseous) water unless otherwise noted. If you’d like just a plain glass of H2O, you must request still water. I am not so sure why water has been so “rare” and expensive. We haven’t even seen one public drinking fountain! Quite interesting, isn’t it?
After scoping München for a little while, we trekked back to the Hauptbahnhof station and waited for the not-so-helpful tourist office to open. Ya wanna know something? These so called “rude” people of France and Germany that so many American travelers have warned me about really do exist. But no one ever bothered to tell me that I would find them all at the tourist information centers…behind the desk! Not very good for business, I say!
We resorted to our tour book to find a place to stay. According to the Lonely Planet on a Shoestring Guide to Europe, the Jugengästehaus near the Thalkirchen metro stop was our best bet for a good time and a relatively cheap night’s stay. While I waited in line for the telefòn to call ahead for reservations, I met Joe Sanzone, Brian Buggé, and Jason Chiang. After a short talk, these guys decided to stay at the Jugengästehaus with us. Jason went to Bucknell and was born in Hazelton. All three work together as CPAs for McGladrey & Pullen in New York City.
We shared some highlights of our trip with them while they did the same while riding the metro toward the hostel. München’s metro differed quite greatly from that of France. Here in Germany, more than one line could be boarded on the same track, whereas in France, there was one and only one place to board the metro at Strasbourg-St. Denis and go to Châtalet on line 4. While we stood in the Marienplatz station and awaited the U3 toward Thalkirchen, the U6 heading toward Klinikum Großhadern came and went a number of times. It was very important to pay attention to the “flippy boards” in order to board the proper train. This may sound easy, but with a full day of touring behind you, it much easier than you may think to board the WRONG train and travel a considerable distance in the tube before discovering that you have made a horrible—but simple—mistake. Sound like I am to familiar with this?! Well, just read on…I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for you!
We finally reached our final stop at Thalkirchen. The hostel was just a few more steps away—about a ten minute walk once we reached the surface of the tube. I paid around 50Dm for room No. 210 and three roommates. This wonderful price included a bed, clean sheets, breakfast, a 20 Dm room key deposit, and 6 Dm for a “guest stamp” on a temporary Hosteling Card (since I was traveling without an international hosteling card.) Stacey got room No. 201, an all girls dorm (woo-hoo), for a little less. We both retired to our rooms for a well deserved nap.
I walked into room 201, greeted by three friendly guys who seemed incredibly happy that I spoke English! After speaking with them, I learned that not only did they graduate Navy, a school in the Patriot League, but Rick Coe had graduated from the same high school as Rich Herman and Jordan Ryalls!! We really do live on a pindot (as Stacey had put it earlier!!!) The other two guys called themselves David Moore and Andy. I never did get Andy’s last name. They flew into Europe on a navy cargo plane, which was obviously nothing like our luxurious ride on Air France, in front of another plane full of their navy buddies. They were supposed to meet upon landing but haven’t seen each other since touchdown…yet. We were all pretty beat so we hit the sack. Stacey would wake me up with good news at 1600 hours.
What’s the good news? Alex had made it to our hostel. She met two guys on her way here: Chuck Donaldson and Brett Hyndman. Chuck is a Lehigh alumnus with a degree in English living in Kutztown. The three were planning to go out tonight and invited Stacey and I to come along. Since the plans were to leave at 16:30, I had some hustling to do. I jumped out of bed and got a shower in about 8 minutes. This must have been the quickest shower I had taken in years. I took the rest of the time to pretty myself up for the night ahead. You never know who you may run into…
The destination: Hofbrauhaus in the Marienplatz. The goal for the evening: meet people, have a blast, and don’t pass out before the night comes to a close! Before we went to the Hofbrauhaus, we ate at Weinerwald…cause we didn’t know any better! It was the German analog to Perkins. Of course, since the bill of fare was in German, I had no idea what I had ordered until it came to the table. It turned out to be an oriental stir-fry dish, which was rather disappointing since we were in Germany. I really would have rathered try something a little more specific to the country. At least I had the beer to fall back on. I ordered a lovely weiss beer (wheat beer) of the same name printed on the beer glass I bought at Lehigh–the one with the picture of a monk in the logo–called Franchensomething. We finished eating at “Perkins” and went straight to the Hofbrauhaus.
I don’t know much of the history behind the Hofbrauhaus other than it is a restored brewery of the beer of the same name. Like all German beer, Hofbrau is still brewed here today according to the ancient beer purity law established during the 16th century. Well, the time has finally come for us to order our first round of one liter steins of Hofbrau. Overall, this round was slow going. All our drinking buddies were modestly sipping at his or her liter while casually speaking of some of the good times experience. Soon, however, using our trusty tourist map, someone had randomly constructed an “origami-like” arrow that spun at the center of the table and consequently, things began to get underway. We formulated a crazy game where once the arrow points to you, you take a drink, make a rule, and spin the arrow yourself. Then, whomever the arrow points to next must act out that rule. But whatever you do, for the sake of the next person, don’t land on yourself again–that allows you to make another rule (although you must still carry out your rule first!) Rules can be made continuously until the arrow lands on someone new. By the time the game had matured, Joe, Brian, and Jason had found us…bringing the table count up to eight.
The game continued and the rules got sillier and sillier. The best of them forced Jason (a self-inflicted rule) to ask Shelly Setzer and Dana Friedman, who were but two beautiful strangers to us at the time, to come over and join in the fun we were having. They did, of course!! Good rule! Another classic rule resulted in Joe’s “public chug.” He moved to the center of the courtyard, which was filled with well over 200 people at this point, stood on a table and got everyone’s attention. Once receiving attention from some of the people, he proceeded to chug an entire one-litre mug of beer and sum it all up with an insanely-audible “woo hoo!”
Our table count was now up to twelve and would soon become 14 once Vance Hatfield and his friend Jeff had joined us. By now our boistrosity was not shunned but only echoed by a nearby table–about the same size as ours–of French biere drinkers. Soon the beers were flowing, round after round, like the waters of the Izar. So, too, were the hometown stories and personal anecdotes from the fine people we’ve met but seem to have known for years. Near the end of the night, Mike from Mike’s Bike Tours presented us with an interesting activity for tomorrow. He also promised that it wouldn’t rain, even though it hasn’t stopped since we entered the city of München! What the hell, we’re drunk (that’s what 3 litres will do to ya) and it’s something fun to do, right?
We drank and talked for hours in the Hofbrauhaus, exchanging addresses and promising each other we’d write as soon as we reached the states again. Finally we had to leave since the hostel had lockout at 12:30 AM. We all scurried home toward our hostel. At this point in time, it is next to impossible for me to actually remember what conversations took place. This is partly due to the fact that we drank a whole lot of Hofbrau and partly due to my poor writing practices.
By the time we got back to the hostel, some guys wanted to stay out and try the Lowenbrauhaus just down the street. Stacey continued into the hostel to bed while the rest of us did an “about-face” and ran out to drink some Lowenbrau. Unfortunately, it seems that all biergartens close up at around the same time. So we all turned around again and planned to go to bed early…I guess this will be an early night.
Wrong answer, don’t forget that I haven’t seen my roommates Rick, Dave, or Andy all night. What do you think they were doing all night? Well, as you may have suspected, they too, were at the Hofbrauhaus all night long. Does that not emphasize how big of a place we’re talking about here?? Those guys had made their own friends and brought the party back to room 210. Not a bad deal for me! This is the time when I first met Jean (John?) Francois, beautiful Michele, and their friends from Paris. They were all students who studied and lived in Paris. There were so many people in the room by now. It was like a fraternity party, but much more diverse. Some people spoke German, some French, some Spanish and of course, many knew English. The incredibly interesting thing here was that there were at least two independent conversations taking place in ALL of the aforementioned languages at the same time. I can remember talking to the French girls about Big Red chewing gum–they LOVE Big Red! Unfortunately, before too long, the adventurous evening would have to end. I guess it was a good thing cause we still had to get up for Mike’s bike tour in the morning. It appeared way too early–checkout was at 9:00!
Day 5: Living in a Pin-Dot World
Sunday, June 4, 1995