Saturday, April 25, 2009

Springtime for BK in Germany

I have logged a lot of air miles in the last week: Portland to Houston to New Orleans to Las Vegas to Portland to Atlanta to Munich where Pam and I are now. On the ride to Munich I sat next to a German born woman who has lived in Alabama since 1957. She had an unfortunate accent combo. The first thing she said to me about six hours into the flight was about Iranian President Acmadinijad and how he was running his mouth again. I kept my face buried in Pieces of Me the book by Paul Sanchez that I bought on my last day in New Orleans.

After twenty-four hours of travel including time changes and layovers, we arrived in Munich at seven a.m. The train ride from the airport into town is about an hour and not too scenic. I kinda felt like I was in Northern New Jersey, and not the Red Bank, New Jersey of Alex McMurray’s youth. But Munich itself is a beautiful city with great architecture.

The main train station is huge and very clean. It was early in the morning, but Pam was having a hankering for sausage (what else is new), so we dove right in with a early morning brat with mustard. In for a penny; in for a pound. It was delicious.

Pam got us a bit lost trying to find our hotel which was supposed to be with a stones throw of the train station. Fortunately it seems like many of the people speak English which is a good thing because these Germans have a different word for everything.

We found the hotel, but the room wasn’t ready yet, so we went back to the train station to catch the first train out of town and up to Dachou which is where the fist German concentration camp is. The town of Dachou is a quaint little hamlet with a checkered pass. The camp is a fifteen minute bus ride out of town. It has been preserved to pretty much the exact condition it was in when it was operational. We toured the facility and watched a half hour film about the history of the camp.

We eavesdropped on an English speaking tour guide to get a bit of the lay of the land. We saw the same guy later in the day in town. He offered to tour us later in the week to some of the castles outside of Munich, and he only wanted 471 euro for his efforts. Pam practically laughed in his face wondering how much it would cost not to have him talk.

After Dachou, we went back into Munich. We checked into our hotel, the King Hotel, rested for a bit before heading back out into town. We went to the old part of town to the famous Haufbrauhaus which I am sure is the German equivalent of the Hard Rock except it dates back to the 1500s. We drank those ridiculously large beers, sausage, spitzel, pretzels, and salad. Gotta have your veggies.

Later that night, we were back in our neighborhood. Pam wanted to go to Boobs which is the table dance bar across the street from the King Hotel, but instead we went to another beer garden for some more giant beers.

Only one day in Munich and we experienced beer halls, sausage, and a concentration camp. Not a bad first day.

On day two Pam woke up crazy early and fetched me coffee and breakfast. I was feeling a bit worse then she was after our night of drinking. Once I had my legs back, we embarked to the old section of town again to see the sights and shop for shoes. We went into the Ludwig Beck store but the clerk told Pam that they only had a small selection of shoes which was his polite way of telling her that she probably couldn’t afford them. Instead she bought a fifteen euro umbrella which guaranteed us another couple of hours of sunshine.

We sat next to an American couple from Texas in the town square waiting for the Glockenspeil outside town hall. Next it was off to the outdoor market where a mean butcher lady yelled at Pam for wanting to take a picture of the meat case. I kicked her ass and we instead went to the fish store for a lox and onion sandwich on the best kaiser roll in Germany.

Afterwards it was time for more beer and sausage at one of the oldest sausage houses in Munich. The Weisses Brauhaus has been making their own sausage and beer since 1567 which is a good thing because anything opened after 1600 is total BS. The waitress might have been part of the original staff. She perfected the art of looking right at you without seeing you. She totally pegged me for an American and brought me a “light” beer. After some more walking and shoe shopping it was off the Ratskellar for more beer and none of the light shit this time. Ah Lowenbrau when the beer you pour must say something more somehow.

Later in the day we toured the famous German Residenz where many generations of royalty lived. It was largest house I have ever been in this side of Brakefield’s beach house. Some of the crucifixion art had remnants of the actual cross. Is that what they mean by Neo-Realism?

We were obviouly exhausted after touring the million square foot facility so afterward we had to get some more beer and sausage. Pam found some comfortable shoes on sale at the Puma store. Who’d a thunk it?

On day three we rented a car and headed out of town to one of King Ludwig II castles in the foothills of the German Alps. The castle itself was never entirely completed as they prematurely pulled the plug on Ludwig’s reign. The place was still pretty incredible.

Afterwards we drove to the German town of Garmisch which is a ski town that was used as a site for the 1936 Winter Olympics. Unfortunately the we missed the last tram to the peak and could only go about 1000 meters up to a little lake village.

Back in Munich last night, we went to one of the oldest pubs in Munich where they have been using Swiss ice to cool their wooden beer kegs since the late 1500s. We made some new friends as Pam swapped cooking stories with Christine and I talked politics with her husband Wilhelm and his friend who immediately discarded me because I was American and I didn’t smoke.

We spent the day today touring Schloss Nymphenburg and the surrounding grounds and then it was off to Hirschgarten which is the largest outdoor beer garden in Germany. It was a beatiful day for giant beer and pork shank.

A great dinner tonight at a tapas bar in a hip neighborhood and tomorrow it is off to the English Gardens to eat and watch the surfers.

More to come.....

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