Munich: UnBavarialievable

Posted on October 3rd, 2011 by

Munich: Making gothic look good

Deutschland has been my home for nearly 3 weeks now. I’ve already realized that if I were to even attempt to tell you everything that has gone down since then, we’d have a novel on our hands. For example, simply explaining the plane flight into Berlin, I could tell you about the pilot who told us not to worry if he gets a heart attack because his co-pilot is an eager beaver, Tupac making it into a Danish newspaper, or that only in the land of Scandinavians could a seat belt be too tight for my slender figure. With this insane amount of material, I think I’ll simply tell you about my trip to Munich I took two weekends ago.

My main reason for visiting München was to see the man, the myth, the legend, Isaac Ardis (he may not be a Gustie, but he’s the best friend of a Gustie; legitimacy points). Well, I headed there on Thursday morning. As I get onto the flight, I notice that my seat is between a man wearing lederhosen and a guy with tattoos literally everywhere other than his face. I sit down and notice the guy to my left (not lederhosen man but the one who makes Dennis Rodman seem more like the girl with the dragon tattoo) put away a blue passport. A US passport. He turns out to be a man named Randy from Chicago, so a Midwesterner at that. We get to talking and all of a sudden the flight is over. We decide to grab some lunch before he has to take the train to another southern German town. After having been in Germany for about a week and a half at this point and having had little to no contact with Americans, it was really nice. I mean, it was just freeing to speak English without feeling like a failure whose German isn’t up to par. Anyway, after he left I just wandered around for a few hours til Isaac made it into town (he works in Cologne Monday through Thursday of every week). Seeing Isaac was simply incredible. That night we just caught up and bs-ed about what’s been going on in each other’s lives since our last meeting which was like six months ago. We were both pretty whipped from the day, so we called it an early night.

Just another round of friendship served up by the Hofbräuhaus

Friday morning I went into work with Isaac and after lunch explored the Englischer Garten. It’s a sprawling park in the middle of the city that’s even larger than Central Park. Not to mention, it’s perfectly acceptable to be naked in certain sections of it. So I read while some old guys did nude calisthenics (living the dream). After this, Isaac and I met back up, and we decided to go to the Hofbräuhaus (the world’s largest beer hall). Here I should explain that at German restaurants, it is completely kosher to sit next to random people. So after a couple minutes, we had a group of six German guys with us. We struck up a conversation and found out that they’re a bunch of firefighters from Hannover. Before we knew it, we were having a blast and making fun of Italians together. I really made a connection with one of them named Timo. So much so that at the end of the night, he gave me his German leather wristband as a present and said we should meet up at Oktoberfest the next day. This was huge, because they had a spot reserved in one of the big tents. The reason why that’s such a big deal is that you have to get these reservations over a year in advance. We agreed to be in touch and headed off.

Inside the Paulaner tent. Someone needs to make a rap song about this.

The next morning we wake up bright and early at 8:30 and head to one of Isaac’s friend’s places. We get a hearty breakfast in us and head auf der Wiesn (a Wiesen is a meadow and Oktoberfest takes place in one particularly massive one). I feel like Oktoberfest is something lots of people have heard of but really don’t know much about. It’s kind of like the Minnesota State Fair (minus the Gustavus booth) except on steroids. Hefty German man steroids. There are food vendors, rides, and all that jazz, but in my opinion, what sets Oktoberfest apart are the tents. You’re probably thinking, “Why would tents be so special?” Well, these tents hold like 8,000 people and are essentially freestanding buildings that are reconstructed and taken down each year (not to mention there are like 14 of these and over the course of this two and a half week festival something like six million people come; if you’re still not impressed, there’s no hope for you). Anyway, back to the tale. Isaac’s friend has some kind of connection, and we get into the employee’s tent where everything is half price. This is especially good as a mass is nearly ten euros (quite the setback when the dollar and Monopoly money are virtually equivalent). A mass is the term for a liter mug of beer. If you’ve ever seen a picture of burly German women carrying massive looking steins then you know what I’m talking about. Beer is a very interesting part of German culture. It doesn’t carry the same stigma that I feel it can at times in the States. For example, the legal drinking age for beer is 16, drinking in public and on the subway is totally acceptable, and having a beer with lunch and then going back to work is not a problem. Not to mention that in many instances it really is cheaper than water (the jury is still out on whether this is just awesome or immensely frustrating).

We even found a gorgeous German in Bavarian stunna shades.

With our thirst quenched, Isaac and I commenced on accomplishing our real objective. Making contact with Timo and getting into a tent. We call his cell (or Handy as the German’s call them) and find out that they’re at the Paulaner tent. We make our way over and the line looks as if it’ll take a minimum of three hours to get in (and in the end, you may not even get in…). So we call again and explain the dilemma. Timo then tells us to come round back, pays off a bouncer, and sneaks us in. Incredible. In America, nobody would go through all that trouble to help out someone they just met. But when Germans make a promise, they keep that promise (very much different from the American way of saying, “we should totally hang out” and then never talk again). We now get to be a part of one of the craziest scenes I’ve ever witnessed in my life. There’s a German folk band playing everything from German drinking songs to “Country Roads.” People (and I mean thousands) standing on tables singing and dancing. And women looking incredible in their dirndls (a very flattering traditional German dress; who knew the 19th century got it right). After hanging out with our crew of firefighters for a while, Isaac (who’s wearing some real short fluorescent green shorts) and I decide to wander a bit and start weaving our way through the packed rows of tables. All these Germans dressed in lederhosen (who under any other circumstance would look foolish) are all staring and laughing at Isaac’s shorts. But honestly, those shorts were a godsend and a great conversation starter. Over the course of our travels, we must have talked to anywhere from fifty to a hundred Germans (and of course, we sang and danced with most of them). Eventually we made it back to our table. Sitting down we realized the toll this day has taken on us, so we decided it was time to head back to Isaac’s place. We bid adieu to our newfound friends and headed home.

The next morning we do what I’m sure every Oktoberfest attendee does the next day. We hit up a couple art museums (yeah, we’re just that classy). We even went to a modern art museum where one entire exhibit was nothing but interestingly arranged fluorescent lights (at least they’re eco-friendly) and another was simply rocks strewn on the floor (granted they did look heavy). Let’s be real, I’ll never understand that stuff. Other than that, we took a nap in the mall area outside of one of the museums, went to dinner, and just hung out.

Timo: the epitome of awesomeness

Sadly the weekend had come to a close, and Isaac had to fly back to Cologne. My flight didn’t leave til that night, so I headed back into the city (no I didn’t go straight to join the nudists). Then something really terrifying actually happened. I was in the subway station and all of a sudden two guys in plain clothes walked up to me and asked me for my passport. They flashed their Polizei badges at me, and I asked in German why that’s necessary. They then lifted up their shirts to show me that they were packing heat (mom, that means they have guns). I then realized they weren’t messing around and pulled out my passport. In the end, they just wanted to make sure that I was legal to be in the country, but it’s a bit terrifying that that’s completely legal (what happened to my Constitutional rights? Oh yeah, left those in America). I mean, what happens to me if I had left my passport in Berlin? Luckily, I don’t know the answer to this question. It’s a bit unfortunate that after such a great weekend that was my last impression of Munich, but even so, it was a great place to visit.

Back to the present. My main goal of coming three weeks early was to find a place to live, but unfortunately, that still hasn’t happened… it’s harder than trying to find a spot in the Lib during Finals Week. Honestly though, you call people two hours after they’ve posted their listing, and they already have 30 people slated to come visit the place. Apparently the law of supply and demand hasn’t quite made its way over here yet. On the bright side, at least I’m over jet lag (now if only there was a cure for getting home at seven in the morning… Germans don’t believe in leaving clubs til the sun is up). Anyway, I’m starting school this week which is exciting. It’ll be nice to finally get the ball rolling on the reason I’m actually here. Hope all is well with you wherever you may be. Hopefully you got to enjoy Homecoming and Gustavus Adolphus College day. Sad I couldn’t be there, but so goes life.

Hugs and hand pounds,

Hassie

 

Comments are closed.