Monday, June 9, 2008

Munching on München

My heart was racing as we waited to disembark onto German soil. It felt like I was holding a jello dish on a unfamiliar neighbor’s doorstep as the bell rang. An unknown anxiety urged me back to the west, at least back to the UK. But here we were, in another foreign country, and not for a week’s worth of funny cultural mishaps, but for who knows how long. Would anybody understand us?

But I made it off the plane and even through customs. I felt a bit better when the German-Egyptian taxi driver spoke decent English. (Most American taxi drivers don’t even speak it!) It’s been a relief to find that every time we’ve asked “Sprechen Sie Englisch?” the answer has universally been “of course!”

We stayed at a lovely B&B called Pensione Westfalia near Theriesenwiese, the Oktoberfest grounds. It was such a warm and sunny night that we went for a long walk. First impressions: there are bikes everywhere! 25% of Munich’s population relies primarily on bikes for transport. The bike paths are wide and NOT shared with parked cars or next to parked cars with dangerous opening doors.

We meandered to Marianplatz, in the old part of the city. It was full of musicians, fountains, and ice cream. This is considered the central tourist area, but on a gorgeous Sunday evening there seemed to be a fair share of locals enjoying their litres in the cafés.

Monday was spent similarly wandering and doing a bit of job recon. Ryan had a meeting in Sulzemoos and I spent a good part of the hot afternoon in the Viktualienmarkt, buying a picnic supper. Ryan joined me in the market’s lovely beer garden for picnic and beer. I had my first taste of Radler (half beer, half lemonade, very good! Incidentally, “Radler” also means cyclist in Bavarian.) We people watched and enjoyed the summer breeze. Ryan kept quoting Vonnegut, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.” I had to agree.

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