May 29, 2012: München

I woke up to Liesl tapping me on the arm at eight.  “Daddy, the sun is up!”  Liesl is a firm believer in getting up with the sun.  And she believes that everyone around her needs to believe this too.  She has been like this for months.

Dominica was up and showered.  Then we all went down to the “restaurant” in the hostel for our free breakfast that we received for not getting the baby bed that we had ordered.  Breakfast was nice, nothing special.  I brought the laptop down with me and managed to upload all of the SGL updates but failed to upload more than four pictures to Flickr while I was there because the uploads kept timing out.  This is going to be tough.

We went back up to the room and Luciana fell asleep.  Then Dominica and Liesl decided to take a nap.  It started raining first lightly then quite hard.  We looked at the weather forecast and it is rain and thunderstorms all week.

So I returned to the lobby and plugged in my laptop so that I could work on updates and see if I could get any more pictures to upload.  As we have hundreds waiting to upload we are a bit desperate to get that process underway as it might take forever.  And as the upload to Flickr is our only real form of backup of the pictures getting them up there is far more important than just sharing them with family back home.

After only a few minutes in the lobby where I got plugged in and back online, water started dripping from the lobby ceiling and then dripped faster and faster and soon the whole back quarter of the lobby was raining.  It started just coming from one light fixture but soon was coming through several as well as the smoke detector and other fixtures.  The power started flickering.  Definitely not good.

Our hotel, being a hostel, is completely full of college students.  Pretty much all from the US which is pretty silly.  So all you hear here is English and it is not like being in a foreign country at all.  Apparently Munchen is “the” travel destination in Europe for American college students.  I guess I kind of knew that but I really never understood.  We’ve seen practically no American tourists on this trip until we arrived here.  Now they are all that we see.  Even walking the street outside, every conversation is in English and embarrassing hearing hte things that Americans say when traveling abroad.

It is no wonder that Americans think that everyone in Europe speaks English, if everyone comes to just a few places like this that cater to Americans you will, of course, hear English everywhere.  I feel like we are the only Americans who ever go anywhere not designated purely for tourists.  Traveling abroad, which is supposed to be so good for students, is pointless if you come to places like this and are shielded from the local culture completely – wrapped in an English speaking, American catering bubble of protection.  It is like going to Cancun in the hopes of learning about Mexican culture!

Now that we are done with work and school (my grades aren’t in yet but the final project that I did late into the night last Friday has been graded and I got a one hundred on it – so I am glad that I didn’t work any more as at the time I was considering another two to three hours on it and getting no sleep at all that night) I am attempting to task myself with writing roughly ten thousand words per day.  So far so good except for the Luzern travel day and that one was not really my fault – there was no time to even attempt writing that day.  I am getting better at writing on the trains now too.

Being in Europe is really making me want to get back into bicycling.  Everyone here rides a bike and they do such interesting things with them.  They have great pull-behind carts for the kids to ride in, they have different types of bikes that we do in the US, they travel all over from country to country with them.  Dominica and I keep talking about making getting nice bikes, a pull behind cart for Liesl and Luciana, and riding all over Europe.  What an adventure that would be.  We could easily carry as much luggage as we have now on bike, especially if we had a tow-behind or, possibly, two of them.  Two would be nice because we could carry tons more stuff and the girls could either ride together or separately.  I wonder how old Liesl could get and still be okay riding in one of those.  If she had her iPad (or whatever) it seems like she would enjoy it for a long time.  I’m not sure how much weight those can carry or how big of a child can comfortably fit in them.

I did a little research and found that bikes have come a really long way since I last bought one (I bought my awesome aluminum frame Schwinn racing bike in 1991 and my mountain bike was just a casual purchase in 2000 or 2001.)  They even have what are called ebikes now that have electric assist.  That could make biking to and from the office very doable.  It isn’t like my car has air conditioning.  Biking under my own power completely would be a rather sweaty thing to do and pretty difficult but with electric assist and my rather flat commute it might work out really well.  So we are toying with looking into those.  Trek makes electric assist that is supposed to get as much as forty miles without any human intervention.  That’s pretty impressive.

Once the girls were awake today after their morning naps we decided that we just wanted to do a bus tour of the city.  Actually Dominica wanted to do a bus tour and I wanted to walk to Marienplatz where the famous beer hall is and just do that.  But the bus won out and, in reality, it was the safer decision given the strength of the storms that were hitting today.  We could have been caught out in heavy rain rather far from the hotel or one of our destinations.

The bus tour here is the Greyline (is it Grey Line everywhere in the world?) and it is hop on / hop off and leaves from the München Hauptbahnhof.  So we packed up and walked to the train station, grabbed some amazing gelato from inside of the station and went around the corner where the bus was waiting.  Perfect timing.  We loaded up and grabbed seats at the very back of the top of the bus so that the girls wouldn’t have to be quite so contained.

Unfortunately because of the rain and general logistics in München we have very few pictures to share.  Sorry about that.

München is, as we saw on our bus trip, a truly gorgeous city.  It has some amazing history and is one of the larger cities of Europe with a metro area of 5.6 million – making it nearly the same as the metro areas of Houston, Philadelphia or the Dallas – Fort Worth metroplex.  A big, big city.

The history and architecture, of which München is often touted, really is something to behold and a large number of fountains.  There seems to be one at every turn.

We rode for about fifty minutes and got dropped off at the Marienplatz and made our way directly to the city’s landmark Hofbräuhaus beer hall.  We got in and got to see the live Bavarian band, including accordion player, play for a bit although they were on break for the majority of our meal.  Very cool, though.  We got real Bavarian food – Dominica got dumplings in a mushroom stew which was excellent, I got potato cakes in a tomato sauce which would give you the impression of a Bavarian take on lasagna and Liesl got spätzle with cheese sauce which was very good too.  Dominica got a litre of the dunkle beer which is the more traditional Bavarian style and I got a litre of the house original beer.  It was all excellent.

While we were eating the rain returned much more fierce than before and quickly turned to a serious hailstorm.  We were quite glad that we had opted to eat inside rather than out in the courtyard which had looked quite inviting but I convinced Dominica that Liesl would be upset by the cold and complain so just sitting inside would be the more prudent way to go.  While the hail was coming down we met a couple from Florida who were on vacation who were sitting at the table behind us.  Americans everywhere.

Luciana was in a mood to walk after our food was finished so I walked with her quite a bit as she explored the beer hall.  She led me up to the second floor, which I knew nothing about, and discovered the “festival hall” where there was a one man band playing traditional Bavarian dance music for the locals – no tourists here.  Luciana and I were the only ones in the hall under sixty-five, maybe more.  This is where the locals come for the traditional dancing.  It was awesome.  So, of course, Luciana and I had to head out onto the floor as well.  Nothing like taking my little Luciana polka dancing in Bavaria.

After we danced we went back downstairs where Dominica had ordered dessert and was halfway through some traditional Bavarian apple (apfel) dessert.  I joined her and we finished that, got Liesl done with her meal, finish our beers (I had ordered another half litre of the weight beer as well) and then paid and packed up everything to head back upstairs so that I could take Liesl dancing too.

Dominica danced with Luciana just a tiny bit but mostly they just stood out on the side.  Dancing with Luciana just involves holding her and swaying.  Liesl actually headed out on the dance floor with me and actually danced along with the crowd for a while.  Funnily enough the Bavarian music had given way to Bavarian-polka styled American tunes like Sugar, Sugar by the Archies and Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash but we danced all the same.  We had a lot of fun.  The locals thought that it was great and the girls got tons of attention.  They are very popular.

This was definitely a highlight of our trip.  Dancing with my girls as if we actually lived in München and not tourists.  This was very special.

As we were leaving we ran into three Disney photographers from Orlando who were on vacation (two on vacation and one over to study in Lyon but still vacationing in München) and offered to take our picture.  So we have a picture of us together in the festival hall.  There were not dancing but just watching from the sideline.  There were some tourists who would watch the dancers from time to time but I’m the only one brave enough to take my girls out to actually dance.  We talked to the Floridians for a while.  We took their picture too and when I did I realized that they were using the Nikon AW100, the same as me, so that sparked a conversation and it turned out that the owner of the AW100 was a Nikon D90 user too!  They’ll be checking up on us on KiddingAroundEurope,com – which is woefully far behind.  At least SGL is keeping up.

It was getting late so we were actually running a bit late so we had to panic a bit to get to the bus stop for the final pick up of the day.  We only made it by a few minutes.

There was only one stop left on the bus route so the trip back was pretty quick and we really didn’t see anything new.  We got dropped off back at the train station where we got some gelato, again, and then walked back to the hotel.  We were decently tired already by that point.  It doesn’t take all that much to wear us out these days.

Getting posts and pictures uploaded from our hostel is nearly impossible.  It can take around an hour to upload a dozen pictures if nothing goes wrong.  So we are doing it as much as we can whenever an opportunity allows but it is a struggle.  We are falling farther and farther behind on the pictures.  We are really hopeful for good Internet access in Austria but don’t know if we will have any let alone if it will be any good.


Leave a comment