October 4, 2013
Not quite sure why I named this post the way I did, but it feels right. I suppose I can justify it because I was definitely a wet lady, in this rainy city for a number of days, and my favorite number is 7… and Bob Dylan never wrote a song called Rainy Day Women #7 that I know of (pity.) So, that’s that.
While on the topic of classic rock jams, I must preface that it is required to listen to as much Phil Collins and Genesis as one can stand while reading this post. I will explain later. Here, I will get you started with one that has the best video EVER:
Side note… I am currently IN Munich for my second time this trip, while I write about Munich the first time. So forgive me if my mind is a little cloudy, I am about 6 cities behind.
Joey and I arrived at the train station in the mid-afternoon, excited to see this city we have both heard so much about. We walk off the platform outside, and BAM! Rain. Oh joy, we are ill equipped with no umbrella, no panchos, NADA. Luckily, our hostel-Euro Youth Hostel-was a short walk from where we were so we got there with no trouble and checked-in. There was a lovely British fellow running the front desk and he proved to be very helpful from the moment we walked in until the moment we left. This, would be Nick.
So Jo and I put our stuff down in our four bed dorm and decided we were ready for some food and a beer. Since the bar was just about to open we freshened up and made our way down to find ourselves to be two of the first patrons of the night. The bartender that evening was Patrick, a friendly young guy who promptly poured us two pints. Sitting to our left was a hardcore Metal-loving American (do not remember where he was from, or his name, of course) and an Asian-American business man to my right who was from Chicago. After chatting with the Chicagian, I found out he actually lives on the same street as my sister in Wrigleyville. Small world, eh? The Metal-lover told us that he was actually NOT staying at our hostel, but that he came from his own hotel in order to participate in the Pub Crawl. We looked the flyer over and decided there was no better way to initiate our Munich stay other than with a Pub Crawl. Why the hell not, right?
Joey and I split a small pizza and threw back a few beverages while waiting for the rest of the people to show up for the Pub Crawl. Considering it was raining, there wasn’t much of a turn-out so the organizer of the crawl decided to cancel it. At this point, we had made a few friends at the bar, including the Chicagian, the Metal-lover, a Brazilian beer-brewing student who lived in Prague, and a man who could only be defined by his mustache, Karl. See, I remember Karl’s name because his mustache was so dominate on his face there is no possible way of forgetting the name of the man who owned that glorious porn-stache.
Our newly found crew decided to initiate our own “pub crawl” and went out for the evening. We walked a few blocks to the main shopping strip and passed a few churches and about five H&M stores (which proved helpful a day or two later for me), as well as battling a ton of elbow-happy tourists. Our destination was a famous beer hall called the Hofbraunhaus. On the walk over we had all gotten ourselves road sodas (Grandma, this is another name for a transportable beer) and once we arrived at our destination, I was a few paces behind the boys because I was being a tourist, taking pictures of everything.
All of them left their empty beer bottles NEXT to the trash bin (instead of inside, obviously) before entering the beer hall. Here is why … collecting bottles in Germany is a way for some people to “earn” money, much like recycling cans and bottles in California can provide you with some pocket change. However, it is done a little differently here. When you first purchase your beer, they charge you a small amount of tax or a ‘deposit’ that you can get back when you return the bottle. It does not necessarily have to be returned to the same store, just a location that carries the same product. It is almost like renting the bottle to drink the beer. So, in order for people to benefit from those of us who do not plan on returning the bottles, many people (like us) will leave their cans or bottles next to the waste bins to make it easier to retrieve. Well, all 4 of the boys left their bottles and briskly proceeded inside the Hofbraunhaus, leaving me lagging behind. I put mine down next to theirs and when I stood upright to walk in, there was a rather large, bald, intimidating security guard hovering over me screaming. Like a deer caught in headlights, I blankly stared at him and innocently said, “Ich spreche kein Deutsch.” This made the man even more angry and then he proceeded to scold me in broken English. “PICK UP BOTTLE. PUT IN CAN! NOW! ALL THEM!” So I hurried over to the trash can and threw everyone’s bottles in the trash to save the man from suffering from an aneurysm. I had to laugh though because this gentleman obviously had some major “big guy” issues; waiting for the runt of the litter to enter the scene before choosing whom to scream at. Eh, whatta pussy, I say.
After that little hiccup we found ourselves in a large open-spaced beer hall with very high ceilings. At that point in my life, that was the largest beer hall I had ever stepped foot in. Obviously, this was surpassed while at Oktoberfest, but I will save that for later. The place was absolutely packed and there wasn’t a table or seat in sight. We took care of our beer bladders first and then went to the outside section to see if we could find ourselves a spot to order a beer and a pretzel. Unfortunately, the place was packed to the brim so it took a few walk-arounds outside and in until we finally found half a table available next to two young, hip, Australian girls. We ordered a round and Joey started talking with the table to our left. These guys were loud, rowdy, Bayern Munich Futbol fans who were in town for the game from Dortmund. They. Were. Awesome!
Our original hostel crew, along with the crazy Bayern fans, had a wonderful evening drinking massive beers and talking about anything and everything. I really enjoyed it when they would burst out in drunken songs and chants and get super bro’d out. Karl and Brazilian beer-brewing guy left halfway through the evening because Karl was hellbent on making it to some market somewhere else in the city.
At this point I believe the rest of us just went back to the hostel to party at the bar. The bar in the Euro Youth Hostel is rad. All the bartenders are badass, the beers are fairly cheap, and the whole environment is friendly and feels “homey.” That evening I had the pleasure of hanging out with the British guy at reception, Nick, once he got off work. Nick is a 25 year old traveller from Bolton, England who found himself settling in Munich a few years ago. The most important fact about Nick is that he is probably the biggest Phil Collins fan in the world. So much so, that he has a tattoo of his name right above his heart. Ya gotta love the devotion! I’m a sucker for tattoos and classic rock-era musicians, as we all know, so we got along brilliantly. Nick was quite interested in hearing about my time interning at TellTale Games and working on the Walking Dead video game. At one point I think I even broke out the zombie voice I am so good at. Embarrassing much? Oh yeah.
The next day Joey and I needed to take it easy, needless to say we were hungover. So we sat in the lounge area for a few hours and I worked on writing my blog post on Cologne, while Jo browsed IMGUR; which he is borderline obsessed with. Nick came over to us at one point and asked if we would want to join him and his Texan friend, Matt, that evening for a drink and maybe try find some live music. We accepted, of course, because who doesn’t want to see a city from a locals’ perspective?
Alright, the sequence of events at this point are very hazy, so bare with me.
Joey and I then walked over to the main shopping strip again to explore a bit, and I ended up in H&M because I needed to buy a few things. When you travel for numerous weeks, you start to get sick of everything you own, and you also realize that you cannot have enough pairs of socks or panties. So, I purchased all of the above while Joey patiently waited for me outside. When we got back to the hostel we spent more time with our fellow hostel mates at the bar. Unfortunately, that evening Nick had to work a double because the schedule got messed up and he had to cover for one of the security guards, so no live music for us. I ended up staying after the bar closed and hung out with the staff while they cleaned up. We listened to a ton of Phil Collins and I exposed them to my love, Frank Turner. It was so nice being at a bar after hours, it reminded me of home and all the nights over the years we would have regulars or newly made friends stay after and party with us during closing.
Since Nick had to work all day/night he offered to show me and Joey around the next afternoon before his next shift. Jo and I got up and grabbed some coffee and enjoyed free wifi at a place called Coffee Fellows. Sadly, my purse was bulging more than usual that day and I knocked Jo Jo’s full cup of coffee all over the floor. Fail. I spent about 15 minutes cleaning it up, feeling like an ass. I swear, I am just so smooth sometimes! Anyway, we walked around a bit in the rain and met Nick back at the hostel to grab some food and see some of Munich. On our way out we ran into an older English gentleman (whose name none of us can remember, so I will call him “Ned”) who asked for a recommendation for a place to eat in the neighborhood. Nick explained to him how to get to a traditional place a few minutes away. After he grabbed us an umbrella from the land of rejected hostel belongings, we set out towards the same restaurant as “Ned.”
When we got closer, we saw “Ned” looking very confused and we asked him to join us since we were going to the same place. “Ned” was in his 60’s and was staying in a private room at the hostel while he was on a trip celebrating his pension. So, the four of us had a wonderful lunch of chicken and beer and talked about music, movies, television, drugs, families, traveling , etc. It was a solid lunch experience, if you ask me!
Nick suggested we take a walk over to the Oktoberfest fair grounds to see what it looks like. Oktoberfest was starting about 3 days after Joey and I were planning on leaving so many of the tents and rides were already set up. First, we walked up to the Bavaria Statue that overlooks Theresienwiese where the festival is held and admired the statue, as well as the statue heads in the Hall of Fame that wrapped around the perimeter of the monument. The views of Oktoberfest were spectacular, and made me regret not staying longer to experience it! Well, I eventually did come back to Munich a few weeks later to do just that. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
After walking around the grounds Nick led us towards the Hofbraunhaus and the Cathedral Church Our Lady (Frauenkkirche.) We took a peek inside the Cathedral and stood and watched as Mass was in session. It was strange to hear the all-too-familiar-prayers and the ritualistic murmuring that I so loathed as a child. “Ned,” Joey, myself and Nick walked around the corner to a lovely little restaurant and ordered a beer and talked even more. Nick had to work in a few hours so he wanted to head back to relax at home before it started. “Ned” went back to the hostel and Joey wanted to head back too, so I went to Nick’s flat with him to hang out and drink some coffee. ***
Nick’s good friend Matt, from Texas, had been staying with him for a few weeks on a mattress on the floor of his room. I do not know if this is the first time I met Texas Matt or if it was on a different occasion, but I will take this time to introduce an important character in my Munich chapter. Matt is one of the most interesting and badass people I have met so far. He is in his early 30’s, lives near Houston, Texas and has an adorable son named Maximilian who lives in Germany with his mother. Matt was married to Max’s mother before they split and she moved back to be with her family in Germany. So, in order for Matt to see his son he has to come to Munich for weeks or months at a time. Unfortunately, his ex makes it very difficult for him to see Max, because some women are just ridiculous like that. But Matt doesn’t let that slow him down, he is persistent because he loves that little boy more than anything in the world. I don’t know anything about German law in regards to custody battles, but I just have to say that it is ludacris Matt has to suffer the way he does. (Okay, done with THAT rant.) The point is, Texas Matt rocks and over the last few weeks during my two trips to Munich I got to know him pretty well. I can’t wait to visit him in Texas so he can show me a real rodeo and how to shoot squirrels. Matt loves to kill things and then eat them; he also believes in the existence of Mermaids, UFO’s and the Lochness Monster. He is pretty much my hero.
This one is for you Matt:
I then went back to the hostel to hang out with Joey, Texas Matt, and many other new acquaintances I had met for the rest of the evening. Joey went to bed early and I stayed up again with everyone. ***
The next day Joey and I walked to the center of the city to see the Englischer Garten (English Gardens) which is one of the largest urban public parks; even bigger than New Yorks’ Central Park. At the mouth of the artificial stream that runs through the English Garden, there is a standing wave that is created by the water being pumped into the stream, where surfers decked out in wet suits can bring their boards and surf back and forth. We watched for a bit before proceeding into the belly of the park.
The two of us walked through the park and saw a few small waterfalls, many people playing catch with their dogs, big geese and ducks swimming about, and almost got ran over by a few bikes. It was a lovely afternoon stroll. We walked up a hill to a greek-style monument called the Monopteros which overlooked the city. From there we slowly walked back towards to the city center, stopping a few times for Joey to skip rocks on the river. Starbucks and free wifi were calling our names at this point so we made a pit stop for about an hour to indulge and curl up in the warmth.
Whoops, Phil Collins time…
That night we planned on meeting Nick to go out since Joey and I were leaving the next day for Ebersberg. We went back to the hostel to a completely packed bar for a Futbol match! It looked like Underdogs whenever the Giants were in the playoffs. Danny, one of the awesome bartenders with righteous dredlocks, was working along with Chris, and although they were slammed, they handled the crowd very well and were still joking around with each other. Nick and Texas Matt showed up a bit later to take Joey and I out, but I guess Jo wasn’t feeling up to it, because he decided he wanted to stay in the hostel that night. Before we left, Matt, Nick and I had a beer and talked with Melissa and her friend. Melissa is a stunning blond girl from the mid-west who lives in Munich and is the girlfriend of Timmy, another badass-dread-lock-donning mother fucker who works at the hostel.
While we were socializing, we noticed an extremely intoxicated man wobbling behind us, spilling droplets of his freshly poured beer as though he was leaving bread crumbs for Hansel and Gretel. This man all of a sudden stopped (right behind us) and puked INTO his full beer, spilling puke and beer alike all over the floor, as well as Nick and Matt (luckily I wasn’t hit.) He then proceeded to walk the opposite way without saying anything, and I am almost certain I saw him take a gulp of his beer as he walked away. Okay… so I have seen a lot of crazy shit in my day, especially working at a busy sports bar in San Francisco, but NEVER have I seen a spectacle such as that. I guess about a half hour later, the puke dude came up to Danny and ordered a double jack and coke! HA! Danny told him no, of course.
At this point, Matt and Melissa and her friend decided they wanted to stay at the hostel bar and not go out. So Nick and I walked to another bar closer to his place that has a super awesome vibe. It was a very dark bar, with too many people squished inside it, but we grabbed a beer and he showed me the best part about that bar… the Vodkarella machine! It is a play on the 1968 Sci-Fi film starring Jane Fonda as the sexy space cadet, Barbarella. It made me think of my good friend Bryan Gordon back home in San Francisco because he is the first one to expose me to the movie and we have been known to dance like hippies in my living room to the soundtrack that I have on vinyl. It has since become one of my new favorite classic films, so seeing this machine was more than cool. This is how it works: you take a little plastic shot cup from the side and put it underneath where Vodkarella stands, put 1€ in the machine, and Vodkarella pisses vodka into your cup. GENIUS!!!!! If anyone knows where to find a machine like this for purchase, hit a sista up, because I want one to put next to my future Captain Fantastic Pinball machine and Moonwalker arcade game.
So the two of us talked more about our families and our lives, and chatted about cats for a good while. This conversation HAD to be followed by a cat youtube session (of course) so we went back to his flat again to dive into the bottomless pit of youtube cat searches. I also had the pleasure (or the embarrassment) of playing Grand Theft Auto 5, the day after it came out. I am rubbish at video games, and the only thing I could successfully do was back up the car at high speeds and take out as many pedestrians and hookers as possible. Either way, it was nice to kick back and hang with a new friend. ***
It was my last night in Munich and I have to say I was pretty bummed, I felt a certain comfort there that I had only felt for the first time when I moved to San Francisco. The people I met and the places I saw really stuck with me. All in all, I give Munich a thumbs up.
On our last day Joey and I did a day trip to a small town south of Munich called Ebersberg! Woot woot, the origin of my surname! I will have to make that a separate blog post though, this one is too monsterous as it is.
In conclusion to this post, I just want to say a really big thank you to the amazing people I met while in Munich. Especially the Euro Youth staff: Patrick, Timmy, Danny, Chris and of course Nick. Texas Matt and Melissa get a digital high five as well.