An extra day in Munich was a great idea (thank you, Laura). Maybe it's because we are in our third city, but this all feels a lot more natural and authentic. Scratch that, we're still obviously foreign, but in this city, we have ourselves a German tour guide.
Meet Timo. He is street smart, sarcastic and most importantly, very German. He and Laura worked at the same wildlife preservation facility in Namibia (I have the coolest friends). Anywho, he met us at the train station and has since been our snarky and quick-witted translator and guide. As much as it pains me to say it, we will miss him we when leave. Hopefully, he never reads this as our current rapport is endless teasing and witty banter.
The following morning, we got, big surprise here, lattes and scones, at an Italian bakery on the corner. It seems to be pretty common here, but I am always taken aback when I am given a hot drink in a normal glass. Maybe someday I'll adjust. I said thank you and good day in Italian and was slightly impressed with myself before I realized how simple those two sentiments are. Oh well, I have two months of Italian on the way-I won't let this discourage me.
Our second stop of the day was the German Museum. I don't think I have ever been anywhere quite like it. There were old ships and planes and gears and even a mining exhibit underground. Most exhibits had excerpts of English translations, except of course, the science sector of the museum. We joked that the Germans who created the exhibits about physics and energy figured the concepts would be way over any English speaker's head so there was no need to bother with giving them information only to make their brain hurt.
Next we were off to The Glockenspiel and Hofbräuhaus because we are tourists and that is our idea of an authentic German experience. None the less, both places were worth the walk. The Glockenspiel was huge and historic and there were far too many people around it for us to truly enjoy it, but hey, it happens. The same is true for Hofbräuhaus, but the food justified every ounce of predictability. I had a radler (half beer, half lemonade) and the three of us split three meals, a sausage plate, schnitzel and some traditional pork and potatoes dish. I was pleasantly surprised and very full by the end of the meal.
After some time back at our flat (not going to lie, I feel really cool calling it that) to recoup from the sunshine and walking, we set back out, radlers in hand after stopping at a kiosk. We headed towards the river. We laid out our towels and relaxed about 5 feet from the water while Timo cracked open our beers. There are no open container laws in Germany, and let me tell ya, the people take advantage of that. It is not an uncommon thing to be walking down the street around noon and pass by some folks with open glass bottles. Anyway, the three of us drank our beers, Laura and I read our books, and Timo befriended Felix, the man next to us. We planned on meeting with him and his friends later, but it never actually panned out. (We took it personally Felix, don't worry.)
After our first subway ride in Europe, and of course some wander, we reached our first destination of the day, The Munich Olympic Park. This area of cascading hills was basically how I envision the end of The Sound of Music (yes I know that is Austria, but the point still stands). Those iconic hills with a giant stadium just plopped down in the middle next to a small lake. There was such a contrast between natural and industrial which was truly fascinating. We passed food stands and heard conversations in languages we couldn't even begin to identify. There were two hills, one larger than the other, but we decided to crest the smaller of the two, conserve energy, sit down and take it all in. It felt like our view was infinite. Spires and bell towers and steeples marked the horizon. I liked this place. I think I always will.
Our historical outlet for the day was The Nationalist Museum. The museum basically broke down how the Nazi Party came into power leading up to World War II, Munich's role in that, and how the city recovered after the war. We learned more at this museum than a textbook could possibly teach us. There is more to that war than we could ever understand, but after a visit there, I feel like I can grasp so much more of how a hate-filled group could rise to power and rally support. Still and always unjustifiable, but so interesting to learn more and more about the details of that war.
Our last notable stop of the day was at "The Wave", a spot along the river where the totally gnarly locals break out their surfboards and wetsuits and try to ride this continuous wave for a about 20 feet without completely splatting into the riverbank. While I don't think I will ever be bold enough to join in on the action, it was quite exciting to watch. The surfers were like this tiny German sub-culture that no one would ever really expect. They encouraged each other by smacking their boards when someone else did something new or particularly rad. They would joke and tease and challenge too. At one point, there were 4 surfers on the wave, basically playing king of the hill. They laughed and hugged and most seemed to know each other. This was one of those spots I would have never even thought to look for, but Timo insisted we check it out. In retrospect, I see why.
Munich has more to offer than two full days can cover, but those two days were exciting and exhausting and enjoyable. I think we got an authentic experience and again, took time to simply stop and smell the roses. I'm going to miss this place, but until next time, "Auf wiedersehen, Munich."