Sunday, September 24, 2006

Guten Tag

I don’t speak German.
Munich was beautiful and busy, just like I wanted it to be. There were dirndl and lederhosen clad natives walking around everywhere; on subways, downtown, at Oktoberfest, at the museum. It was amazing to see so many people wearing traditional clothes in celebration of their heritage and country. Not so much as a joke or an excuse to show off certain body parts, i.e. Halloween, but because it’s tradition. Le chiam!

We arrived after a mostly dull train ride (German men think it is very inconsiderate to have your foot resting on the train seat opposite you because you are trying to sleep, and are not afraid to tell you that it’s “Not Goot”) to ascend the subway escalator into the heart of Munich, Marienplatz. On our left was the enormous gothic Neues Rathaus with the animated glockenspiel (we saw the 5pm show). The sun was shining, there were gorgeous churches around every corner, there were about five different H&M’s on one city block, and it was time to eat. I had some potato pancakes and my first real attempt at sauerkraut. Delicious. And one cannot forget the apfel (I know one german word!) strudel. We sat for a long time and then wandered around the downtown area. We met some friends and decided to eat dinner. It was a small affair, since we were trying out the eat-a-big-lunch German approach to dining. But we did have some enormous radlers (the Arnold Palmer of beer) which were surprisingly refreshing.

We finally went back to the dorms we would be staying in and met our new, german speaking friends from Lewis and Clark College. They were all very welcoming, all 12 of them, and made us feel quite at home and safe, even if we were sleeping in a somewhat frightening student lounge, without lights or keys, in the middle of a foreign country.
We woke up bright and early the next morning to head over to Oktoberfest. We had heard rumors that the beer halls fill up early, so you have to get in and get a table in the morning. The rumors are true. We got to the amusement-park type grounds at 9am, bought some krapfen (warm jelly doughnuts) and walked into the festively decorated Spaten Hall at 9:10am. We almost did not get a table. Seriously. And there were already people with giant maases (glasses) in their hands. We sat at a table with 6 German young adults who were very docile until their second glasses. Afterwards they were much friendlier. The traditional band started playing and people were singing and dancing and in general being raucous. For lunch I had spätzle, which was amazing, and then the Italians showed up. Apparently it was “Italian week” at Oktoberfest, not-so- fondly called so because half the population of Italian males was in Munich this weekend. Needless to say, we met some, they kissed Jane on the cheek, took pictures with us and tried to get us to leave with them. We politely declined in our best rendition of a “no, grazie” and went to walk around the grounds.

It’s really just a huge carnival. There are rides and games and lots of greasy food. I had some real sugar roasted almonds, from the source, and Katie bought us cute gingerbread cookie necklaces that said, “You are my star” in German. They didn’t taste amazing, but it was definitely adorable to wear. We got a little tired so we went back to the dorms and hung out with the L and Csters for the rest of the night playing games, eating Oreo’s sent from someone’s grandma, and going to the Englischer Garten, formerly a hunting ground, now one of Europe’s largest parks. It was very Jane Austin. We went in a big group as it was getting dark and played in some of the vastest fields I’ve ever seen. The stars were really bright for being in a big city. Then it was time for bed.
Sunday morning we woke up and headed off to do something positive for our brains. We took the subway (f.y.i. Do not EVER buy a subway ticket in Munich. There is nowhere and no one to check it) to the Pinakothek Modern Art Museum. Admission is only 1 euro on Sundays, which was a plus after really expensive beer the day before. We saw a big collection of decorative arts (furniture, house wares, and jewelry) which was nice because I don’t usually get excited them. But I really liked the design aspect of the galleries and how all of the works were pulled together and displayed. There was almost no interpretation, and when there was it was in German, so that was a little disappointing, but it made the experience completely visual which is a good thing. Upstairs was a huge, I am assuming in-situ, multi-colored plastic sculpture that looked a little like lasagna pasta that enfolded and cascaded down the stairs. In the galleries there was a lot of Beckmann, Ernst, Klee, Kandinsky and Marc. It was breathtaking. I was so elated. I wanted to stay for so much longer but the train was calling.

I got one more krapfen before we got on the train and headed back to Strasbourg. The weekend was wonderful but very difficult. I had never been in a place where I could not communicate at all with the natives. It was frustrating, but luckily many people knew English, or even French, so we weren’t totally lost. And everyone was really nice, even if Europeans aren’t supposed to be nice until they know you. I would love to go back and see more of Munich, and Germany in general. The country side was just like a calendar or postcard. Classes start tomorrow. Back to business.
Auf Wiedersehen


Blogger Fiona said...

I'm so glad you got to go into those H&Ms in Munich. When I was there it was a sunday, so everything was closed and I just sadly gazed into the window. Oktoberfest looks crazy!

Keep it real Eribo!

9:33 PM  
Blogger annie said...

jane austin! im jealous of your trip to munich...
also, my parents have admitted to reading your blog regularly, just thought you would like to know. dad says hi.

2:19 PM  

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