09.06.2014 - 09.06.2014
After two weeks we leave Africa behind and continue our journey, returning to Europe. Air travel outside the US is in stark contrast to what we get back in the states. In the US, we have to rush to the airport to wait in security. Then we have to rush onto the plane to make sure we can fit our backpacks in the overhead to avoid charges. In Morocco security just waved us through, although if you have a European passport but are not ethnically European they will give you a hard time. This is to stop people using stolen passports to get to Europe. Almost none of the overhead storage was used, we were really the only ones with luggage. Breakfast was yogurt, bread, croissant and tea. All around a much calmer flight in comparison to the two in the US. Ben was quite ecstatic when the officer stamped his passport within the lines as opposed to haphazardly across the page.
We arrived around 1pm and had free time til 6pm. Our first objective was to get to Munich, as the airport is about 30 minutes outside of town. As we puzzled over the automated machine, a German learned over and asked us if we needed help. Being in Morocco for the last week my initial response was that this guy wants money. I then realized that he was just being nice. He introduced himself as Stefan and purchased a group ticket that was cheaper for all three of us. On the ride to the city center we discussed traveling and Munich. It was really refreshing to have genuine hospitality. He then suggested a place to eat down the street and we parted ways.
We also had our first experience with a pay toilet. It is €1 to use but you got a coupon for half off a future visit. Two guys ended up in the women's restroom since they had already payed by the time they noticed their mistake.
On Stefan's suggestion we went to Augustine-Keller. A highly rated beer garden within walking distance of the main station. After puzzling our way through the service, we ordered quite a bit of meat, mostly pork, and a beer. We opted for half a liter, and since it was before 5pm, we could still get one. I had a pork snitzel while Ben ordered a wurst sampler platter. Unfortunately, Ben couldn't finish the beer and I needed to step in and finish it, despite my intense dislike of beer. For a beer it was good, probably the best I have had but still a beer in the end.
After walking this heavy meal off, we returned to the station to meet our host, Petra, for the next two nights. This was the fruit of my labours through the bewelcome site and it paid off big time. She had maps of the subway ready for us and provided us a excellent dinner the first night of pasta and mushrooms. It is the little stuff, like having mushrooms again, that makes you realize how you miss your life back home. We opted for a early night to make sure we had plenty of time the next day.
Getting to the Marienplatz around 8am, we were within walking distance of all the major sights that were on our itenary. Here was a large display that, at certain hours, play out jousting display with large figures. The entire process takes about 3 minutes.
The first attraction was the local, spendy, market. The first thing I noticed was the diversity of fruit and vegetables, some I haven't found in the US. The first food we had was a pretzel with cream cheese and chives followed by a nice thick pickle, that was unfortunately a butter pickle but was refreshing nonetheless.
We then went to the Munich Residence. This was the home of the ruling family of Bavaria for centuries. Every new century brought a new addition which allows visitors to see the progression of architecture styles through several centuries. You can also view the vault filled with various treasures.
Despite the reputation for being a tourist trap, we opted for the Hofbrauhaus. This famous beer hall is quite popular with English speaking tourists and despite being early, was already filling up. We had a light lunch of a liver dumpling in beef broth and cheesy spatzl. Ben also opted for another beer called Radler. This is actually a mix of a light beer and lemonade. Coming in at a full liter he once again needed help finishing it.
For desert we looked for a new ice cream shop, near the English Gardens, known for weird flavours such as beer. It was packed and most flavours were already gone. I opted for a scoop of raspberry and lemon swirl and a banana and strawberry swirl with a taste of the beer.
We took a nice stroll though the park and took a nap to refresh ourselves. Being a nice day it was quite packed. People were bicycling, walking their dogs, drinking, sunbathing, swimming, etc. We didn't come across the nude section but nonetheless found a old guy wearing nothing but a g-string.
To show our appreciation to Petra, our host, we took her out for dinner at a restaurant near her house. Ben chose to order a kangaroo steak (not really German) that was rather good and I went with a summer snitzel. This was a chicken, pounded flat, with sunflower seeds mixed into the breading.