Deutschland (Munich!), and how we wish we could have stayed there longer

The title of this blog post is a work in progress. I was going to just say “Deutschland” because that seemed pretty cool, but then my fingers got itchy and I just couldn’t stop typing and I ended up with the title you see above.

Let me say this first: the absolute best part of Germany was seeing our friends: Babsi, Peter, Magdalena, Simon, Lars, and Saskia.

And now let me say this: We are incredibly grateful to these people for sharing their homes with us, feeding us, teaching us, and generally just making us feel welcome, warm, and like we were with family.

These things said, we had an awesome time in Germany :). To start at the beginning, I think, we traveled from Hungary to Germany via bus. The bus trip was a night bus, and as is somewhat normal the bus trip was not particularly pleasant, but also not particularly eventful. One special feature that made the trip somewhat notable was that the chair that I sat in had a broken “recline” button/mechanism. Basically the chair reclined or unclined (what’s the opposite of recline?) at will, which is to say when the bus accelerated the seat reclined, and when the bus decelerated the seat “unclined” (as I guess we’ll call it). This was very annoying to be honest, and cut into the already few hours of sleep I normally get on a bus. Additionally, the bus was blaring some terrible American movies with dubbed Hungarian so loud that with our ear buds in, we could hear the movie perfectly. Sometime around 3 or 4 AM I ended up switching seats with Lindsay because I wasn’t getting much sleep (given the movie (that was still playing) and my “fight” with the seat trying to get comfortable, which kept her awake and I could feel her ire even in the slumberish state I was in.). Anyway, once we switched I think I slept better. Small aside: I hear about people having blot clots from sitting too long in seats and such on airplanes and buses, and when I sleep on a bus I get a bit paranoid about this because I’m generally in some strange and uncomfortable position that results in my lower extremities falling uncomfortably asleep, and I imagine I’ve somehow cut off all blood flow to my legs.

So, after arriving in Germany I must say that we were quite excited. Our bus arrived at 4:57 AM (to make matters worse!), and we didn’t want to arrive at Babsi/Peter’s in the middle of the night, so Lindsay and I had a cup of coffee at the train station. Which reminds me to tell you, we were at a train station. I think it was Hacker-something station.
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It was pretty exciting actually, because we got off the bus and there were real, live Germans coming out of a bar that was at/near the train station. They were drunk, which was great and added an air of festivity to our arrival. There were also a lot of slick looking people with skiing equipment, apparently catching a bus or similar to go skiing for the day. I’m guessing these details aren’t of particular interest to you, but I want to mention them anyway. We also spent some time this morning watching the floor sweeper do his thing, and I got my first look at a Germany grocery store (Ledl – spelling might be wrong?). We bought some museli at the grocery store which I’d like to add was one of our favorite foods in Germany on account of there being lots of non-sugary museli that tasted healthy.

Ok, small break for a joke:

Q: Why was the little boy crying?

A: Because he had a frog stapled to his face

OK, back to business.

We took the S-Bahn to Babsi and Peter’s house, which was so warm and welcoming. They have a great new fireplace which is super cozy and it was great to sit around at night and drink a glass of wine or the fancy beer. This was our first time meeting the kids, Magdelana and Simon, who were great. Magdelena taught us the names of a few different animals in German (my favorite being either Shark (“hi”) or squirrel (who’s name is fun to say but complicated so you’ll have to trust me). It’s worth noting that the house we stayed in was the same as the house that I visited 12 years ago when I came to visit in 2003 after high school, except they’ve moved down stairs to a larger apartment. We actually slept upstairs in an unconnected room (future Magdalena’s room) which I came to learn was actually the same room that Babsi and Peter used to sleep in when they lived on the top floor.
So, Munich itself we spent roughly 5 days in. The first two days were Saturday and Sunday and for the most part we hung around the apartment with the family. Babsi prepared a wonderful German breakfast the first day we arrived, and the second. (I’m typing this without internet but I hope a photo of this breakfast will go here.)
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We babysat for Magdalena and Simon on Sunday evening which was actually a lot of fun (also, the easiest babysitting I’ve ever done as Babsi/Peter left around 7pm, and the kids bedtime is 7:30). We brought them a few little food kits/toys from Japan and we made them with the kids (mini doughnuts, slime that was supposed to be gummy candy, and chocolate mushrooms).

One other small memory: one night we were putting the kids to bed and I was supposed to read a bedtime story to the kids. Except it was a chapter book in German. So I tried to read the book but after two or three sentences trying to pronounce the words Magdalena had to help me out and ended up reading an entire chapter to herself and Simon, which was quite impressive in my opinion, and let me off the hook.

The next day, we explored Munich. I can’t say we saw everything, but we did do a few key things. We walked around a lot and walked through the English Garden where we sat next to a lake and split a beer.

We walked around the English Garden some more and saw a surfer (though we didn’t actually see any surfing happening unfortunately). Overall though, the sun was shining, and it was an awesome day.

**We had taken a lot of photos of the English Garden, the kids and a ton more on this day, but apparently they are no where to be found! :(**

Later that day while exploring Munich, Lindsay and I were very hungry. We actually (this is sad perhaps) walked 3 kilometers or so to a ramen restaurant that had great reviews (we both had been craving ramen) but just as we arrived it was closed until dinner. So getting slightly grumpy considering our hunger and the disappointment of walking for nothing we walked towards a train station. Then, out of now where, there was a huge bar/beer house/restaurant! It was fate I guess and we ended up going to eat there. We felt great about eating authentic German food, and it was fun to eat in a giant beer/food hall. It was not the cheapest food we’ve had on the trip but it was quite good. Interestingly, it turns out that years ago, I found a bunch of old slides that I scanned of some random guy and his travels (from the late 50s/early 60s, I believe). After talking with Babsi about the dinner, I realized that this guy had taken a photograph of the place we ate at during the Oktoberfest, as this place was a big brewery – so that was pretty cool.

On another day, we visited the Dachau Memorial (former concentration camp) which is in the town of Dachau and I’m not sure if it’s technically “Munich” but regardless we went there. We had an awesome tour guide (per Peter’s suggestion) who walked us around for something like 3.5 hours. Which is crazy I think, because 1) it was only 3 euro a person and 2) The tour is only supposed to last 1.5-2 hours 3) The person is actually a volunteer.
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The lady who took us on the tour also talked with Lindsay a lot about various books that she might be able to recommend to her students next year, and was overall just really passionate about the subject, which made the time fly by. Also, she gave us a ride in her van to a bus station (which was super nice/sweet/awesome, although it ended up being a bus station that didn’t go where we needed to go so we ended up walking to a different bus station and getting lost on the way and then walking around for an hour or so – but I did manage to purchase some long johns en route).

Another day, we visited Christina (Babsi’s sister) and her husband Heinz (spelling?) and their child (whose name is sadly escaping me at the moment!) which was great. It was really nice to see Christina after so many years (I saw her last 12 years ago in Munich when I visited with Dave) and see her life. It’s a bit crazy to think about life when you have a 12 year chunk of time you’re dealing with. 12 years ago I visited Christina in downtown Munich in a very awesome loft apartment, and she was living by herself I believe. Now, she is married, has a child old enough to walk and talk and play outside, has an apartment that’s more like a house, etc. Christina cooked an awesome apple strudel also, and Heinz made us some great tea. We also got to see his knife collection and their place of work, which was really interesting (various clothes).

Another highlight, which I’ve sort of already mentioned, was the food that Babsi and Peter provided for us. One night we had a traditional German feast including meat and a sort of ham bit + cabbage + vinegar salad (which was awesome) and (spelling this phonetically) “ca-noodle” which are round balls of something or other. For those of you that don’t know I sort of enjoy collecting nicknames for Lindsay and canoodle quickly made the list.
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We also went to a bunch of Aldi, Ledl, and other grocery stores. The general rule was “if you see an Aldi, go into the Aldi.” I’m not exactly sure why this is but Germany (and other countries, but especially Germany in my opinion) has amazing grocery stores. I mean, large fresh balls of mozzarella for .55 eurocents. Milk for less than 1 euro. Etc. AMAZING vanilla pudding of all sorts. And so forth. There is also a machine in Aldi now that when pressed spits out a croissant for like 0.35 eurocents. It’s crazy! And a HUGE selection of wine and beer most of which can be had for less then 2 bucks (wine) and less then a buck for beer. I would kill for an Aldi like this in the states. It makes Trader Joes seem like a joke in my humble opinion.

We also met another friend of Babsi/Peter’s named Michael, who was a German native living in NYC. We had a great soup and wonderful bread and again a wonderful night of talking and drinking wine and fancy champagne and beer. Keep in mind the cozy atmosphere and great friends and the fireplace. It was really nice :).

On our last day in Munich (based on Babsi’s recommendations) and we touched the lions (so we should be back to Munich soon we hope!), walked around the Munich Residenz, Marineplatz, ate more delicious food, and saw more awesome churches and grounds. We had such a nice time and will (are!) missing the family already. I’m hoping we’ll be able to keep in touch with Babsi and Peter better then last time around!
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And then, before we knew it, our time in Munich was up, and it was time to go visit Lars and Saskia!