After leaving Heaven on Earth, I took a train to the Bavarian portion of Germany. First stop was Munich, home of the best beer gardens on the planet!
I found a place called Paulaner Brauhaus and treated myself to something called Jungschweinebraten (oven roasted pork) coupled with dumplings and a smooth dark beer. Ahhhhh!
I spent the next day walking around Munich. I tried a walking tour but Munich does not have the vast history that Berlin has so it was not as exciting.
Eventually I made it to Elizabeth Park, where I read, took a nap, and then found some surfers surfing on a river. Apparently, years ago, some rad American dude rearranged the rocks in the river to create a swell and surfers come here to practice their game.
Munich seemed to be a place of serious beer drinking and nice cars. I noticed that about 70% of the cars there are Mercedes, BMW, or Audi. The economy here seems to be okay.
That night, I found the biergarten of all biergartens, Augustiner, a perfect venue to have pork and a huge 33-ounce beer while watching a EuroCup game. There were about 1500 people! There are so many beer mugs, they use a FLATBED TRUCK to transport them to the kitchen!
One side note…after 9 months of crashing in hostels and being on the road for so long, it was REALLY nice to check into a proper hotel! Everything was perfectly clean and the mattress was 3 times thicker than anything I have slept on in the past 300 days!
After 2 days solo in Munich, I was looking forward to having a “local” show me Germany. It was Doro! When I saw her, I had to make sure it was her as she changed her hair color from blonde to brunette. Doro and I met
in San Francisco while she was on a 1-year contract working for the Bavarian State of Germany recruiting companies to expand their business here. She was now back in her hometown, Kulmbach.
Since Germany was playing in a EuroCup match versus Greece that night, it was a no-brainer to head to a beer garden again. There were loads of people with painted faces, German jerseys, and German flags walking around. It reminded me of Buckeye Game Day in Ohio. Germany ended up winning big over Greece so the beer was flowing extra fast, creating many-a- stumble home, myself and Doro included.
The next day we set off to Koningsee to camp and to hike in the mountains of southern Germany near the Austrian border. The campsite was mostly retired couples in their campers. Retired people seem so relaxed. I used to think they were bored but now since I have not worked for close to 1 year, I know that they have plenty to do…and they still have time to relax afterwards!
Doro and I headed off to hike in the mountains and we underestimated the difficulty of the hike chosen, magnified by the random, out-of-the-blue thunderstorm that drenched us from head to toe. We made it with the help of Doro repetitively quoting Paulo Coelho, “if you only walk on sunny days, you’ll never reach your destination.”
The next few days were authentic German. We went to Kulmbach, a quaint place with extremely good bratwurst, beer, and ice cream. One day we went to Doro’s parent’s house and had a full-on Bavarian home-cooked, 4-course meal. Her parents don’t speak any English so Doro had to act as an interpreter.
Oh, and her parents are Polish, not German, which meant many shots were served, but not vodka…Schnapps! It was as if there was an alarm clock signaling “shot time” every twenty minutes. Her brother, who towered over the rest of the family, did a few shots with us and suddenly started speaking English! All in all, it was a very entertaining day and despite the communication barrier, we all got along splendidly.
After we visited Nuremberg for a day, it was time for me to hit the road again, this time to the south of France. It was very comforting to reunite with Doro, meet her family and friends, see her hometown, experience real beer and real beer gardens…and, of course, be treated to a warm meal by warm people in the warmth of their outdoor living room!
Prost to The Moch’s!