Monday, December 19, 2011

in which gabby drunkenly mistakes dollars for euros.

The title is a true story, but we'll get to that.

Thursday morning was spent missing the 6am train from Krakow's city center and getting on the 6:30am after a bit of slight hysterics. We made it to the airport with almost too much time to spare. So, naturally, we sat around, found stale food, and waited for our flight to be called. We were on a pond-jumper airplane and were thrilled with the hour of free reading. Lufthansa is also the best airline. Free drinks, free luggage check-in, and awesome German efficiency. Best.

After landing in Munich, we made our way to the S-Bahn and took that 45 minutes into the city -- more reading. We walked to our hostel, dumped off our bags, and headed into town. (Fun fact: our hostel is quite close to the hotel I stayed at the first time I was in Munich!)

Munich was all decked out for Christmas with all the stores hanging garland and tinsel in their windows. Our first stop was Karlsplatz -- but there was an ice skating rink in the way! It was the start of the Christmas Market that started at Karlsplatz and ended at Marienplatz. And what do you do at the start of a long day of shopping? Eat. We stopped at the big cabin-looking building in the middle of Karlsplatz to grab a bite to eat and watch some of the ice skaters. Little did we know, we were being eavesdropped on. We had two reporters from a newspaper wanting to interview us Americans as to why we chose to come to Munich's Christmas Market. How cool! So, after a brief interview, they wanted to get a picture of us on the ice rink. We pushed around one of the penguin skating guiders, in our gym shoes, while the photographer got pictures. It was quite a start to Munich.

Once that finished, we started our way down the Christmas Market. Most of the stalls were selling similar things to what we found in Budapest, Prague, and Krakow. At least, when it came to ornaments. I was looking for one for my mom and it was proving to be difficult. The ones I did find were either 1. breakable, or 2. extremely breakable. It wouldn't be until late at night that I'd find one. (In other words, Happy Belated Birthday, Mom!)

Regardless, we sought out Frauenkirche, a cathedral near Marienplatz. It was on Gabby's list of things to see. Absolutely gorgeous, as always.

We spent the majority of the day shopping and looking around Munich. By this point in the traveling, we were pretty tired so we took a break and went back to our hostel. Gabby read and I finished my last essay of my undergraduate career. Unbelievable.

Since the weather was supposed to be worst on Friday, it seemed like the perfect day to spend indoors. Our first stop was at The Residenz, the home of the King of Bavaria. It's a huge house with tons of ornate rooms. Some of the rooms were destroyed in World War II bombing of Munich, but they've been restored to the point where if I didn't know any better, I would think it was original. We took the long tour and saw the whole Residenz and the Treasury (royal keepsakes, jewels, and porcelain). Later, we would return to see the Theater which definitely did not disappoint.

Between The Residenz and the Carilles-Theater,  we went all the way over to the Deutsches Museum. The brochures had boasted that the museum was all about technology with many hands-on exhibist -- which we later discovered were all mostly out of order. It wasn't the most exciting part of the day since we were tired and many of the exhibits were in German. Unlike the exhibits in Hungary, I could read the exhibits. Yet, as those who have intermediate skills in another language, it's really exhausting. I resorted to my typical museum behaviour: push all of the buttons. And as I said before, most of them didn't work. Sad day.

We cut our visit to the museum short when both our feet were crying for release. We found an Italian restaurant since I was craving a pizza. It's hard to find a traditional German restaurant that has vegetarian options, let me tell you. Poor Gabby didn't get much traditional German food since the Germans love their meat (especially the pig).

Once again, we went back the hostel to read. We were both reading 'A Game of Thrones' and were both anxiously wanting to know what was going to happen. Our bodies also wanted breaks. It seemed like an obvious choice.

Hunger drove us out of the hostel to find food, specifically Dampfnudel mit Vanillesosse und Zimt (Giant Fucking Dumpling with Vanilla Sauce and Cinnamon). We saw some ladies getting them the day before and had this need to try it. It was thick and I was having trouble digesting it. Gabby ate it right up.

Our last stop in Germany was the famous Hofbrauhaus. It's a huge traditional Bavarian beer house that caters to tourists. The staff is dressed in near-traditional German wear (no lederhosen, but definitely dirndls) and they have a live German polka band playing. We found seats with this Greek woman who was by herself. She didn't speak much German or English, but she was very kind to let us sit with her. When she left, she was replaced by a German family who Gabby and I later befriended and were invited to stay with them if we ever return to Germany. Yay friends!

But the best part of the night was just coming. Hofbrauhaus serves its half-liter beers in giant mugs. They're heavy and do not make drinking beer a simple task. Through our exhaustion, I somehow wordlessly convinced Gabby to a drinking contest in which we both chugged down our beers. Now, I'm not a light-weight, but Gabby is. She had also been searching for a sweatshirt for the better part of the trip. She decided that a Hofbrauhaus sweatshirt was a great idea. It's a cool place, so why not? After we bid ado to our German family friends, we went to the shop. When Gabby went to purchase her sweatshirt, she handed the cashier US dollars without realizing it -- until the cashier says, 'Um, these aren't Euros.' I nearly pissed myself laughing while Gabby struggled to put her dollars away and get out her Euros. The entire walk back to the hostel consisted of me laughing at Gabby and her trying to walk in a straight line. Good times. (She will deny all of this happened in this fashion, but this is fact because I wrote it first.)

Went into a coma after returning to the hostel to wake up and get back to Ireland. We made it to the S-Bahn and sat with two Americans, one who was working in Germany and the other was visiting her. The ride was going swimmingly until everyone heading to the airport was instructed to leave the train at a stop that was definitely not the airport. So, there were are, about 100 people going to the airport, standing at this random train station in the snow for 20 minutes before the next train showed up. We ended up befriending a random Welsh man who shared with the four of us some of his horrific travel experiences. Gotta love horrific travel experiences.

Eventually, we got to the airport and boarded our flight in which I was naturally seated in front of a 18 mo. old who would not stop kicking my chair. I pushed the images of me squishing the child's head like a grapefruit and concentrated on finishing Game of Thrones.

Our flight landed and we made it to the train and back to Cork. It was a long journey, but I'm glad we did it. I got to go to three cities I've never been to as well as revisit a beloved city of mine. I'm also really glad Gabby came with me. Originally, I was thinking of doing the trip by myself. Now, after the trip, I don't think I would have made it. It would have been lonely and stressful to be by myself for a little over a week in four different countries. Besides, now I've got some great Gabby stories.

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