The two words – Spring Break usually put immediate thoughts of bikinis, booze and beach into one’s mind. After last years epic road trip to Colorado, the idea of staying put on one beach and boozing for 7 days had vanished far from my head. So as spring break rolled around this year I had NO IDEA what to do. The opinions were endless but finally my roommate Alison and I decided on 3 countries, 4 cities within 9 days. Our first stop was München, Deutschland (Munich, Germany) we arrived in the city on the 22nd of February and headed strait for the famous biergarten, Hofbräuhaus. Since it was snowing and in the midst of winter the actual “garden” part was closed (which we didn’t realize until our last night in Germany) I highly recommend visiting Germany in the summer if you can for the beauty of drinking out doors! One of my best friends, Allie, is studying in Firenze, Italia (Florence, Italy) and would be meeting up with Alison and I at the Hofbräuhaus to travel with us for the next 8 days! As we waited we drank Liter beers, probably the best dark or in German “dunkel” beer I have ever had in my life! Since this place gets pretty packed, a man by the name of Jörg asked if he could sit with us, sure why not? At first he helped us translate the menu and most importantly taught us the German way to say “cheers” and that is “Prost!” We discovered that he was in Munich getting a patent for a prosthetic shoulder he created! We chatted for hours while listening to the horns and yodeling of a German band in the Hofbräuhaus dressed in very traditional German attire. It was really amazing to watch, as these men were pounding their huge beer and devouring bratwurst they would play music mid snack and let out an extremely loud “YAHOOOO.” For dinner I had Saftiges Bierkutschergulasch, Beef goulash with pork dumplings! It was so juicy and flavorful, very typical to the Bavarian region of Germany. Alison ordered bratwurst and sauerkraut, I had only eaten bratwurst once during a rain delay at a String Cheese Incident concert in Colorado and had been craving more ever since. Her meal was amazing as well, from this point on I knew I was in for a treat being able to eat in Germany for the next 3 days! Jörg had to leave to catch his train back home to Rhine Valley, at this point, we realized Allie should have been at our meeting point already! Since none of us have German phones all we could do was wait..and wait.. and wait. And finally she arrived! I had not seen her smiling face since December so seeing her in Germany was crazy! I gave her the biggest hug and we were off into the snowy city center of Munich, Germany. Since we are all Florida girls the snow was unreal and it was snowing the entire time we were in Munich. Snowballs and drawing funny pictures on cars with the snow is what a majority of our time there consisted of, haha. Later that night we went to club “Pacha” and saw a band we have liked for a while Goldfish. WARNING:If you ever find your self at Pacha avoid the 10 euro drinks at the bar. Anyway, seeing this group was amazing, the group consists of 2 guys, Dominic Peters and David Poole, from South Africa who “Live DJ” which basically means not only are they producing awesome beats for people to really dance to, they incorporate this with instruments. Piano, Saxophone, Flute and a very interesting Bass were all incorporated in the Munich show.
Another reason to love Munich is the 24 hour metro! This saved us a ton on cabs and really allowed us to see more of the city since we didn’t have to worry about costly cab fee’s.
Saturday we made our way to another biergarten (again we didn’t realize the concept of the biergarten’s and that they were closed outside in winter) Augustiner Keller, which is highly recommend by the people I met in Munich as the best beer in the city, the food was amazing too! We had quite the feast here, which included, Jun Schweinebraten – roast pork with dark beef gravy, potato dumplings and red cabbage (sauerkraut is made with cabbage also); Gesottener Tafelspitz mit bratkartoffeln und spinat – boiled beef, pan-fried potatoes and spinach and for desert apfelkücherl in zimt – zucker und vanillesoße which is basically fried apple fritters with vanilla ice cream coated with cinnamon and sugar, needless to say that was gone in about 5 seconds between the 3 of us!
The next day we set out for some sight-seeing, first stop the painfully depressing Dachau concentration camp. The sky was extremely grey, highly appropriate for visiting the first Nazi concentration camp opened in Germany. It was very interesting to be able to close your eyes and transport yourself to the times when people were fed an eighth of a loaf of bread a day while we were standing in the cremation rooms. This was not by any means a fun place to enjoy Munich, but we felt it was very necessary to come here and witness a piece of history. There were times walking around the camps when I was cold in my scarf, gloves, boots, and coat; than I was quickly reminded that the holocaust victims here had none of that, probably not even shoes and were trekking through this bitter cold.
Since it was a sunday, every museum in Germany was only 1 Euro (1.30 USD) we boarded the bus, then the tram (yet again MORE amazing public transportation in Munich) and headed to the art district of the city. We had enough time to hit Pinakothek der Moderne (the bigger of the two) and Museum Brandhorst where we would see works by Picasso, Dali (both who I have seen their musuems in their hometowns in Spain; Malaga and Figueras) a new found favorite of mine; Caroll Dunham, and many other artist, all of the works were so varied and original I could have been at these musuems for hours! I felt really privigled to be exploring these gallerys with my best friend, studio art/art history major Allie, because she had some info to drop along the way!
After the museums we made our way to the humongous Englischer Garten, German for “English Garden”, it looked like a setting straight out of a Hollywood Christmas movie, nothing but white as far as the eye can see. White covered trees, roofs, grass, and ice… yes, snow-covered ice; I can think of safer things. As we were walking across what we thought was a huge snow-covered field and I was running full speed toward the pond where all the ducks were is when we realized we were actually on the pond. Some snow sifted and we saw rock hard ice, once again being Florida girls this is something totally foreign to us. Maybe even more foreign than being in a country where the native tongue isn’t English. We began to take pictures and laughing about how cool it was to be walking on water. We saw a little patch of trees, at the time we thought this was a forest that would get us off the lake, but no, an island. Anyway, we walked toward this “forest” and then ccccc-rrr-a-cccc-kkk and the ice under my boots just broke, I had no choice but to hop to the island that we were basically on the edge of. At this point the sun was setting as each second passed and I felt trapped, for the first time in my life I felt 100% helpless. I didn’t know whether to scream, cry or laugh… I was in a real pickle. I decided the first thing to do was dig into the area I was standing on to make sure I was in
fact on land and not continuing to tread on thin ice, I was relived to find out I was on land,but that still did not change the fact that I needed to get back to the larger mass of land where I came from, no way I could stay on that “island” much longer. I made my first move off of the island… cccc-rrr-a-cc-kk that dreadful sound of ice crunching under your feet made my skin crawl once more. This time I had learned to test it with one foot so I was still safe, but still trapped. I knew what I had to do and that was follow the foot steps we previously made on the thicker ice. I don’t really know how I did it but I took a very extended step towards those foots prints and I was off. This was by far the sketchiest walk I have ever taken, even though 15 minutes prior I was running on this path. I made it! I reached safe land; heart racing and hands shaking. Rookie Florida move to say the least.
We had worked up quite an appetite after that incident and luckily stumbled onto what would be an extremely pleasant surprise, Shanai Indian restaurant. There is actually a rapidly growing Indian community in Munich, with almost 4,000 Indian people in the city (as of 2012/02). The next morning we boarded a train for what would be a beautiful ride to Innsbruck, Austria…
If I can leave you with anything when heading to Germany is eat new foods, if it’s cold make sure you’ve got some water proof/weather proof shoes and gloves you can play in snow with, watch out for those frozen lakes and mingle amungst the locals! … but I think these tips can go for just about anywhere 🙂