Thursday, 26 February 2009

Munich – A German Tale (with a smattering of Greek)

I went to Munich to visit an old friend from school. I’m going to go with a pseudonym, and call her… Nike… mostly because she probably doesn’t want her business in my blog. And because I’m staring directly at my sneakers right this minute.

Plus, I just finished reading The Secret History, which is all about cover-ups and Greeks, so it seems appropriate.

Also, I just like the word pseudonym.

Anyway, Nike and I studied German together in Years 9 and 10. Frankly, Languages Other Than 4 Unit Maths were never going to be a priority at our school, and the 10 or so of us who kept up German after it was mandatory were allowed to potter away several hours every week watching Derrick and planning German food days.

When I abandoned German for the exciting world of Business Studies, I was a bit like one of my favourite Germans, Sergeant Schultz, in that I knew nothing, nothing.

Me and Sergeant Schultz. Only our mother could tell us apart, etc...

Nike, however, kept going with German, and got quite good at it.

Nike and I also happened to live within about 10 houses from each other, and used to travel home together quite regularly. Because we lived in The Land that Public Transport Forgot, this used to be quite an odyssey (more Greek!), involving buses and walking past a chicken farm. Walking past a chicken farm on a daily basis is the kind of thing that cements a relationship, I feel.

Nike I were good friends, and it’s a shame that we lost touch after high school. However, thanks to the wonderful word/evil-civil-liberty-sucking-vortex of Facebook, we’ve recently been back in touch. Nike has had a very romantic post-high school life, and is now married to a Lovely German Boy, and living in Munich. They were my amazingly generous and accommodating hosts in Germany.

Honestly, I wish more of you would go away and live in faraway places. Visiting people makes for the best times. First with Joe in SP, and now with Nike and Lovely German Boy in Munich. I love seeing a city as someone’s home, rather than as a checklist of tourist attractions that you have to tick off.

Which is not to say that we didn’t hit some tourist attractions. Nike and Lovely German Boy, and, blessedly, their car, took me to see:

*Neuschwanstein. This amazing fairytale castle was an absolute folly built by a crazy king that helped bankrupt the government. Or at least history has labelled him crazy. From my point of view: Primal desire to build + belief that bigger is better + totally unrealistic budgetary expectations = Average visitor to New Homeworld, Kellyville.

*This gorgeous white church kind of between Neuschwanstein and Munich proper. It had this wall of letters and photos and cards and drawings from people who had visited the Church, and subsequently had benefited from a miracle of some description. I spent the entire time wishing we could get customers to write user testimonials like that.

* A monastery with a beer hall attached. The beer hall was fantastic and fascinating. You’re allowed to bring your own food in, and regulars can even store their own beer glasses and tea towels in a locker there. Why, I'm not sure, but it was just cool anyway.

Without Lovely German Boy’s influence, Nike and I had a rather hilariously unsuccessful day of touristing around the Munich inner city. We attempted the following:
*To visit the Pinakotheks. Two closed for the day. One was open, but it was too late to enter by the time we got there.
*To visit a Kandinsky exhibition – Closed for the day.
*To visit a Disney exhibition – Had closed forever 2 days before.
*To have a drink in Munich’s “Australian” pub, as it was Australia Day – THE PUB WAS CLOSED. THE TOKEN "AUSSIE" PUB. ON AUSTRALIA DAY.

Plus, we were bad and ate ice cream sundaes for lunch. And it was a totally great day - Nike and I are both chatters, and she very kindly accommodated my desire to go into any store selling chocolate, clothes or books.

The other nice thing about staying in someone's home (especially Nike and Lovely German Boy's gorgeous flat) is the food. When traveling, I tend to survive on yoghurt, tomatoes and bananas when I'm feeling virtuous, and cake, hot chips and ice cream when I'm not (ie, 99% of the time).

Nike and Lovely German Boy decided to feed me traditional Bavarian cuisine. I ate white sausage and pretzels and cold meats and cheeses and mustard with everything and that was just breakfast. It was like being back in those German Food Days.

I was, I have to confess, a bit heartbroken to learn that most Munich-ites (Munchen-kins?) don't really eat like this anymore. I kind of had hopes of Germany being the last hold-out against the whole Stepford Supermarket thing that's taken over Europe, where everywhere you go you can buy Danone Yoghurt, Haribo Gummy Bears and Lays Crisps.

Or perhaps its just that I seem to find myself buying Danone Yoghurt, Haribo Gummy Bears and Lays Crisps wherever I go. And, come to think of it, I really appreciate being able to get a decent Pad Thai everywhere I go. And watching the Simpsons. And drinking Coke Zero.

So, on second thoughts, as you were, globalisation.

1 comment:

Ozebasa said...

Charming photo Penny!! Europe obviously agrees with you....Heath