Go far. Stay long. See deep. And may the sun rise twice before you sleep.
Okay, I am going to thoroughly confuse everyone. I am leaving for my ten day break in the morning and did not have time to write about my trip to Budapest (the weekend before last) AND Munich (this past weekend) before I left. So, since Munich was fresh in my mind, I will post that first. Then, when I get back you will get Budapest and the scoop on my adventures in the Middle East! Enjoy. [:
Week 7. München!
Well, returning to Gaming after a fantastic and obviously eventful trip to Hungary, the school week was definitely unwelcome. It was that dreaded week that happens to fall right before.. MIDTERMS. Study guides are flyin’ all over the place, students are running around like chickens with their heads cut off; oh, it was a mad frenzy at the Kartause! You could cut through the stress in the air with a knife, that’s how dense it was! It seems to be a heavily debated issue here in Austria: whether to travel the weekend before midterms or not. I couldn’t bring myself to run away too far and not study at all for midterms. But, I wasn’t about to stay cooped up in Austria all weekend! So, on Wednesday evening, my friend Bri and I faced off in the last flag football game of the regular season (my team won!) and then we ran to change and to speed pack. Then, hopped on the bus in Gaming to catch a train from Scheibbs, Austria to Munich! Or as the Germans say, “München”.
As we sat at the McDonalds (okay, we are not going to talk about the fact that I was in a McDonalds…) in the Pochlarn train station, waiting for our night train to arrive, a young French guy (Adrian) came up to Bri and I and just wanted to talk to us in English. He had studied in Australia to learn English and is now studying in Vienna so that he can learn German. But, he said that he liked English the best and was so excited to find people he could talk to! He even said that he liked American’s accents because we were easy to understand compared to the Irish and the Scots. Ha! I never thought anyone in the world thought Americans had nice accents. I think it’s the British who have the nice accents. It was cool to get the European youth’s perspective on America and studying abroad. Very eye opening! Europe is such a novelty for us, yet American culture is just as much of a novelty to the Europeans; I think it’s so funny, but I guess Europeans feel the same about us!
We arrived in Munich at 6:30 am (Zzzzzzz) and camped out in a coffee shop for an hour or so until the sun was up. We stopped by a hotel near the train station and snagged a map of the city and the metro system lines and then we were off!
I have never really had a desire to explore Germany; it borders Austria, and I always thought it had a very similar feel, culturally. But since we didn’t want to spend the whole weekend traveling, it seemed like a good idea for a quick trip. And how right we were! We were able to cruise through downtown on our way to Marienplatz, the main shopping and market center. Seeing the city filled with just sunlight and the pigeons and the occasional person setting up shop: it was so still and calm. It was a treat to really experience the city without the hustle and bustle of every day life.
So, we just enjoyed the walk, checked out some pretty neat, small local churches and of course, Frauenkirche, the main cathedral where you can see the devil’s footprint! Legend has it that, years ago in Munich, an architect was in the process of planning the construction of the catheral. This infuriated the devil, so he challenged the architect to build a church without windows. In those days, buildings without windows were considered pointless for there was no electricity at the time. However, the architect agreed to the challenge and continued on with the construction of the church. Upon its completion, the devil snuck into the vestibule to see the church and search for any windows. From the outside, there appeared to be none. So, the devil stood in the back of the church and looked ahead towards the high altar. And sure enough, there were no windows to be seen. He let out an evil laugh and stomped his foot in success and delight, and as a result, his foot left an imprint in the stone floor of the church. However, Satan did not know that he had been deceived! The architect saw through the devil’s trick and knew very well that a church with no windows would be no good to anyone. So, he designed the church in such a way that from the vestibule, you could not tell there were any windows; the church was constructed so that all of the pillars lined up perfectly to block the windows from sight. In addition, the high alter blocked the window at the far back wall of the church. The devil is said to be unable to enter into a church itself, so he would never be unable to see the windows from where he stood. Here is a picture of the church from where the devil stood: (the high alter has been taken out in the meantime.)
If the devil had taken even a single step forward into the church, he would have been able to see the first set of windows! So, the devil thought he had succeeded in preventing another church from being used, but he was double crossed by the architect! How is that for tricky?
So, after we explored for a bit, the shops started to open up and the outdoor market was in full “set-up” mode. I have never have seen so much delicious, colorful fruits and veggies..not to mention some strange, scary looking plants! I wanted to eat every berry in the place.
I was overjoyed to find baby cactuses at the market (: it was like I had a little piece of Texas with me in Germany!
The shopping in Munich was quite good. Always a bad thing for me -_- I could shop for days on end. We found a local artist with her work set up on the streets and bought some of her jewelry; then, we accidentally ended up on Munich’s version of 5th Avenue. Deffffinitely out of my price range. After exhausting the major sites of downtown, we took the metro to the English Gardens (don’t ask me why the English gardens are in Germany…) where they had this cool Chinese monument at the center of a beer garden… Yeah, it was as weird as it sounds.. And absolutely beautiful. It was about 4 in the afternoon by the time we arrived in the gardens. There were people all over the place! Walking, running, biking, families relaxing with kids and dogs playing all over. So, I plopped down on one of the huge open greens in a sunny spot and took a nice nap (:
It was incredibly refreshing after having been on the train all night. After the gardens, we took the metro back into downtown to catch dinner. Of course, being in Munich, it was absolutely crucial to eat at the Original Hofbrauhaus. I ordered fried pork sausage with sauerkraut and some sort of light, German beer, the name of which I cannot remember. But it was the best sausage I have ever eaten, not to mention the best beer! (And I normally don’t really like beer!) There was live music and lots of old men and women in their traditional German garb. People were there from all over the world, of all ages. It is really incredible, how the waiters at these restaurants in Europe sometimes speak 3 or 4 languages. Just to wait tables! I guess if you work in a restaurant like this, it makes a little more sense..
After a wonderful dinner, we strolled back through town to the metro station. I indulged in mango and raspberry gelato on the way: absolutely incredible. Definitely the best I have had so far. It has been years since I had Italian gelato so maybe my memory is flawed, but this was definitely up there! By the late evening, we were too pooped to go out on the town and see the nightlife having been up for over 14 hours, so we headed back to the train station and found some comfy chairs to nap in. It was definitely a slow couple hours as we waited for our night train back to Scheibbs. We had to make train transfers at 4:20 am and again at 5:00 am. And, in our spontaneous trip planning, we decided to reserve regular seats rather than a sleeper car. So trying to get sleep sitting upright for two nights in a row was a bit rough. We arrived in Scheibbs at 6am on Friday morning and caught the bus back to Gaming. We trudged in the rain from the bus stop back to the Kartause. The trip back was definitely tiresome, but our 17-hour speed tour of Munich was so worth the hassle! I fell into bed at 7 and woke up at 9:47am, leaving me 13 minutes to shower, get dressed and run off to my philosophy midterm review session! There was no slowin’ down to sleep, it was back to the grind!
I spent the remainder of the day attempting to read and reviwing for midterms. But who was I kidding?? Friday night studying? I think not! Instead, there was a “Mustachio Bashio” party! Entrance fee: the mustache style of your choice. I went for the curly, French ‘stache, goatee and hat (not to mention the obnoxious French accent.)
Having a mustache for the night definite beat studying the natural moral law! After a great evening, I went for a midnight bikeride, all the while singing songs from the sound of music at the top of my lungs.. I am sure the locals appreciated that. Yes, I was sober. (That one’s for you, Dad!) My friend Hailey and I then went on a late night exploration adventure in the Kartause..through few doors and a couple windows.. an illegal hallway.. and then we found the old Kartause wine cellar! Check out this bottle, Nineteen eighty-something:
The hotel is scary at night..especially when sneaking through dark, underground cellars.. 0_o
The remainder of the weekend consisted of much too much studying, lots of chocolate, little sleep and good classical music to keep me sane (Beethoven, all the way). Monday morning I had a Theology midterm and then yesterday I had my two philosophy midterms. Praise the Lord, I am finally done! I nailed all three of ‘em, too! Now, I am packing for Israel! I leave on Friday morning for ten days in Asia :D Wish me luck.
P.S. Can you tell that I got my new camera? This just became a photo album rather than a blog.. (: