Munich: First Day Madness

Eight days in Germany. Yep, eight, ocho, acht days. I arrived right at the beginning of Oktoberfest when there are lots of tourists in town and lots of bier drinking. The amount of alcohol that is consumed in the two weeks that Oktoberfest takes place is insane. In 2013 alone, 6.7 million liters of bier were served! Now before I get ahead of myself, I gotta talk about landing in Munich and arriving to my first destination because that is a story on its own.

Let’s start with what I moved with. Easy. A HUGE 70 lb bag carrying all of my camping and hiking equipment, which is essentially my current house and survival gear. It’s no joke guys, if you look at this bag you can deduce that you can fit a 5’6” human being in it and still have room for a small child. Now imagine me carrying this bag in addition to a 50 lb bag holding all my clothes in compressible bags (credit to my girlfriend for the idea). Joining these two are a 65-liter backpack, my small laptop/school backpack and a duffle bag. My whole life belongings in 5 bags. Needless to say I’ve gotten good at downsizing.

Once I landed at the Munich airport, I needed to figure out how to get to James and Kathie’s apartment located in the Laim neighborhood in Munich. I decided to take the S1-Bahn (bahn means train) but how could I even move all these bags on my own to the train three floors down? Thankfully Germans are true engineers and they designed an elevator for people like me, or essentially the elderly. I had to take three different elevators from the moment I picked up my bags to the moment I arrived to Laim train station. Not bad. Well it turns out that now I needed to figure out how can I actually get to James’ apartment, and walking was not an option. Given the fact that I’m a bit of a geeky hiker, my watch has an integrated digital compass and it performed to perfection. I needed to go south but once out of the train station and, not being able to see the sun, I had to make sure to take off in the right direction to avoid 30 minutes of useless walking with a heavy load. Ave Maria for my compass.

Looking for a taxi I found out that in Germany a taxi is called just that, a taxi! I knocked on the driver’s window, used hand signals to communicate that I needed a taxi and he came out of the car to help me with the bags. For some reason I didn’t speak fluent English with him and found myself saying “Me….need….go….here.” I guess I thought he wouldn’t understand my English, but he definitely had the look “what the F*** is wrong with this guy?” In any case, I took out my phone and explained to him where I wanted to go and he seemed to get it. Yes, we were on our way! But something I didn’t think about was that all the money I had on me was in US dollars and I wasn’t sure if he took credit cards. We arrived to my destination and when I was about to pay I asked the driver “Credit card or US Dollar?” He looked at me a bit funny as if I didn’t know that we were actually in Europe now. He said “credit card” and took it out of my hand. He headed to the driver’s seat, took a moment, then whipped around and asked me “How much cash?” To which I firmly replied “$10” (the total was €7.10) to which he kindly said “I’ll take the cash.” Uff what a relief! I had finally arrived at James and Kathie’s apartment.

-Gerardo

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