6:27 PM

I Like Munich

Yep, I am really getting lazy with the titles now.

I haven't updated in days -- so much for this being my trip journal. In any case, I had kind of a wild weekend, so I want to remember.

Friday day: Last day of classes for the week. The afternoon was very slow. At the break, a few of us decided to head to Munich on Saturday morning. Last minute planning is very exciting! We eat pie, we finish class, we all head to our respective places with plans to meet up for drinks that night.

Friday night: The plan is to get drinks in Mainz with a few classmates and one of the doctoral students from the European Business School. I meet a few people at the main station, the three of us going to Munich get our ICE tickets, then we hit the train. We take the wrong one and end up way past Mainz. We call our administrator to call Jan to let him know. We're an hour late, but we make it and, good lord, do we want a beer. We start at a cute patio, head elsewhere to get some food, then hit a discotheque. Total insanity and awesomeness. David loses his glasses in a frenzied dance fit, everyone has a lot of drinks, and I get home at 5AM. We're taking the train at 7 the next morning. Gooood.

Saturday AM: I get to the station and can't find the two people who are supposed to go with me. I have their tickets. I wait. I drink coffee. I eat a ham and cheese croissant. I wait some more. At 9AM, I get an email on my Treo from David saying that he was basically out of control the night before and there is no way in freaking hell he can go to Munich. Okay, cool. But where is Sarah? I wait a while longer but at 10AM give up and head out myself to the Frankfurt main station. Checking my email on that train, there's a note from Sarah. She was AT the Wiesbaden station all morning as well, waiting for me and David. HOW DID WE MISS EACH OTHER? No effing clue. In any case, she's now locked out of her flat as her roommates headed elsewhere for the weekend and is kind of stuck. I email her back and tell her I've already left, but she should follow on the next train. She agrees, and tells David that if he changes his mind, he can meet her at the main station. She gives me her train number and I expect to pick her up at 18:04. I happily arrive in Munich at around 2, go to my hotel, take a long shower in the best bathroom ever, get prettied up, get a city map and a transit map, and head back downtown. There is complete and utter gorgeousness everywhere. I buy some super-glam stockings at this beautiful department store and feel very European. I think I'm in love.

Saturday PM: I arrive back at the main Munich station at 17:30, just in case Sarah's train is early. I wait at her arrival stop, watch everyone come out and soon realize she isn't there. I get a fruit salad, expecting she'll be on the next one. I am now emailing David on the Treo to see if she emailed him to say she'd come back. This is the first time she's travelled entirely alone in her life and I'm pretty concerned that she got lost somehow. The 18:34 train comes. Again, no Sarah. I get a latte and a croissant. The 19:04 train comes. AHA! Sarah comes out and the joy on her face as she sees me is palpable -- the poor kid has had a crazy day. She's thrilled that I waited for her and we head to the S-Bahn to get her settled at the hotel.

While we're waiting for the train, a lady comes over and tells us that some gross man is videotaping us. We look over and she's right. I ask her why and what we should do, and she just says "I just thought you needed to know." We don't confront the crazy man and get the train. The hotel people are great, Sarah gets ready, and we head out for a night of Bavarian food and beer downtown. We are navigating the transit with ease and are starting to feel like professionals. Life is good!

Sunday AM: We head out at around 10AM and go to Marienplatz for breakfast, which is to die for. Hours of walking and photo-taking ensue. We love, love, love this city. The weather is perfect, the people are fabulous, and the sites are one of a kind. We also stalk a few walking and bikind tours to learn for free. We feel scandalous. Sadly, there is no Sunday shopping, so our attempts to bring some Munchen fashion maven home with us are dead in the water, but we look just the same. We see monuments, the opera house, palaces and castles and a garden filled with nudists (I still wish I'd photographed that old man ass, meow). We eat chocolate filled croissants and drink kirschesaftshorle. We run into another European Business School doctoral student that we've met over the last couple of weeks near Karlsplatz in yet another totally bizarro coincidence. Of course, I capture everything on digi-film.

Sunday PM: School is back on Monday, so we head for the 18:56 ICE train. Now masters of transit, we arrive in plenty of time and nap for an hour each before chatting relentlessly for the remaining three hours. We get back to Wiesbaden, help a Finnish girl living in Mainz find a local bar, and head to our respective homes.

I could seriously live like this. Pictures to come!

2:55 PM

Back To Class

So I ate, slept, ate, studied, and slept yesterday. Ohhhhhhh, the excitement!

Today was all classes with a nice lunch in between lectures. Not a ton of excitement, but I got to wear my cute new mini-sundress.

It's ridiculously short, I know. I should've gotten short brown leggings to go with. But I didn't, and I'm wearing it anyway.

Tomorrow we go business formal for our day trip to the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. I'm bringing a change of clothes, as we'll be doing a city tour in the afternoon. More pictures, baby!

7:26 AM

I Can't Think Enough to Do a Quippy Title

I was up 'til 4:30AM, and was out of bed at 5:45. Here's the surroundings of the bar at which we finished the night:

And this is how I looked on the train ride home after my flight this AM.

In the meantime, I did put up my long weekend photos. Because I know you're all just waiting with bated breath.


I'm going to get food and maybe sit in the park.

1:30 PM

Saturdays Are For Dates and Stalkers

I started today much earlier than I had imagined, as I was out insanely late last night with the Team Edenloff. We went to an awesome restaurant called Ali Baba in the west, then hit the train to East Berlin. After walking about for some time, we found the awesome Kaffee Burger, where we enjoyed many beers, heard a questionable live band, took a gazillion photos, found that Nils had enjoyed a friendly arm-wrestle with a cross-dresser, discovered that Berliners enjoy 90s alt-rock cover songs (think "Come as You Are") performed by Elvis impersonators. and danced it up to hilarious Deutsche and possibly Swiss music.

In any case, I was up at 10 and out the door by 11. I went back to East Berlin today, seeing as I spent all yesterday in the West. When I got off the train, a very charming young man started chatting me up -- which thrilled me primarily in that I was able to understand and respond! -- and asked me to join him for a coffee date or disco dancing at night. Which I clearly didn't, but I am pretty sure that's the first date request I've had in many years. Perhaps it was inspired the fact that I was setting time-lapsed pictures in between stations. See that guy in the background giving me a weird look? It was totally justified.

The day went on and I made an ass of myself once by knocking over this huge chair, but was otherwise darn good. A lot of walking and admiring and taking pictures of the Berlin bears and navigating the city and all that good stuff.

I took the 100 back to West Berlin, as it was a double-decker bus and I was certain it would be worth it, but instead just ended up wilting entirely on the top level of a sardine package. Not good. In any case, when I finally got off, I arrived to street breakdancing and my good spirits returned.

But! Suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that a strange man was kind of following me. I started doing a lot of moving around, changing, directions, etc., but he was 10 feet behind me no matter where I went. Though initially sure I was imagining things, after 45 minutes, I was pretty certain that I was either going to be mugged or taken hostage in some dramatic situation that my family would surely see on television tomorrow.

So! I rushed my vaguely terrified ass to a restaurant. He followed. I walked out. He followed. I went back in. You get the point. In any case, then I sat down beside a table full of middle-aged women, where I was pretty certain I would be safe.

And then he came right over and asked if he could sit with me.

My jackassed response?

"Nein! Nein, bitte!"

I think he was taken aback, as he repeated it. "Nein? Oh. Nein."

Perhaps, after all, he wasn't a murderer, but just another coffee date, going about things entirely the wrong way.

In any case, I remained completely anxious for an hour, while I had a latte and peeked around suspiciously.

Dude was long gone. I made my way safely to bus, cash and ID and bus pass safely in my possession, body parts and guts all accounted for.

I'm a loser.

In any case, I'm back at the hotel now and getting ready for another night out with Nils, Jake, and Heather. Last night was jam-packed with hilarity and I'm certain tonight will be equally fun. And, yes, I'll post a link to the album tomorrow so this doesn't look like I'm writing some kind of lazy man's novel.

1:00 PM

Another Day, Another Walker

So after walking for six hours yesterday, I've already done another seven today. I am amazed at how very much there is to see.

Today I set no alarm, got up when I liked, and hit the streets at 11. I navigated transit, I read a map (!!), and I took a gazillion photos. People here are so much fun. As I'd never been to one in my life, I went to the famous Berlin zoo (Ich mochte gehen zum zoo!) in the middle of the city, and got to see the much-renowned Knut.

Germans. Love. Knut.

Since I've arrived, about 17 German people have told me that, when I go to Berlin, I have to see Knut. They adore him, they love him, they all tell me his life story. He is their baby, he is their little buddy, and he is a proud little adorable symbol of their nation.

So fine. I went to see Knut.

I waited in line for 20 minutes to get mein tageskarte.

I waited in a second line to get in because I didn't realize it was just a second ticket line.

I walked around for about half an hour trying to find Knut's zone, asking people for directions in German then forgetting them because I can barely even make that happen in English.

I found Knut's zone and went to the front, only to discover that I'd just walked past Knut's kilometre-long line.

But I'd already paid the elf euro!

So fine. I got in Knut's line. But I wasn't excited about it.

I ended up chatting with some nice German folks in the line, as we waited for nearly an hour. This part was exciting, as I was able to have a polite small-talk conversation with people who spoke no English.

Then the line began to move! Oh, Knut! What excitement do you hold for me?

I get past the gate and... wait, hilarious sidebar. There is a security guard saying that adults go in one zone, but children can go to a special in-the-front zone just for them if they like. Adults keep trying to go in with their kids, but it's a no go. The security guard is clearly saying things like "WHY CAN'T YOU UNDERSTAND? DO YOU NOT SEE THE SIGN? CHILDREN ONLY! IF YOU DON'T WANT YOUR KIDS TO GO ALONE, TAKE THEM WITH YOU!" though I'm not sure exactly, as I can't really understand everything. But I get the gist of it. In any case, another security guard shows the kids how to get the best view of Knut -- which is actually really sweet, he's this burly guy holding all of their hands and stuff -- and the guy at the gate is just getting more and more irritated, starting to make what appear to be sarcastic jokes. (I only guess this because the other Germans are laughing to themselves.) NUR DIE KINDER!

Anyway. I get past the gate and out comes Knut and his trainer. They do a five minute walk-about, and Knut is pretty darn cute. I take a few photos. Then suddenly, the entire huge group of people are being escorted out of Knut's zone -- even der kinder!

So yeah. After that, I navigated my way to the ausgang.

That was Knut.

Other than poor Knut -- who, again, was adorable, though kind of boring -- my day was filled with looking at streets and sculptures and shops and a hell of a lot of people-watching. I finished it up with an ice cream sundae in Potsdamer Platz, then headed back to the hotel, where I am now, letting my feet de-swell for a while before I head out to get some food and meet Canadians -- I forgot to mention yesterday that I ran into Jen's friend Nils at the top of the Siegessaule, which was beyond bizarre, but I am now meeting up with him and his friends -- for drinks.

6:18 PM

Tours and The Like

In short: today was awesome. After the door incident, I met with Dr. Marfels, my former now-retired economics professor. We did the city in style -- and by in style, I don't mean fancy-style, I mean historic-style. He was born here, spent childhood and university life here, and didn't leave 'til he was offered a professorship at Dalhousie. He thus knows every historic site in the city. He drove us from area to area -- Berlin is apparently the third most geographically spread city in Europe, with Paris being the first -- and we walked, walked, walked for what ended up being about six hours. These are some of my favourite shots.


Me and the Seigessaule:

Dr. Marfels by the original Berlin wall (the one that protected the city in the 13th century, not the one that separated East and West in the 20th):

It was awesome.

When I got back to the hotel, I was wiped. I facebooked, I emailed, I sent out pictures already on my computer to family and the like. I chatted with my adorable husband on MSN for hours. Then I treated myself to a fancy-schmancy dinner complete with aperitif, starters, entree, and wine at this beautiful restaurant in the hotel. I love eating by myself at nice restaurants. Like Heather Locklear, baby, I'm worth it.

Anyway, then I came back to the room, threw on the hilarious German TV (amazingly, Al from Home Improvement is nowhere to be found tonight, despite being overdubbed in German everywhere every time I turn this thing on), and just hung out. I am having a beer, relaxing, and will sleep late tomorrow before hitting the city again.

Ja, ganau, sehr gut!

4:18 AM

Doors in Berlin are Funny

Okay, so I've already talked about how stupidly pleased I am with myself for interacting with the locals without using English (even though they all very politely want to do so to help me, hah). This morning, I had to try to figure out my hotel room door without English. This is officially my third try.

When I got here last night, I came up to my room and discovered that, while the key turned easily, the handle didn't turn at all. I mean, it was solid-state (note: this isn't the right word, but I just mean that it's like the handle is a plain part of the door, like it doesn't move at all, it's solid-state, baby, stuck to the door, no turnsies). After five minutes of trying to figure it out, I gave up and went downstairs. The lady came up and opened it for me. I tried to indicate that I wanted to try myself, but she didn't understand what I was trying to request and left. Doh.

Last night when I got in after hotel bar drinks, same thing. This time a man from the reception helped me -- he spoke French also, so I tried communicating that way (it's not cheating, I am still only minorly skilled in this area). Unfortunately, my minor skills were again not enough. I tried to signal that I wanted to do it, but he too just opened it and left. Doh x 2.

This morning! I have my newly beloved fruhstuck (imagine that with umlaut Us, it's breakfast, and German breakfast is my new absolute favourite thing to eat) and return to my room after a successful conversation at the reception about buying three days of internet (no English!), I am again stuck with the frozen door handle.

But this time is special! There is a lady cleaning the room down the hall. I am determined! Some way, some how, this lady and I master the task together. She actually speaks no English at all, but somehow she understands my problem and teaches me!

I love this. So. Much.

People are incredibly kind and friendly here. The world rules.

8:52 PM

Ich Liebe Deutschland!

That's right. Here's a quick overview of what's happened thus far.

Day one, Sunday: I arrive. I barely slept on the plane. Red eye. Tired. But the country smells good. Like fresh cut grass, but even better. My hotel room is the tiniest of the tiny, but it oozes charm and sustainability and sweetness.

The owners are incredibly kind, I can hardly believe that I'm here. I learn that I don't have the right power adaptor for my laptop and my stupid thing dies. I meet my exchange classmates, from America, Austria, China, Denmark, and Canada. I eat Che's Delight, which is delicious chicken with a creamy yogurt sauce, fairly Indian. I go to bed at 9:30, only to wake up at 10:30, convinced that it's the war all over again and we're being bombed. Turns out it's just mother's day fireworks that happen to be right outside my hotel, which I discover after frantically throwing on clothes and glasses and running outside. They're pretty and I take pictures, even though I'm mad. This is me before sleeping, all dreamy and happy and tired...

And here I am being mad about the wake-up call:

Day two, Monday: I discover classic German breakfast, which is possibly the most delicious thing of all time. Fresh buns, meats and cheese, a latte, and eggs however you like them. I am in heaven. I find my way to hauptbahnhof, the main train station, and learn about the German love of apfelsaftschorle, which is a yummy mix of apple juice and soda or mineral water. We study the EU political systems all day and I'm in heaven again. This is me being a little German girl in my sweet little room.

Day three, Tuesday: The butter with breakfast is so soft and creamy, it's like I've never tasted butter in my life. After classes, we go to a pub in Mainz and share metres of beer. I enjoy the brauhausschmauss for dinner, which is a classic German dish of ham, roasted potatoes, and eggs all mixed together. Sounds weird but is actually to die for. Spend the evening chatting with my professor's awesome girlfriend, who vows to be my German BFF if I ever move here. Ridiculous fun is had.

Day four, Wednesday: Very tired, but still thrilled by the learning. International business is fun. Figure out how to get to the main Frankfurt airport by myself for my weekend in Berlin. Have lunch without speaking a word of English, aber ich spreche nur ein bisschien Deutche. Am thrilled with myself. Encounter the Frankfurt airport and ignore all English signage, finding my way around entirely using minimal German skills. Feel extra thrilled with myself. Get off the Berlin plane to be encountered by my beloved undergrad professor. We share a beer at my hotel and make plans for tomorrow. He leaves and I chat it up (minorly) with the locals.

All my pictures are here if you are interested:



5:54 PM

One Part Excited, Two Parts Exhausted...

And a teensy bit apprehensive.

I know it's ridiculous, but the tiniest slice of nervousness greeted me when I woke up this morning.

I don't know anyone. I don't speak the language in any meaningful way. I have no idea how to get from one place to another.

I'm gonna go all Mary Tyler Moore, though, and make it after all.

10:07 PM

My Mini-Break

I just booked my flight for a long weekend in Berlin during my trip.

Ich bin ein Berlinerin!

ETA: And the jelly donut thing is a legend!