We finished up our time and lacrosse in Munich, Germany, and now we take two separate busses to Turin, Italy. We’ve boarded the first bus, which has proven once again to be, at best, half-filled. We’ll take this bus six hours to Milan, where we’ll change busses and then ride an additional two hours to Turin. It’s a long ride, sure, but it’s cheaper than flying and the scenery is stunning. But I’m getting ahead of myself… we just spent some amazing time in Munich, Germany!
Munich was a simple visit. Bruce Pirie and I really had nothing planned going in to Munich, and that proved to be all the entertainment we could ever ask for. We had made it through Vienna by the seat of our pants and it had worked out beautifully… my guess is that probably had something to do with our easy-going mindset heading into Munich. Perhaps that’s not the best mindset when traveling to a new place? Maybe it is?
We came in on a bus service that had promised free wifi, and while the wifi was free, there just wasn’t any available on that day. Being without a Euro phone plan, I was depending on that wifi, and the four hours of travel time, to make some arrangements for the weekend. Going without any prior communication, we couldn’t/didn’t construe a plan of attack until we actually had set foot in the City.
Functioning wifi was found eventually, being emitted from one of the two dozen busses idling at the station. I knew that this lifeline might not last long, so I had to message someone quickly. I knew that some of my Deutschland Adler friends were based in Berlin, and my Clydesiders teammates are based up north somewhere. None of that helped me. The only person I KNEW was from Munich was Wolfgang Greißl, The captain of the German National Team. I’ve known Wolfi from playing against him for the past three years in Prague for the Ales Hrebesky Memorial as well as playing alongside him in the European Invitational with Deutschland Adler club.
We had talked a number of times at the European Championships while in Hungary, and I figured he would at least have some sort of clue as to where we should go and where we could find a hostel/hotel. I sent out a whatsapp-message-in-a-bottle Hail Mary, and Wolfi responded right away. He suggested we head to a traditional Bavarian Brau-Haus called the Augustiner-Keller.
Wifi was still available, so I looked up how far away this place was from the bus stop. Google Maps came back with a resounding 283 feet from where we were currently standing. When you’re wearing your life on your back, there’s really no better moment than finding out there’s a Bavarian Brau-Haus 283 feet from where you’re standing.
283 feet later we arrived at a beautiful beer garden. Hundreds of tables and a thousand chairs sprawled across the multiple acres. Encased in a tall picket fence, this wide open park was adorned with decorations and ornate buildings everywhere. Playgrounds existed for young children. Dogs sat dutifully under tables, hoping and praying for some portion of pork to be passed their way.
Bruce and I loved the Augustiner. Our meal was affordable; our beverages were unbelievable. Maybe it was the six-hour ride, maybe it was just that good. The only way to find out? Going the next two nights for dinner as well, of course. We ate all three of our dinners there, and we loved every bite. This article sponsored by: The Augustiner-Keller Brau-Haus.
After a couple liters to lubricate the think-boxes, we realized we had no place to stay for the night. We scrambled to find a wifi, where I discovered an additional Whatsapp message from Wolfi asking if we
wanted to catch up for a beer. We met up with Wolfgang and his girlfriend at a crowded little hole in the wall towards the center of the city, but far enough away from the tourist section.
We had a couple beers as we talked over lacrosse and life and how they are pretty much the same thing.
I had never met Nora before and she was absolutely pleasant and very fun to talk to. Wolfi said that we had come on an unfortunate weekend for him, as his thesis for his degree was due on that Monday or
Tuesday. Believe it or not, captaining a team of Germans in Hungary for eight games in ten days doesn’t really leave much time to write a college thesis, so it was crunch-time for Wolfgang.
After a couple beers, we talked about where he would recommend we stay. Because he actually lives in the city, Wolfi said he had no idea, as he’s never had to worry about that, and that he didn’t know. I
looked at Bruce with a “uh-oh” look and I think I caught a similar one right back. Maybe it was blatantly obvious, because Wolfi and Nora graciously suggested that we might be able to stay with them for just the one night until we could find other arrangements for the weekend.
Normally I jump all over a couch to crash. It’s kinda how I get by. This was a little different. Wolfi had a huge paper due, and we didn’t really want to interrupt and be a problem. After assuring us that it wouldn’t be an issue for just the one night, we accepted. We headed back to their gorgeous little
apartment outside the busy downtown, grabbing a kebab on the way. I think Bruce is up by two or three, but we’ve eaten an absolutely hysterical quantity of Kebabs this trip. I refuse to eat fast food, but
when it comes to Gyros and Kebabs I’ll squeeze one of those puppies into my face 25 hours a day 8 days
In the morning, the great hotel shenanigan began. We looked up Air B&B places, hostels, and hotels. You can stay in a 100+ person tent for 6 Euro a night, in case you were curious. We found a modestly priced hotel that was roughly the price of an Air B&B, close to town, and actually competitive with the combined per-person price of a hostel.
We booked it, and got an Uber to take us there. We got there, tried to check in, and they said that we
weren’t booked there. Having just done it an hour ago, I figured we just needed to communicate that.
We were then informed by the lovely front desk girl that we were actually at the other location of that company’s hotels. The interweb told us it was West, and didn’t look that far away. So we called another Uber to go there. The very same driver picked us up.
Funny thing about maps. When you zoom out, everything looks close. It was a twenty-minute ride that took thirty minutes with our Uber driver finding every possible wrong turn to explore. When we arrived, the road was torn up and inaccessible by car, so after trying to find an alternate route for five minutes, he dropped us by the torn up road and we said we’d walk.
We checked in, explained that this was way too far away, and the very kind woman at the counter said
“no problem” and put a big pink X through our reservation paper. I didn’t think cancelling would’ve been that easy. Working for a big corporation has slightly jaded my views on hotel operations I guess.
So we were free and clear and twenty miles (46,827,337 Kilometers I believe) from Munich. We walked back to where the road began, looked at a bus schedule in the wonderfully indecipherable language that is German, and ordered up another Uber. Guess who? Homeboy came back for a third and final paycheck from the accounts of dummy number one and dummy number two.
He took us back to the original hotel that didn’t have us booked. The adorable little front desk girl had left the room/my life forever, but the woman at the counter proved exceptionally helpful. She asked us what we were going to pay at the other hotel, cocked her head to the side and said Ok, and just like that, three hours later we had a hotel room.
The hotel was right across the street from a massive construction site. After roughly five seconds of
looking at the massive undertaking, it was obvious that this was the annual preparation for Oktoberfest. Fun fact, the only Oktoberfest is in Munich, and everything else is just an imitation. I did not know that.
We aimlessly wandered the city, observing the people more than the place. We retreated back to the safety of the Augustiner-Keller for dinner. There, we were hustled into the basement like cattle. Down a tight spiral staircase, we went for multiple stories, until we arrived in the massive underground hall.
Filled with tables and giant barrels, the atmosphere was as old and authentic as we could’ve hoped for. Bruce and I were a party of two, and so we were sat with a party of three at the same long table. The five of us filled the table comfortably, but not five minutes later, another party of two was sat with us.
Hearing the familiar words of English, we instantly started talking to the couple and became friends.
When I say instant, I mean instant. We talked and had drinks for hours in the dim beer hall. Joe and Emma are medical students from London, and Emma had studied in Munich previously. We talked about what we had done that day, only to find that we had quite literally all done the same things, if only an hour apart. We strolled through the English Gardens and had a snack at the Chinese Tower. We had both gone to see the Munich surfers, which was actually very impressive. There was a man-made wave system in the middle of a raging… river? Stream? I’m not really sure what it was, but it was very impressive to say the least. I would’ve loved to have given that a try.
All four of us went out for another couple of drinks, as well as Jule, a friend I had made in Hawaii. We all carried on like we had known each other for years. It was interesting, honestly. You can feel so alone and distant in your own hometown, and yet you can feel like one of the family in an hour in a foreign city where you struggle to communicate.
We hung around Munich the next day, without really accomplishing much. Ate good food, got lost, saw some amazing architecture where old met new, and just felt comfortable for the day. Three days is not
enough to understand a city. A month, a year, might not get you totally in sync. We weren’t aiming to
become citizens in three days, we just wanted to get a feel for the city and that’s exactly what we got.
As this bus rolls towards Milan, I struggle to remain thankful for the opportunities that have come my
way in the passing days, weeks, months, and really the past three years. The consistent and continuous
opportunities that constantly find their way to me have me ever more excited for the future. I’m beyond elated to be on my way back to Turin to see the family I made while coaching there roughly eighteen months ago. After this stop, we’re on to France and then Barcelona. While that’s a dream in itself, I’m flying to Prague for a second time this year to play in the Menschner Cup, and then it’s off to the states to see family and take my dog out to Utah for the Fall/Winter.
How amazing the future sounds makes real thankful thoughts quite difficult. While obvious and unquestionable, it really is important to take five minutes. Sit on top of a mountain you don’t know the name of and let the Talking Heads smash you in the skull with a “How did I get here?”. That’s the moment you can look around and say thank you to the hundreds of great souls you’ve met along the way. I’m proud to say I have a lot of these moments. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.