So Saturday (Nov. 18) I took a day trip to Munich with some friends. It was a great time! There were eight of us: Lenka (Slovakian), Katya and Amy (Irish), Daniele (Italian), Harry and Christian (Americans), and Caroline (French). Traveling in Germany, especially Bavaria (the state I live in), is very cheap and very convenient. For a round trip train ticket from Ingolstadt to Munich, it cost each person only €8! The train ride was only about an hour, but that was only because we took a commuter train which stops at about 8-10 stops along the way instead of the more direct train which only stops once or twice before the final destination. There also is the option to take the ICE (inner city express – high speed train) from my city to many cities in Germany. These trains take very few stops and travel at speeds above 200km per hour. Obviously these are considerably more expensive. We didn’t take this because the distance between Munich and Ingolstadt isn’t enough to make a big difference in time; if we had taken the ICE, it would have taken about 20-30 minutes to get to Munich and the commuter train is only an hour. It would be much different if we were traveling to Berlin or Hamburg or Frankfurt because the amount of time traveling. These cities are at the very north side of the country and would be like traveling from Baltimore, MD to Boston, MA (about 400 miles) for the smallest trip.
The eight of us met up at the Ingolstadt main train station at 10:45am to decide which train we would catch to Munich; we decided on the 11:31am train that would get us there around 12:20pm or so. On train ride there, we all managed to sit together and we talked about any random topic that came up. Some of them were quite….. interesting: animal testing, how in Italy and France they eat horses while in the US it’s illegal, the annoying kids that were on the level below us, but we could still hear them (two story train), and many other random things.
We got to the main train station and walked outside. For the first time in over a week, we saw sunlight. For some reason, Ingolstadt has been under this cloud of darkness for over a week without a single break to see the sun. It was funny though, because Lenka and I had a conversation about whether or not we should bring sunglasses; we decided not to because it was still cloudy in Ingolstadt. *sidebar* Today, as I’m writing this, is the first day that I’ve seen a blue sky and sun in Ingolstadt for nearly two weeks.
It took about five minutes for Caroline and me to get separated from the group. Of course, we are the ones taking pictures while the others are just chatting away and walking. We stopped to take a picture of the entrance into the old city (almost every Germany city has one – it’s hard to explain because we don’t have them in the States, but they’re just really cool. It’s the oldest parts of the city that have remained preserved and they are 100% pedestrian zones. No cars or anything are allowed in them. They’re often heavily populated with popular stores to shop at like H&M, Müller, S. Oliver, and many others.), and when we turned around, everyone was gone. Well we thought they were, but it turns out that they were standing right beside us and we went off looking for them, only to get a call about five minutes later asking us where we disappeared to. We eventually found them.
Our main priority was to get to the Hofbräuhaus (said like hof-broy-house). The Hofbräuhaus is probably one of the most famous breweries in Germany and it is definitely the most famous in Bavaria. It is also probably the most famous tourist attraction in Munich also. We stopped here for lunch.
In case you’re wondering, cooking myself some noodles and then I’m going to make some tomato soup and then put the noodles in the tomato soup! It’s quite good; if you’ve never had it, try it!
Back to the real story: At the Hofbräuhaus, I ordered myself a typical Bavarian meal – all of the options there are typical Bavarian meals. I got a bratwurst with a side of spätzele. Spätzele is difficult to describe. It’s this noodle/starchy stuff that is delicious. If I am correct, it’s made out of egg, potato starch, and corn meal and then often topped with cheese and onions; however mine was not. On top of the meal, I got a liter of the Hofbräuhaus original beer. The food was good. The beer was great. Amy, Katya, Christian, Harry and Caroline all got the same dish which was some sort of pork steak (they eat so much pork in this country) topped in a gravy served with a side of potatoes (they were kind of like au gratin potatoes except a thousand times better). Their meal was much better than mine. I wish I would have gotten that instead.
I’m not one to take pictures of food, but since it was the Hofbräuhaus, I decided it was the first and only time it was acceptable. ^_^
After lunch, we went walking through the town and went into the market place. Every German city has an area in the center of town were the market comes with fresh goods like fruits and vegetables, flowers, handmade gifts, and all sorts of other foods and sweets. We stopped here for some glühwein which has no English translation to the best of my knowledge. It’s a special kind of red wine that you heat up and drink. But it also has cinnamon, lemon juice, sugar, and something else (I forget what it is) added into it before it’s heated up. It is absolutely scrump-diddly-umptious, and it warmed us all up in the freezing cold.
In the market square, I learned a very important lesson: texting and walking can lead to very painful situations. While I was checking Facebook on my phone, we were walking around the market square. In Germany, when there is a change from pedestrian zone to an area where there are cars or bikes allowed, they put up these metal poles about two and a half feet tall and about four inches in diameter. These poles are the perfect recipe for disaster. While following my group of friends and checking my Facebook at the same time, I was not focusing much on what was directly in front of me; it was one of those poles. I thought moment like these only existed in movies, but I was very mistaken. At once, I keeled over and let out a grunt of discomfort. I had no idea what happened to me at first. I just knew something had hit me right between the legs and I couldn’t move. My friends turned around to see what happened and when I stood up, at this point laughing, they realized I had perfectly lined my groin up with the top of that pole. We laughed for a good while.
After we had decided we’d had enough, we went into a large indoor market that reminded me very much of the store World Market, except there were different stands for different products. Upstairs was all wines and vinegars and you could do some tasting if you wanted. While up there, I found a 400ml (less than a 16 oz. fountain drink from McDonalds) bottle of vinegar for €97! I don’t know what was so special about it, but apparently there was something. On the main floor there were many things ranging from Christmas gifts, to furniture, to prepared foods like pizzas, sushi, and Chinese, and foods to take home and prepare yourself. Finally, the bottom floor was “Milkawelt.” Milka is a brand of chocolate that comes from Germany (I’m sure you’ve heard of it – it’s delicious) and “welt” means world, so it was “Milka World” on the bottom floor. There was so much chocolate there, including my favorite chocolate bar: the Milka Oreo bar. This is basically a Hershey’s cookies and cream bar with a coating of creamy, sweet milk chocolate on the outside. It’s the best thing you can ever imagine. I should mention this: chocolate in Europe is much different than chocolate in America. European chocolate is a much creamier and sweeter version of the bitter and not so creamy sweet that we’re accustomed to from Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestle. This doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a nice Kit Kat, Crunch Bar, or M&M; I’m just saying it’s much different. Even the Kit Kats here taste different.
Anyway, while downstairs in the Milkawelt, I buy my chocolate bar, and convince Christian to buy one also. We share them with the rest of the group who’ve never had them before. Everyone falls in love. It was sweet, sweet harmony until coming running down the stairs is a family of three – father, mother, and son (I assume the two adults with him were his parents). They were saying “entschuldigung” (excuse me) in a very rushed manner trying to get somewhere and get there ASAP. Right as the boy reaches the bottom of the stairs (only about three feet from where we’re standing), he decides he can’t make it to the bathroom anymore, and he has to let loose. He blows chunks all over the place and it splatters against the walls, all over the floor, and unfortunately, on Caroline’s expensive boots. In a fit of panic, Caroline and I run up the stairs in order to avoid puking ourselves. The rest follow quickly. Needless to say, I think that is the last time either Caroline or I will eat an Oreo bar because the boy threw up as we were shoveling these chunks of heaven into our mouths. I do feel bad for him though. It must have been embarrassing. Well and for him being sick – nobody likes throwing up.
We went to dinner after leaving the market and walking around the city for a while. I didn’t eat or drink anything for dinner because I didn’t have the money, nor was I hungry. All of the guys, except for me, got coffee and all of the girls got beer (a bit backwards, right?), and only three people ordered food. Christian and Daniele got apfelstrüdel, which is a delicious German desert that’s kind of like apple pie and caked mixed, and Harry got some sort of soup.
After dinner we went back to the train station, hopped on the next train to Ingolstadt, and had a peaceful ride home. Most of us listened to music or slept. I played Mahjong Titans and listened to my music.
When we got to the Ingolstadt main train station, we all went our separate ways and walked to our respective apartments.
I was exhausted because I was awake early that day, so I went to bed shortly after getting home – around 10pm.
Until next time,
Image 1: Random building outside of the Hofbräuhaus
Image 2: the Glockenspiel (big clock) in the market square
Image 3: Food at the Hofbräuhaus
Image 4: (left to right) Lenka, Amy, me, Katya at lunch
Image 5: Menu at the Hofbräuhaus
Image 6: Cool building near the main train station
Image 7: Side of the building with the glockenspiel
Image 8: (left to right) Lenka, me, Katya, Amy, Christian, Daniele, Caroline (Harry is taking the picture)