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- Visiting Europe
My Adventures Touring Europe in 1982 (7) Munich
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Thursday, July 1
West Germany is very hilly, and has lots of little forests and villages. East Germany, by contrast, is quite flat, with hardly any villages.
We arrived in Munich by nightfall. We went to a restaurant to eat. An Oompah band was playing, and some people were doing folk dances to them. The locals in the restaurant were wearing traditional German garb, the women in dirndls and the men in knickers, white poofy-sleeved shirts, and suspenders. It was here we learned the tune and dance of the little birds (in the US, it is known as the “Chicken Dance”, and is commonly done at weddings and other get-togethers). We came across it throughout virtually every country in Europe, and sang and did it on the bus. Ultimately, we drove Johannes crazy with it.
We went to bed very late that night. Our hotel was very nice and modern. I have the impression I’m really going to love Munich!
Friday, July 2
This morning we visited Dachau, a concentration camp. I told of this experience in my following hub:
Afterwards we had free time in Munich, late morning. After drowning my survivor’s guilt with local beer, I explored the city. Munich’s atmosphere is very bohemian; it reminds me of a German version of Berkeley, CA. The streets are full of street artists and musicians. However unlike Berkeley, where women mostly wear ragged jeans and hippie-style clothing, they wear really nice dirndls. I looked at some in a shop, but they were out of my price range.
I ordered a fish meal at an outdoor café, and they served a giant trout with the vegetables and pasta. While I sat enjoying it with yet another beer, three tall blond German guys strolled up and sat with me. If something like that had happened in California, I would have run screaming, but they were very friendly and non-threatening. We conversed, comparing countries; it turned out one of them was heading for California in a month.
We talked for about half an hour, then suddenly I realized the tour bus was leaving in a few minutes to go to Salzburg. I didn’t even get to finish my meal; I bid the three guys a hasty good-bye, paid for lunch, and left. I hurried back to the hotel, but turning the corner, I didn’t recognize any of the buildings. I was lost!
I kept running along, turning corner after corner, which only made things worse. The time to depart came and went. What was I going to do? At least I had loaded my things on the bus that morning, but how was I ever going to find my way on Eurail all the way to Salzburg when I couldn’t even locate the hotel?
“Oh good, there you are!”
The statement came from Bruce. It turned out he was lost, too. We were so happy to see each other, we hugged. “Do you know where the hotel is?” he asked me.
“I thought I knew, but can’t find it!” I told him. I showed him the itinerary I had with me.
“I don’t have an itinerary, but I have a map here,” he said. He looked at the address on my itinerary, then found it on the map. We ran to the hotel; the bus was just pulling away when we arrived. Lakis opened the doors, and we leapt in.
“What happened? Why are you late?” Johannes asked us.
“We got lost,” Bruce and I explained.
“That’s easy to do,” Johannes told us. “In Europe, the cities are designed in circles instead of grids, like in the US. You should always carry a map with you.”
“And an itinerary too,” I added.
We took our seats, and Johannes announced to the group, “OK, you guys, hold on tight; we’re in for the fastest ride of our lives!” I wondered if a local would cut in front of us and slam on the brakes to tell us off.
Thus we were off to the salt mines in Salzburg…
In spite of the Holocaust (which is only a brief part of Germany's history) I found Germans to be really wonderful people. This young adult novel is one I especially enjoyed.
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© 2013 Yoleen Lucas