Munchen!

Yeah, so about that. Why are so many european cities named so differently in their own language? Rome is actually Roma. Florence is Firenze, Munich is Munchen. I don’t get it. We are fully capable of saying “Roma” or “Firenze.” I like the sound of Firenze. And “Munchen” with a heavy german accent is a delight. We can transliterate, but instead we change many letters and anglo-fy the name. Weird to me.

Anyway, Germany. I’ll confess it now, I wasn’t excited about Germany. The reason is simple – we had made a last minute itinerary change and I hadn’t done much research into Germany. As we were lifting off from Marco Polo Airport in Venice, I even suggested to Lisa that maybe we should skip Munich and head straight to Austria. Boy was I ever wrong. 36 hours in Munich and I’m pretty sure I could live there. I can’t wait to get back.

After some of the rough edges of Italian “customer service” I was shocked by the utter warmth and gentleness of the german experience. Everyone, from the car rental folks to the hotelier to the strangers on the bus to the guy in line next to us at the beer garden were all excited to help us have a good time. It was a shock to the system after 2 weeks in Italy which had slowly conditioned me to expect a mild form of abuse in the name of customer service. I am exaggerating of course, and being less than fair. Many of our Italian experiences of people were incredible! (Roberto and Monica at the Tuscan farm, the restaurant in Rome near our apartment, everyone in Assisi, the guy at the soccer jersey shop in Venice who patiently waited on Andrew as he wanted to see a couple of dozen jerseys during the Italy vs Spain EuroCup semi-final.) But more than a few were otherwise, like we were a bother for ordering food from them, or in the way. (I’m speaking to you, Venice Parking Garage attendant, and you, Tuscan restaurant outrageous surcharge guy and you, Ventian “I can’t be bothered to bring you bread even though I’m charging you for it” guy, and you, every single scooter driver in the florence round-a-bout system!)

Ok, I feel better now, thank you.

In Munich, we walked up to the rental car counter and the lady looked me in the eye and extended her hand for a warm handshake. She gave me her name and welcomed me by mine. Having being conditioned to receive a beating and be grateful for it, this was definitely a change. We were off to a great start.

And can we talk about the german language for a moment? Is there a better language in the world? Things don’t break down, they go “kaput!” You don’t exit, you “ausfahrt.” And if they bid you a good day as you’re leaving the parking garage or train station, you have a “gute fahrt.” We have a middle school son, so many folks suggested that he is a good age for these sort of base jokes. It turned out we were all a good age. I hope every one of you has a gute fahrt sometime today….

We enjoyed the german sense of humor too. Here are the signs for the men’s room:

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Any questions?

Munich is gorgeous. Modern city, beautiful old buildings and a huge english garden right in the middle. This trip was all about soul renewal for us. Lisa’s soul renewal: a tree, a book, a stream and fun with her family. She was in soul renewal heaven. Meanwhile, Andrew’s soul renewal is apparently photobombing….

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The german beer garden is a wonderful experience. Our hotelier recommended a local one that isn’t very touristy – perfect. We didn’t know what to expect, so were blown away to see a huge outdoor garden full of 1500 – 2000 people eating, drinking and laughing after a day at work. Kids everywhere, lots of community. It was yet another reminder that humans need community connection and so many who don’t participate in a church find it elsewhere. The german warm welcome continued as the guy in the food line behind us seemed more concerned that we were having fun than us. He helped us order some local delicacies and off we went to find a picnic table under a huge tree and enjoy the energy in the place.

Germany, of course, is renowned for engineering and design. Check out these beauties:

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BMW is in Munich. Audi is about an hour away. Must. Get. Back.

We spent a day at the Deutsch Museum – apparently one of the oldest and finest science and tech museums in the world. All the reviews said you can’t possibly cover it in a day. We focused on 3 places: nautical history, astronomy and music history. In short: amazing place.

We enjoyed this foot massage machine, particularly the marketing. Before you get on the machine, apparently, you’ve lost the will to live. One quick foot massage and you’re the happiest guy in the world. We were sold:

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How about this cool piece of German engineering? A player piano with built in string quartet! The machine actually shakes the violin when it needs vibrato. Brilliant!

What else is there to say? Another delightful hotel, another delightful stop. I highly recommend Hotel Uhland – a converted mansion run by wonderful people with fresh baked breakfast.Divine. Just one full day in Germany. Upcoming: Austria.

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