A chronicle of movement aimed at synchronizing thoughts and keyboards with said movement.


Munich, in 2006's thinning winter

The plane left from London Stansted at 1:30 p.m. At 12:30, the electronic board in the middle of this huge plaza of eateries and tax-free shops (tax-free GBP shoes still cost as much as an Upper East side apartment or year in Vegas, however) assured me that even though my flight was to be delayed until 4:30, it was only AN ESTIMATION.

So I ducked into an Italian restaurant that tried to model itself after some New York-style Italian joint. This meant that the Rat Pack's Greatest Hits murmured steadily from the muffled speakers and pictures of buxom (and cleavage-donning) women adorned the walls. As I waited for my order, I read the mythology behind the place.

It gave a Real Authentic Story behind how Tony (or maybe Guiliano) made his way with his family from Sicily to New York With Only Hope and a Recipe and how [Tony's Family] Opened a Small Restaurant Where They All Worked Together, then Tony Carried on the Business. It got so great that it made its way to a London airport.

Here I ate a calzone of despair.

Its pepperoni/salami and uncooked onions and strange, middle-school-plastic-cup-salad on the side only reminded me that I had no way of getting in contact with Nils to let him know. With Nils' lack of working cell phone and only a slight idea of where we'd be meeting (and no idea where the hostel was), I wasn't so sure we'd be taking this journey together.

Then the board started flashing and the spirits rose! They had changed gates and, if we could get out of the airport in 20 minutes, we could get out on time. The calzone! It was the Calzone of Joy! Of Future and Success!

And we were off. On the plane, I sat next to a German girl dressed in military camouflage and her mom, both of whom had spent some time in London. The girl was working on her English, and I, my German. Wonderful. We spoke about various subjects from study abroad to the snow that was covering her wonderful Bavaria.

We got to the airport, on time. Went through passport control, where the officer grilled a young Japanese boy before letting me just waltz passed. And Nils was there, waiting. And there was much rejoicing.

The train ride from the airport to the Hauptbanhof (main train station in Munich) shook with our excitement. Like fusion. After seeing each other for one day in the past 6 months, we steadied ourselves and prepared, heads locked straight ahead, to blast forward, to spin and soar and zip and tear through, without backward glance, the next seven days.

Lots of catching up and things over the 40 minutes, including his story of how the immigration control guards searched his bag -- which was the size of the Radiers' entire defensive line -- and found his copy of "The Bourne Supremacy." The guard looked at it for a while and asked:

"Is this a book?"

Nils confirmed this suspicion.

Just as he was telling me this story, the train guards snuck up on us. Scariest looking policemen I've ever seen -- all black, standing completely vertically with steel-like posture and gaze, with blood-red berets. They wanted our train tickets. We gave them our train tickets.

They were valid.

We arrived in Munich, a city more like a village than a city. But we'll talk about that tomorrow, including the fact that the air there, clear and heavy, allows you to see to the Alps.

Finally, in Munich, we waited an hour in our hostel (Jaeger hostel, which apparently was sponsored by Jaegermeister) for Nils' new buddy Christina, another hostel-stayer who went with the group to Neuschwanstein (the Disney castle in the Alps) the day prior. So we waited, watched some ski jump and prepared to do the one thing completely appropriate for the first night in Munich.

HOFBRAUHAUS! The world's most famous beer hall, with tables that filled multiple rooms and served to fill the stomachs and souls (which become one as the night ages) of thousands at the same time.

The band, which had 7 members, I think, played German athems all night long. People sang, mugs clinked -- but not too hard: their contents are gold.

A handful of gold.

Nils and I both ordered our first liters (of 4.5 as the night went on -- we started with the Hofbrau Original, a real solid lager [most German beers are at least considerably good, because they have to obey the Reinheitsgebot, the Purity Law, established hundreds of years ago to keep beer delicious]). We also ordered some weisswurst, thanks to Justin's suggestion from all those years ago, and half chickens. Each.
We chose a great table, too. And sat there for 4+ hours, singing and laughing through combinations of German and English that supported the entire night. People are people, and languages merely link them (the cool German 30-somethings complimented me on my German when I said I wasn't sure how good it was anymore, though -- thank you, Emmaus High School). And everybody in the world likes Nils.
Germans and Americans make perfect fits, too. Both boisterous, friendly people who exist communally -- our German buddies even said that they preferred Americans over all other foreigners. We all agreed that the British are the lamest.

Nils and Christina raise liters (Christina's is a dunkelbier), while Kevin lifts his chicken carcass.


The designs over the lights are all swastikas. Hitler's orders, but never changed because the place has become such a fixture.

Dave, the one on the right, is from Florida. He met this woman, an East German from a small town, 6 months ago. Now they're engaged and will marry whenever she can get her visa to the States.

He tricked her into coming to Hofbrau by telling her that they were going out to an Italian place and then walking past Hofbrau and saying, 'oh wow, hey, the Hofbrauhaus, let's go here.' She acquiesced and continued smoking.

He was a relative expert on the Haus, however, telling us about all the band's songs and the swastika designs.

Tony's the guy on the right. From Berlin, and so are the other two. Tony spoke great English, and attacked life and conversation as one would a half-chicken.

'Thirst is worse than homesickness.' Jawohl.

Ja, Kevin. Vant to hear a joke?
Ja, so vat eez dee difference betveen Budveiser und sex in boat?
Zey are both f***ing close to zee Water.
There was much laughter after this joke, which arose after round 6 and before Tony had us play a game in which we would all tangle our hands on the table in a circle and have to slap the table in a clockwise or counter-clockwise motion. It sounds simple, but with criss-crossed hands and minds that now operate inside a thick mist, it's really terrible.
I was one of the middle people to fall out of the game. The three women remained after all the men left.

But we had the last laugh. And more beer.

The two on the close left, Andreas and Bianca, replaced Dave & the German. They were really fantastic. Andreas bought Nils and me a round at the next place we went. But then he had to leave us because he said Bianca was sad that he wasn't paying enough attention to her.

I think they were getting married. I hope they were. They're great.

4 liters later, at least for Nils. German culture is wonderful

Nils shows German girls how to ride a lion.

And how to dance.

We decided that, because no places were open still serving kebabs at this time, we'd have to settle for Big & Tastys. They were accurately advertised. Do we still have these in the states?

We woke at the crack of noon and prepared for a day of lumbering around Munich. But this is how Tony gave me his e-mail address. If anybody can decipher it, please please let me know!

Day Two tomorrow


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