We embraced goodbyes at the Keflavik airport. We hadn't known each other for long, but I felt a certain sadness as our Iceland chapter closed. We shut down the bars in Reykjavik that morning and met again at KEF about three hours later. Marco then returned to Stuttgart, and William continued on his path home to Sweden for the holidays. I flew to Munich, as I previously mentioned, with a plan to finally get some sleep under the full December moon.
I was super excited to have a stranger connection waiting for me in Germany. A college friend of a guy at my office; a guy I hardly knew when he overheard me talking about the trip one day and subsequently offered me his friend's couch. Of course I would love a local's couch when I got to Germany (and a lodging discount!), so I was certain to follow through with his offer.
The German gent Joseph met me at an Italian restaurant near the Munich Central Station, where I had effectively built a nest over hours of food, coffee, wine and journaling. We made our way back to his flat, which was conveniently located about four blocks from Augustiner Bräu. I highly recommend this landmark of a beer hall to anyone passing through Munich. My only regret is that I don't live in a barrel there.
After dropping off my luggage and chatting over some mossy Icelandic tea, Joseph took me to the city center, where a Christkindlmarkt was in full swing. While taking in the gorgeous buildings, I had my first cup of Glühwein, and met a few of Joseph's friends. We walked to one of their flats and chatted for a couple hours about the usual stuff - work, travels, surfing, infected cysts - before Joseph apologetically reached the end of his rope. He had been feeling ill all day and needed to head home to rest. I assured him that I didn't mind, seeing as how I was overdue for a good night of sleep after all that crazy Iceland action.
And so I cozied up in a sweatshirt and leggings and brewed one more cup of the mossy Icelandic tea, while Joseph checked out. I was a mere ten minutes from drifting away into a deep, full night of sleep, when there was a knock at the door. Joseph emerged from his room to open it for his flatmate, who was unintentionally locked out.
No more than a few sentences into meeting Jürgen, I knew that my sleep was going to be compromised. We wound up opening a couple bottles of Augustiner Helles, and took our conversation into the wee hours. I finally fell asleep at 7 AM, after Jürgen and I watched the Rodriguez documentary, Searching for Sugar Man.
I spent the rest of the week and some change about Germany (except for a weekend dip over to Salzburg, which I'll write about separately). The woodsy hike to Andechs monastery was peaceful; and rewarding was the fresh Kloster Andechs beer and lively times with drunken locals inside the brew hall. The Theresienwiese (where they hold Oktoberfest) Christmas market was a short walk from the flat and also promising of warm booze, saucy sausages, friendly folks, and a visual feast upon every visit.
Breakfast consisting of sausage, pretzels, mustard and beer is tough to beat. But my favorite slice of Munich was the Eisbach River, where a man-made wave creates an opportunity for surf. Any season, all night and day. I had no idea that there was surfing in the middle of Munich, but I was beyond thrilled and mesmerized watching surfers take their endless turns at the river wave (vid below).
Christmas Eve was spent on a train west to Heidelberg, where the gorgeous cobblestone town was alarmingly alive. Local brews and schawarma were Xmas Eve dinner, followed by a late-night church service at which I attempted to sing along to some of the German hymns, and failed. I'm more of a romance language kinda gal.
I was nearly done with Germany on the train ride to Brussels after Christmas.
But then not according to plan, I found myself back across the border for two more days, for a mini-adventure in Cologne.
how 'bout some more photos!
vid I took of the Munich river surfers