June 18th, 2006

me: wrong side of the mirror

Day 4: to München

Beer, beer, beautiful beer

My first day in München (Munich)! Except first we had to get there, which was no small feat. We breakfasted on Berliners (jelly doughnuts) and coffee and checked out of the hostel in time to catch the ICE train. It was jammed full, especially in 2nd class, so we wound up in the children's carriage with three families, each traveling with a two-year-old. We wound up playing with the two outgoing boys. They were particularly thrilled with Marco, who dangled them by the ankles and tickled them. The little girl, accompanied by her very pregnant mother, didn't join in. She preferred to hide behind me on the seat to watch. At first she only propped her feet tentatively against me to lean in and see. As she became bolder, I turned into a jungle gym, with arms, hair and legs all fair game for her ambulatory exertions. I didn't dare move too much lest I spook her, so I just tried to keep her from banging her head on the table.

At one point, I went to the bar to get some water. The bar car was filled with singing Brazil fans. (One game that day was Brazil v Australia and Marco and I were both wearing Brazil tops.) When I walked in, I was greeted by shouts of "BraZIL!" I stood at the bar and a Czech man wearing a Nedved shirt passed by. A nearby Englishman wearing a Brazil shirt shouted at him. The Czech man asked the Englishman why he supported Brazil. Swaying and peering owlishly, the Englishman replied, "All the beautiful Brazilian women, of course!" He gestured at me. "Yah, okay," conceded the Czech man. When I relayed the story to Marco, he reflected that our skin tone and features as mixed-race babies lend themselves to whichever nationality or ethnic group people want to attribute to us, usually their own. I don't feel I look Czech but when I wore my Nedved shirt everyone assumed I was.

The nice families disembarked at Stuttgart and we said "Auf Wiedersehen," which pleased them greatly. New families arrived with older children, two boys aged six and nine with their mother, and another mother with a five-year-old girl and a newbrn. We talked to the mother of the two boys extensively after she asked to look at my Lonely Planet guidebook. She got a good laugh out of its enthusiasm for München and Bavaria as must-visit places in Germany. She said she'd pick the north coast and Berlin. She'd traveled all over south America and eaten things like fried ants, so we got to discussing the many regional permutations of strange foods like blood sausage – morcilla, black pudding, blutwurst - which Marco and I both love. Her older son, who was clearly frustrated at only being able to comprehend some of the conversation, kept interrupting to ask for German translations. To ease his mind, we asked him for some translations and he gleefully taught us to count to twenty.

We disembarked at the München Hauptbahnhof (literally, "high train house") in early afternoon, thoroughly knackered from hours of impromptu babysitting. All you caring parents out there in LJ land, my respect for you approaches awe. After a number of coordinating phone calls, we made our way to Andreas and Renata's flat, right next to the English gardens. Renata graciously supplied us with a surprisingly refreshing beer and lemonade mixture along with tortilla chips and salsa. After a lengthy chat, she put the game on so we could watch Brazil (2) thump Australia (0, sorry, Aussies) with our feet up in a smoke-free environment. When Andreas returned from attending the game, we went for dinner at a decent Italian place nearby and had tall cool glasses of dunkel weissbier and large plates of pasta. We watched the dismal France (1) v South Korea (1) game at their flat. Well, it was dismal if you're a fan of France. They didn't look too convincing. W drank more weissbier, hell ("light") this time. Finally, Andreas brought out the whisky for a couple of glasses before bed.