When we stepped off the plane in Germany, I was pretty psyched to use my German. It would be a far stretch to say I speak German. My one semester of translation and one semester of casually auditing German 103 mean that I can read simple things and carry on bare bones conversations about such topics like the furniture in my home and my favorite activities. Except, for that last topic, I can only ever remember the verbs for “eating” and “watching TV.” Hello, my name is American.
Yet I was ready to use my words all the same. Despite the fact that James contentedly used English our whole trip, pointing out (correctly I might add) that the English of whoever we were dealing with would always be better than our German/ Italian. While that is true, I just can’t do it. This led to me frequently asking Italian wait-staff my one confident Italian phrase – “Where is the restroom?” – everywhere we went. Unfortunately, the confidence with which I delivered my tiny slice of fluency always engendered Italian responses…which might as well be Greek to me.
Germany was marked with similar linguistic encounters. Our personal favorite was within our first minutes in Germany:
Hannah (In German, confident): Could I have a map of the train systems?
Man at kiosk delivers blank stares and unintelligible responses in German.
Hannah (In English, defeated): Could I have a metro map?
Man at kiosk (In English): The post office is on strike. It’s been a couple weeks and will probably last longer.
I still have no clue what that relation was. But! It didn’t stop me. I whipped out my phrases everywhere we went to varying degrees of success. Success, in the sense that they were usually met with comprehension and answers… failure in the sense that those answers were usually in German and thus, not helpful. But, as we found Germany to be the most logical country that has ever existed, and her inhabitants some of the most helpful, we got by just fine.
Munich was our home base for the trip, and we spent our first day, fourth day, and a couple evenings exploring her streets and sights. As the pictures show, I ate an ungodly amount of pretzels. I think I managed to have one not just every day, but at every meal, for the entire duration of the trip. Hashtag success.
As many of you suggested, we did venture into all of the main beergardens/halls in Munich. While I am a sever extrovert who loves massive crowds of people, I was SO OVERWHELMED, though not all-together displeased. The people! The noise! The music! Yet in those loud places, we met some amazing people. Our last night, I got carried away with my German confidence, throwing my phrases at our waiter so quickly that the whole table laughed. When he brought us an English menu, I was disappointed to see (as some of you had warned), that it was about 1/3 as long as the German one. I set to work on slowly working my way through the German menu, when a robust and elderly German man beside me leaned over and just said “If you trust me – I order all traditional food for you.” And so we did, settling into a delicious German meal that still remains a total mystery to me.
And now, some exciting trip deets.
- Stayed at a beautiful AirBnb. This was my first AirBnb experience, and I was a little nervous, but so many of you gushed about it that my FOMO self had to give it a try. We LOVED the place we stayed. I announced several times that I wanted to redo our whole apartment in DC just to look like our Munich apartment.
- Ate pretzels everywhere, and loved Bavarian food. The absolute best food we ate was at Paulaner Bräuhaus – thanks Sarah for the recommendation!
- Did a Rick Steves walking tour to explore the city, stopping and exploring as needed. Some of you recommended downloading the app and it was wonderful! We could turn off his voice and just use the map and text to explore things. I may love him, but I draw the touristy line at trailing around with his voice in my ears.
- Made sure to hit the museums on Sunday when they are only a euro, though most of the art museum is closed for renovations.
- Marveled at the pristine wonder that is Germany and its ___________ systems. From trains, to escalators, to public restrooms – everything was clean, efficient, and logical, making it so easy to be an unruffled tourist.
- Took trains around the region for day trips. You all were so helpful about cluing me into the wonder that is the Bayern Pass. It made it so easy and cheap for us to explore around Germany. Also, the DB site and app were (unsurprisingly) easy and user friendly, allowing us to really explore with great ease and without having to rent a car, which we really wanted to avoid.