15 July 2007

Day 18: Munich

Our last full day in Munich gave us the other extreme of Bavarian weather: blazing, searing heat. Most of my memories of today are of sweat and the seeking of shade. I've mentioned before that air conditioning isn't common in Germany (or much of Europe), and I felt that lack today something fierce.

In general, the day passed uneventfully. After over two weeks of travel, everyone in the family feels pretty exhausted, and today we just sort of crawled around eateries and biergartens, yet actually ate very little. The first destination was a café, Alte Schwabing, popular with artists at the turn-of-the-century. We met with Julia, the daughter of the family that had us to brunch the first full day we were here. Julia may move to the states and stay with my parents for a while. I ate my only full meal of the day here—unaware that the heat would drain the desire for food out of me—a chicken burger. I am slowly reacquainting myself with North American cuisine. The café has a nice late-nineteenth century décor, and is located near Munich University, a district of the city we hadn't seen yet.

We then returned to Marienplatz, but on Sunday most stores are closed, and tracking down ice cream (eis) required some work, eventually leading us back to that indoor mall off of the platz where we've eaten a number of times—once to escape the rain, now to escape the sun. We had plans to meet the parents of two of Colleen and Armin's students at one of the biergartens at 6:00 p.m., and found ourselves at 3:30 p.m. with too much time to kill and not enough energy to kill it. We headed to a different biergarten first, the famous Augustiner near the Häckerbrücke station (we had previously gone to their beer hall in downtown Munich), which nestles coolly in the shade of great trees. Yes, it's the four-thousandth biergarten I've seen on the trip, so I don't know what I can add about this. I still like ruß (or sometimes written russ 'n), my brother couldn't stand the smell of cooking fish, and it was still too damn hot.

Moving on down the line, we exited at the Laim station to go to the Hirschgarten, the largest biergarten in Bavaria. It's located in an enormous park that was packed with vacationers and kids trying to cool down. The biergarten sprawls as far as the eye can see, and a carnival with amusement parks rides was set up to pull in even more children. The park gets its name from an enclosure with deer in it on the edge of the seating area (hirsch=deer), although the deer were completely sedate from the heat. I had no appetite and this point and just had a Coke. The parents showed up with their kids (the father and I are alums of the same school, although we weren't there at the same time) and we stayed for about an hour.

We're back now at Colleen and Armin's apartment. Melanie has come over with some champagne, so I'm drinking that right now. Tomorrow morning we have an early train to Düsseldorf, where we'll stay overnight and then fly home (or at least to Atlanta, and then to Salt Lake City, and then to Los Angeles). I probably won't have Internet capability until I get home, so it will be a few days until you hear about the conclusion of the expedition.

I hear it's searing hot at home, too. But I have air-conditioning. Great invention, that.