03 September 2008

Day 2: Paris–Starnberg

Welcome to Bavaria, welcome to Munich! Again. With family living here, there's a strange feeling of "coming home," even though it's a distant country.

My sister, with her baby Diego breastfeeding, met me at the gate, along with her mother-in-law Cathy. My first meeting with my new nephew is a hard experience to describe—I just sort of stumbled through holding him for the first time and thinking, "Wow, I'm an uncle." Diego was in what my sister calls a "milk coma" when I first got to see him, a dazed stupor from a full feeding. Here's a photo of Diego and I sitting on the couch together in my sister's house.
Great feeling. I'm so in love with my nephew. Cuteness off the meter. Here he is with my first gift I gave hin, a stuffed Godzilla doll.
After I got situated in my sister's house, and got to see how enormous her dog Cuba has grown (she was a puppy last time I saw her, although she could still eat through steel bars if presented the opportunity), we headed out to Colleen's favorite local Biergarten with Laurent, her husband's brother who recently got married and moved into an apartment in Colleen's complex. I was eager to dig into the German cuisine, and I ordered the Wiener Schnitzel (okay, that's actually an Austrian cuisine, but it's extremely good) and enjoyed my first Helles Bier. This was also the time that the jet-lag really started to slam into me. It was now six in the evening in Munich, and I had gotten up at a quarter to six in the morning in Los Angeles. However, I'm going to power through today and go to bed at the normal Munich time so I can get onto schedule the Germany schedule, and that means some dinner and drinks at the local restaurant Absofort.

Enough of the cheery, happy part of the trip. On to the traveler's complaining corner: I now have a pathological fear of Charles de Gaulle Airport. I've heard horrific tales of this twisted labyrinth before, but now that I've experienced it... no legend has exaggerated the terrors it holds. It feels as if three large airports were forcibly crammed into the space of one, so that all the gates are about as close together as the tiny booths at an electronics convention. In order to make a simple connecting gate, I had to go through security again (I can't tell you how much the "everything off but the boxers" style of security bugs me), and following the signs to get to my gate involved a series of ramps, under-passes, skywalks, and confused arrows pointing so many directions that I started to think that Lewis Carroll had designed the place. There's almost no seating around the gates—boarding areas just won't fit here—and boarding consists of a big crowd trying to push toward the single woman checking tickets and passports. That U.S. system of boarding by rows—it's a great idea. Once I was on the plane, however, at least I knew I was on the final stage of the journey and meine schwester und mein neffe awaited me at the other end. And I was sitting next to two girls speaking German, the first time I had heard the language during the trip, which made me feel the long journey was finally over.

Okay, more Diego to offset the grumpiness. I can't resist more pcitures. Here is our first meeting in the airport.