05 September 2008

Day 4: Starnberg (Lake Starnberg)

Last night I made the trek back to downtown Munich to go to Café Cord on Sonnerstraße, which has swing nights on Thursday. I went to Café Cord before on my last trip, but I still felt nervous because I always get intimidated in a new swing scene; not speaking the language makes it even tougher. However, I fell in with a small group who were celebrating one girl, Kerstin, who about to move away. One of her friends, Michienna, was skilled at dancing Jive, but her boyfriend and dance partner couldn't adapt to the more swingy style of the club's DJ and the live band. I know enough Jive (a common "Latin" dance in Europe, with connections to what we call East Coast Swing) to mix it up with Swing, and danced with her many times; she followed me excellently. Here's one of the photos her friend took of us dancing.
A lot of the music that the DJ played is from L.A. bands I see regularly, which gives me the oddest split location feeling. The DJ even played a request of mine, "Cherokee" by Charlie Barnet, one of my top five or so swing dance piece. But at midnight, the swing music shifts into standard disco-pop, and thus it was the perfect time to get the last S-Bahn back to Starnberg before the train schedule switches to two hours between trains. I didn't realize how exhausted I was from the day (waking up at 6:30 am, trudging all around Munich, dancing until midnight, and still living roughly on L.A. time) that I nearly fell asleep on the S-Bahn. At least I was awake enough to recognize my stop.

This morning started out slow, which was fine by me. While Colleen took a shower, she left Diego in my brief charge. I held "The Spaniard" on my lap and read to him from Die Dinosaurier, a German children's book on dinosaurs that I purchased for him yesterday at a bookstore off of Marienplatz. Neither of us understood the book—I don't speak German and Diego is pre-lingual—but I got to practice my pronunciation and hold my über-cute nephew. Colleen then let me help with his bath-time—I handled shampooing his hair, what little hair he has. I guess Colleen just wanted to give me the simple job.

Once Diego was all washed and set for the day, Colleen and I headed toward Starnberger See (Lake Starnberg) to board the tour boat for the circle cruise of the historic lake, famous as the place where King Ludwig II spent his last days in incarcertaion and then was found mysteriously drowned. Richard Wagner also received inspiration for the "Ring" operas at Starnberg Lake. First Colleen and I ate lunch at an outdoor restaurant, Sowieso, and I finally got my weißwurster (with pretzel! hot mustard). We then boarded the boat for the three hour tour (nooooo! not a three hour tour! anything but that! we all know where that leads) of the lake.

At lunch, Colleen took what is, so far, my favorite picture of Diego and I:
The lake weather was absurdly beautiful, and sailors, kayakers, and pleasure swimmers filled the shores that we passed. We didn't hit any of the either. Just a swell day. The houses along Starnberger See belong to wealthy Müncheners, although there is also a significant amount of land that belongs to the mighty Free State of Bavaria, such as the impressive Castle "Seeburg," built in 1889. Schloß Berg is where Ludwig II was imprisoned after his uncle usurped him, and a cross before the castle marks where Ludwig's body was found. (Accidental drowning? Suicide? Murder? One of the crazy swans of the lake went rabid?) You can't see it very well in this photo of Schloß Berg because the boat didn't come close enough to it.
The most picturesque of the stops along the lake is Seeshaupt, which has a rural feel and a beautiful onion dome church rising above it. ("Onion dome church" is a redundant term in Bavaria, actually—I've no idea why I just typed it.) Another beautiful stop along the lake is the town of Benried, which the guide pamphlet informed me was voted "Bavaria's Most Beautiful Village" in 1983, but doesn't list the source. I'll guess that Bernried itself did the voting—but still, it's a pretty little town. Near the Island of Roses (Roseninsel), the remains of a three thousand year-old boat was recently discovered. The island was first inhabited by the Celts, but could this find actually pre-date them? Finally, before heading back to our starting point, we passed the castle of Elisabeth "Sisi," future Empress of Austria who was the perpetual fianceé of Ludwig II.

By the time the boat docked back at Starberg's wharf, the heat of the day had started to get to us, although Diego amazingly managed to sleep through most of the boat ride. Colleen and I took a leisurely walk to one of the lake's Biergartens, Strandhaus, to meet up with her husband Armin, Cathy, Laurent, and his wife Jen. More radlers for me! And then a long walk back to Colleen and Armin's home, stopping for Armin to get a döner, a Turkish food with which I have had, uhm, unpleasant experiences. Armin and my brother Reed both love them however.

Tonight is the monthly Über-30 party at the restaurant Undosa on the shore of Starnberger See. I went to one of these parties last year and had a good time, despite the massive crowd and eardrum-ripping music. I'm not sure if we're going to the Über-30 tonight; will fatigue set in, or will I just say, "Hell with it, I'm on vacation"? Details tomorrow... stay tuned.