m u n i c h

[munich] Daniel was a poli-sci graduate from Notre Dame who I met in the Munich hostel. He was short and wiry, with a funny and somewhat weasily personality. He recently came back from Hungary where he had stayed for over six months. He originally only planned to stay for a week with his Hungarian hosts -- until he met their daughter. The relationship had since ended, and he was back in Germany working in the post office and clearing tables at a local beer garden.

Since it was my first night in Germany, I wanted to try some schnitzel. He took me to a restaurant in the University Section that he knew was pretty good. When we got there, we got a table at the window, right next to a middle-aged guy from Stuttgart who already had a couple of empty beer pitchers in front of him. Hearing us speak English, he prompted Daniel into a conversation about how Middle Europeans seemed more Eastern European -- a view that didn't sit too well with our waitress. After a while, she finally got around to taking our drink order, which I thought naturally meant beer, but Daniel, for some reason, ordered wine. When the waitress returned with the glass, Daniel took one sip of his wine and said it didn't taste very good. He tried to get the waitress to take it back, but she wouldn't. She said everyone else was drinking it, and no one else was complaining. The Stuttgart guy rose to our defense, yelling at our waitress and complaining about how Bavarian wines just didn't compare to the ones of his hometown, on the Rhine. A large Bavarian woman who was sitting nearby overheard this and got really steamed. She walked over and started arguing with the Stuttgart guy in German, then picked up his stein of beer and threw it in his face. Soon, everyone in the restaurant was arguing and yelling. We just sat there and ate our fries.

The next morning, I met a guy from Iowa on the bus to Neuschwanstein Castle, the old home of the Bavarian kings. Chris was an uptight, kind of overly patriotic guy, wearing the same kind of aviator glasses Tom Cruise had in the movie Top Gun. It turned out Chris was travelling through Europe before he had to start basic training in the Air Force. He originally wanted to be a pilot, but his eyesight was pretty bad, so he was going to be a navigator.

At the castle bus stop, we met a girl named Jenny, who was thumbing through a 10 year old Let's Go Guide. She was dressed in purple socks and a sweater, a bright green scarf and red jeans. She looked like a Fisher-Price toy. Her flower print leggings and yellow dutch clogs added to her ensemble, as well as her cornrows, which ranged from blond on top to black at the ends. I asked her where she was from, and as I should of guessed, she was from Santa Cruz. After a few minutes of strange conversation, Chris and I realized she was completely out to lunch. She had taken the long bus ride to Neuschwanstein because a German woman she had met on a train gave her 25 marks to take the tour, probably because she took pity on her. Jenny only had $50 left and two weeks to go until her return flight back to the States from London. She had been taking overnight trains from Munich to different cities so she wouldn't have to pay for a hotel room. When we were about to enter, she decided not to go in because it cost too much money.

After the tour, we met a just married couple from Tennessee, either of whom weren't more than 18 or 19 years old. He was a GI in the US Army and had just arrived for a tour of service atthe American installation at Weisbaden. His wife spent the entire bus ride complaining about how she needed to buy sheets, towels and most importantly, a TV. She needed something to occupy her time while her husband was at work. When he said all she probably could get were German language programs, she said she didn't care. "Any TV is better than no TV."

Back to the Grand Tour. . . .

back to fountain
send a comment
june 1996