After Denmark we went to enjoy the hospitality of various folks in Germany. First we stayed with Kaspar and Andrea, friends of a friend of Janak’s. They kindly offered us room in their house in Munich, which we used as a base to explore the city for a few days. Here we got our first proper snow. Every morning when we got up there was more and more of it.
On our first day we walked down an old canal that was freezing over, towards a castle with a lot of ducks, swans, and geese (there were some ponds that weren’t yet frozen). We were enjoying how scenic Munich is. Most of the houses and buildings are beautiful, and the city is just very clean and well kept. Very different from Berlin, which we had stopped over in for a few hours on our way down from Denmark. After walking around, we went to BMW World, which is in this enormous, crazy looking building and full of displays of their cars and engines. Janak loves BMW, and it’s a great place for an engineering enthusiast like him to go. I mostly liked sitting on all the motorcycles, which is still fun even when they aren’t going anywhere.
That night we took the metro to downtown Munich (by the way, these metros are like stealth trains, they’re so well maintained and quiet) and found ourselves in the middle of an enormous Christkindlmarkt, or Christmas market. Apparently it’s a tradition in these parts this time of year to have these big crowded outdoor markets that sell decorations, clothes, gifts, and lots of food and drinks. As Janak said, “It’s like Comicon, but for Jesus.” With all the people, snow, and lights it’s very festive. Janak got himself a pretzel more than a foot in diameter, and I got a sausage that was about half a meter long, absolutely ridiculous but delicious. Janak saw it and said that I had to get it — since he couldn’t eat it, I had to eat it for him. Afterwards we went back for dinner with Kaspar and Andrea, and had some local varieties of potatoes, some of which, oddly enough, were blue. Oh, and more cheese, of course. So much cheese this trip, and still so good.
The next day we walked around the Olympic stadium and park for a while, and then went to the Deutsches Museum. It’s the history of mankind told through machines and technology. Theyhad things like a Wright airplane, the Gutenberg press, and the first diesel engine. You can imagine how excited we were by this, particularly Janak. As he said, even though it’s not fair to compare the two because they’re so different, he liked it at least as much as the Louvre. At first we were planning on only spending a couple hours there, but we ended up staying until they kicked us out at closing time. Then we went to a couple more Christmas markets (they’re everywhere!), one of which was medieval themed. We both got some hot beverages, which are lovely in the cold. I got hot wine, hot mead, and then some eierpunsch that Janak accidentally ordered, thinking it would be like our eggnog and not strongly alcoholic (boy was it, though). He got kid’s punsch instead, though, so that was OK.
The next couple days we spent in Iffeldorf, a small town close to the Alps, where Melba, the mother of the same friend of Janak’s, lives. She drove us around and showed us all the sights. We got to see a lot of beautiful scenery, eat lots of good food (mostly local and then some Indian), do a little cross-country skiing and snowboarding, go to a sauna, and generally have a wonderful time. On our second day we went to Neuschwanstein, which the Disney castle is based on. We accidentally took a somewhat roundabout but incredibly scenic route through the mountains to reach the castle, which was very different from all the other castles we’ve seen. On the tour there, the guide told us that all the doorknobs were high because the king was unusually tall: six foot three. He said to Janak, “How tall are you, sir?” “I’m six foot three.” “Ah! Exactly king-sized.”
Post on Switzerland soon to follow, so stay tuned!