Ein Bier Bitte – Munich and Salzburg

The hangover is present again, but it isn’t nearly as bad as the last three days. Munich was a series of walking to the same areas (namely a spring beer Festival, Frühlings) and drinking heavily. Our first night in, I hadn’t slept in 24 hours and somehow, I managed to lose my ID (later found to have been misplaced by hostel staff), get to know someone quite well in the laundry room, get my debit card shut off, and drink well more than 3 liters of beer. What a slob, I was mess, but I was having so much fun.

The second day, I managed to make it on a walking tour, and came alive again when I drank a beer at the meat market while everyone else ate strange looking sausage sandwiches. The city was cold, but I didn’t seem to bother me at that moment. The guide talked a lot, sometimes too much, but I learned quite a bit about the history of Munich and the history of beer. Probably because much of the history of Munich had to do with the history of beer. Legend has it that the monks used beer as calories during periods of fasting, beer was stored under chestnut trees which resulted in current day beer gardens. And Adolf Hitler had presented many of his speeches over beer in the city in which I resided. I paid him no respect by drinking a beer in his favorite bierhaus.

I slummed around the city alone after that, and found myself dying in a fancy vegan restaurant attached to a yoga center. Stephanie met me in said restaurant and we walked around the historical and grand buildings until we had finally found an area of the center we hadn’t been to. Munich has to be one of the most confusing cities I have tried to navigate, mostly because of the multiple walls built around the city center, which are now roads. If only other people in this world could see the failure of walls. We shyly walked into a small and dimly lit bar that my guide had told me was for the lost souls. The people in these places were broken, but the true gems of the population if you could get them to talk. It sounded like a rewarding challenge.

The first beer (not a liter this time) went down easily, however, before it was done, we already had another one in front of us from the young men at the end of the bar. We said “Danke!” (the only German word I knew that was useful) and moments later an older man was speaking German loudly in my face with a large grin. He really got a kick out of the situation when I used my awful German to tell him that I didn’t speak German. I learned that night that many people in Northern Italy speak German, not Italian, and there was a large futbol game happening the next day which attracted this group to Munich. It wasn’t long before the people in this bar were ordering endless rounds of shots and beer for everyone and we were drunk and it was late. It is amazing how language barriers tend to disappear as the night goes on.

Now, unfortunately for me, the hostel we stayed at had a cheap bar, and the people in our room were partiers. This meant, every night, instead of going to bed like a good girl, I mingled with the travelers from all over the world. It also meant that I got one more drink before falling into bed at some god-awful hour, only to be woken early again to start another day. Sleeping is not something I do well when I am on vacation. So, I woke a few hours after I fell asleep to walk around the city again.

On our third night in Munich, I didn’t go nearly as hard as I had on previous nights. We went back to Frühling’s Fest and stood on tables dancing to live music while drinking liters of beer, you know, just like all the locals that were there. I was hesitant to dance on the table, since I had seen a few spills, but I survived without having to use my non-existent health insurance. German tunes intermixed with Sweet Home Alabama and other famous American songs of the like. We closed the place down, closed down the hostel bar, and took off for Salzburg in the morning.

Now, Thursday night is karaoke night at the Irish Pub on the outside wall in the City of Salzburg. Danny was expecting us, so per usual, we fought the exhaustion and hangover from Munich to go have one Guinness at the smoky and crowded bar. We still made it back to our studio at a decent hour, because we had a lot to see in the morning.

Our studio, which we found on AirBNB, was in a beautiful building built into the side of mountain which seems the ancient civilizations had managed to conquer (an interesting feature in the Alps). The city seemed to sprawl from this central location, where above us, resided a fortress that was constructed starting in the tenth century.

Upon arrival to Salzburg, we had used Google maps to direct us on foot to our place. We had parked on the other side of the mountain, and the directions took us to a side street that terminated in stairs.  A little confused, we huffed up at least 7 sets of steps, unable to stop for pictures upon the beautiful views because we were running late for out meeting, only to realize that there were no stairs on the other side. Why Google, why would you do that to us? We had been totally ignorant to the tunnels and parking garages that wound below the mountain. Of course, and lucky for us I might add, there was an elevator that took us down for less than 5 euro.

On our only full day, we arranged two museums, the city’s oldest bakery, an amazing vegan restaurant, and the city’s oldest bierhaus. Both museums were centered around the rich men who built immaculate buildings with ridiculous resources to show how powerful they were, although their houses, churches, and fortresses were quite beautiful. I learned that the fountains outside were horse baths and people-powered cranes were used for building. The city was named Salzburg because of the salt barges that were tolled along the river, originating from the valuable salt mines nearby. This was also the source for the expendable income on baroque-style interior decorating.

The narrow walkways were fascinating to walk through because of the colorful and historic buildings that created them and the cobblestone that was beneath our feet. It is no wonder it is a UNESCO world heritage site. Expensive shops filled every window and a river ran through the center of the city. Parks were designed with art in mind, evidenced by the intricate placement of flower colors, statues, and passageway construction. The old bierhaus was very similar to the ones we had found in Munich, but we only stayed for a half liter before adventuring back out into the cold.

It snowed on us all day, so I was happy when the special at the tiny vegan restaurant had warm and lovely gnocchi as their daily special. I ordered French Toast for dessert. We spent about an hour in a pharmacy, then a grocery store where I was pleased to find that Austria had its own line of vegan food and the produce was clearly labeled with the country of origin. They even had cheese-filled wursts!! I was blown away.

Did I mention that the gas stations were top notch in terms of food and drink?

 

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