Monday, October 15, 2007

It Was The Best of Times, It Was The Wurst of Times, Part III: Monday 9/24

We arrived at Munich's airport at 10:40am on Monday. Jer met us there, as he had arrived at 8am in business attire. He was visibly shaken by the fact that his luggage did not make his connection in DC. Then again, I would be too if I were carrying dozens of unitards and enough K-Y to fuck the Grand Canyon.

Upon our arrival, I turned on my phone (it's a Blackberry, which I was forced to get for work), expecting the SIM card that Verizon gave me to actually work. Boy was I stupid for ever thinking that would happen. The words "SIM card rejected" appeared at the top of my phone. It might as well have said, "You are officially free from work" because it meant that I would not be receiving any work-related emails (or anything else) for the whole trip. Thank you Verizon for your incompetence.

After an enjoyable S-Bahn (that's the suburban train) ride from the flughafen (that's the airport) to Marienplatz (that's the plaza -- possibly once belonging to Marien -- in the center of the city that was close to our hotel), we walked the few blocks to our hotel. In between Marienplatz and our hotel is a big market called the Viktualienmarkt, which sits on cobblestone. So there we were, 14-strong, thundering across the cobblestone with our rolling suitcases, announcing to the good people of Munich trying to enjoy a nice meal, "Here are the Americans."

We arrived at Pension Seibel with authority. For those of you unfamiliar with pensions ("pen-see-own"), they are somewhere between hotels and hostels. You don't share rooms with strangers, but you may have shared bathrooms. Luckily for us (and for the rest of the pension, for that matter, given the ill effects of liters of beer and an all-sausage diet on our gastrointestinal tracts), all of our rooms had their own bathrooms with shower and toilet, even if most of them were about 5x5.

Our first meal upon arriving was at Der Pschorr, a Hacker-Pschorr affiliated restaurant with giant doors and medieval style rudimentary wooden furniture. Many of us ordered the Nurnberger bratwurst plate. Our waitress was an uncaring whore.

After eating, most of the group headed to the Englischer Garten, the world's largest municipal park, which also happens to contain the world's largest beer garden, or something like that. They always have to take shit to the extreme in Germany, don't they? As you can see, people didn't like to be around us.

Kyla, Alex, Jer, and I stayed back near the hotel to wait for the late arrivals (Nick and the 4 ladies coming from Barcelona). Rather that wait at our hotel -- which wasn't a bar -- we decided to hit up a bar about a block from our hotel. At first glance, this bar looked like any other bar. We walked in, grabbed 4 seats at the end of the bar, and ordered 4 half liters of Spaten. As we paid the young bartender who had a fauxhawk and was wearing a cutoff t-shirt, I noticed something on the wall. "Huh, well that's weird," I thought to myself. "Why would they have a picture on the wall of a guy wearing no shirt?" And then I looked at the other walls, only to find similar pictures and artists' renderings of scantily clad German men. At the same time I was realizing what was on the walls, the other 3 were too. We all kind of did a "so, did you get a chance to see that picture over there above the cash register? No, not the one of the dog, the one next to it. Yeah, that one -- with the guy in assless black leather chaps getting spanked by a dominator and enjoying the hell out of it." A good laugh was had by all, and then we chucked our beers at the bartender and sprinted back to our hotel before any of us could catch "the gay," as my grandma never called it.

Restless at the hotel on account of the fact that his luggage had still not been delivered, Jer decided to head to Marienplatz to buy a shirt and some pants. I accompanied him because Nick was set to arrive about that time, and I figured that it should be easy enough to spot him coming out of one of the 8 exits of the subway stop that lets out into the busiest part of the center of Munich. Jer said he was going to go to H&M and that he would meet me back at the same spot in 10 minutes. After 40 minutes passed without any sign of Nick or Jer, I went looking for Jer. Turns out there are 3 H&Ms in a one-block span. Defeated, I went back to the hotel, and I'll be damned if Nick wasn't waiting in the breakfast room (which was essentially the waiting room next to the office, which is also the kitchen) being chatted up by some bat shit nuts British woman with the mouth and looks of a sailor, whose secretary had apparently booked her a hotel room in Cologne instead of Munich. "Foukin' 'ell, right?"

Jester, Ari, Liz, and Leslie arrived shortly thereafter. We had our 22, and it was time to show Munich what we had. Our goal was to give it our all, regardless of casualties, maladies, or decorum. I think we succeeded.

For dinner and drinks, we went to the world-famous Hofbräuhaus, which I consider one of my favorite places on Earth. It's a giant beer hall, with an oompa band and long tables where strangers are forced to intermingle and get loaded together.

The weather was very nice that first night, so we sat in the beer garden (or "bier garten" in German). We quickly ordered some liters of beer. One of my favorite beers in the world is the Hofbräu Dunkel. Dunkel is a type of dark beer. It is the urine of the gods and should be consumed without remorse whenever possible. There is nothing -- I repeat, NOTHING -- bad that can come from drinking dunkel. Our waiter was Egyptian known only as Herr Fayad (or "Mr. Fayad" in English), and he ably complied with our requests throughout the evening.

The only unfortunate thing about the 'haus is that it closes at midnight. For several of us, the intoxication process had not yet been completed. Plus, it was Chandler's birthday, so he wanted to stay out an drink some more. Before we disbanded, I reminded everyone that we had a reservation at one of the Oktoberfest tents the next morning, and that we should meet at 10:30 to head over there.

Gregerson rode a lion.

A group of about 6 or 7 of us (dudes only) found a small bar a few block south of our hotel. There was nothing odd about the bar (i.e., no pictures of leather-clad German men, no rainbow flags, and the clientele was bi-gender, but not transgender). Gregerson had what he claimed was the best Red Bull and vodka of his life. A nice young couple sitting next to us started talking to us, eventually asking us if we knew what part of town we were in. As you might have guessed, our group of 6 or 7 guys had managed to find itself in the gay district, even though the particular bar we were in was not necessarily a gay bar. Not that there's anything wrong with this, of course. I just find it funny that Chandler didn't object when we told him his birthday present was a bathroom rim job from a guy named Klaus, and it was kind of ironic that it was the one night Jer wasn't wearing a unitard.

The strains of being up for 30+ hours began to take a toll on some of us, so we went back to the hotel around 1 or 1:30. Those who stayed out went to another bar (whether it was in the same district or not is unclear). Jer apparently refused to leave whatever bar they ended up at, feeling the need to drink some more, so he stayed out by himself for a while. A day or two later, he would run in to two women he met at said bar (who ironically happened to be staying at our hotel), who showed him a picture they took of him passed out with his head on the bar.

But passing out at a German bar and having your picture taken by foreign women is nothing compared to what happened up in room 51, which is where Gregerson, Chandler, and Brendan were staying. At some point around 3, Brendan had some sort of horrible dream. It was bad enough that he got up and exited the hotel to get some fresh air. Before continuing, it is important to note that our pension did not have 24-hour service. There were workers there until midnight, but that's it. Also, without a room key, it is impossible to get into the front door of the pension. Brendan did not take a room key with him. So there he was, standing outside a hotel with no way in and no way of communicating with the other two guys in his room who were sound asleep, undoubtedly having non-terrifying dreams.

So Brendan did what any foreigner who doesn't speak the language should do on the first night in a new city: he wandered aimlessly. He eventually found a nice park bench that made up in rigidity what it lacked in cushioning. It was his only chance at getting any shuteye, so he laid down on the bench and fell asleep. A couple hours later he was awakened by the gentle spatter of Bavarian rainfall. Having not thought to bring an umbrella with him when he left the room, he wandered the city some more, eventually helping a newspaper delivery guy unload papers from his truck until 6 or 7 a.m., when someone returned to the office at Pension Seibel. At least he was able to get a couple hours sleep in a regular bed before we headed to the tent.

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