Day 7: Schwarzgefahren!

Saturday, May 12

Today we spent the entire day in München, but the story of how we got there could almost be this entire blog post.

So today there was a soccer game in Munich, and as a result the train was extremely crowded with fans going to watch. When our group got on, we were only able to find three available seats, and the rest of us had to stand a short distance away in an area between train cars. It happens that I was one of the people sitting down. This is important.

Arielle, Dr. Feick and Sonja were standing in the aisle next to me, discussing whether or not to continue riding all the way to Munich like this, or to get off at the next stop and run down the train to another, hopefully less crowded car. They ultimately decided on the latter, knowing that the train was only going to grow more and more crowded. So Arielle went to where the rest of the group was standing to apprise them of the plan. Sonja, Dr. Feick, Josh, Grant and I were left where we were sitting.

The train stopped, and Arielle and the rest of the group got out of the train. The five of us who were separated tried to follow, but by the time we got to the doors, they had already closed. Just as we started to hope that everyone else would make it back onto the train okay, we saw them come running back. They hadn’t been able to get back on, and this door wouldn’t open back up! The train slowly began pulling away, leaving most of the group standing ticketless on the platform.

Dr. Feick was soon in communication with Arielle. We had decided to get off at the next stop and wait for her group to take the next train to Munich. When we pulled up to the stop, we realized that the door was out of order, so we practically sprinted down to the next one, only to have the train again pull away before we got the chance to disembark. Our best option was to wait for the next stop and get off there, so that’s what we did.

Now the five of us were two stops, and maybe twenty minutes, ahead of the others. All of the tickets, German speakers, and people with knowledge of trains were in our group. So while we waited at a small strip of a station in the middle of farmland, Arielle’s group fuhr schwarz, which is a special German term for “rode a train without a ticket”. The infinitive phrase, “schwarzfahren”, directly translates to “black riding”.

A few trains passed us before we saw the rest of our group inside one of the trains to Munich about half an hour later. We hurriedly squeezed inside, deciding to ride it out the rest of the way. No more risky maneuvers!

So when we got to Munich, we walked from the train station to Marienplatz, which is a main square that also houses the Glockenspiel, a large cuckoo clock that goes off at 11, 12, and 5 every day. On Marienplatz is where we met our city tour guide. For the next two hours, we looked around at the beautiful architecture and churches, saw several shops that sold traditional German clothing, and walked past the famous Hofbräuhaus, once a royal brewery and now a humungous restaurant.

The tour ended at around 1:00, so we had free time until 5:30. Anna and Bob left to go take in the atmosphere of the soccer game, but the rest of us wanted to go to the Hofbräuhaus for lunch. We had trouble finding seats that weren’t reserved, but eventually we made our way to the top floor, in the Festsaal room. There were plenty of long, empty tables there, and we sat down near the stage (Unfortunately, however, none of the performers came out while we were there. Normally a folk band would play and performers would dance.).

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So we ordered our food. I got the Käsespätzle, one of my favorite German foods. It’s basically macaroni and cheese but with traditional German pasta and crispy onions.

After paying as 18 separate checks (props to our waiter for being extremely patient in dealing with us), we went down the street to an Eiscafe, where most of us topped off lunch with a scoop of ice cream. After that, we decided to go back to the market that we had passed through on the walking tour. After walking around and looking at the stalls for about twenty minutes, we split off into groups that wanted to go to different places. I went with Grant, Eric, and Josh to the English Gardens, where I wanted to wander around and go watch the surfers that surf the water rapids in a river that flows through the garden.

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We watched them for several minutes (they can be mesmerizing) until we felt that we should begin heading back to Marienplatz. We wanted to catch the Glockenspiel ringing at 5! We found a place to sit on the ground and watched the mechanical figures circle around to the tune. The performance went on for more than ten minutes.

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So it was 5:10 and we were supposed to meet the rest of the group on Marienplatz at 5:30. The church of St. Peter was right nearby, and we tried to see whether we could squeeze in another climb to the top of a church tower. We took one look at the slow-moving line and decided against the idea.

Once our entire group was back together again, we walked to a restaurant called Hans im Glück, which specializes in hamburgers. I got Käse und Speck (bacon and cheese) on mine, a combination which is just as good in Germany as it is in America! I also got a side of fries and dipped them in the special “fry sauce”, which is predominantly mayonnaise. One interesting cultural difference between Germany and America is that Americans tend to dip fries in ketchup, while Germans use mayo. When I first came to Germany about three years ago, I started only eating my French fries with mayonnaise, and I’ve never gone back!

When we finished eating, we left to walk to the train station and head back to Augsburg. By this time, it was after 7 PM. As we got closer to the station, Dr. Feick realized that we could make the train before the one we had planned to catch… if we ran. So we ran! We got on the train just barely before the doors closed. As was the case that morning, there was next to no sitting room, so we all had to stand in the aisle the entire ride. I was sweating and exhausted from the day’s events, but we were all in a good mood!

Step count: 24,328

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