Three countries in three days is a whirlwind trip by anyone’s standard. And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that, looking back on it one week later, there are parts of the journey that are a bit of a blur. But I had an amazing time checking out three completely new cities, and though my time in each was brief, I feel like I got enough of a fix to keep me going until I (one day) return.
First stop: Munich. After literally jumping up and clapping with glee when my suitcase finally appeared on the luggage belt at Munich airport, I headed off for the first of my rail adventures. I’d decided to make life for myself as easy as possible by printing off all the street and subway maps I could get my hands on. They were necessary, of course, but the truth is Munich is a ridiculously easy city to get around – and this is coming from someone who has managed to get lost on the Toronto subway system. More than once.
Even though I hadn’t slept at all on the plane, my brief time in the city meant I couldn’t afford to waste a minute. I dumped my bags at the hotel and, with map in hand, set off to explore. First observation: tourists are everywhere.
I knew to expect this, being the peak travel season, but still – seeing a crowd ever-expanding in number with each person holding up the same generic hotel map as myself, pointing hesitantly at various street signs and slowly shuffling en masse towards the historic centre of the town was quite a spectacle. Not that I’m a travel snob; I’m happy to own up to my tourist status. But it made me laugh thinking of how I’d planned this part of my trip as solo travel, when everywhere I turned I was surrounded by people all doing exactly the same things as me.
With its fairytale good looks, the old town in Munich is just beautiful, and I wandered around each picturesque street snapping away happily. But as I trekked around in the scorching sun I kept thinking of one thing above all: beer. And not out of context – I mean, Munich is pretty much the unofficial beer capital of the world, hosting the annual celebration of all things beer – Oktoberfest. So when I felt like I’d done enough sightseeing to deserve a nice cold one, I started scanning for an appropriate beer hall to plonk down at for a drink or two. I had planned on visiting Hofbrauhaus, which is said to be the most famous beer hall in the world, but after spotting the four big, loud tour groups hovering outside I decided instead on a slightly quieter option just opposite. I’m glad I did.
Sitting and looking out onto the sun-filled patio and surrounding cobbled streets with my plate of veal meatballs and potato salad (needless to say, yum) and requisite tall glass of pilsner, I fell into a state of blissful calm. As the calm eventually began to turn into a semi-comatose state of sleep deprivation, I dragged myself away for more aimless wandering.
Finally, after being awake for 30 hours, I admitted defeat and collapsed in my hotel bed at the impressively late hour of 8pm. Let me just add here that my hotel room had a slightly different bed setup than I’m used to. I had the luxury of a double bed, but only a single duvet. Decisions … lay it out vertically and just try not to move too much during the night? Or lay it across my body horizontally so it at least covered the width of the bed but left my toes and head hanging out? Also, and I never managed to come up with an explanation for this one, the flat sheet on the bed was tucked in but only reached halfway up my legs – sort of in the way that you might short-sheet someone’s bed as a practical joke.
I did wonder if the joke was in fact on me, and there might be a camera somewhere in the room watching me as I tried to figure out the puzzle. I think they’d be disappointed with me if that was the case, as after about five minutes of fruitless yanking, I gave up and succumbed to sleep – half-covered by sheet and duvet.