I have been planning on writing this blog post for a looooong time, and I am so glad that I finally have the opportunity to share with you all about about my trip during reading week!
As I mentioned before in one of my previous blog posts, I went to Germany in February over reading week. I had the amazing opportunity of visiting München (Munich), located in the state of Bavaria in the south of Germany, and Berlin, Germany’s capital.
But I didn’t just visit. I explored. My partner-in-crime Noula and I promised each other that we would attempt to see everything that these cities had to offer – and although this was an extremely tough promise to keep (since we only had a total of seven days to do so), we truly made good on that promise.
So without further ado, let me begin telling you all about the trip, from the moment we stepped into Pearson airport until we touched back down again just over a week later. I’ll try to cover the trip in four parts – however I may need more than that (it was a pretty amazing trip).
Friday February 14, 2014 – Day One
We arrived at Pearson airport about 4 hours early. If you didn’t already know, I’m a bit of a keener, and I have this weird anxiety for being late to catch flights, busses, trains, etc. You know, just in case they show up hours early and leave without me. SO, with being late at the forefront of my mine, I told Noula that I would rather be early than late, and my Dad offered to give us a ride into the Terminal. When we got there, he waited with us while we got our bags checked and found our way to customs.
With that, Noula and I said goodbye and shortly thereafter were inside the gate waiting for our flight. We were pretty hungry, so we looked to find somewhere to sit down and eat before boarding (goodness knows we had lots of time before that, thanks to me).
We quickly found the ideal spot – a restaurant where YOU ORDER YOUR FOOD OFF AN IPAD!
Yea, I took that on an iPad.
Anyways, I was pretty impressed – that is, until I saw the price of the food. That was the first time I ever paid 14 dollars for a grilled cheese, and it will certainly be the last.
A few hours later, we were on the plane. We opted for an overnight flight, as we were under the impression that we would be able to get some sleep – however, a guy sitting directly behind us who snored the equivalent volume of a family of five quickly put an end to that plan. After only a half-dozen hours, we began to see the greens and light browns of the south Germany countryside, and soon afterward we landed on the tarmac at the Franz Josef Strauss Airport in Munich.
We were finally here.
Saturday February 15th, 2014 – Day Two
Well, it still felt like day one, since we hadn’t slept yet, but we elected to stay awake until the evening so that we could get a good sleep and avoid being jet lagged the day after. Susie, my cousin Daniel’s wife, was waiting for us in the airport once we got through customs, and within 15 minutes of being off the plane we hopped in the car and were on our way to downtown Munich.
The first thing we noticed when we were driving was the temperature. According to Susie, it had been an unusually mild winter in Germany, having only snowed once during the entirety of the winter months. The day we arrived, it was a green and sunny 19 degrees in Munich. It actually became pretty hot in the car, so I rode most of the way with my window rolled down.
Shortly thereafter, we arrived at their apartment.
Dan and Susie have a really nice home in Munich. I’m talking reeeaaallly nice. A quaint, first floor apartment with french doors to a green space out back, hardwood floors, hundred-year-old building, and located a short subway ride away from downtown – basically, everything I’ve ever expected to be in a European apartment. We took our time unpacking, and Susie helped us set up in the space they had set aside for us in their living room. After a hot shower each, we were feeling refreshed enough to hit the town; Susie took us on the subway so that we could learn our way around the city, and eventually start navigating on our own. We took on the U2 at Therienenstraße to hauptbahnhof, and then the U4 to Odeonsplatz, and in under 15 minutes we were downtown.
As we ascended from Odeonsplatz station, the sights of the city truly took my breath away. The history; the architecture; the cobblestone streets; the extensive green space; even the people; I had never seen anything like that in my whole life. It was fantastic.
Odeonsplatz is a large square with a long history. It is just outside the walls of the Residenz, the former home of the Bavarian Dukes & duchesses – and, at certain points in time, Kings & Queens. Our first stop in the platz was the Theatinerkirche, or the Theatine Church.
It was built during the second half of the sixteenth century, and (as I was told) contains many features of Baroque-style architecture.
After that, Susie took us around to the other side of the Residenz to visit Marienplatz, a beautiful square in which the former city hall still sits, tall and proud. In the square is also a year-round outdoor market, where one can buy fresh produce, meats and cheeses, toys and trinkets; and, of course, fresh food and cool drink.
We stopped for lunch across the street at a place called Der Pschorr – a phenomenal restaurant and home to the famous beer Hacker-Pschorr, brewed within the building – and my first taste of Germany came in the form of some of the best fish and beer I have ever had. Needless to say, Noula and I were beginning to like this country a lot.
Our lack of sleep started to catch up to us, so were ventured back toward home via the subway to unpack and unwind. Following a nice dinner at Dan and Susie’s apartment, the two of us were fast asleep by 6:30pm.
Stay tuned for parts 2-4, coming soon!
~ Christopher Ford