Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Munich and Berlin, Germany - Die Mutterficker, Die

Our first destination was Munich, and what a great decision it was. We've spent our days getting acclimated to being on the road. Having lived in Munich between the ages of 22-24 I have very fond memories and know the city very well. It's always wonderful to take Hannah here to share my experiences with her.
Its been a challenge getting used to the time zone but we've managed to fend that off by sleeping 14 hours the first night. This was made possible by a combination of sausage, beer, and a dark and comfy Courtyard Marriott hotel room. By the end of this trip we will have enough Courtyard Marriott material to fill a book. We even got a couple of morning workouts in, but the German disbelief in air conditioning their hotel gym quickly made us feel nauseous and we were required to rehydrate on Munich's finest.

And we re-engergized on some fantastic bratwurst from the Viktualienmarkt!!!

We had a couple of great days, no touristy excursions, just wandering around the city, spending time in the park, eating when hungry and drinking at most stops. We were very happy to learn that Starbucks offers free WiFi at all locations so we made the occasional stop in to catch up on email, update our social status, and allow Hannah to wake up her family with an impromptu FaceTime session.

We had the pleasure of spending a great deal of time in Munich with our good friends Ciaran and Danka who you may remember from such great hits as "The Goldberg's in Munich, 2012". Their son Finian is adorable as ever and last year they had their second, their daughter Liona. I got a somewhat inebriated call on New Year's Eve this past year from Ciaran. I had trouble understanding most of our conversation, but what I do remember, and always will, is Ciaran and Danka asking me to be Liona's godfather. Needless to say it was a pleasure and an honor to finally meet her. I was also thrilled to see that she got my good looks.

We had a good jam session....

There was a time when Ciaran and I were the Kings of Munich, that was 15 years ago....this is us now.

Our next destination after Munich was Berlin. We did a bit of research on how to make it the 500km north to this city with rich history through the ages and until very recently a divided city. It turned out that we would have spent upwards of 500 euro to take a train or fly. We decided to rent a car and drive. We suited up in our 6 speed diesel VW....sure not to miss a minute....

We couldn't stop patting each other on the back and giving each other bromance style high fives at this genius decision. It was six hours by car, beautiful German countryside, and on our own schedule...genius. Those sentiments quickly evaporated when, about 2 hours from Berlin, we were stuck in the single worst traffic we had ever sat in. This is coming to you from the Goldbergs who always make it a point to live in cities with the worst traffic in, consider the source.

That's not to say that we didn't make the most of it.

We arrived Berlin safely, after a 10 hour journey that should have taken closer to 6...but we were here and ready to hit the town. Our Courtyard Marriott welcomed us with open arms.
We quickly found that we had absolutely no idea where anything was in Berlin. It was late on Sunday evening when we arrived. If you know anything about Germany you know that nothing on Sunday is open...period. We also quickly realized that we had left the colorful, flamboyant land of flowers and bier gartens for the much darker scene of Berlin. We should have been prepared as Berlin is a lot like many parts of New York in style....more grungy, more hipster, but we were definitely not prepared. Hannah donned pink jeans and sneakers with an orange purse and I was decked out in a bright blue T with shiny new sneakers....we screamed tourist...or target.
We did, however, find a bar that really made us feel at home. The death metal made you want to sing, and the bartender made you want to run to your nearest eyeball piercing parlor and get one just like him. This is my rendition of the song at the time, which was entitled "Die, Motherfucker, Die":

We spent most of the next day attempting to see Berlin. I say "attempting" because the entire city is shrouded by a landscape of construction. We had never seen a city in such a state of "repair" but it was distracting, and the haze of dust that surrounded much of the city center was gag-inducing.

We know that Berlin has tons to offer, but we weren't really feeling the vibe. I had been to Berlin before and had a great time, but at this point we were ready to move on. As we sat in the Courtyard Marriott hotel bar and tried to figure out our next move we found a great flight directly to Krakow, the problem is, the flight left in two and a half hours. In finding this our best option, I saw a side of Hannah I had never seen, and I was mightily impressed.
She mobilized an effort to do the following in the incredibly short time frame of 30 minutes:

  • Get me out of my overwhelmed state and helped me book the ticket to Krakow
  • Packed our backpacks
  • Convinced the concierge to take a package to the UPS equivalent for us and drop it off
  • Convinced the Marriott to reduce our stay to $50 due to "family emergency"
  • Got me on the phone with our hotel in Krakow to move our reservation and arrange a car service from the airport
  • Got a taxi to Berlin airport
  • Made our flight with time to spare
Krakow here we come!

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