Sunday, November 24, 2013

The lonely traveler

So, my first official solo travel day was on and I got to the train station for my 7:10 train to Munich. I activated my eurail pass and waited for my train to arrive. The train station in Budapest was really pretty so I attempted to get an artsy shot. It turned out alright..

Hours later, seven to be exact, I arrived in Munich and made my way to the hostel. As you either know me or have gotten to know me through this blog, you will know that I love to eat and some times I either like or dislike a city based on food. At this point, I had only eaten a banana and a pretzel because I was too nervous to leave my bag on the train and not hungry enough to eat the food off the cart passing by. I was starving, but figured I would get settled in first before eating. I found the hostel, checked in, and went to my room to meet my roommates and get started seeing the city. When I got to my room, there was a girl sleeping so I quickly went downstairs and decided to tour about by myself. That's what people do when traveling alone, right? I walked outside and headed where I thought the big beer hall where Oktoberfest is held. After about 25 minutes of walking and getting hollered at, I decided to make my way back to the hostel and go the other direction. I found a populated pedestrian area and wondered around. There were tons of shops so I did what any other lonely person would do and bought myself some new tops at H&M and a Longchamp purse at some high end store. The reason behind the purse purchase was that I had nothing big to hold all my belongings and ended up having about a million things in my hand while on the train. I decided the purse purchase was more for safety than anything else and justified the 78 euros. 

By the time I got back to the hostel, I was really hungry but the girl was still sleeping. It was at least 6pm by this point so I went to the computer room and did some reading and texting. This room was absolutely silent and it was so uncomfortable. I went there hoping someone would be heading to the hostels happy hour, but no one was going and I wasn't going to be the jerk to break the silence. Finally, I got a cough attack and had to run to the bar to get some water. There were three girls sitting nearby so I got a beer and went over to chat with them. Most awkward experience of my life. I said, 'hi, I just got here and am traveling by myself so I wanted to say hello'. Crickets. I felt like how a guy must feel when he walks up to a group of girls and gets shot down. They were Italian travel agents and were just checking out the hostel. Very quickly, they excused themselves to go do more travel agenty type things and I was left standing by myself. I turned around and scanned the crowd to see if I had enough courage to walk up to anyone else. I didn't. I sat at the bar by myself and ordered a half liter of beer hoping someone would reach out to me. Another half liter, still by myself. I think the bartender felt sorry for me because she made some conversation in between pouring 2 euro half liters of beer. Finally, a guy walks up with a very American accent and I struck up a conversation. We chatted for a bit and exchanged our travel stories. He had been traveling for a couple months and was going to be finishing up in a few weeks. We were both hungry, so we decided we'd meet at 8:30 (10 minutes from then) to go grab some curry wurst at a stand nearby for dinner. I went up to grab my coat, used the bathroom and was back downstairs at 8:28. For the next 15 minutes I stood there trying to not make eye contact with the bartender who really felt sorry for me now. He never showed. Nothing makes you more homesick than feeling completely alone in city you've never been to before. I texted Colin and he facetimed me and quickly made me feel at home and told me I wasn't a total loser. True love.

I went to the room and, this time, the roommates were in there and we exchanged stories for the day. Right away, my luck changed when one of the girls announced she was from Oakland. It's so strange to be thousands of miles away and sharing a room with a girl who lives about 15 miles away from me. We made plans for the next day to go tour about. We checked out of the hostel and went to a nearby market. The girl ordered a sausage and a beer and I followed suit. Breakfast of champions. 

I considered doing a walking tour that she had taken the day before, but, when we passed a cheese shop, we decided to do our own tour of the city. We were still full from our sausage and beer, but decided we'd have a picnic in the English garden (Munich's version of Central Park) with wine, cheese and bread. We had heard there was a place in the park where people surf along the creek so we wanted to check it out. We walked and walked and saw the water, but not surfers. The park was so pretty and it felt great to be walking around.

After walking for about an hour and not finding the surfers, we stopped a couple women who spoke English and asked them where we could find the surfers. They were heading there as well so we walked together. We ended up exactly where we started and there weren't any surfers. It wasn't a total bust because we covered a good distance and got to see some great sights. The girl from Oakland told me some of the stuff she learned on the walking tour, like BMW stands for Bavarian Motor Works and the logo is the Bavarian flag. Didn't know that before and I bet you didn't either. We got to a courtyard and there were a couple lion statues by a gate that were supposed to bring good luck if you rub their noses. As we stood there, many locals rubbed their noses too, so it must be true. 

We visited a church that is described as a banana because it is yellow on the inside and white on the inside. It was a really pretty and different than the other Notre Dame style churches I have seen everywhere else on my trip.

We went back to the market area and had our picnic. The wine I got was delicious - red wine from Spain - and the cheese was delicious too. I found a place that sold apple streusel and had to stop for a little sweet treat for the train later. 

The Oakland girl suggested we get a curry wurst just to round out our German lunch experience so we found a vendor and grabbed some. Yummy. It's chopped sausage with a sauce similar to BBQ sauce and then topped with curry powder. It's a subtle flavor that is really tasty. It's served with bread on the side. She explained that some places sell them with French fries and those are quite a treat. I've noted that for the future. 

We were walking back to catch our trains when she saw a vendor selling sheets crispy pork skin. What can I say, this girl loved food. And she was skinny. Bitch. Just kidding. She got 100g of crispy pork skin and gave me a piece. It's like pork reins but fresh. So delicious, but so rich and fattening. We got to the train station and I managed to miss 2 trains going to Frankfurt. I even got on one train that the information booth person told me to get on and, luckily, realized it was wrong before the train left. I didn't make a reservation so I walked and walked down the train until I found an empty seat. I had to switch seats at each stop because they kept getting reserved. Talk about stressful. 

This was a couple of days where I learned a fair amount by myself. I rely heavily on being around people. Although I wouldn't love more days of being shot down by people, I wish I had a few more days to overcome this awful fear of mine. It is so pathetic constantly depending on people. I'm happy I had these days, survived them, and can share them with you to be able to laugh at my insecurities. 


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