Sunday, October 26, 2008

CouchSurfing and The Looong Night of Museums

Yesterday, I decided to finally get out of the house.   I'd learnt of CouchSurfing as a way to travel and find free accomodations.  It was not until very recently that I realized that it was a wondrous social tool as well.  So, I headed off to meet some people at the Hoffbräukeller.  There I met the couple who just moved to Munich this summer and have now set their lives up here, and another "cave-dwelling" au pair, a few locals, and a girl from Ireland visiting a friend who had gone to Ireland to visit her grandparents.  We'll see more of her later.  Good food, interesting people, and I was feeling much better about Munich. 
Around eight o'clock, one of the people at the meeting asked if anyone at our end of the table was planning on attending the Long Night of Museums, and Paula, from Ireland, a
nd I responded that we were.  Julian led us out into the night and we met a few of his friends, and off we went.  Neither Paula nor I knew much what to expect from this night, so we pretty much just tailed along.  
The first stop we m
ade was to the Siemen's museum, which revolved around technology.  Most of what we saw was medical-related technology, like advanced MRI machines.  Here's Paula taking a picture of an x-ray of a skull.
After Siemen's, we left for a new museum that no
 one knew much about it.  For this museum, the city had apparently 
expected a great number of visitors, and so those who had not signed up online were instruc
ted to get a yellow armband so that the gaurd at the door would know we were
 allowed in; our regular tickets would not do.  At the time, we thought this was so that the museum wouldn't have too many people at once.  We soon learned that this reason could sim
ply not be.  The museum, it turned out, was to open in early 2009, and they just wanted to show off the pretty empty new museum they had (almost) finished building.  As much as we were annoyed to have walked through an emtpy museum, it was stupidly funny enough that we didn't really mind.
From there we went and looked at shiny things at the BMW Museum, mostly engines, cars and
 motorcycles.  Very shiny.  Also very cool.  There was one wall which had an example of basically every model of motorcycle they've ever made, and a room which included, as best as I can determine, the only two failures that BMW has ever released.  One was a sixties car, very ugly indeed, and the second was out of the seventies, and I do believe it to be the car that Steve Urkel had on Family Matters.  Neither sold very well.  All in all, an entertaining museum if you have even a passing interest in cars.  

At this point it was about one o'clock, and we still had one more museum we wanted to see, so we hurried onto the bus and were on our way.  This last was not a fun one, but somber; the exhibit explained the White Rose organization in Munich, a group which resisted
 the Nazis during the time leading up to the second world war.  It seems that the six University students who formed the leadership of the group were arrested by the Gestapo and executed.  
Most of the museum consists of the life stories of these students.  
When we'd finished there, Paula was hankering for a pint, so we found ourselves a bar, each had a half liter (sorry, no pints) and then went our seperate ways.  It was on my seperate way, at Munchener Freiheit, a large square near me, that I happened upon my friend 
Michael, here on the left.  We had a very long conversation about George Bush being a farmer and the importance of reading a variety of religious texts.  The nice young man pictured on the right, thinking me in danger or at least inconvenience, came to my rescue and picked up the conversation while I cleverly slipped away.  I gave myself away, however, to take this picture.  Completely worth it in my opinion.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Following Suit

This morning I was reading my Reader feeds, a part of my morning routine, and I came across this: (at the best webcomic in existence, in my opinion.)

I thought it fitting enough that I should find that as part of my morning routine that I should follow suit.

1. Wake up.
2. Turn off first alarm.
3. Back to sleep for twenty-nine minutes. Why do I do this? Who knows.
4. Second alarm. This time I have to get up for real.
5. Come upstairs and make breakfast. (Hot Cocoa, toast, an apple, "cornflakes" {codeword for any cereal})
6. Force the boys to eat something. Especially Oskar.
7. Make sure the boys are wearing all the clothes they're supposed to, have everything they need for school, and have brushed their teeth. This is am allerwichtigsten.
8. Eat breakfast myself while cleaning up.
9. Go upstairs and return kids part of the house to order.
10. Go downstairs and do laundry if necessary, and shower, shave, etc.
11. Catch up on the lives of friends around the world.
12. Go out and do whatever it is that I intend to do with myself today, until around two, when the boys come home.

It used to be that step twelve didn't happen until about noon, but nowadays I've cut it down to around ten. Simple tasks like these get much easier the more you do them, I've found. In less pedestrian news, today is Winnie's birthday. He's the oldest, and he's been more than half my age for a year. Do the math, quick! My present to him was to clean up after the cakes he made last night for school today. It wasn't his favorite present, but I know he appreciated it. No pictures today. And no explanations for it. Don't like it? Leave a comment. I love comments.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lost in the Woods

I thought I should start with the end, and go from there. This is where I finally came out of the woods. It made the entire ordeal completely worth it, and then some. My worry was never that I wouldn't find my way out. I knew which direction I had to go, generally, and I knew I would run into something resembling civilization eventually, even if I had to follow the water downstream. My worry was more of when I would return.

Saturday was spent almost entirely in my room in Kreuth, the beautiful town above, and Sunday I came to realize that I was headed down that road once more. I decided to change directions. Realizing that I had never traveled through Kreuth on foot, I thought I should try it. Five minutes later, I had seen all that downtown had to offer, but I had found a hiking trail. "Perfect," I thought, "I like to go up." And up I went. And up, and up, and up. And before this becomes a Doctor Suess book, I'll dig a little deeper into my vocabulary. The forest was magnificent, especially since the fall color-change is in full swing here. From within, a glimpse beyond the tress was rare, but the trees were enough to look at most of the time, anyway. I also found a stream which returned to my path several times, and some mountain bikers who were really enjoying themselves (and then five minutes later their friends, who were not enjoying themselves quite as much.)

The problem came when I realized that my goal was not a peak, but a town on the other side, which are often named for nearby mountains. This meant that I had to turn around. For those of you who know me well, you know that I could not very well simply take the same path back (despite the trail i tried to take returning me to my old path) and I promptly found myself not quite sure where the path had gone. Nevertheless, I continued skipping down the side of the mountain. (Some of you may not know that skipping is the most efficient way to move quickly down a steep embankment.) Eventually, I came out of this:
and onto the world you saw at the beginning of this post. Even in person, the town looked deceptionally close once I came out of the woods. It was still another twenty minutes before I came strolling out of the cow pastures and into the backyard once more. Once I felt I knew where I was well enough, I took a look around and tried to figure out where I had been. I've decided that I crossed over and sort of behind the landform on the left. I'm very happy with my little hike. It revitalized me beyond what I would have expected. I had no idea I needed such things. Well, now I know. I'll leave you with the image the forest left me with as I departed it.

Monday, October 6, 2008


This weekend, I took a train to Dijon, France to see Becky. Well, that isn't entirely true. I actually took four trains. Only once or twice did I feel as if I had no idea what I was doing. Luckily, I can understand French pretty well when it is spoken to me. Of course, articulating my own thoughts isn't always quite so easy. I think I now have a slightly better understanding of how it would feel to be mute. I did, however, make all of my connections, got a lot of reading done, and even made some friends. People everywhere are very willing to help. Even, sometimes, when they have no idea what it is that is needed from them.

When I found Becky, who came from Périgueux, also by train, but a bit later, we found something to eat, and then somewhere to stay, since it was getting dark. We managed to avoid this:

And so many people tell me that French is such a pretty language. Maybe they were trying to say that it was lunch, and more. I have no idea. Luckily, we managed to find good food, despite Flunch's best efforts. We stayed at the not-glorious but more than satisfactory Hotel Jacquemart, and enjoyed the market, the sights, and a chilly bike tour of some of wine country:

Yes, that is the local dump just outside of Dijon. We should not have expected better for following the path between the train tracks and the canal, but things did improve once we got a bit further from the city. If it had only been a bit warmer, we might have been able to go much further.

Our days proceeded as such, from one half-understood conversation with a French person to the next (they were indeed all very nice) and when the time came to leave, we said our goodbyes, getting on our respective trains. It took me thirteen hours, but I made it back in one piece, thanks to many helpful railroad employees and fellow customers, and the man who drove me back from Freiburg. It is much cheaper to set up a ride with a stranger than with a commercial transportation agency. Oh well, I'm sure they'll keep trying.

Oh, and for those to whom Freiburg is of import, I am happy to say that I had about an hour to wander around, and get an ice cream cone from my favorite ice cream place outside of Newburgh, NY. It is sooo good. Here's a picture of the church near where I stayed in Freiburg at night. It brings back good memories.