FC Bayern and why your local team sucks

Football, or soccer for my Mericun readers, is the most popular sport on Earth. It is known as the beautiful game and anywhere you traverse on this small water covered marble in space we call earth, you will probably find a soccer ball, a Manchester United, Barcelona, or Real Madrid jersey, granted there are people of course. If you don’t know the sport, stop reading, climb out of the cave you are living in, and go look up Ronaldinho on YouTube.

yes

does it make more sense now?

Well now that we are on the same page, I would like to inform you that FC Bayern is currently the best team in the world. While such a title is always debatable, they just happened to win the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco. They got there by winning the UEFA Champions League, the European championship that crowns the best team in Europe. They also won the Bundesliga, the German national championship, as well as winning the Pokal, the German national cup. They have pretty much won everything there is to win, with the exception of the Supercup which they lost to Borussia Dortmund.

A team that can recreate that is allowed at least one cup a season

A team that can recreate such a display is allowed at least one cup a season

You might even debate and tell me “hey!, FC Barcelona has been killing it for the past couple of years and they have won the Champions League three times since 2006!” Well yes they have been but if you squint hard enough you will notice that the key word is “have.”

h

Rape would be a politically incorrect but a detailed word to describe what occurred

Barcelona unfortunately has not come out and so decisively and efficiently dismantled a team, particularly a team that is considered world-class, like Bayern beat Barcelona. Barcelona didn’t even get a goal in, and this is considering they have one of the best and most efficient offenses in the world. With such an ass whooping of the previously unofficial best team in the world, it is safe to say that FC Bayern has taken Barcelona’s place as top dog.

h

and the new living room set looks amazing!

But finally getting to the point of it all, it was awesome to have lived in Munich during this time. I was there for the end of the season and was lucky enough to have celebrated in the streets of Munich after the final home game, after they won the Champions League, and after they won the German cup. The first was the Meisterfeiern or the Champion Celebration where the team and the trophy ride along in a motorcade from the Stadium in Fröttmanning all the way to the Munich city center in Marienplatz. We had just finished watching the game back in our dorms in Studentenstadt and went down to Münchener Freiheit where we could better see the team. Sure enough they drove by but not in buses as we had imagined but in convertible sports cars.

g

I secretly worked as an undercover photographer for Jupp Heynckes

and it was awesome to be able to not only see but be both at eye level, walk with, and talk with the players.

j

it’s like walking into Paris, except in Munich, so technically better

and if that wasn’t enough, I even got an up close picture with Brazilian National Team Player and enemy number one of hair clippers, Dante Bonfim.

I hope you are enjoying this Nivi

I hope you are enjoying this Nivi

This probably would have been the highlight of me being in Munich if it weren’t for FC Bayern deciding that one trophy just isn’t enough and them winning the Champions League a couple of weeks later.

h

The porcelain Dutchman finally came through

So after an all German final, watching the better German team win, and then getting to walk around Munich with a bunch of drunk revelers and singing, or more like murmuring, any songs we knew about Bayern Munich, I decided to take a good picture that would best describes the streets that night.

j

as much anarchy as you will ever find in Germany, granted the crossing signal was green

and if you are asking how I managed to take such a picture from such heights

h

I never really did understand how German bus stops worked

and the party continued until the following day. Even though the team wasn’t in Munich, let alone Germany for the occasion, the city pretty much went as crazy as humanely possible, for German standards of course, and the atmosphere was jubilant to say the least. I would have posted some pictures of FC Bayern winning the German Cup a week later and the crowds coming out into the streets one last time, but lets just say that things got too real and to be quite honest, I too would like to see some pictures of that night to fully understand what exactly happened. None the less I think this was the best time for anyone, let alone an actual Bayern fan from the states, to have lived in Munich. The experience was unforgettable and even if the current team replicates what they accomplished the previous season, it would not come close. Mainly because we aren’t in Munich anymore, but also because they aren’t accomplishing the same feat. All three wins came after having lost the same three competitions the previous season and coming in second place. Them winning all three was the ultimate validation that they had perfected an already amazing team and that reaching the finals in all three competitions in two separate seasons wasn’t a fluke but maybe having lost all three the first time around was.

Advertisements

coming to terms with Italy

Every once in a while you get those moments when you decide that you need a good break from the daily struggles of being you and that you should probably leave town for something different.

I like to call those days Fridays

Sometimes I like to call those days Fridays

Well being in Munich is awesome but not traveling when everything is just about a train ride away would be a true crime. So with a long weekend on the horizon I decided that since everyone else in my program was traveling, I would do like them and travel. I was in contact with one of my good friends who moved to Italy when we were in middle school and he said that him and his parents would be more than glad to host me for a weekend so I could get to visit Rome. That was all the motivation I needed and I looked for a train ticket to Rome.

my expectations of Italy were slightly stereotypical

there is an actual giant lute in the middle of Italy

I’ve probably said it countless times before but traveling somewhere where you know someone, you will stay with someone, or will have someone who knows the place show you around is probably one of the best ways to get to know a place. Italy was no exception. I had an amazing time in Italy and I was really grateful that I got that sudden urge to travel and that I had the chance to get to know Italy a little bit better.

4 realizations from my trip to Italy

1. There are a ton of tourist everywhere!

fd

the fountain in the middle spews out people 4 times a day

I obviously knew before hand that Rome was going to have tourist everywhere. I really wasn’t surprised by the idea that there were tourist but more by the amount of tourist there were. They are all over the place. Obviously they are there for the same reason I was, to visit the city, see the sights, take instagram pictures, and just be touristy. The amount though was amazing, mainly because Rome is a pretty big city. Everywhere I would go there would be swarms of tourists. Japanese tourists with their socks, sandals, fanny pack, and overly pimped out camera which he will use to take enough pictures to kill the trip for any of his friends who once had a dream of traveling to Rome.

gd

Finally! 45 pictures of the same building in different angles

British tourists tend to stick out with their red lobster glow, men wearing capri pants, and young girls who have not really figured out what the length of a short should be.

English men are sponsored by Super Dry

English men are sponsored by Super Dry and horrible tattoo artists

To my personal favorite group of tourists, American teenagers. Maybe it is the loud English being emitted from the blob that is your tour group, or it could just be that one annoying loud kid who brings attention to himself and your group by wearing a giant culturally insensitive hat, regardless your group will forever be known.

EF Tours backpacks are also an indicator of being a part of this group

EF Tours has now made picking them out so much easier

They swarm throughout the city like maggots eating a dead carcass. Did I need to use such a vivid analogy? Yes! and more on that later. I think the whole tourist thing came down hard because we always imagine Italy to be such a romantic and Italian place and seeing so many non-Italians roaming around kinda breaks that expectation quite fast. I also could imagine taking pictures of Italy to be so much easier, and not that it wasn’t, but be prepared for your fair share of photobombings and random people that don’t need to be in your picture.

I still don't understand how the camera man ended up in front

thanks to the tourist of Rome for making my pictures more memorable

2. Rome is a giant tourist trap

Kinda like the Coliseum was a trap for indentured servants

Kinda like the Colosseum was a trap for indentured servants

Understandably a city with a huge tourism sector would want to milk that cow and make sure their coffers are full but Rome has taken tourism to a whole new level. Living in Orlando I can completely understand how important tourism is for an economy but there is a difference between the two. Orlando was a small town next to a swamp before Walt Disney decided to bring a cute looking rat couple over to Florida and build them a giant German inspired castle . Rome on the other hand has thousands of years of history spanning empires and the names of dictators and despots carved in stone. I would assume that a city like Rome would command some more respect for having such a rich cultural heritage but apparently I was wrong.

the things you do for a klondike bar

the things you do for a klondike bar

In their quest to squeeze dimes out of pennies, the entrepreneurs of Rome (which for the most part aren’t even Italian) have gone all out at making sure that you will fall into their traps. Fake gladiators will charm you into taking pictures with them, because who wouldn’t want to take pictures with two Romanians, from the country of Romania and not the city of Rome, with plastic abs and a shitty Italian accent. If the gladiators aren’t your thing, then you can always go for the Indian street vendors

he

Gucci would be so proud of the 2 for 20 deal on such immaculate sunglasses

and because all illegal and annoying activities would not be legitimate without competition.

and you thought I could only fool you through Email

and if you donate some money to my cousin in Nigeria…

So let’s say you tell all these people that cheap goods are not the reason you came for Rome. Well that is just half the battle because if I can’t sell you a good, then let me try to sell you a culturally irrelevant moment.

how many cultures can we insult at the same time?

how many cultures can we insult at the same time?

And you can’t run away from them. Try as hard as you will but they manage to fake levitate all over Rome. David Blaine and David Copperfield would be starving on food stamps if they lived in Rome. So once you are done with vendorpalooza you decide that they can’t possibly serve non-Italian food because if there is one thing tourist will flip about it will be about the lack of pasta. Well you are right except you can still get done in on this one as well. Go to any restaurant and be prepared to see plates of pasta in the 30 euros without sauce. You choose the Carbonara and a wine and hope for the best.

still haven't learned Rome have you?

still don’t understand Rome do you?

Well just like the new Dasani water bottle is designed to be more ergonomic and therefore carry less water, the restaurant has decided that the plate was too pasta heavy and given you the kid’s meal portion. I’ve seen dollar cheeseburgers at McDonalds pack more heat than Rome. So once you get ready to pay, you get charged a service fee, because you look foreign, don’t speak Italian, and vaffanculo. I have probably had better pasta at Olive Garden but when in Rome. Eating is done but think twice about going out at night because you will be invited to 50 different bar hops with drunk English teens and roudy American college students or you will hit a club owned by some Russian or Romanian steel magnate who tricks guys into paying 30 euro covers and 20 euro drinks thinking they will see the hottest Italian girls when in reality it is more like a sausage fest fighting for the attention of the Romanian girl who is passing herself off as Italian because foreign guys.

times may change but Discos are forever

going out clubbing with the guys takes another new meaning in Rome

So maybe I may have had a bad night in Rome but I will stand firm in my belief that Rome has gone down the steps of its former glory.

3. true Italy is outside of the big cities

now we are talking Italy

just like Grandma used to make it

The best thing about being with locals is that they will know the best places to go to. I was lucky enough that my friends family knew what real Italy was and where to find it. Guidonia and Tivoli are two small towns outside of Rome that feel just like I imagined Italy to feel like. The roads were narrow, the buildings looked authentic, and the landscapes were just like any old Italian in America would describe the home country.

if it makes it more Italian I took this picture on my Vespa

if it makes it more Italian I took this picture on my Vespa

While Rome is Rome and there is no substitute for seeing what was the capital of the Roman Empire, sometimes you just want to see the culture and take in what is genuinely from that place. I feel like I could have never had that experience within the boundaries of Rome but once I went out to the small towns, I could totally experience it. So much that a a couple of people we walked by on the small streets looked at us and were quite surprised to see two guys speaking English and Spanish. You could tell that tourism had not yet killed the town of its local culture. Sometimes it is nice to see places that are not negatively affected by such aspects. One of the things that was completely changed for me was Italian food. As told by my friend and his whole family, you will not get real Italian food unless you eat out of the city. Inside the city they cater to tourist whose palates are not normally accustomed to actual Italian food so quality takes a dive for quantity and profit. Outside the city the competition is stiff because a culture that takes its food so seriously and with such fervor will not allow for anything except top quality when it comes to food.

fd

half the price and twice the quality of anything in Rome

More importantly the people were awesome. They are way more relaxed and you can feel that warmth between people than in the city. They asked me about the trip, what it was like in Germany, if the meal was better than Rome. Even when navigating the murky waters of Spanish to Italian communication, the awkward moments become laughs and you learn that communication is not only verbal.

4. I only uncovered a fraction of Italy

although visiting the Pope in the Vatican means I visited another country

although visiting the Pope in the Vatican means I visited another country

Considering I had 4 days, including travel days, I saw a lot of Italy. I stopped near Bolzano/Bozen in the north and heard an Italian dialect of German and saw a German culture that I didn’t really expect in Italy. Drove through Trento, Verona, Modena, Bologna, and Florence. I saw the complete landscape of Italy from the Austrian border down to Rome. I thought my trip was really successful for the amount of time I had but after talking with my friend and his family, talking with the others in my study abroad group, and talking to my German friends I discovered that I had only seen a glimpse of what Italy has to offer. I hadn’t seen Venice, Milan, Turin, Naples, Catania, Palermo, Cagliari, Lecce, and Bari, all big cities in their respective regions. Hell, you could get a guy from Turin and a man from Catania together and they would probably struggle to understand each other’s dialects. Italy is pretty big and diverse. I got an idea of what the Italy we believe to be true Italy is because the average stereotype is based off of Rome and the region of Lazio but when it comes to understanding actual Italy and how multicultural it is, I am just beginning.

let's make things change!

let’s make things change!

And it doesn’t bother me one bit. It means that I have many more things to see and newer experiences to be had. Although whenever I do leave a place I always go through two types of nostalgic thought. I either become sad because I know that I will never return to that place again or I become nostalgic thinking of when the next time I will be in that place be and how it will have changed for me by the next time I will be going back. For Italy, I feel like I will be back and hopefully that nostalgia will only turn into more motivation to go a visit it again.

you also have to visit old friends

you also have to visit old friends

A last note

It may have sounded like I was completely tearing Rome apart but I liked Rome. Rome is such a beautiful city and has so many historical sites to see and the amount of history and culture in the city is astonishing. I completely understand why people travel from the nether regions of the globe to come see this city. My problem comes with the handling of the tourist and what tourist do that create such, in my opinion anyway, a cheesy atmosphere. Tourist paying to take cheesy non-authentic pictures with gladiators and levitating monks will just keep perpetuating those occurrences throughout the city. Tourist buying trash quality sunglasses and purses from illegal street vendors will just keep perpetuating their business. The more tourists shell out dollars to these people, the more these annoying practices will continue. Nothing is more disrespectful in my opinion to the legacy of such an inspiring city than fake mummies and fake products being sold at the doorstep of the Colosseum or Pantheon. It is cultural parasitism and I would not want to see that happening to my culture. While there are things being done to try to stop all the illegal vendors, I feel like the main culprit is the tourist. Whatever you spend your money on, you are supporting it. When I go elsewhere, as well as I do at home, I try to buy local and genuine. If I am in a particular place, and I like what I see, I try to make sure that anything I am buying is directly helping the local culture and people. The right type of tourism builds a place rather than deteriorating it.

3 months and 2 beers later

So it has been 3 months since I returned from studying abroad in Germany. It honestly feels very weird. Before my trip I really couldn’t imagine myself being back in the U.S. I could only fixate myself on being in Germany and that was as long term as I could possibly think of but low and behold here I am back in America with my study abroad experience being nothing but a 6 month time span in the chronological line that is my life. It is a decent chunk of my life because I currently view my life in chunks of 4 year terms because that is what 4 years of high school and college does but honestly it is only one of 8 semesters that I will spend in college, more like 12 but please do not get me started on the fiasco that is my college degree. I think it is one of the hardest realizations to come to. Ever since I was in high school, I always knew that I would study abroad in college and that it would be the best time of my life, which it was, but it is more than mindblowing to know that that time is gone and that that experience I looked so forward to is just another experience in the book of life. Maybe this is all a culmination of this following week being my last week and last time that I will choose classes as an undergrad. WTF! I feel like I just started college, how the hell am I possibly choosing my classes for my last semester as an undergrad.

granted I am not a 61 year old playing as a kicker for my college football team

granted I am not a 61 year old playing as a kicker for my college football team

Regardless of my mid-midlife crisis, I just really don’t know how to react to all the circumstances occurring at the moment. But I will not go into my whole “last semester” ordeal. I have more than capable friends, you know who you are, that are helping me out through this. Not because it is difficult, but because thinking you can deal with it by yourself is probably one of the dumbest positions, I personally think anyway, you could possibly hold. My whole argument is time. Sure I am slightly deviating from what my whole blog should actually be about, the beautiful country that is Germany and my time studying abroad there, but maybe this is the best lesson I learned from being abroad in the first place. I traveled thousands of miles, rode on countless trains, learned innumerable things, visited indescribable places, and met people whom words will never truly describe and when I think of what I best took from such an experience, the most valuable thing I learned was the value of time.

at a quarter million dollars, time has never been so valuable

whoever said you can’t buy time never bought a Rolex

Upon landing in Germany, I knew had about 6 months in Europe to study and enjoy but I will be the first to admit that I did not really know what 6 months actually were. I know the length of 6 months but I didn’t really know the value of 6 months. I should also define what I believe to be value. I can’t put a money sign in front of it. I probably could, but even after putting a money sign and digits in front of it there is no money that could ever replace or buy out my experience. While there are things that I can put a money sign on and view with monetary value, like my car, clothes, guitar (which is on sale by the way, Laguna LE322 with a free amp for anyone interested), there are other things that I put high importance on and that all the money in the world will never buy out, life, family, friendships, experiences, etc. I did not really know what value you could place on your experiences and I feel like this time abroad really taught me what I should really value and cherish. I only lived a month in Münster but the people I met and spent my time with and the things I experienced were really live changing and I can say I valued that short month in the north of Germany way more than I had valued any month previously. I made a weekend trip with my Brazilian friend to Amsterdam and I can vividly remember talking philosophy and ideas in Portuguese with him on a Dutch train on our way to Amsterdam Centraal. One of the things that truly struck me was a small aside on experiences and that we are the culmination of all our experiences. We are all genetically similar and physically the same with the exception of small things like skin color and height but when it comes to expressing your differences and your uniqueness, your experiences, knowledge, and personality will be the determining factor in identifying who you are and that will only be changed, created, or destroyed by what you value, what you let yourself be influenced by, and what you give your time to.

Aristotle would be proud to see such humanities develop in such human-less places

Aristotle would be proud to see such humanities develop in such a human-less place

It might not be the most amazing thing ever said and it is very debatable but it did resonate in me and has affected me ever since. I have viewed everything else after with a different perspective. The idea of time really fascinates me because we think we have so much of it but we don’t really know how to use it efficiently or correctly for that matter. We also believe that we have way more than we do, although we really don’t know how much we have. We also use that as an excuse to do crazy things when we should use that as an excuse to do good and productive things. We also don’t understand what we have around us in terms of time. Sometimes I feel like words don’t fully explain my struggle with it. I caught myself watching the TV show Doug and realized that that show is over a decade old. I just turned 21! Sure I can go celebrate and have fun but I have already lived over a quarter of what my expected life expectancy is and maybe it would be silly to believe that the best way to enjoy such moments would be to do things that would ironically make me forget them but then again beer is so delicious. But everyone says I am young and that I should enjoy my youth as best as I can. I do enjoy being and feeling young! I honestly don’t even know anymore. Maybe this is all a drunk rambling

brought to you by the people who thought that 8.0% beer was a sound idea

brought to you by the people who thought that 8.0% beer was a sound idea

but in a good summary of it all, I have somewhat not really come to terms with what time really is. Maybe I will find out sooner than later or maybe that is what life is all about and what we truly figure out, at least for those who get to know what their personal death bed looks like. I personally don’t know but I can rest assure with knowing that I am trying to find out. This is where Germany kinda kicks in. I do know that I enjoyed my time abroad and that It was amazing. I cherish those 6 months off in Beerlandia immensely because I feel like they molded me a little more to who I am now. They helped me understand a little bit more than what I previously thought it was. I feel like I spent an eternity over in Munich while at the same time I did not spend enough time there. Waiting for someone in the green in Stustadt felt like forever but I would do anything in the world to be waiting a couple more minutes for someone to come down with the coals so we could start grilling. If there is one thing I truly have learned is that time is intangible and waits for no one. The best we can do is take advantage of it and for better or for worse enjoy every second we can because we will never really know when that second hand will stop. A moment enjoyed correctly will seem like a second but last for a lifetime.

Why Munich?

looking good in the snow Munich

looking good in the snow Munich

So I finally arrived in Munich. I am not gonna bore you with tedious details and instead I will summarize and then let the creative juices flow.

my type of juice

or sometimes I let them ferment, you should know me by now

So long story short, I was done with my month in Münster and I booked a train to Munich with a stop in Hanover. I experienced my first train delay in Germany by 15 minutes. The Germans finally made a mistake. Luckily I boarded my ICE, the really fast bullet trains everyone imagines when thinking Europe, on time and went from Hanover to Munich.

at 150 mph no one can hear you scream

leaving as fast as possible might be an understatement

Finally arriving in Munich I was greeted by snow, which had already melted in Münster. Not knowing which Ubahn to take, I walked through the snow to my semester program with my luggage. One thing I will gripe about is Jeep luggage. It just happened to be the bag lying around the house and I took it thinking that maybe they are made like their cars. Wrong! Their cars might be great but their luggage sucks. I have never seen a rubber wheel completely disintegrate until now. With that being said, Jeep if you somehow ever read this, get your shit together. Continuing I went to my program, got all my paperwork and keys and headed to Studentenstadt, my home for the next 5 months. Once I arrived I was greeted to an empty room with a paper towel, a cup, and a sleeping bag. It was like a lonelier and colder version of camping. The only thing I could even concern myself was the lack of Wifi.

true

Maslow missed the most important step

Luckily I had 3g service on my cell phone to fall back on. After disembarking in the lonely connection-less closet that was my room. We were introduced to Studentenstadt by a year long student and met everyone in the program. Little did I know that I would share so many amazing experiences with this group of unassuming American kids. So in trying to fix the problem shown above, our cold, hungry, and unwired selves ventured out into the frigid cold to find ethernet cables.

at least it was scenic

the German winter would not let down

Once done, my friend Peter, Jason, and myself celebrated our achieving the most basic human necessity by fulfilling another basic human necessity.

the first of many rewards

a life without this is a life not worth living

And that is pretty much it. Anything else is superfluous.

Why Munich?

Now to the good stuff. Why Munich? A couple of people have asked me why Munich of all the cities in Germany. My true answer is that it is the only fully German speaking program my college offers so the option wasn’t really there. But that is such a boring answer. A city like Munich deserves a better reason than “uhh well I had no option.” Even it was my only option, I have always loved Munich and it was my dream to study here. So I will assume that I had an option and I will explain why I chose Munich over the rest of Germany.

1. Beer 

glad you didn't see this one coming

glad you didn’t see this one coming

So Bavaria is or might as well be the capital of good beer. The German beer purity law was founded here and every year they throw up a bunch of tents in the middle of Munich to drink a final “summer” brew before preparing themselves for a long hibernation season where they are forced to drink warm wine with orange peels and gingersnaps. Although they claim to celebrate the Oktoberfest tradition out of the wedding between King Ludwig I and Princess Therese of some duchy that no one honestly cares about or remembers, we all know that people only go to weddings out of obligation or because there is free booze. It must have been a hell of a party since they have kept the tradition going for the past 200 years. Let me also explain that this isn’t your boozey weekend at a frat party chugging down keystone and nattys. There are 6 big breweries in Munich and they work hard to maintain customers happy with good beer. Outside of Munich there are also other breweries in Bavaria that make amazing beer. They have different varieties and seasonal brews to adjust to changing tastes. It is a culture within itself. People are not pounding down liter beers just for the sake of passing time and getting shitfaced but rather as a way of enjoying everything else around them along with a good beer, which will nonetheless results in drunkenness once moderation decides to go outside, have a smoke, and never come back. So for those of you who consider yourselves huge beer connoisseurs, and none of this I like trying different types of Budweiser and Miller nonsense, I suggest you go to Munich and enjoy beer culture at its best.

plus you get to drink out of these cool looking contraptions

its like a sippy cup for adults

2.  Soccer/Football/Fußball

Call me when you get this close to the Superbowl Trophy

Call me when you get this close to the Superbowl Trophy

So if you are a fan of the sport, which we will call soccer for relative ease, then you should probably come visit the best club team in the world. FC Bayern just had the best season to date by winning the League 6 match days before the end of the season, winning the German Cup by beating the previous champions along the way, and winning the Champions League against its rival Borussia Dortmund after beating Barcelona, supposedly the world’s greatest team but without a doubt the world’s biggest bandwagon, 7-0 along the way. Bayern couldn’t have won more this season if they had wanted to. And it isn’t even a fluke. They have been to 3 of the past 4 Champions league finals and only twice in the past 10 years have they not come in the top two places of the German league. No other team in Germany will offer you that amount of consistency. “But Jonathan, won’t I be called a bandwagon fan?” Well first of all, don’t talk back to me when I am speaking. Second, this is where you use your foreigner advantage. Unless you were previously a fan and have the knowledge to back it up, always go with the I am a foreigner in Munich and seeing as how I am now here, I want to root for my local team. This will work most of the time and locals will be flattered that you enjoy their city and team, but they will not take you as a serious fan. It will not work with TSV 1860 fans, the other team from Munich that hasn’t had its glory days since the 1960’s and seen the first division since the early 2000’s, as they will not only give you shit for being a Bayern fan but give you shit for being a bandwagon fan. This would be like getting shit for being a Lakers or Knicks fan from Clippers and Nets fans respectively. If this does occur, you normally grab your beer, and let your drinking drown them out.

how could you not support a team who made a soccer uniform based around Lederhosen?

how could you not support a team who made a soccer uniform based around Lederhosen?

3. Culture

Bavarians doing their daily routine

typical pre-breakfast ritual in Munich

So there will always be a struggle when choosing somewhere in Germany. Germany has many different cultures and is quite varied when it comes to places where on could go. Unfortunately most people don’t know that and associate all of Germany with leather pants, Oktoberfest, and somehow manage to bring Julie Andrews across the border from Austria into German culture. So while I would normally go off on why you should see more of Germany than just Bavaria, the Bavarian board of tourism has given me better incentive than the German board so make of it what you will. The biggest fight is between Munich and Berlin. Berlin is a very big, diverse, and cosmopolitan city. It is very modern and even I will agree that everyone should go once and party all night at some crazy alternative bar/club that will leave you feeling the aches and wondering where time went and how an east German bunker was turned into a club. Other than that, I will return to Munich every time. Munich is a very traditional city known as the town of a million inhabitants, it has a better ring to it in German. You can walk around in Lederhosen, constantly hear a slight Bavarian accent, drink liter beers to you heart’s desire and no one will bat an eye. While it is traditional very traditional, in comparison to all those hipsters and foreigners in the north, you too can enjoy those hipster and foreign cultures. If Turkish is your liking, the area near the Bahnhof, train station for all you illiterates, is packed with Turkish restaurants and grocery stores, along with some tag along Arabs. If a crazy night life is what you are looking for, Kulturfabrik and the area near the Ostbahnhof, ost means east, is full of different clubs from Latin American clubs to Russian clubs filled with actual mobsters looking for their new Svetlana to even a club where I was told by a foreigner that I looked too foreigner to come in, or at least that is my interpretation of what occurred that night. But what if that is too mainstream and you want to find non-mainstream people. Well I would suggest either going to the bars around the university, or if you are really lucky, Studentenstadt has their very own residents hipsters, many of which ironically enough don’t live there but rather commute there to drink. You will find them drinking it up at the bars of Studentenstadt at the oddest times and places, as to avoid mainstreamism. So don’t be worried about a lack of culture cause culture is what you will truly find in Munich.

although like Moses, the Cherokees, and white kids to Colleges in the middle of nowhere, German hipsters will eventually migrate to Berlin

and just like Moses, the Cherokees, and white kids to colleges/universities in the middle of nowhere, migration is necessary and German hipsters will eventually migrate to Berlin

4.  Scenery/Mountains

ok, not Munich but close enough

adding new meaning to the term “getting high”

This world was not divided evenly when it came to topography. God just gifted some while damning others. I am not gonna get into this argument. I also was very bad at exploring and in all honesty only traveled mainly south of Munich towards the Alps. I live in Florida and it is flat. I mean flat. Like seriously flat. I once found a month old soda in my cupboard that still wasn’t as flat as Florida. So if you think that I was gonna travel around to see flat land, cows grazing, and just general flatness than you did not understand anything I just said in the previous sentences. The Alps are ridiculously beautiful.They just chill most of the year with snow on top and what have you. And if they have a good enough slope they invite Germans and other Jack Woflskin wearing people to come hike, ski, snowboard, and just in general play around. What makes them cool is that they are also climbable, with the correct equipment. They are not that high, when it comes to altitude. Bogota for example is the capital of Colombia and has over 7 million inhabitants. It also sits at an elevation of 2625m or 8,612 feet. The highest mountain in Germany is Zugspitze and sits at 2962m or 9,718 feet. Well that is a big difference. Fine! La Paz, the capital of Bolivia sits at 3640m or 11,942 feet and has a population of about a million people. What I am getting at is that if you ever are motivated to climb a mountain because you have that itch, then you should probably head to Bavaria. Germans and their need to have everything in order have already created everything you will ever need to mountain climb from gear, which will more than likely be Jack Wolfskin, to maps and charts to even train stations that are directly located at the base of mountains where the trail begins at the station’s exit. In Germany you will be able to climb a relatively decent mountain, and say you have climbed the highest mountain in Germany.

although I never said exactly how you needed to climb the mountain

although I never said exactly how you needed to climb the mountain

5. All around good living

he is only missing a beer mug to make this my dream come true

it is like my dream come true, except for the lack of a liter beer

The citty motto for Munich is “Munich loves you” and before Germans started personifying their cities, although Germans do know that cities are feminine, the motto was “Cosmopolitan city with a heart.” The Mercer Quality of Living Survey has always placed Munich within the top 10 cities in the World when it comes to livability. Munich has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Germany, is the powerhouse of Southern Germany, and is home to the Headquarters of companies like BMW, Siemens, Allianza, and Munich Re. Munich has pretty much everything economically for you to get going. And once you have settled down roots, Munich offers just about anything for every lifestyle. From shopping in multiple shopping malls, to visiting the countless museums like the Pinakothek or the BMW museum, to getting flat out drunk and countless beer gardens, to swimming naked in the English Gardens, to chowing down at every possible Bavarian variation of a restaurant, to the surfing in the middle of the European continent, Munich has it covered. I only lived in Munich for about 5 months but I can honestly say that I did not get half the things off my bucket list. Is it sad? Yes, because I had planned on getting so much done and seeing so much. But I have come to look at it from a different perspective. I have so much more to accomplish and I would be lying through my teeth if I said that I wouldn’t want to live in this city again, both to accomplish the other things on my bucket list as well as to just kick back and enjoy. That is one thing that I will always admire about Munich and Munichers. The lifestyle is a perfect mix of fast enough to get things accomplished while slow enough to enjoy life. You can see it in the people, the culture, the layout, and the daily habits around Munich. People will be speed walking down the street to get to work or school on time only to stop at a crosswalk light and wait patiently even though there are no cars coming. That is the perfectly functional contradiction that is Munich.

or a man in a hurry

or a man wearing Lederhosen in a hurry using a windup camera

In Conclusion

Everything that can possibly be stereotyped about Germany will more than likely come from Bavaria. Lederhosen, Sauerkraut, the Alps, Beer, fast cars, and beautiful blonde women named Helga. Is it bad? Kinda. I like to believe that stereotypes hold a grain of truth. But then there are others that will do everything to avoid a highly stereotyped areas. Just like in the U.S. there are people who avoid Texas out of fear of Stetson hats and the Alamo, there are people that avoid Bavaria because they don’t want to fall into the trap of going to the center of tourism and hasty generalizations. Well suck it up and go, and more importantly avoid the gimmicks and 5 dollar bullshit. You are missing out on so much because of a silly preconceived notion. There is a reason the culture is pervasive and it is highly made fun of. Because it is good. Bavarians took this culture wherever they traveled and kept it to heart with thousands of Oktoberfests around the world to attribute to it. American G.I.s came back from being stationed in Germany and brought back beer steins and crazy pictures while others even brought back families. There is something about this land that has made its diaspora long to return while maintaining its culture abroad. So why not go and find out for yourself? The worst that can happen is self affirmation. The best, self actualization.

Drugs, sex, and Canals: My trip to the Netherlands

its like a less cloudy and more liberal version of London

its like a less cloudy and more liberal version of London

During my time in Münster, I decided that I would make the most of my relative location and wander over to the low countries also known as the Netherlands. Before I start my storytelling, we will have an educational moment and realize what exactly the Netherlands are.

how could such a small country be so complicated?

how could such a small country be so complicated?

First of all the picture above us shows the country of the Netherlands, or the Kingdom of the Netherlands for all you people that believe in formalities and drinking afternoon tea with your mum. The Netherlands literally means the low lands or lands near the sea. The Netherlands in all of it’s wonderful tulipy orange glory is divided into twelve provinces.

even in English, they are still unpronounceable

even in English, they are still unpronounceable

But like most if not all countries, there are a select few regions that have always been more powerful and have had dominance over the rest of the country. When you think of tulips, windmills, wooden shoes, the International Criminal Court, dikes holding back the ocean, canals, West India Trading Company and Heineken you are actually thinking of the provinces of North and South Holland, or more easily summarized as Holland.

yes, the small region in yellow controlled the odd shade of grey

Tulips and windmills have always been scared of Germany

Kinda like how the area between Boston and Washington D.C. is the powerhouse of the United States, the area of Holland has been the powerhouse of the Netherlands. Fortunately for the United States, we are huge and New York City is not as easily confused with the middle of Iowa or southern California.

although I don't blame the Dutch for confusing this with the Lower East Side

although I don’t blame the Dutch for confusing central Iowa with the Lower East Side

Unfortunately for the Dutch, which is another story, their country is slightly larger than Maryland, which makes it more than convenient to misnomer the whole land after a certain region.

the average Dutch women

I hate to stereotype but why does every Dutch person smokes pot?

Got it? Ok, it gets better. The people, language, culture, and adjective used to describe the Netherlands is Dutch. Some English speakers say Netherlander but sadly we cannot all be as smart or politically correct. Dutch comes from an old Germanic word used to describe the Germanic people of mainland Europe. Over time the cultures diverged and the term grew more area specific to better describe the current Dutch seeing as how the Germans could not unify because they were too busy fighting each other over who could marry whose cousin and why their version of a certain religion was right. By the time the Germans decided that they could accomplish more together, the Latin phrase Germania was more associated with central European Germanic group because the Netherlanders already had the phrase Dutch associated with them for the previous 800 years.

Dutch-German relations have been good ever since

Dutch-German relations have been good ever since

So now that you hopefully are a little bit more cultured, I will explain my trip to the Netherlands. My first excursion was into the border town of Enschede for about a day with a group of friends consisting of three Spanish guys, a Palestinian/Israeli (lets not start arguing), an ethnic Russian Kazakh, a Swiss-French, a Brazilian of Dutch ancestry, an actual Dutch, and myself. Between us we could literally from a mini U.N. and probably get away with it. If you have never heard of Enschede, I don’t blame you, but I will give you an association to help you remember the small town.

the cool beer with the resealable bottle that makes Heineken look cheap

made in Enschede, drunk by Americans who drink “fancy” beer with the cool resealable top

It is about an hour and a half away from Münster and enjoys all the comforts of being Dutch while still displaying a semi-intelligible form of German/Dutch. It is a nice small city but unfortunately I went on a Sunday and the only things open were Kebab shops, bars and restaurants, and head and coffee shops, which regardless is probably most people, or at least myself, need to function.

I can assume it gets better as the thermostat jumps above 0

I can assume it gets better as the thermostat jumps above zero

So being the curious young American that I am, I needed to see if the whole “legal” pot thing was true.

we were close

once you start seeing seed signs, you know you are on the right track

after further walking we stumbled upon what appeared to be an establishment that operated selling recreational drugs.

and sure enough if you look hard enough, you will find it

and sure enough if you look hard enough, you will find it

but like all good things in life, seeing is believing and I needed more proof. After walking in, getting ID’ed, and acting somewhat surprised about the organization of the little shop, I managed to snap a picture of all the proof I needed.

the holy grail of stoners everywhere

its like the Rosetta Stone for stoners

We then went and did what the current youth between the ages of 20-30’s do best, bar hop until the sun don’t shine.

6 hours in we realized we outdrank the locals

6 hours in we realized we out drank the locals and they had left

After realizing that livers have limits and that final trains exist, we headed back to Germany with basic knowledge of the Netherlands. Marijuana is legal in quantities up to 5 grams, Middle Easterners and Turks are invading all of Europe and setting up Kebab/Döner/Schwarma shops everywhere but the white sauce offered in those shops in the Netherlands is amazing, and bar hopping is cheaper in Germany. A couple of weeks later, my Brazilian friend and I decided to take the dream pilgrimage of every pot smoking youth in the world, but mainly America, and travel to Amsterdam. I will start off with saying that the pictures of Amsterdam do and don’t do it justice.

drugs, sex, and canals

drugs, sex, and canals, but mainly canals

First it actually looks like the pictures I had previously seen. The problem is that it feels ten times better to actually be there. The city has a certain vibe to it that is hard to pinpoint. So after dropping off our stuff at the hostel, we decided to search the town for things to do. On our ramblings of the town we realized how pervasive this whole Dutch Liberalness is.

low and behold

Republicans and soccer moms drew up their nightmares, and the Dutch built them

The amount of head shops, coffee shops, and just plain stores trying to lure in the impressionable tourists is ridiculous. You can’t walk ten feet without seeing a pot plant in the form of a flag, box, bag, or anything that will draw attention, can be made in China cheaply, and can be sold for big bucks.

some investors are more subliminal

some investors are more subliminal but geniuses at the same time

We continued to roam around taking in all the sights. While there is a more touristy district aimed at “sin” tourism, once you walk out of the center, you can find something more Dutch and more locals. We were just astonished at how intricate the canal system was, how the architecture varied but still maintained its distinctive North Germanic look, and how a small country like the Netherlands could colonize lands as far as Indonesia, Suriname, and so on.

their gigantic shopping centers, not impressed

they also named their shopping center the beehive, so I guess they can be witty

So after walking around, we decided to eat dinner and go bar hopping with some Colombian and Brazilian kids we met who were visiting Amsterdam from their study abroad program in London. It was during our tipsy walkings of the town that I came to take the picture that best symbolizes Amsterdam.

prostitutes in the red light

prostitutes in the red light on the left, coffee shop in the back with the green light, church on the right

It is by no means a beautiful picture, but the idea that two businesses like prostitution and recreational drug selling can exist side by side with a church is pretty explaining of the situation in the Netherlands. Not that the Netherlands is a drug ridden, whore infested, degenerate country but rather that they have found a middle ground where as long as you don’t bother me and I don’t bother you, we can coexist side by side. Prostitution is a legal and unionized, so to this extent they are more advanced than half of America, and is not necessarily seen as a possible career choice but rather as a method of setting prostitution in a legal framework and controlling it. Marijuana and soft drugs work in a similar fashion. The government has decided that enforcement of drug laws on soft drugs in quantities smaller than 5 grams is a waste of time and money and that the police should worry about hard drugs and distribution. So while technically illegal, there is no enforcement and the government has created a climate where soft drug use is prohibited and if addiction exist, help is available. It works pretty well, and while it may at first seem chaotic to anyone from a puritan country like the United States, once you walk around it for a day, you get the idea of how it functions, and I can assume that once you live around it, it becomes second nature. With that small analysis, we went back to the hostel.

never a bad view before going to sleep

never a bad view before going to sleep

The following day we decided to continue our sight seeing and hit the famous spots or hit up very local spots.

The New Church

The New Church where all the heathens come to repent

We continued down and found

some lady who thought it was more than acceptable to get in my Anne Frank House picture

some lady who thought it was more than acceptable to get in my Anne Frank House picture

and because a good trip isn’t good without trying a local delicacy

Herring and Onions, Anthony Bourdain doesn't know what he is missing out on

Herring and Onions, Anthony Bourdain doesn’t know what he is missing out on

Unfortunately our time was up as we only had two days to visit the Netherlands before we went back to school and we left Amsterdam, only taking a slight glimpse into what an amazing city it is.

Even the train station was feeling the Amsterdam vibe

Even the train station was feeling the Amsterdam vibe

I am glad to say I visited Amsterdam, even if it was only for two days, and I am more than certain that I will be back, preferably with a local. There is way more to see in this country, and I know that any visit back will have me trying to study and understand the idiosyncrasies of Dutch life and how they function.

Things to know before you go

1. While I normally recommend learning the language, or at least a little bit, before you head off to any country, the Dutch have an amazing mastery of English and I honestly believe that they probably speak better English than many Americans. English will get you by in the Netherlands without a problem, although knowing basic phrases will put a smile on Dutch person’s face.

2. Don’t just go for the drugs, sex, and alcohol. One of the most shallowest things you can do is to travel far just to be able to go crazy for a couple of days because the host country has lax laws. Go for the culture, history, food, and just overall experience and take advantage of those lax laws but don’t make your number one reason for going to the Netherlands drug or sex related. You can tell that many people in the Netherlands are not too fond of crazy tourists coming to their country to get stoned, have sex with a prostitute, and go all out crazy. Pretty much respect and the golden rule.

3. What happens in Amsterdam should stay in Amsterdam, or at least until the rest of the world catches up on acceptance of others regardless of what one does

4. Be prepared for a hodgepodge of different cultures. The Dutch conquered many lands and allowed many foreigners to come back and settle in the Netherlands. You will find Indonesians of mixed Dutch ancestry due to colonization, to southern Europeans who came as guest workers, to Middle Easterners and Africans who are applying for asylum, to even expats who just rather live in the Netherlands. Calling them “Dutch” is a whole different argument, but the diversity is there and one should take advantage of it.

5. Go with an open mind and be prepared to observe and analyze. America is not perfect, and neither is the Netherlands, but seeing the differences and how both countries and cultures handle them will greatly expand your horizons and will actually make your trip more worthwhile.

I stil

Also take a good camera, you don’t want to miss pictures like this

Münsteren around

So before my time in Munich, I lived a little over a month in the northwestern German town/city of Münster. Yes it is spelled like the cheese, but ironically enough Muenster cheese (without the umlaut mind you) is an American type of cheese not to be confused with Munster which is a French cheese named after a town in the Alsace region near the German border.

I'll stick with the city over the cheese

the actual Münster, and not a some low grade cheese

Before I could do any actual studying at a college campus, my college has a partnership with Kapito Sprachschule, speaking school for all my monolinguals, where I must attend  to improve my German for studying at a German University. I was quite surprised by Münster and have come to like the city more than I would have expected to. I knew a disproportionate amount of people from this city before I came and had always been told about how amazing this city was relative to its size. I personally feel like it was the perfect city and experience to warm me up to actually living in Germany because it is small enough to where you feel cozy but big enough to where you can’t fully see everything over the span of a month.

not a bad view

plus you get a nice winter view and the perfect peeping tom hideout

My accommodations were pretty good, although compared to what lie ahead in Munich I was quite spoiled! I had a pretty big room, a full size bed, a small but comfortable kitchen and three pretty cool German roommates. I was also located a stones throw from a Netto and the bus stop, 5 minute walk from one of the main avenues with shops and stores and a 20 minute walk, 10 minute bike ride from the downtown. I could say that I had it pretty easy and I was lucky to be situated in such a convenient area of Münster.

although

although the weather could have cooperated a bit more

So Münster is a cozy town of about 300,000 inhabitants and like all good things German, it is older than dirt and has a long history from being founded by one of Charlemagne’s religious lackeys trying to evangelize to the heathens near the Dutch border,

my thoughts exactly

I said near the Dutch border

to having the oldest high school in Germany, to being home to many a great fist fights between the peaceful religions of Catholicism and its up and coming Tea Party cousin Protestantism back in the late middle ages, to getting their proverbial shit rocked by America during WWII, to being one of the regions current cultural and economic centers.

military targets never looked so civilian

Churches have acquired knowledge of the force

The city has about 50,000 students which adds a young flavor to the city which can be easily seen around the town. To add to the diversity, Münster is home to various German language schools which attracts foreigners from around the world looking to learn German and populate a land devastated by intelligent family planning and rampant use of prophylactics, as well as a German-Latin American university program that brings many Latin American students that don’t understand the true meaning of minus zero. The diverse mix can be equally seen and experienced around the town. There are various Latin American restaurants around town, Latin Nights at local clubs and there is even a Latin club not far from the city center. I think this was one of the biggest surprises for me, seeing as how I thought that Latin Americans, as well as foreigners in general, would be attracted to big cosmopolitan cities like Berlin and Hamburg rather than the small city of Münster.

so a Brazilian and a Colombian-American walk into an Irish bar

so a Brazilian and a Colombian-American walk into an Irish bar on St. Patrick’s Day

Along with the amount of culture, there is also much to see and do around Münster. As with all European cities, it is always great to start at the center, which 10 times out of 9 will be home to an enormous church.

low key and humbleness were never really top priorities for the Church

low key and humbleness were never really top priorities for the Church

Following the main streets out with take you to many cool little shops, stores, and restaurants.

you can never truly outrun capitalism

you can never truly outrun capitalism

Once you walk past the old buildings turned money making machines, you reach the central plaza that every European city is obligated to have. Seeing as how Europe was at one point ruled by Kings who could not afford pickup trucks, even today F-150s are still expensive and hard to come by, and lift kits were not sold for vehicles that didn’t exist, European kings needed a place to display something grandiose to make up for their personal shortcomings. The solution was a giant plaza around the city center where the king could congregate his underlings and display his military prowess. When not in use, the plaza turned into a giant market for all the inhabitants of the town/city/village to come and get their black Friday deals on. Centuries later, the same markets still exist and offer some of the best fast foods outside of 4 a.m. drunken döner encounters and third world food carts.

such an inconspicuous path could lead to

such an inconspicuous path could lead to

battered and deep fried fish served with remoulade, tartar sauce, and happiness

battered and deep fried fish served with remoulade, tartar sauce, and happiness

Continuing further out you reach the famous Promenade. Münster being the German bicycle capital with a 2 to 1 bicycle to person ratio, there are many bicycle friendly paths around the city. The Promenade encompasses the whole city center, or at least the more denser populated center, and has a pedestrian path that runs parallel to it. Motorized vehicles are strictly forbidden and the rules of the road apply equally to any bikes, or longboards in my case. It is actually pretty cool to see how a city dedicates so much to maintaining another mode of transportation like bicycles and how many people actually use them. It is quite normal to see businessmen, doctors, your teacher/professor, even the local bums on a bicycle.

my morning walks to school

my morning walks to school were quite enjoyable

Continuing out you reach two waterfront spots where most of the Münsteraners, or whatever the demonym is, decide to go once the mercury rises above freezing. You have the harbor, which is mainly a night time attraction as many restaurants, bars, and clubs are located there.

its like the Venice of the north, but not really

it is like the Venice of the north, but not really

or the more relaxing Aasee. As previously stated and beaten, Germans love being outside. Münsteranians, I will get it right sooner or later, have this nice little lake next to the Mensa, public cafeteria for all my Americanese speakers, where they will sail, although swimming is apparently not allowed, jog, picnic, and just relax.

cold beer and colder weather look pretty good

cold beer and colder weather look pretty good

You could continue going out but honestly I recommend just staying at Aasee where you will make new friends, share a couple of beers, and create new memories. This is the Münster at its best and I am more than glad to have spent a month in this city. It was the perfect introduction to Germany and for anyone thinking of somewhere to study German, look up Kapito Sprachschule, you can’t go wrong. Likewise I am glad to have made such great friendships in this town and hope to one day return!

Leaving home for the well known unknown

And so my trip begins

So February 21st had finally come around. It was finally the day to fly to Germany. It was an extra long winter break seeing as how my spring semester would start once I arrived in Germany instead of mid January like it normally should have. In the meantime I was working for Billabong in Universal Studios and it was honestly one of the best years of work in my life. The friends I made, the experience I gained, the perks, and the overall experience was amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

the coolest kids I had the pleasure to work with

the coolest kids I have had the pleasure to work with

After working with these people in an industry I loved, you come to view them like a family away from home. Along with working for Billabong, I was pretty much just living the relaxed life as I had no real priorities between my last day of exams and my departure date. This meant that I was either living the life of a beach bum

a tough life indeed

a tough life indeed

an impromptu zoologist

Manny Puig and Steve Irwin are pussies

Manny Puig and Steve Irwin are pussies

a professional college student

you could consider it a pregame to Germany

you could consider it a pregame to Germany

a Soviet ski-instructor

the sickle and hammer will assure the NSA reads this one = more readers!

the sickle and hammer will assure the NSA reads this one = more readers!

Or my personal favorite an uninvited creeper.

sketchy, just like all creepers

sketchy and blurry, just like a creeper should be

The between time was probably going to make up for my current time where I only have 3 weeks of summer vacation instead of the usual 3 months. I didn’t mind it one bit and more then enjoyed it. I had found an equal balance of work and play that honestly opened me up to what life would possibly be like with just work taking up most of my time instead of the juggling act that is school, work, schoolwork, and play. It was fun while it lasted and the anticipation of knowing that I was going to head out for Germany made what would normally feel like really fast days, because of all the fun and enjoyable activities, feel really slow. But like previously stated, the day had come, my bags were packed and I was ready for the adventure that was to come. It felt weird knowing that I would be leaving home for such an extended period of time. I live at home and have never really had that moving out experience that most other college kids have. I wasn’t worried as much for my own self, especially since I was ready to see how I would handle myself living by myself, but rather for my parents. As much as they may not want to admit it they are overprotective, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, they are and it is understandable but when you invest so much in something, watching it unfold will be quite an emotional run. With all the physical and emotional luggage, we headed to the airport.

TSA was going to have a field day with this one

TSA was going to have a field day with this one

After saying goodbye to my parents and siblings, and shedding a couple of tears like a close knit family does, I walked through security and readied myself for the fun journey that lay in my path. My flight would be leaving at 8 p.m. and 9 hours later I would be landing in Frankfurt around 11 a.m.. After that I would need to take a train to Mainz so I could meet up with my couchsurfing host sometime during the afternoon. I would chill in Mainz until Sunday then I would take the train up to Münster and receive my room in an apartment later that afternoon. I would then start my speaking school on Monday and back to the old college grind. So with that light layout of what i needed to do, I hopped into the pressurized tin can and flew off.

I prefer German and Lufthansa when it comes to phallic looking machines

I prefer German and Lufthansa when it comes to phallic looking machines

I managed to switch my seating to where I could have a full row and hopefully get some sleep. I have always been a somewhat nervous flyer. Something about flying in pitch blackness 7 miles over the middle of the Atlantic at 550 mph has never been calming. To make matters worse, Florida was having a relatively cool winter day of 85 degrees Fahrenheit while Frankfurt was having a warm winter day of 30 degrees. The change in between the two guarantees the turbulence that turns atheist into devout believers in God.

we just got into crash positions just in case, also if you have never seen the movie Airplane, stop reading and start watching

we got into crash positions just in case, also if you have never seen the movie Airplane, you are wasting your time looking for humor here, go watch it

Luckily I sat next to some off duty flight attendants who assured me that shaken not stirred is the typical order of transatlantic flights crossing different weather zones. After a long flight with little sleep and a non-functioning entertainment system, because turbulence will apparently affect that, I landed in Frankfurt to little snow and cold weather. I grabbed my bags, went through security, and went to the train station underneath the airport and took the train to Mainz. It felt quite surreal to be in Germany by myself and not being 100% sure where I was going to sleep that night. I had talked with my couchsurfing host and set up to stay in touch as soon as I arrived but there is always that what if in the back of your mind. I don’t really mind as I view every fork in the road as a new adventure, but sleeping in the cold was not exactly what I had in mind for a welcoming day to Germany. After waiting in a Coffee Fellows, Starbucks’s black German cousin, for a couple of hours at the Mainz train station I met up with my host and went to her pad.

better view than what most hostels offer

better view than what most hostels offer

After passing out and waking up for dinner, my host Esther decided that it would be a good idea to go eat dinner where the local Amis, Americans for all you gringos, eat. We went to Eisgrub Brau, a literal hole in the wall/ cave that stretches into an endless amount of dining halls underneath the adjacent street and buildings. To make it better they brew their own beer on site and have the copper pots, stills, and tanks incorporated into the layout of the restaurant. On the way in they had a wall decorated with certificates and a couple were from the local American military base sending their thank yous for feeding them and getting them drunk. And with that warm welcome, the debauchery began.

love at first sight

love at first sight

and for dessert, Eisbein (hamhock), God's gift to the non-believers

and for dessert, Eisbein (ham hock), God’s gift to the non-believers

The following day was commenced with jet lag tiredness, diabetic coma, and a good hangover. After waking up sometime after midday, we went off on the mandatory sightseeing followed by my only touristy photo moment in Mainz.

I avoided the socks, sandals, and fanny pack quite well

I avoided the socks, sandals, and fanny pack quite well

After another lazy day, we met up with some of Esther’s friends and decided that I should be introduced to clubbing in Germany. After pregaming to a couple bottles of wine, Mainz being in the wine growing region, we went to a club where I learned one of the cornerstones of German nightlife. Little was I expecting Germans to love the 90’s which such fervor and enthusiasm. 90’s nights are all too common and you would be dumb to own a club in Germany and not cater to such a huge portion of the population who feel that the 90’s offered great dance hits. While I took no pictures, because photos do not convey the feeling and you must experience this one for yourself, it was very awkward, interesting, and intense to see an abandoned factory turned into a dance club and watching kids somehow dance to wonderwall. It was a pretty eye opening night.

eve

although the walk home through the backstreets is quite the calmer

Finally Sunday had arrived. I woke up before noon, headed to the train station in a wine, beer, and Oasis stupor that only a German can empathize with, and bought my ticket to Münster. My first weekend in Germany was over, and I can say that the experience was quite a success. My first couchsurfing experience was great, I made a really cool friend in Mainz, I survived off of what I though was ok German, and I had a great introduction to what Germany would offer me in the following months. I boarded the ICE, high speed train, and left the town of Mainz for what would be my first day of school in Germany.

saying goodbye is easier at 250 kmh

saying goodbye is easier at 250 kmh