All that forethought is thrown out the window when you find yourself booking tickets to Munich only a week ahead of departure (and getting suitably excited as you’ve never been to Europe before – yay!), and there are more pressing issues as taking an extended work lunch break to get to a bank to make sure you have some Euros up your sleeve before you go.
Monsieur Poisson recently started a new job with a German firm which requires its employees to visit head office to get a better feel of main operations as well as to meet members of their overseas team. As accommodation and his flights are provided, coupled with a normally tough manager being sympathetic and granting me leave, I jumped at the opportunity to tag along.
The husband’s company flies all of its employees business class (not just upper management, ha!) which meant I sat separately in economy on both legs of the journey here. With business tickets costing 3.5 times the price of economy, the choice of potentially having more spending, and eating, money was definitely more attractive. So what does the luxury of a business class ticket buy you?
Munich is a beautiful city with architecture and landscape so different to Sydney that I can’t stop gushing about it. It’s not as densely populated, quite flat, with lots of cyclists in the city centre, and is very lush and green with it being spring at present. You can’t help but wonder whether the locals are blasé about all this, and whether they find our urbanised concrete jungles and rugged outdoors possessing a contrasting beauty instead.
Munich takes its days of rest very seriously, with most stores closed on both Sundays and public holidays apart from some eateries. The use of credit cards isn’t all that common, hence our panic at needing cash before we left Sydney, and even less so in the town of Erding where the husband’s company is located about 45km from the centre of Munich. Visiting employees are always put up in the 80s-style hotel/B&B where we’re staying, and is located on the outskirts of Erding where the environment is more rural – think any of Australia’s wine regions but much, much flatter – there are even horses’ stables and free-roaming chickens on a neighbouring property! Buffet breakfast is included daily and contains your usual hotel selection of bacon, eggs, cereal, fruit, etc, as well as more local breakfast options of cold meats, cheese and gherkins.
The vast selection means I can load up on breakfast and pilfer a small snack back to our room for lunch, as there aren’t any food options around apart from an attached Italian joint or hot food bar about 10 minutes’ walk away. Being here makes us realise how spoilt for choice we are in terms of cuisine back home – you are pretty much limited to German (Bavarian) food here and Italian, with Munich being separated from the north of Italy by only a small strip of Austria. We spotted a couple of asado restaurants and the odd Thai or sushi takeaway joint, but that really is it.
Our first meal in Germany was actually McDonald’s! I was lured in by the novel menu items of Magnum McFlurry and fried Emmentaler cheese sticks, but also wanted to try the local McNuggets for a cousin who likes to sample the accompanying sauces when he travels. I’m sad to report that the McFlurry had an artificial chocolate taste with little semblance to its namesake, however the cheese sticks were reassuringly stretchy but better enjoyed as is rather than with the tub of jammy cranberry dipping sauce.
Dinner last night was a couple of holzofenpizza (woodfired pizza) from the aforementioned Italian place – only €5 each (approx AUD$6.65) for takeaway! – along with a pre-washed and chopped supermarket packet salad from up the road. The pizza wasn’t cut into slices but this shouldn’t have any bearing on us sampling their takeaway pasta at some point as well. Although our room has a kitchenette with cutlery, simple crockery and a curiously lid-less saucepan, you lack a lot of your usual kitchen comforts to be bothered with cooking your own meal. We have, however, brought along some instant noodles should we get desperate.
The only German food we’ve sampled so far was at a tourist trap of an outdoor place, but we weren’t terribly hungry and the prices were decent. I’ve ticked trying a local bratwurst off the list and, although we did drink out of steins, there was not a drop of bier in sight. This will be rectified soon along with some porky goodness via a biergarten suggestion from one of the husband’s work colleagues, although we were both surprised to discover how ridiculously cheap beer is here – we’re talking €1.20 (approx AUD$1.60) for a chilled 500mL bottle of spring water from a convenience store versus only €1.80 (approx AUD$2.40) for a bottle of Becks! And, yes, the local pretzels really are cheaper and better here.
Being on the outer reaches of Munich’s S-Bahn train system makes for a pricy hour-long journey into the city centre, so I have been relaxing in our hotel room with blogging-related activities and planning weekend trips to Paris and London while Monsieur Poisson is at work. There are showers and possible storms forecast for the week ahead so I may be rural-bound for a bit longer, but perhaps that’ll give me a chance to spot a rainbow (or double) while I’m here? Which reminds me, here’s wishing a big happy birthday to Chocolatesuze with this photo of an extensively enviable range of Lindt chocolate all the way from a German supermarket!