Tuesday, February 17, 2009
We finally made it to Munich
Manarola. One of the five towns of le cinque terre. Sigh.
Wow, I can´t believe it has been almost a full week since I have sat down and blogged! Believe it or not, we finally dragged ourselves out of Italy. It was so difficult! We really got used to our lazy little lives, living just above the waterfront, waking up to good breakfasts, then long beautiful walks, good people in town, frisbee in the public square with the little old man who watched from his window, and then three course homecooked meals for dinner. Seriously, if anyone had previously tried to tell me that some of the best food on this trip would come from inside a little apartment with two guys from Pennsylvania while in Italy, I would have told them they were crazy. But it was true.
Paul, Me, Rahima, Jason on one of the trails between two of the towns. Not a bad view, huh?
We played cards, (Briscola being my new favorite card game, but unfortunately I didn´t buy a deck before I left...), drank wine (lots of it) and ate and ate and ate. The Italian way I guess! Pesto-broccoli riosotto, pasta with a mussle-clams sauce, ribbolita, eggplant parmesan, gnocci, omlettes galore, more pasta with meat or fresh vegetable sauces, and the list goes on and on. Fresh breads, meats and cheeses everyday as well. Yummy.
One of our nice dinners, in our tight quarters. By the end of our stay, we had a total of 11 people in that apartment. Yes, you are looking at one of the bedrooms (4 beds) and the kitchen-dining room! The other seven beds were in an adjacent room, about the same size!
But like I said, we did manage to leave. It was hard, but I know I will be back there someday, hopefully soon. And maybe in the summer, but maybe I don´t want to ruin the sleepy little vision that I have of that area. Imagining it overrun with tourists and packed doesn´t make me think I´d like it all that much.
So off we went to Munich. We arrived at 6:30am and my cousin, Holger, was all smiles at the train station, ready to greet us. His apartment is only a few blocks away and so we walked through the icy cold back to his house. Everything here is covered in snow. It is cold, and beautiful. We certainly have not packed for snow, so all layers are on at every moment! Holger and his girlfriend, Isabel, are the two nicest people, who have completely spoiled us. We have been showered with so much love and kindness, advice, and food, it is incredible. In the past week, we have done so much, and we could be here for a few more weeks and still not see or do nearly enough.
The first day we kind of took a day to recover and plan our time here a bit. Since then, we have been on a walking tour of Munich, a Third Reich walking tour of the city, Rahima went to Dachau (I couldn´t stomach the thought, considering I broke down and had to be led out of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. a few years back), but she said it was really powerful.
My other cousin´s son, Yannick, came by to meet me because he left for an internship in the US a few days later, and it was our only chance to meet. He is 15 and much taller than I am! He is so nice and smart and wonderful. He and Holger cooked us spinach dumplings for dinner.
We ate at the Hofbrauhaus one night and made friends with a bar-owner who showed around to some of the Munich nightlife. We were up until about 4am and rang in Valentine´s Day right with lots of loud music and treats. Rahima bought me an oversized gingerbread cookie on Valentine´s Day, and I returned the gesture with a pack of ferrero rocher candies. Can you tell food (and consumables) are the way to our backpacking hearts? :)
Look at the size of those beers!
After a few hours of sleep, Rahima and I headed out to Tutzing, where my aunt lives and left Isabel and Holger to enjoy their Valentine´s Day. We got to see my other cousin and her family who live there as well. I come from good people. They are all always on the go, and always joking around about something. We went to see the Neuschwanstein Castle (the one Disneyland is modeled after). Wow. We drank gluhwine (a mulled wine) to keep warm and Sebine, my cousin, properly engaged me in a snowball fight. I turned around at one point to be met dead on with a snowball to the face. Rahima caught some of it on video, which is even funnier because you can quickly see who grew up with snow. While I try to make cute little snowballs like they do in cartoons, my cousin expertly sweeps armfulls of snow directly at me. I think I got one good shot at the end there though! (sadly, I can´t figure out how to get sound on here!)
My family. Isable, Rahima, Holger, Tante Inge, Me, Rene, Sebine, Finn (the dog)
The next day Holger, Isabel, my aunt Inge, Sebine, her husband Rene, thier daughter Marie, and Rahima and I all headed out for a beautful hike in the snow. We rented sleds so that after two hours up, we could sled down. I have never been sledding before, but it was so much fun. For some reason I kept taking facefulls of snow (similar to my previous day´s snowball fight) but had a blast.
Wait, where´s the sled? :)
That night my Tante Inge taught me how to make a lovely Bavarian dish, Kaiserschmarrn. It is amazing how many sweets, or dumplings covered in melted butter make up the main dishes here. There is a reason I love those types of foods...it is aparently in my blood! :)
Me and Marie. My second cousin? Is that what you call your cousin´s kids? She is so great. Really funny, and sarcastic, like the rest of us!
Yesterday, sore as could be, Holger and I went skiing. It was so much fun. The weather wasn´t sunny, but there was very little wind and the snow was absolutely PERFECT! It was great. We skied, drank more gluhwine, and had a really, really special day. And finally, I am sitting down, able to tell the tales, via my blog. Being with my family has been such a treat. I feel so lucky to be across the world, and yet to feel absolutely and completely at home. I only wish I had more time here, but I keep reminding myself that a plane ride makes me a lot closer than I think. :) I will be very sad to leave tomorrow, but I am really grateful for all the fun things we were able to do in such a relatively short amount of time.