September 22 was a travel day, putting an end to our time in Berlin and, for us, kicking off the Oktoberfest celebration. Before leaving the US, we purchased a group train ticket that was only good for a specific train, so it was imperative that we all make it to the Hauptbahnhof on time (Technically it was imperative that I be there on time. The ticket was in my name; I could have left the rest of the group behind…). We made plans to meet at the Starbucks across from the rest of the group’s hotel and then ride the U-Bahn from there, leaving well in advance of the departure time (On my suggestion…) to give ourselves more than enough time.
The next morning it took a little longer than I expected to pack up, meaning I left my hotel shortly after the meeting time. Since it was probably a ten minute walk to the Starbucks, this made me worrying late and I ended up meeting Jason and Dave coming to my hotel to look for me.
Already late, we needed to buy U-Bahn tickets. An annoyingly slow kiosk prevented us from catching the first train the we saw at the station, and due to it being Sunday the next one wasn’t due for some time. This caused some stress for the group. I learned that Dave in particular hates risking missing flights or trains.
Once on the train I made an offhand comment that perhaps we should have walked further to another U-Bahn station to avoid a change of trains. This shocked (Shocked!) Kortni because she and I had apparently had a spirited debate about this very topic the day before, with my taking the opposite side. I had no recollection of that. In my defense, I was tired at the time?
Luckily we made the necessary transfers successfully and arrived at the Hauptbahnhof with enough time to get breakfast. Without an overwhelming amount of time, we picked the first food we saw, which happened to be a McDonald’s. Unlike Jason and Dave, who ordered with no trouble, the kiosk we used didn’t give me a receipt. It was a little worrying but I ended up getting my food just a few minutes before the scheduled departure. I walked down the escalator with my food as the train pulled into the station, so in the end, we made it on-board and found our way to our seats.
German trains are amazing. In order to sit together on the trip, we ended up buying first-class tickets, which gave us plenty of space. The two couples shared a table and I sat across the aisle, sharing a smaller table of my own with a nice older German lady. When she sat down she started talking very excitedly to me in German. After about half a minute she paused, I said “Sprechen Sie Englisch?,” and she gave me a very disappointed smile and didn’t speak to me again.
The trip itself was uneventful. We chatted, snoozed, and watched the scenery go by. Several hours into the trip I did drink a couple beers procured from the convenient dining car.
The München Hauptbahnhof was very busy, much busier than I remember it being when Tom and I were in town. We made our way into the attached U-Bahn station and got our bearings in the system. (We were smart enough not to take a taxi, even though unlike last time (Last time, Tom and I took a taxi about 150m from the train station to our hotel, which we assumed was further away.), this would have been a worthwhile ride.) I people-watched while the rest of the group studied the map, in awe of all the people wearing the traditional Bavarian Dirndl and Lederhosen.
We stuffed ourselves into a subway car and rode a few stops before transferring to the MünchenTram which would get us closest to our hotel, the Hilton Munich Park. I was very pleased to find that my HHonors Gold status was honored at the hotel despite my booking my reservation on Priceline.com, which enabled an upgrade to the executive lounge floor and free WiFi throughout the hotel. (The rest of the group was stuck with free WiFi in the lobby, which was a pain.) The hotel is adjacent to the English Garden, just a five minute walk from the Chinese Tower.
After settling in, we headed back out into the city for dinner. On the way back to the Altstadt, Jason spotted some guys walking into the park with a surfboard. Intrigued, we followed.
We watched the surfers at Eisbach for several minutes before heading into the city center. Elizabeth wanted to eat at Bratwurstherzl, but it was closed, so we ate at a Löwenbräu beer hall instead. It was quite delicious and despite my knowledgable pre-warning about being charged for pretzels brought to the table, we ate several with our sausages and sauerkraut.
Finishing the night off, we stopped into Hofbraühaus, perhaps Munich’s most famous site. Jason, Elizabeth, and I had all been there before, and I wasn’t feeling great (Bum bum buuuuummmmmm… foreshadowing!), so we agreed to have a liter and head back to the hotel. We ended up sticking around for a while longer than that, but it was a good time. I had to go out for air a couple times but my beer was well protected back at our table.
September 23 started off well, with plans to get up early and make our way to Theresienwiese to try to find seats for Oktoberfest. After eating breakfast and getting ready, I met Dave and Kortni in the lobby, who told me Jason and Elizabeth had gone to a pharmacy. We were to meet them at the tram station.
Unfortunately, on the walk to the tram station, I suddenly was not feeling well and had to return to the hotel. Dave and Kortni were disappointed but said they’d let Jason and Elizabeth know, and would meet back in the hotel lobby after a few minutes. In the end I decided I needed to stay at the hotel, which was unfortunate but definitely the right decision. The rest of the group ended up going on to “die Wies’n.”
By the end of the day I was feeling better and actually ended up eating some food in the executive lounge at the hotel. I even tried a beer. My stomach suitably settled, I was confident that I’d be able to meet up with the rest of the group after their tour of Dachau the next morning.