The thing about Germany is that most people speak English and an English-German phrasebook is only so good when you’re going to Bavaria. Sure, they’ll understand you, but they use different words. ‘Ciao’ is goodbye for example. The language isn’t completely different, but well, my friends in Germany were quick to point out I didn’t need a phrasebook when I had them around. I also got to road test World Lens, a translation app. It wasn’t perfect, and missed as much as it hit, but it was able to give a general idea of what was on a menu or the content of news headlines.
Staying in Starnberg, a village about 20 minutes outside of Munich by car, means I’ve probably had a different German adventure than most. Sure, I climbed the tower at the Church of St Peter in Munich, went to Oktoberfest and eaten a lot of pork, but I’ve drunk zero beers, had one mug of gluehwein, and had a lot of apfelschorle (apple juice mixed with sparking mineral water). I’ve eaten local, spent time wandering along the shores of mountain lakes and spent way too much money on a cool Bavarian vest (coming soon to a reading near you), but my favourite parts of the trip have had almost nothing to do with the standard experiences. The view from the summit of Herzogstand in the Alps after climbing up on a sunny autumn day before climbing down on foot and ruining another pair of shoes is one. Learning a new card game, Wizards (or Zauberers to use it’s German name) sitting around a dining room table late at night, or having a Latte Macchiato, after watching my friend Mel attempt to explain it to the baristas on Phillip Island back home. Then there was the simple act of breaking open a packet of Tim Tams and talking for hours.
I’ve often said that my top tip is making friends with locals, wherever you are, and I do tend to plan my own holidays around who I can visit, and that is something that remains unchanged. I wouldn’t have found the tiny, paleontology display at Bayerischen Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Historiche Geologie München in Munich city (Richartd-Wagner-Str. 10 D-80333 – free enry) without them, or Der Verruckte Eismacher on Facebook with it’s varied flavours of ice cream including hemp (tastes like grass) or capsicum and lime.
Sadly, my time in Germany was cut short by a family emergency and I’m writing this from Malaysia, but that’s life for you. Neuschwanstein will just have to wait for another trip. Big thanks to my friends Mel and Kris for putting up with me (and putting me up) and I’ll see you both whenever we’re next in the same city.