Sometimes you need a rubber Viking helmet

We have been banging around Germany and Switzerland for several weeks now. Our backs are getting used to the heavy packs and our legs are shrugging off miles long hikes. Sure, the unplanned 9 mile (uphill both ways) slog in the Black Forest and occasional running to catch trains with full packs up crowded stairs are still met with slight resistance by the children. But we are backpackers now. Dirty, calloused, worldly, indefatigable…you know, hardcore.

So in the tradition of our hardcore predecessors we decided to get a hotel suite in Munich, unload our heavy packs and get some rest! Not to imply that it was all cushy. Kelly and I both took turns hand washing everyone’s laundry in the shower and hanging wet clothes on the radiator to dry. We declined room service as well as hotel cuisine… know, hardcore. Immediately upon entering the rooms Gherty, Che and Quinn excitedly discovered the complimentary robes, slippers, shoehorns and COMBS! What easy entertainment. TVs never glowed, e-readers stayed dark that evening. Instead they spontaneously put on a hairstyle fashion show dipping into hair gel and sink water returning each time to be judged and admired with ever more ridiculous hairstyles. A very funny introduction to Munich.

We decided to use Munchen as a 5 night home base so as to travel light on day trips and really dig into a place more so than before. Still as usual we had no plans per se. The first day we did our typical “let’s just find the city center and figure it out from there”. Of course, in keeping with our serendipitous luck we literally staggered into a massive festival in the center of town. There were 3 large stages spaced throughout. Beer and pastries rained from the heavens, a German rockabilly band thumped Buddy Holly, Ricky Nelson and Elvis (really quite faithfully except for the thick German banter between songs)! “Fasching” means simply “German Carnival”. Far removed from Fort a France, Martinique where we Carnival-ed last year or Mardi Gras in NOLA where I have heard Kelly and I celebrated before that although we can neither verify nor deny that one.

Fasching was fun. We should have been tipped off when we started seeing grown men in purple stuffed animal costumes blocks before the party grounds but we’ve seen quite a bit in this trip and barely noticed. Once in the mix we bought all manner of silly decorative adornment. Gherty, chose a rubber Viking helmet because….sometimes you need a rubber Viking helmet. We partied like locals til we were out of steam. Another great day we had no plans for.

Munich is big and interesting. The weather slowly turned from unseasonably sunny and mild to GERMAN cold, rainy, grey and howling wind. Day trips on foot were ugly and hard earned. Oddly the kids seemed to lose their zest for looking at old buildings…imagine that?!

So Kelly and I read through the guide book and decided on a day in Nuremberg. Why not. A lovely city with a notable history we got cold, and a bit damp, and colder, and wet, and very cold and very wet. Basically we spent the day ducking into an Irish pub, a taco joint, used the bathroom at Starbucks, crossed the Hangman’s Bridge and finally in the pouring rain moments from saying “Uncle” in German and fleeing back to the train station we found a tiny bar called La Bas that has maybe seating for 15 and was jammed full. Upon poking my dripping wet head through the door to see if we were welcome the room hushed. The owner asked me some detailed question about politics or biochemistry in German and I replied “5?”. He quickly asked 3 locals to move from one of the 2 tables, they obliged smiling as I bashfully “danka shurned” em and 5 wet cold aliens were invited to eat and drink in the warm hospitable local gay bar. Hey, we travel for experience and experience we have in spades. The food was local and fantastic. The “Volk” were super friendly and we were rejuvenated and very full.

Back in Munchen we took clearing weather for a day at the zoo. The kids had been troopers of late and we figured a day entirely for them was in order. A good one for us all brought us back to life and ready for travel.

Farewell Deutschland. Danka for all the surprises. I’m writing this traveling backwards at 175 mph on a bullet train to Belgium. A couple days in Bruges awaits because, well, we don’t know anything about it.

Stay tuned.

Much Love.

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