Part IV- Munich

Day 12. Munich.

There’s nothing like the feeling of arriving at a safe place when on the road. In fact, almost a better feeling is picking up the ride that’s going to take you there. I was also feeling better about the trip as a whole- the ride to Annecy hadn’t just been a fluke, this was a viable method of travel.

Sophie welcomed me in, gave me a beer, and pasta, and we began to catch up. We’d not seen each other since I left Southampton, about five years ago. She and I used to climb together, with Shep, in a slightly unorthodox threesome. The three of us met on a climbing club trip to Symonds Yat in Gloucester, and about an hour later, we resolved to undertake The Eric Journey, a trip to climb Pillar Rock in the Lake District, spending a night on a ledge somewhere. We haven’t done it yet, but since then, Sophie’s lived in a bunch of different cities, having already lived in Germany, Canada, and England when I met her, and Shep (who was training as a navigational officer in the merchant navy at the time) has travelled all over the world on various ships, and is now a First Mate. The point is, I was sorely letting the side down in travel terms.

Amazing sofa bed.

Amazing sofa bed.

Sophie had work the next day, and as it turned out, my friends Ari and Kiwi were in Munich for a convention, so I caught the hideously expensive and confusing train into the city. I went to Marienplatz, a large square in more or less the centre of the city. The train came in underground, and as I walked up the steps and out into the square, the clocks were just striking 12. It made the whole thing seem tremendously momentous.

The first thing to do in any city you’re planning to spend some time in, particularly in the summer, is firstly to find where the free drinking water is- usually a fountain- and secondly (and rather less urgently) to find where the free toilets are. Water discovered, I watched the figures move on the Rathaus clock as the carillion tinkled merrily. Damn thing goes on for well over 5 minutes, though, so after a while I decided to beat the crowds and move on. I wandered around the city vaguely for a bit, with no particular aim beyond seeing it. I’m not into shopping, really, and museums and galleries tend to be expensive, and also closed on Mondays. It was then that I realised that maybe it really is better to travel than to arrive- if I hadn’t been staying with people I loved, and had been travelling purely to see the cities, I thought, I perhaps I would have been disappointed. I looked around for a present for Amy, Alex and Dineke’s daughter who I’d be meeting for the first time in Amsterdam. It was actually her brother Callum’s birthday, but as he’d be 1 and she was almost 5, I figured she’d be more appreciative of a present. Nothing jumped out at me, though.

My wanderings lead me to what I think was the theatre, which was oddly quiet. I had a look around its buildings and courtyards, and found a very strange fountain.

If anyone ever asks me what I'm looking for in a relationship, I'm going to show them this picture.

If anyone ever asks me what I’m looking for in a relationship, I’m going to show them this picture.

At about 2.30, I met Ari in Marienplatz, and Kiwi met us shortly afterwards. We climbed a church tower, which offered excellent views of Munich from above.

Yay!

Yay!

Ari bought us iceream, and we then headed for the river- somewhere in the English Garden, apparently, people have moved boulders in the river to create a standing wave, which they surf. We couldn’t find it this time, though.

Ari and Kiwi were flying home that night, and I was, I admit, somewhat jealous that they’d be back in the UK by the end of the evening. It wasn’t that I was homesick or wanting the trip to be over, just that I was very aware that I was a long way from home. It was lovely to meet up with them, though, almost as a reminder that home is still out there and not just something that I made up while delirious from waiting for a ride in the sun.

The next day, I’d planned to hitch about 20km to a nearby lake, but it was very grey, and I decided to just take a day off- drink tea, read, and not do anything. It actually made a pleasant change. In the evening, Sophie wanted some fresh air, so we went to the lake anyway. I swam, and we walked a bit. I found a huge snail, which are apparently quite common. Then we went home and ate pizza.

Jumping in. The lake was green, but in a cool way, and quite stormy.

Jumping in. The lake was green, but in a cool way, and quite stormy.

This thing was huge, but I neglected to include anything for scale. It's a vineyard snail, apparently. I rescued this one from the middle of the path.

This thing was huge, but I neglected to include anything for scale. It’s a vineyard snail, apparently. I rescued this one from the middle of the path.

The next morning, Sophie had left me a note with a spare train ticket she’d found, so I went back into Munich. I wandered in a direction I’d not wandered previously, and saw this window:

The ten of hearts in a boot? Those are both things I love!

The ten of hearts in a boot? Those are both things I love!

It turned out to be the window of the most incredible outdoor store I’d ever seen. Spread over four floors, with a kayak pool in the basement and a bouldering wall at the top, it had EVERYTHING.

Oh yeah, that's our kayak pool.

Oh yeah, that’s our kayak pool.

I’ve been in many outdoor shops in my time. I’d never been in one like this. I realise most people probably aren’t that interested in outdoor stores, so I won’t go on. One thing that struck me about this place, though, was that the stairs were covered with travel and adventure photos. I really want to believe that they’d been sent in over the years by customers, and as Phil later pointed out, they were way too weirdly specific to be stock photos.

I want stairs like this.

I want stairs like this.

Found the hitchhiker.

Found the hitchhiker.

For the first time in my life when confronted with pictures like this, I didn’t feel wanderlusty and sad, I felt good. I felt like I was finally doing it right.

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