January 1, 2007

The wildest New Year’s I have ever been witness to.

Munich was a letdown for me. Berlin amazed me; I’ve been emailing my friends telling them that the bohemian neighborhoods there look like they got hit by an art bomb. A great energy, and I can’t wait to go back. Munich, on the other hand, is a moneyed, comfortable town, quite awesome in its own right, but certainly not with Berlin’s excitement.
What it does have is Old Stuff. Observe:
Tremendous, right? I loved seeing it. Not the best for me, though, because I don’t really photograph that kind of thing particularly well; one would do better to buy a coffeetable book. I’m more attuned to this:
But it was fun walking around the Altstadt, where all the churches were, and the Marienplatz, and the Frauenplatz, and all the fantastic edifices. It was, of course, lousy with other tourists. Strangely, they were 90% Italian. I mean, the streets were packed with beerdrinking Italians. The beer, of course, is the other thing Bavaria is famous for. It seemed that all of Northern Italy took the train up to drink some.
I shocked the hell out of myself by constantly getting annoyed at the Italians for speaking English. Like, how dare this boorish Italian guy assume the guy selling him his wurst speaks English! Why can’t these people learn a few German words, just to be polite?
(My own German, PS, is coming along, although I wish my vocabulary was bigger. But most of my conversations over here have been entirely auf Deutsch! Whenever I depart from one, I feel a tingly feeling, almost like I’m getting slightly teary. Seriously. I am way into this German speaking thing.)
I wasn’t doing the beer, myself, but was eating the bejesus out of everything I could get my hands on. The Bavarians know something about meat. There’s an area near the Marienplatz called the Viktualienmarkt, little stands, each with a specialty, and I had one of everything.
What was it all made of? Don’t know. Don’t want to know. Clearly parts of pigs and cows. It was all delicious.
Silvester–that’s what the Germans call New Year’s Eve–arrives. I’m wandering around the Altstadt, and I happen upon the Hofbrauhaus. The Hofbrauhaus, is like, you know, the Germany you’ve seen in movies: Oktoberfest, huge beer steins, people in lederhosen and waitresses in dirndls bearing eight beer steins at once, oompah brass bands. I decide to go in and maybe grab a prezel.
You’ve seen The Sound of Music. Lederhosen, those kind of hats and coats and dresses and stuff? That’s called Tracht. It’s Bavarian traditional clothing. They are still rocking that shit. In fact, one can go and buy superexpensive designer versions of it, like I saw in this store window:
It’s about 7 pm. I wander in (despite the 18th century style of the place, there are Tracht wearing bouncers out front, with earpieces, worthy of some faceless L.A. club). There are long wooden tables filled with Germans kitted out for Silvester in their Tracht. But not so many of them. Mostly, it’s Italians. It’s kind of scary. One table starts singing an Italian song, it’s an anthem of some sort, a soccer song maybe? The whole joint erupts into a roaring singalong.
I grab a K