Gute Reisen

Feeling poorly

I have been under the weather. It has made everything more difficult and frustrating. I’ve felt impatient with my German progress, and annoyed that my work hunt should be beginning now, but Oktoberfest is on, and I think, like SXSW, the whole town sort of stops to party. It’s put me in a foul mood. Even hiking to the top of a mountain wasn’t quite as exhilarating as I wanted it to be, lovely though it was, it was touch and go on the last push to the top. I had to stop several times to get enough air, and I’m not in bad shape. I think it was a flare up of allergies or something, but it seems to be on its way out now, only a cough and some stiffness in my muscles remains. I stopped at the pharmacy and got some “Schleimlöser” which is literally, in German, “Mucus Solver.” Now, filled to the brim with expectorant powers, I am thinking about the 2 things that poked all the way through the bad fog of sickiness and made me very happy in the last few days.

One was a breakfast. I’ve basically been just having musli for breakfast for a month. It’s easy, it’s cheap, and I don’t have to interact too much with the kitchen in this apartment. However on Sunday I got an invite to “The Victorian House” a restaurant downtown, it’s themed to look like a drawing room in an English manor. Bookshelves, busts of severe people, oil paintings of mysterious matriarchs. The menu was an inspiring delight, too many things looked good, but eventually I settlesd on an pate of sunny side eggs with bacon AND sausage with toast. For the time it took me to eat the omelette it was embarrassing how much I was enjoying it. Really, though, I felt human again in a strange way. My current food situation in my flat pretty much sucks, but it’s been compounded by the fact that my sickness has interfered with the flavor of everything. It was such a simple stupid thing, but it was really the first time I felt the comfort of a familiar indulgence from home. I recently realized I have’t had tortilla chips or guacamole in a month. I don’t crave it yet, but I think soon it will be time to try Munich’s Mexican food.

The second moment that broke through the illness was a tour of Oktoberfest. I’ve been trying to write about it, and all I can ever seem to say is that it is so much bigger and stranger and crazy that one can imagine. All the locals that I talk to seem to be pretty well over it, but are still also making plans to make at least one visit. The best comparison I can come up with is, as I said earlier, South by Southwest. It’s just too big and it’s got too much gravity to avoid. I’m excited to get more involved with it. I wish I knew how to photograph it, but I’m still just overwhelmed by it. I walked around the ground for more than an hour which is what it takes just to cover the ground. I haven’t been in the massive tents or the “Old Oktoberfest” section that charges a small fee to get into an area that is all classic wooden carnival rides, and has, by all reports, a more quiet and relaxed air. As I walked around the main area of Oktoberfest, though, it pushed my sickly mind out of it’s rut. I was there early on Sunday afternoon and it was thick with families and excited people from all around the world. So many in Lederhosen and Dirndl, and no one yet was disgustingly drunk. That is coming, I know, but on a Sunday morning decorum was still being held together. I have zero desire to get hammered at Oktoberfest, but I’ll be plenty happy to sit in a giant tent and be so fully surrounded be a celebration of a culture. I hope I’m lucky enough to be there with folks who are looking for Gemütlichkeit and not just trying to drink a lot of abnormally strong beer. I want to stay excited about it for a little while longer, before I am a jaded local.