American abroad: lonely, ugly
July 5 (1626 steps- 7.68 miles)
I missed my bike tour on the 4th, ended up drinking and eating cookies with Australians in the hostel in Munich and watching the Germany v. Italy game. We were all really angry and the Italians, who are everywhere were rubbing it in.\
While walking around for my tour on the 5th I saw Christian breakdancers and a dude wearing these awesome hotpants (pictures/video when I return!!!). I eventually got my tour and saw the same things I already saw, but was directed by a cool Englishman and heard history. At our stop at a beer garden I met a couple from California. The woman is an HS English teacher and mentioned how she partied quite hard in Amsterdam and says her students probably know. The husband is of Iranian descent and I pretended to know about Iran, but he came correct. I drank the Starkbier or whatever and really enjoyed riding back. On the tour we missed "Robocock" and "Tripod" at the nude beach, but I did see "Tarzan".
The other tour leader was this American guy who was nice, but was too boisterous/trying too hard/too jokey and it made me mad. You see, a big, deep secret of mine has always been to be a tour guide in Europe or somewhere. Seriously. I've always wanted to do one city a year or something and then move. But I don't want to be 'the American tour guide' asshole. I know, as an American, I prefer a non-US tourguide. So who'll want me???
Then Anna and I went to Fan Fest at the Olympic Stadium (see Munich) to watch the France v. Portugal game. By the end of the night there were probably 20,000 people there- mostly French fans. I have some really great videos of the awesome language confusion the German presenter had when speaking just fine to the French fans but struggling in English to the Portuguese fans. They kept looking for a Portuguese fan who could also speak English or German so they could ask what they say when they score a goal. They failed miserably. Then "Die MasterCard Feveretttes" performed some cheer/pom moves to the song "You Give Me Fever".
While waiting for the game to start there was also a karaoke battle in which a French woman won singing Abba (they all sang in English!). And this was just really weird to me...this idea that English is the new lingua franca. I mean, it makes sense and I sure as hell am grateful for it, but it's not fair that I, and most Americans, can't speak another language worth a damn. Sure I know a bit of French, but I'm truly not ready (yet!) to hold a real conversation in French. I think it is the duty of all Americans to learn Spanish and those who plan to go to Europe to learn at least French or German as well. This is unfair. We're awful!
July 6 (20681 steps - 9.77 miles)
There's this train system honor code here that is nice, but scary. Rather than put money in a turnstyle and then get on a train, you buy a ticket, punch it in this thing (if you like) and then get on the train. Then you get off. There's a chance someone will come and ask you for a ticket. If you don't have one, you get a 40 euro fine. I never took the chance, but what's the deal? I'll give you more about train system honor code in a minute...
I went to the Dachau concentration camp. I didn't want to, to be honest, but knew that I had to and really did 'want' to. I got off the train and then got on a bus that leads to the camp and it was quickly filled with different tour groups (US, Aus., Japan). At one point a Japanese man got on the bus with his two children and crowded back to make room (possibly because he's used to that sort of thing on the Japan trains...anyone? anyone?) and the American dude, who's wearing a polo with collar popped, said, "Whoa, watch the kicks! No, I'm just kidding dude." And he patted the guy on the back. I wanted to jump out of my seat and strangle the guy. Ugh.
The bus was also a regular bus that stopped at regular stops...it just happened to go to the concentration camp. What I found interesting was the "Nachster Halt" (next stop) announcements were really solemn compared to the ones on the train. So, I got to the camp, walk to the building to get the audio guide and start to walk closer to the entrance and started to cry. I didn't want to go in. I just didn't feel like it. I took a minute then finally got in and was fine for the rest of the visit. I was actually kind of bored by it all. I mean, the immensity and the tragedy of it all got to me, sure, but there was so much reading involved and the audio tour was too long, the German tour groups were filled with disrespectful kids laughing, there were people taking pictures of everything (why? i took like two pictures! i don't want to photograph the place and share it with people. "hey! look at all that death!") and i wasn't in the mood.
But I learned a lot and am "glad" that I went. I was running out of time (since I had a train to Prague!) so I rushed through the museum, as I'd taken a stupid path around the camp, and found myself sickly interested in what evil experiments the SS performed there that others told me about. I was glad to find myself feeling sick again when reading about the experiments and promptly left.
I got back into Munich and headed to the train station with Anna where we got on just in time, but didn't have much space. As we were looking for seats a 45ish German woman approached me and asked if we had a certain kind of ticket that gave admittance to anywhere in Bavaria and allowed up to 5 people on the ticket. I knew what she was talking about and we did. She asked if she could join it for 5 euros so she could get off somewhere before we reach Prague. I owed Anna 5 euros so I took it, knowing we could get in trouble. Anna and I eventually found seats and the woman found hers telling us where.
Twenty minutes into the ride we get asked for tickets, with the woman behind the ticket agent, and we're asked if she's with us...or something. I say yes and really play up "my dumb American I don't know German attitude". I could tell the ticketer was pissed but couldn't do anything about it. I had an excuse ready, too. The train ride was 6 hours and we arrived exactly when they said we would. It was dark out and Prague looked dirty, scary and quiet. It wasn't really...it just was by the train station. We dropped off our stuff at our hostel then walked around. Not much was open for food so we broke down and got fucking fries at McDonald's. I felt so bad, but I was hungry. We were approached by the same hobo twice and I kept pretending not to speak English or understand that he wanted money. He was pissed. And I was rich!
We met up with Anna's friend Jane who kept burping and coughing the strongest beer smell. She was nice and (not but!) when she coughed she'd cover her mouth and stick her tongue to her inner cheek so it looked like she kept making the blowjob hand gesture. We eventually left and I slept as much as I could with constant construction outside my window.
July 7 (not done yet!)
This morning I woke up to rocks being poured for a new street or something and took an open shower... I don't know what it's called. Well, it's called my nightmare- like a locker room shower. Thankfully there were no other people in it.
As much as I like this trip, this isn't the crazy party or whatever I thought it was going to be. This has been much, much more introspective. I enjoy all the time I've spent with Anna, Canadians, Australians and others...but we don't know each other. And if I'm given too much time around someone I don't know that well, I judge them far too much. I find myself constantly questioning my American-ness and whether or not it's a good thing. That and cultures interacting. Well, I support and encourage it but it's really sad how it's the commonalities that we share with others that make us happy. I'm obsessed with being a stranger and seeing new things, not fitting, etc. But it isn't right. Yet. I'm a big, big tourist far away from anyone I could really share any of this with. I'll be living in France by myself in two months and I'm excited for that. But I look at that differently. Here I've been hanging out with English speakers and connecting, but finding bigger differences that make it harder. It's making it harder to really explore this place. I'm seeing things, having fun, etc. but I'm not laughing or making others laugh. I'm not connecting the ways I normally do. I'm just on this vacation that's making me think...a lot.
I miss you guys.