Friday, 1 January 2010

TIme goes with a bang

New year was spent in Munich.

If it actually meant anything, I'd say that Munich is now my favourite city! There you go, stick that on your tourist literature. I'm sure it will bring the crowds flooding in.

It was a smooth trip all round and the first one we've taken that didn't involve BA for around two years. All hail Lufthansa whose staff were polite, friendly and helpful. They even managed to arrange our return to London without the aid of the usual Heathrow stack.

All hail Deutches Bahn. How wonderful to be a on a rail network that organises connections with efficiency. On the train from Fussen to Munich, we had to change trains twice and had to wait on platforms for a total of two minutes.

And all hail the people who helped, without being asked, when we looked confused or uncertain. This was normal at the ticket machines at stations but also when my "guten tag" was met with a detailed response in German. Apparently my guten tag is quite convincing. It's a good job my "sprechen sie Englisch?" is quite useful too.

All hail the Hofbrauhaus. I know it's a tourist trap but it's a damn fine one. And while I'm at it, all hail the dunkel and the radler. The dark beer is incredibly drinkable. The shandy is what it is. And that's a good thing because I now have a picture of my wife with a litre of beer in front of her (even if we both know that it's half beer, half lemonade). But it's all a reminder of the low quality of the varieties of lager on sale in the UK.

All hail the dumplings, the saurkraut, the kartoffelsalat, the gloriously soft pork, the many sausages, the brezen, the sweet mustard and the spinach strudel. It is perfectly possible to eat well in Munich whilst being a vegetarian. But if you don't eat bread as well, you're in really trouble.

So what is Munich lacking? Well, it's missing a slight and subtle sense of madness, a madness apparent in Berlin. And why should hat be? Well, four years ago in Berlin, I witnessed thousands of Berliners of all ages, letting off fireworks from their arms. They would rest rockets against their arm, light the fuse and point in whatever direction they wanted it to go. New Year's Eve had many of the same features, thousands of people and thousands of fireworks, normal people both sober and drunk, carrying fireworks, throwing bangers on to the floor. Disappointly there was a lot of lighting the blue touchpaper and retreating to a safe distance. Ok, so the fireworks were being shot from champagne bottles (nice touch) in roads, on pavements and in crowds. But because there was less risk of limbs being damaged on firing, the whole thing was a bit less threatening.

Still enormous fun though. Hopefully some pictures will follow!