Drink Steins of Beer in Bavaria (Bucket List #28)

Munich, Germany • July 2017 • Length of Read: 7 Minutes

For such a metropolitan city, the amount of greenery and open space in Munich is a joy to behold. As Fry and I left our hostel to go and explore the Bavarian capital, we had to double-check the map numerous times to convince ourselves that we were actually heading in the direction of the city centre; the wide, quaint, and calm streets more depictive of a leisurely stroll through leafy suburbs as opposed to the beating heart of a bustling urban dwelling. Now world-famous for its arts; finance; technology; and beer-consumption, Munich, a derivation of the phrase ‘by the monks’, was originally settled as a key point on the Old European Salt Route, before more recently becoming the hotbed of extreme politics that led to the rise of the Nazi Party.

“Don’t mention The War this weekend,” said Fry as we entered an artesian French boulangerie for some breakfast, quoting a version of the famous John Cleese saying from Fawlty Towers. Twelve episodes of this classic British comedy were made but, interestingly, when a German television network bought the broadcasting rights, only eleven episodes were ever shown. Perhaps the episode called The Germans, which sees John Cleese goose-stepping around his hotel restaurant whilst doing a mock impression of Adolf Hitler, was deemed a little too close to home for the stereotypical German sense of humour to handle.

We were the only customers in the tiny shop, and the pretty Romanian-Italian server seemed overjoyed at our arrival. An enormous pair of boobs spilt out of her low-cut crop top and, ordering a selection of croissants and baguettes, Fry indiscreetly ogled them whilst entering into some light small-talk about where we could go that evening to find some traditional local beer and a student nightlife.

“Let me write a few places down for you,” she kindly offered, leaning over the counter that she was standing behind and scribbling down a few illegible street names on a piece of paper. Thinking that we were about to see a nipple slip, Fry gave me a sly nudge. She looked up and smiled, clearly knowing exactly what she was doing. A bit of harmless flirting hurt nobody.

“Are you doing anything tonight?” I asked her after another five minutes of blathering away. She genuinely seemed like a really cool person to hang out with and had already taught Fry some basic German phrases that he would immediately forget upon exiting the shop and never attempt to recite again for the rest of the weekend.

“Sorry boys, I have to get up early for work tomorrow,” she replied, genuinely bummed.

“Perhaps you’ll see us looking a bit more hungover and dishevelled tomorrow morning, then,” I laughed, turning to leave. “Arrivederchi.”

“A dopo,” she smiled.

Right in the middle of Munich, an artificial river winds its way through a large scenic park called the English Garden. As the sun shone high in the blue late-July sky, Fry and I found our way to its banks, where, despite still being early in the day, dozens of groups of students and families already sat around on picnic blankets; catching some rays; drinking beers; laughing; and going for the occasional swim down the fast-flowing stream. “Now, this is what a city-centre should look like,” I said to my companion, who had just about finished announcing his smitten affection for the Romanian-born, Italian-raised, German-speaking, French-baking, girl.

We followed the bends of the river round until we reached a large Chinese pagoda that overlooked an outdoor beer garden and food court; the lederhosen-wearing German oompah band in full puff on their brass instruments providing the backing track to where we were inevitably going to spend the majority of our day. You don’t sit down on the wooden benches of a Bavarian beer garden and have just the one stein. Tucking into a currywurst and fries, I marvelled in the groups of lads lugging food-crates of beer from the bar back to their commandeered tables, gajba puna pivas. Fry turned to see what I was laughing at and then looked back with a pair of drunken eyes.

“You know what Crobs,” he said in a suspicious whisper whilst indicating towards the six blonde German dudes three tables down from us. “They would have been S.S.”

“You can’t fucking say that,” I hissed, trying to contain my laughter at the absurdity of this statement. “What did you warn me this morning? Oh, right. ‘Don’t mention The War’,”

“But think about it,” he continued as if he actually had some form of a valid point. “They are about our age, so they would have been.”

“Going by that logic, then,” I said, trying to diffuse the point, “we would be facing them in military uniform from the other side of the battlefield. Need I remind you, however, that it’s 2017 and not 1939.”

Dropping this line of conversation before we were overheard, we talked shit and drank all the way into the early evening. As the light began to fade, we crawled out of the park towards the subway station on the main pedestrianised shopping precinct. Here, we were joined by our friend Bing, fresh off a plane from Berlin where he was studying for the summer. After some brief pleasantries, we then immediately dragged him to a large indoor bierkeller where he was forced to play catch-up. It worked, and only a couple of hours after landing in the city, Bing was was suitably up to our level of drunkenness.

It had been seven months since the three of us had last been together, and we would have sat there drinking until breakfast had it been allowed, but, somewhat surprisingly, the majority of pubs and bars in Munich tend to shut at 11:30pm. And as the stern waiters cleared our empty glasses, we were forcibly stared out of the establishment and onto the street right on the stroke of the half-hour. A crowd of equally pissed Irish lads had also received the same treatment and were cussing away at the rudeness of the staff members to the fat, lederhosen-wearing, German dude who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. I went over to ask what their plans were from then onwards, but none of them had a clue.

Then, quick as a flash, Bing crept up behind me, nabbed the fancy feathered hat straight off the fat German’s head, and sprinted on up the street whooping with glee. The local man, who must have been about forty-years-old and on the diabetes risk list, pelted off after him and, remarkably, caught up with Bing before the pair got out with earshot.

“You’ll die on your feet in Bavaria,” he yelled, his caustic voice echoing back down the street. “That hat cost me 6,000 Euro. Give me it back, now.”

“Finders keepers,” taunted Bing, as the pair moved closer and closer. Fry and I quickly left the Irish lads and legged it up to where they were arguing before anything physical happened. Whilst on a boys holiday to Greece in 2008, Bing had got into an altercation with a man of similar build to the German who ended up flooring both him and another one of our friends with a single punch. No matter how funny it had been, we didn’t fancy a repeat of it. With some gentle coaxing, we convinced Bing to return the hat to its rightful owner and he eventually backed down. Before he had a change of heart, we then disappeared around the corner and back in the direction of our hostel. Despite it not yet being midnight, the city had already defeated us.

Our hostel dorm smelled like a brewery when I awoke the following morning, and after having flooded the bathroom in a hungover attempt at showering I convinced the others that some coffee and fresh air would do us the world of good. We stumbled in the direction of the French bakery but instead decided upon trying out a quirky little café across the street from it which had outdoor tables. As I went inside to destroy the restroom, Fry and Bing ordered some food and lattes from the beautiful, tanned, waitress who, as it would transpire, had actually spent a fair bit of time in our home city of Glasgow when her younger sister was over there studying on a university exchange program.

“My arse went off like a bloody volcano in there,” I announced upon sitting down, loud enough for the entire English-speaking population of the café, including said waitress, to hear. The gay couple next to us sniggered away and exchanged a few softly spoken words that were directly aimed at me, and a few other tables looked away in disgust. Apparently, these people were ‘too cool’ for a bit of literal toilet humour.

“Thanks for that Crobs,” said Fry, looking slightly embarrassed on my behalf.

“At least I didn’t mention The War or steal a local’s prized headpiece,” I chuckled. Personally, I couldn’t give a shit what a pair of hipster homosexuals thought of me. We had our drinks and food in relative silence, my arse still brewing like molten lava and head pounding like it were an old typewriter being used by a gorilla to write an angry letter. As we got up to leave, the Romanian-Italian girl spotted us from the door of her shop and gave us a wave. ‘I’m sure she would have appreciated my joke,’ I thought, smiling back at her.