Tongue-tied

New Town Hall in Marienplatz (Mary’s Square), Munich

Tuesday we woke up very late. I think the jet lag finally won. It was lunchtime before we ventured out, back to Marienplatz with a plan – to see the Residenz, climb to the top of “Alter Peter,” find lunch and what we were told were Munich’s best soft pretzels at Hofbrau House.

Being in Germany hasn’t been too awkward so far, at least as far as language is concerned. We have been able to figure out what we’re buying at the grocery stores, and when the cashiers see our puzzled expressions they quickly switch to English. On the train to Marienplatz, Megan was sitting next to a woman who was on her phone. Most of the time, probably because this is just what people do in big cities, nobody will make eye contact with you or acknowledge you other that to scoot over or move their stuff out of the way. But at one point Megan sneezed, and the woman looked up at her and offered a kind “gesuntheit.”

Mostly we find ways around the language barrier by looking confused and saying “English?” We had a little trouble, though, when we finally got to Hofbrauhaus.

Hofbrauhaus has a reputation as a big time tourist spot, but if you want the beer hall experience with waiters in lederhosen and waitresses in dirndl, a live omm-pa-pa band, and beer, this is it. Some people have a fantastic experience, ours however was not so great.

In Germany it seems you don’t wait to be seated at a restaurant, you seat yourself, grab a menu, and hope the waiter will notice that he has a new table. When the waitress came to take our order, she seemed like she just wanted us to go away. I ordered a Brat and sauerkraut with apple juice and Megan ordered a basket of bread and a beer. Erin ordered a beer. They both wanted to order food, but the waitress flipped her book closed and left without waiting for us to finish.

We quickly we got our drinks (no baby-sized glasses of juice here, my apple juice came in a pint-sized beer mug) and Megan got her bread with no butter. Soon the band set up and played for a while, which was great fun and had some of the locals slapping the table to the beat. We finally saw a girl with a basket of giant soft pretzels making the rounds, so we flagged her down, paid the equivalent of $5, and Erin got her pretzel. We waited and waited for my brat, but it never came.

Finally we just caught the waitress’s eye as she was leaning against a counter and waved a credit card in the air. She brought a card reader to the table (that is how they do it here, and you will hand them a tip right there instead of adding it to the bill or leaving it on the table.) At least my missing brat was not on the bill. All in all, it was disappointing and we all felt like we had wasted our time. I’m sure there are much better restaurant experiences to be had in Munich – maybe if we had spoken German it would have been easier. On the other hand, this is a tourist hangout, so go figure.

All we had time left to do was to visit St. Peter’s, and climb to the top of the tower, called Alter Peter, or Old Peter. It’s nearly a football field high, with 306 narrow steps up to the observation deck, where the you can see the entire city spread out below you. I say worth a trip, the girls disagreed.

We walked a little more, and shopped a little more, then went home to our airbnb to say goodbye to our fantastic hosts, Ben and Petra. Tomorrow is a travel day, we are off to Vienna. Where…they speak…German.

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