Unfiltered dispatches by our vagabond intern, Andrew Santis, who is studying and working abroad.
Leaving Berlin in the late afternoon meant sacrificing half a day in Munich because the train ride from Berlin to Munich was seven hours long (not including almost guaranteed delays), so in order to make up for the loss of Saturday afternoon and evening due to travel I had to rearrange my Munich schedule to accommodate more sightseeing destinations into other days. Undoubtedly, my schedule was going to be jam-packed this week.
My Sunday morning started with a delightful brunch at one of the nearby cafes (it was delicious). I will never forget feeling very happy that morning. I attribute it to two things: the beauty of the city in the daylight and the feeling of accomplishment for making it to my last week of my summer abroad.
For the past month, Sunday has been my official church visit day. I’ve mostly searched for Catholic Churches to pray in (because masses were only said in German), but have visited my share of Lutheran churches too. As it turns out, Munich is a very Catholic city. The main square, Marienplatz, is named after Mary the mother of Jesus Christ. In only half a mile radius from Marienplatz there are about five churches, all Catholic. You can say I went on a Church Crawl this Sunday.
Following my holy deed for the day, I made my way to the Englischer Garten, Munich’s (much larger) version of Central Park. In typical Andrew style, I took a (planned) detour to get to the park: I walked along one of Munich’s ceremonial streets, Ludwigstraße, and walked through the Munich Residenz and adjacent garden and past the Odeonsplatz and the public library.
Because it was a hot, sunny, summer Sunday in Munich, the park was very crowded. The lawns were packed with German sleepers, sunbathers, and picnic goers; dozens of bicycles zipped by and avoided hitting pedestrians on the paths; and tourists (including me) crowded around the one map at the park’s main intersection. The park is huge, totaling 1.4 square miles. The park is even divided in two on the park’s maps. Of course, I challenged myself to walk the entire length of the park and back. Four hours and almost 50,000 steps later, I completed the feat. There were a many impressive sights, most notably the Chinese Biergarten (Munich’s second largest beer garden), the forest-like trails and paths, and the Isar River.
I’m scheduled to visit a different biergarten (beer garden) every night for the entire week. Tonight, I started at Hofbrauhaus Munchen. When I arrived the first floor hall was completely full, so I made my way up the stairs to the top floor. There was a large Asian family sitting at a long table, so I assumed there was service going on up there. I sat down at an empty table, and waited to receive a menu from a waiter. I waited ten minutes until I noticed another group of customers sit down only to be told to go downstairs by a waiter. I didn’t wait for anyone to tell me to move, so I left, went back downstairs, and found an empty table outside in the actual ‘garden’. So, for dinner, I had schnitzel and a red cabbage salad. To wash it all down, I HAD TO order the traditional one-liter Munich beer. Now, I’ve only started regularly drinking beer here in Europe and it’s never been more than a 0.3 liter glass.
Day one of my final week, done.
In just two days, this scene is going to be a distant memory. Pretzel eating and beer drinking, which this week has been the norm for me, is going to be nonexistent when I go home. I’m trying to taking it all in. Deep down I don’t want to believe I’m never going to see and experience this again. Only time (and a few prayers) will tell if I will be blessed to return to such a friendly, wonderful, and culturally-rich country.
Today has been quite the nostalgic day. I still have one day left in Germany, but I feel like my European adventure is already over. You can say I am very emotional. I must admit that I went through my phone’s camera roll once or twice this week and reminisced about everywhere I’ve been and everything I’ve done. I still can’t believe I visited some of the world’s most famous capitals and cities in the span of ten weeks. Who would’ve thought that the once-chubby kid from Queens, New York would have traveled to so many places by age 20? Certainly not me. Even though it has become a dream of mine to travel throughout my life, I never expected to start this early.
I do have one fear, though, and it’s that this will be the first and only time I’ll be able to travel like I did. I’m talking about length of time, number of destinations, and traveling alone. I think traveling alone is the best. All you essentially have to deal with is yourself. Occasionally you will want, or need, a friend to accompany you on some of your adventures, but for the most part you can really do without. Think about it. No one holding you back from things you want to do, places you want to see, food you want to eat, and time you want to sleep. You are in control of everything. Not only will you have a better time, but it’ll also help you build character and develop into a more mature and responsible person.
See more photos of my journey on my Instagram account: https://instagram.com/andysanty94/