I was determined to replace my paperweight of a laptop with something more functioning, so I used Munich’s great public transport network to buzz me over the river and to a branch of the German electronics store Media Markt. Unfortunately, with it being a Saturday in December, everyone else in the Greater Munich area had the same idea. The store was absolutely rammed.
Nevertheless, I fought through the crowds, but my heart sank when I finally caught sight of a laptop in a rare gap between Germans, who I suspected had got up especially early to commandeer the best spots by the hardware. My cunning plan to buy a laptop in Germany had a deep flaw running through it. The German keyboard layout was of course different to what I was used to – AZERTY instead of QWERTY – vich vould lead to zome ztrange mistaks ven typing zis chernal und be qvite annoyink ja. I’d have to hold fire on replacing my lapper until I could find one tailored for the UK (complete with such British-specific wonders as the “time for a cup of tea, I reckon” key).
This time was nearer than you might imagine. When I had left home in early November I had vowed to return home to Blighty for Christmas. I had only spent one Christmas away from my family, and that was on my last RTW trip, when I had been far away in Chicago. Only being in Continental Europe this time meant returning home was a doddle, and so after another day in Munich I had planned to drift in a gradual north-westerly direction for a temporary trip back home – overland, of course.
I fought my way out through the masses and out towards the main shopping street of Munich, which was just as packed with Happy German Shoppers. There seemed to be no escape, so I decided to repair to a German beer hall for the early evening.
Visiting a few central beer halls, I found those too were full – one barricaded shut whilst gleeful punters swung back litres of frothy German suds in the warm. Agitated, I headed north up a grand thoroughfare into the university district, where I knew there was another beer hall. The crowds quickly petered out and the streets finally became near deserted.
When I reached the place – a multi-level affair – the festivities were in full swing, and it too looked packed. I grabbed a waiter who luckily found space for me on a table near the door with a group of middle-aged Italians. Thankfully, they were drinking beer, not garlic, and pretty soon so was I, accompanied soon after with the best Wiener Schnitzel I have ever tasted.
The animated Italians proved to be of great entertainment, with one woman not being quite as happy with her food as I was with mine, her sending it back multiple times claiming it “smelt of fish”. After the second time, the staff were visibly pissed off, and after the fourth time so were her friends!
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