Thursday, 21 February 2013

SABINA TRAVELOGUE PART 25 - April 17 & 18 - Heading Home...

April 17, 2012 - Munich

Now I love Germany. I have been here a number of times, visiting Frankfurt, Köln (Cologne), Charlemagne's venerable imperial capital Aachen, and this will be my third time in Munich, a city I love.  

I have been impressed with the beauty of its countryside, the cleanliness and efficiency of its cities. I also have to say I love German food. Germany, however, is in no way like Italy... We have definitely landed on another world... 

First of all, compared to Italians, Germans seem so very serious, silent, sometimes verging on sullen, even here in beautiful beer-loving Bavaria... Perhaps we are bumping into people who feel the crushing weight of a debt-ridden Europe on their hard working shoulders. Who knows? So far, the only people who have been really friendly are the hotel staff, and part of their job is to be outgoing and smile... Mamma mia, mi manca l'Italia!

This morning we all took the train into the historic centre of Munich and got off at Marienplatz, this beautiful gothic square in front of the Rathuis, or City Hall. There is an amazing glockenspiel in the Rathuis tower that is a huge tourist attraction. 

We went to look for the restaurant where we had a great Bavarian breakfast three years ago...

Happy and bountiful Bavarian breakfast April 2009
In 2009 we ate out under the umbrellas in the square and enjoyed the view, both the amazing glockenspiel, and the milling throngs of locals and tourists...

We couldn't recall the name of the restaurant but we remembered the location. This time we ate inside... The food was okay... but, perhaps it was the fact that we were eating inside and getting weird vibes from one of the waiters, a young man from India... There was just something so very weird or off about his energy...

...and it certainly affected our experience... Long story short, we think Richard got food poisoning from something he ate there. About an hour after breakfast he almost blacked out and was extremely sick. We had to rush him to a cafe to get to a washroom. It was really scary... Richard even said he felt like he had been poisoned... Who knows? The waiter might have slipped something into his food. It may also have been an unfortunate menu choice and coincidence. Luckily he got better, but while it was happening we were all very frightened for him... 

We finally got Richard sorted out and resumed our walk through the city when twice, I was almost hit by a car... People say that Italians are crazy drivers, but at least while I was in Italy, I always knew what to expect and nothing ever happened to us. Here in Munich, we ended up having three close calls in one day! Basta! Smetila! : (

Anyway, we finally made it safely to our destination, the Jewish Museum which is an amazing institution here in Munich. As you can imagine, what we saw left us feeling emotionally drained... So much horror happened here in the decades before we were born... And what is important to remember is that many nations on both sides of the conflict were complicit in the holocaust. Canada and other countries turned away Jewish refugee ships, some which were forced to go back to Germany where their human cargo—men, women and children—was interned and ultimately cruelly exterminated...

We wandered through the streets visiting a number of shops, admiring the fruit and vegetable stands.

White asparagus is in season, and these were displayed in heaps along with boxes of glistening brown dates and Italian strawberries that we're so red I had to take a picture.

We found the Spatenhuis, the amazing restaurant where we had our last dinner in Munich together three years ago. Like then, they have a special white asparagus menu I plan to take full advantage of tomorrow during our last dinner in Europe. White asparagus soup! yum!

To tell you the truth, though I was excited to have Bavarian weisswurst and other local delicacies, after having it twice I have mostly been going to a Turkish fast food donair place called Oliva in Terminal 2 at the Munich airport. Three times I have had an amazing vegetarian donair with beautiful fresh greens and vegetables, cous cous and tomatoes and feta cheese and tzatsiki and this amazingly delicious high fibre meal only cost me 3.9 €. That's what I had for dinner tonight and may have for lunch tomorrow, so that may be four times in three days...

Courtesy Richard Rooney
Our hotel room at the Airport Kempinski Hotel (thank god, Candace gets a special rate) is wonderful. 

Their TV has about nine different language services, so, YES we have been watching Italian TV when we have it on... And I have been walking up the stairs to our room (so hard to let go of Italy and Casperia!!!)

The only frustrating thing about the hotel is that although we have a plan that allows us free Internet access, because this is a business hotel, wireless Internet use is very high and there have been many times we have not been able to access the Internet for email or Facebook. There were many times that I was in the middle of a post and then the Internet failed. 

It is great though, when we can get on, to read posts and see photos from friends in Italy. 

Nicoleta, courtesy of Stefano Aperio Bella
Nicoleta, that photo of you with the rainbow landing in your hand was brilliant and brought a smile to our faces on what had been an otherwise difficult day Grazie cara. Grazie di cuore! 

Anyway, we change hotels tomorrow to the Palace Hotel and leave here for Toronto around noon on the 19th. Right now I am very much looking forward to getting back to Canada to see our house and reunite with our cat Smokey...

I can't wait to go through our pictures and to post them on Facebook along with the photos our friends here in Italy took.  

Anyway, I hope tomorrow is a much less exciting day than today was... I am looking forward to our white asparagus meal at the Spatenhaus, and then getting ready for the road home. Buona notte a tutti.


April 18, 2012

This morning I had apple strudel for breakfast. "Pippistrelloman" is out doing some last minute shopping at the airport. I don't know where Candace is... Packing, packing, packing, moving to another hotel in the centre. This is our last night in Germany—our last night in Europe… 

We checked into the Palace Hotel here in Munich. OMG! What a wonderful treat on our last night here! 

The view of the inner courtyard from our room
We had a great lunch (with perhaps a few too many carbs, but who cares!) at a fabulous little bakery around the corner at Ismaninger Straße 2, called Solhofener Klosterbrot.  

Ismaninger Straße 2, Munich - Best Bread in town!
They sold this fabulous cross between a croissant and a pretzel called a Brezenhörnchen which I must say has to be one of the most delicious breads I have ever eaten... totally out of this world. The inside was exactly like a croissant, as was its shape but it was dark coloured like a pretzel and had the rich dark salt tast on the outside, like a pretzel. Brilliant! And to top it off, the ladies working at the counter were very personable and friendly!

Candace was tired and wanted to rest a bit at the hotel so Richard and I went out for a walk and did a bit of shopping. The highlight of the afternoon was speaking Italian with a cashier working in one of the clothes stores we visited. Somehow while Richard and I were talking as Richard was paying for his new jeans some Italian slipped out. The young man serving us (it turned out he was from Milan) asked us if we were Italian! That made our day! We laughed, of course, but what ensued was a rather wonderful conversation, after a couple of days not being able to have any meaningful conversation with the locals, it was great to chat with this young guy who had just moved here from italy. We asked him what he thought... He smiled, "La città è bella, ma..." and we all burst out laughing... It seemed we all had the same observations. It was funny… He seemed to be just as happy to be speaking Italian as we were...

Later this afternoon I walked for about two hours in the beautifully kept parklands along the River Isar. It was quite beautiful and very peaceful... and there was lots of amazing public art along the way. 


This looks familiar... I gemelli, dove sono?
Tonight we went to the Spatenhaus for dinner. We went there three years ago. The food is great. Right now white asparagus are in season so we all had white asparagus soup. 

I had salmon and white asparagus. Richard had veal meat balls with pepper and cognac sauce, and Candace had roast pork... Good food, but way too much to eat. How can Germans eat like this after drinking so much beer? They probably walk a lot and have their own stairs…

We are happy. We are tired. We have had a wonderful experience here in Europe. We are sad to leave Italy... It feels like we have left a part of our heart somewhere out there in the Sabine hills. It could be in any number of places: at Il Sogno in Casperia or at Friends Caffe. It could be in the old town in Poggio Mirteto guarded by a friendly grey cat, or at the base of the pentagonal tower in Catino among the mentuccia. It could be hidden under a bench among the olive groves of Farfa, or among the tangled roots of Canneto's ancient Ulivone, or on a wind-swept cobbled street in lonely Fianello... Or it could be laying in an icey pool in the dark stalactite-studded and bat-guarded depths of La Grotta Grande in Monteleone Sabino. Perhaps a small piece of our heart has been left behind in all of those places...  

"Come back", they call to us, "Vi aspettiamo!", even as we are heading home to Vancouver.

The Stairs of Casperia, courtesy of Lorenzo Capanna

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