Final trip wrap up.

First of all: important Pam Travel Tip. When you and your travel companion are tired and cranky, stop for food and a large, adult beverage. This will improve your attitude immediately.

The 31st was our last day in GAP. On the first is a world famous ski jump competition and the 31st is a preliminary. We could see the jump from Lisa and Flori’s house. Lisa and I brewed up some tea and pulled the couch to the window upstairs and watched the jumps while we crammed in some last minute visiting. Later, I walked down to the grounds and it was nutty. Zillions of fans and lots of fan merchandise, food stands and a big Milka purple balloon. Also in the morning they blast this incredibly bad pop music at the grounds. What is it with Germany and this generic, supremely crappy pop soundtrack that’s pumped in the background of everywhere you go? They played the Macarena. There are so many great songs out there. Why blast that one? On the plane inflight TV they played a few music videos and some pretty boy band did a cover of Mandy. I’m at a loss for words to convey how tragically dreadful and unnecessary this was. There was also a video by a girl group which was a cover of Jump (the one by the Pointer Sisters, not the Van Halen one.) Also there was a Madonna video and turns out she does that song from the shampoo video they play at the theater before the movie starts. And the video even looks like the commercial.

But back to the trip. Bob and I packed and took the train back to Munich in the afternoon and checked into Pension Frank which is by the University and clean, moderately comfortable and cheap and otherwise not too special. We went back to the Marienplatz to get money and get a drink before hopping on the S-Bahn to Puchheim (?) to meet Lisa, Flori et al at their friends for a Silvester (New Years Eve) gathering. We ate dinner and met everyone and then bowed out early to return to Munich to see the party. We thought: when are we ever going to be in Munich for New Years again?

Foreshadowing: tons of people with bottles of champagne in their pockets and carrying giant backpacks stuffed with fireworks. Pure insanity. We returned to the Marienplatz which seemed to be the main gathering place. It’s not an organized thing, just tons of people standing around the public square and watching the fireworks go off. But not like a fireworks show, like people shooting everything everywhere. And they have more powerful fireworks there than here, incredibly loud things and screechers and the ones that pop in the sky. It was crazy. I’m having a tough time articulating just how wild it was, just tons of noise and smoke so thick you couldn’t even see the statue in the middle of the square and people aim these things at historic buildings hundreds of years old. We loved it.

After midnight we went home and near our hotel we found the News Bar which had a lively crowd and played techno-thumpy type music and had a huge poster of Akbar and Jeff on the wall. We had another drink and Bob had a snack and we enjoyed the celebratory scene.

On New Years Day we went to the Olympic Stadium area and found lots of other people walking in the brisk winter air. There’s a snow park with a fake ski hill for skis and snowboards and little hills for the kids to sled on. We walked around there and walked through the actual stadium and went home at dark. Before that we found this restaurant Ayingers which was so super fantastic that we made a dinner reservation and went back. Bob had horseradish soup and a pork joint which was a fried pig drumstick the size of a soccer ball and I had some Bavarian festival soup with liver noodles, pancake strips and dumplings and who knows what else — but very yummy. And also a special winter brew beer (see Pam’s travel tip above). And also a grilled vegetable salad. For dinner Bob had some Wursts and the festival soup and I had a festival salad with grilled seafood. FABULOUS.

On the way back to the UBahn we ducked into the St. Michaels church and mass was just starting so we stayed for that. At the end they played this big organ haunting church-y type song that sounded so cool. I don’t know where the travel book is but I think this is the 2nd biggest church in Europe or something significant like that.

We had to be up by 6:30am to get to the airport and we didn’t have an alarm (and Pension Frank doesn’t have any services other than running water and a radiator that’s just warm enough to keep frost from forming on the walls) so it was one of those wake up every half hour all night kinds of nights. As we headed out the door I said: I hope it didn’t snow last night, because we had to drag our bags several blocks to the UBahn and I didn’t have my boots on but it was snowing that very moment and it turned out okay. We made it to the airport and all our travel went smoothly except that the Munich-Frankfurt leg was delayed because of the snow which made the connection to the Frankfurt-Portland flight tight which wouldn’t have been so bad except we had to take a bus from the plane to the terminal, hike through the terminal to our gate, go through another security check with mean people that kept shouting at us, like that’s going to help me understand better. And then go to another gate, check our tickets and passports in time to board another bus that took about 15 more minutes to drive us to the plane.

But it all worked out and we got home and then found out about crazy weather and orange alerts and turned back planes and we thought we were lucky to have made it so easily.

Great trip. We’re glad we went.

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