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Sun Jun 29 2014: Culture Shock in Munich!

I've been in Lima for a week now, patiently waiting for word from the logistics company that our bikes have passed customs. This is the sticky part of the shipping process and the reason why I stayed behind while Neda went ahead to Croatia. From all the research I've done, we do not want to be out of the country trying to troubleshoot remotely if there are any problems with Peruvian customs - which there frequently are.

Neda Skypes with me everyday and we keep each other apprised on the progress of her mother's health and how the customs process is shaping up. Although Neda is happy that she's able to visit her mom everyday in the hospital, her condition has deteriorated quite rapidly. The growths were malignant and were spreading very quickly, putting pressure on the spinal cord and paralyzing her below the neck. The whole family was now anxiously awaiting for a surgery date to remove the affected vertebrae and hopefully restore her mobility and feeling.

I listened to her voice everyday growing more and more concerned. She told me that she needed me in Croatia for support, and that maybe I should just trust in the logistics company to handle things after the bikes cleared customs. I was missing her presence a lot too. It's strange being joined at the hip with someone for over two years and then suddenly not having them around anymore. I've gotten so accustomed to just having her nearby, that during the last week, I'll be typing away on the laptop, or watching a movie or listening to music, then I'll stop what I'm doing to talk to Neda and then realize she's not there in the room.

But she's always there... Such a strange feeling...

A few days later, we got word that the bikes had cleared customs and would be on the next ship to Europe. I booked a ticket to Croatia immediately. Whereas it would take me two days of airplanes and buses to get to Croatia, our bikes were going to take the slow boat to Hamburg, crossing the Panama Canal in the process (again! ha!). It will be almost a month and a half before we will see our motorcycles in Zagreb!

Stopover in Munich

There's a train that runs from Munich airport to the downtown core. I boarded it, took a seat and watched other passengers trickle in. As the car began to fill up, I noticed how tightly I was holding onto my bags and luggage - and the only reason I noticed was because everyone else around me seemed to be so carefree and unafraid. One man fell asleep, his briefcase sitting unattended on the seat beside him. I glanced around wondering which one of the other passengers would steal his bag first... This is the third time I've been to Munich, but despite that I was still experiencing culture shock! After over a year and a half in Latin America, the blithe attitudes towards security and safety here were a bit unsettling.

And yes, I totally stole that guy's briefcase... :)

There is construction everytime I visit the Marienplatz. This time is no different.

There were several other cultural jolts:

  • Everyone is so tall! In Central and South America, I would tower over most of the population. Now I'm dwarfed by a forest of Germanic oak trees.
  • All the cars stop for pedestrians at the crosswalks. That was surprising! I gingerly stepped out onto a crosswalk in front of a stopped Mercedes thinking this must be a trick or a trap...
  • Everyone speaks English! But they assume I speak German first. I was at a donair fast food stall and the guy at the counter asked me something which I didn't understand. I automatically defaulted to my first non-English language: "No entiendo". Picture a middle-eastern guy asking something in German, and an Asian guy responding in obviously bad Spanish. The donair guy narrowed his eyes at me. I'm sure he thought I was making fun of him in some way.

Looking back, I don't think I could have picked a more diametrically opposite place from Peru to have come to than Germany.

Mariensaule - a gold statue of the Virgin Mary. This is what Marienplatz was named after

I've been to Munich 3 times now, and every single time I visit the Marienplatz just to see if the place is still under construction. The answer is yes. I've seen the little Glockenspiel show that is so popular with tourists and I'm always underwhelmed by it. So this time, my Central/South American instincts take me to that same gathering spot and my camera is now out trying to look for interesting indigenous peoples to take pictures of. I find one very quickly:

Wonder if he got his hat in Peru?

Locals call this "the most over-rated show in the world"

This is what I was really here for: dark German beer and sausages!

They said the best place for German sausages was Weisses Brauhaus, which is just around the corner from the Marienplatz, and was the primary reason why I was in the middle of MunichTouristCentral. The food and the beer didn't disappoint and I had another culture jolt in the restaurant: the bill... :(

And also, another German patron sitting at the same table as me kept glancing over at me with curiousity. I'd smile and nod and then he would smile and nod and then nothing. If this was Latin America, no time would have elapsed before: "Chino?" and then a hundred questions in Spanish which I couldn't answer. So I decided to break the ice with a "Sprechen sie English?" (yes, I do speak fluent Germglish), to which he replied, "Of course." Of course, he spoke English. Duh. We then had a great little conversation, which would never have happened if Latin America hadn't taught me that it's okay to approach random strangers to spark up conversations regardless of language barriers!

It looks like I may have brought the rains with me from South America. Sorry, Germany!

Since I only had a day's layover in Germany before my bus to Croatia, I spent it doing some motorcycle gear shopping (OMG the selection!) and also visited the BMW Welt. It was under construction the last time we were here, but it's now completed.

I wasn't happy with any of the pictures of the Welt except this one. You can see me in the picture, I'm right in the middle.

Inside the Welt is a huge commercial for BMW cars and motorcycles

And then every once in a while, someone would ride up to you and try to sell you an F800GS...
If you think this is cool, you should see the X5 salesguy...

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