Today was a full and eventful day as I explored Munich. I just arrived this morning, but I didn’t want to waste the day catching up on sleep or hanging out in the apt. After setting up my computer, I was unable to get onto the wireless network, so I went down to the front desk and they moved me to another room that was in the wireless range, and I connected with no problem. I bought a new Mac Mini a couple weeks ago to bring along with me (because it’s small enough to fit in a carry on bag), so i guess i’m gonna try to become a Mac guy. We’ll see how it works out, as this will be my primary computer for the next 6 months. When i get back home, I guess I’ll either be ready to get back to Windows, or will throw away all my other PCs.

Anyway, I set up the computer, and flipped around the TV to see what was on. The Tour de France was just getting started (around 11AM, France time) and it was on 2 channels – one in French and one in German. So I couldn’t understand anything they said, but I know I didn’t hear the names “Armstrong” or “Discovery Channel” nearly as many times had I been watching it back at home on OLN. There appears to be about 3 english channels – CNN, BBC, and, wouldn’t you know it – MTV. Actually, I think there are a couple MTVs.

So I pulled my bike out of its box and put it together, and headed NW in search of downtown. The first thing you notice when riding your bike in the city is that almost every street has bike lanes. Actually, that’s not true – almost every sidewalk has bike lanes. donerjpgThe sidewalks are generally pretty wide, and the part next the the buildings is cobblestone or brick usually. But then there is a small seperator on the surface, and the 4-6 feet adjacent to the curb is smooth blacktop for bikes. This is really nice, better than a bike lane, because it puts you on the other side of parked cars than the traffic is, so there is little chance you’ll get sideswiped. Where sidewalks aren’t present, there is a normal bike lane in the road, and for the very few streets that didn’t have bike lanes, I didn’t really feel threatened by the (small) cars because they were quite respectful of bikes – and there were a lot of bikes.

I was looking for something to eat as I headed downtown and stopped at a place that looked like a deli or something. Turns out I think it was some kind of Middle Eastern cuisine, but it was good, and was very interesting, actually. It was called a “döner” (i think…. i forgot already) – they were cooking meat on a big vertical metal skewer, and it looked like they just packed sliced meat from every part of a pig and cow onto the skewer and slowly roasted it. Then they would shave off the edges and put it in a tortilla. This is what the meat looked like as it was cooking.

So then I went further into downtown and I stubmed upon my first biergarten (beer garden) in the central public part. The biergarten is kind of like an outdoor bar, but it’s more of a relaxed social atmosphere. You’ll see in this picture that there’s an area about 20x30m with lots of wooden tables and benches and umbrellas inside a nice rock wall, then an outdoor bar. It was interesting because it is a family oriented place, including sand-boxes and toys for the kids, as opposed to bars in the US. There were a couple tables of students studying, and several tables of families sitting around talking with baskets of bread or pretzels, but the one thing everyone had in common was they were all drinking large glasses of beer.

I went up to the bar and pointed to the first thing on the beer menu, the Ma√¸ Hell (√¸ = ss, so Mass Hell). I don’t know what that means – if it is a brand or type or what, but it might as well mean “Massive, Hella Big Beer”, because it was huge. This picture doesn’t do it justice – the glass they served it in would have passed for a pitcher at most bars in Raleigh. So I sat and people watched and drank my pitcher glass of beer, then had to walk it off so I wouldn’t crash my bike and get a RUI (Riding Under the Influence – or would it be RWI?).

But I walked/rode down the river that goes though the city and looked at some nice bridges and buildings that looked like they survived the war. I was only able to get 3 pictures with my camera before the battery conked out, so I guess i’ll need to charge it all night. The river was interesting…… saw several naked (well, topless) chicks, aaaaannnnd some naked dudes too….. apparently it’s the thing to do to lay out on the river bank with no shorts on so you don’t get ugly tanlines around your package?

Anyway, I got back on my bike and continued to wander around the city – I was actually looking for a rental car company. I found a couple, but they all closed at 12:00 on Saturdays, and apparently the whole city shuts down on Sundays so there’s no chance of getting one tomorrow. I wanted to drive over to France and watch what I could of the Tour’s stage tomorrow. I’ve been looking online for rideshares, or something, but not having much luck. And it doesn’t look like the train schedule would get me to France and back before work on Monday, so I may miss my big opportunity to watch Lance ride for the last time. I would have felt bad going anyway since Alisha is not here, so this way maybe the two of us will be able to make it to a Tour together in the future.

Well going back to the apartment I got severly lost; not that I minded, but it is nice to know where you are. Ended up about 6 hours on the bike riding around, so that’s a good days work. One last thing – the weather right now is perfect. I would say it is very comparable to Boone, and probably even cooler. The TV says all of Europe is unseasonably cool right now, but I think this is great. If you know me and have paid any attention, you will know that I really don’t like hot and humid weather – Raleigh was already getting too hot for me when I left. It struck me as I was riding around that it was the perfect temperature because it was completely un-noticable – just what the definition of “ambient” should be.

ok – i’m sure future posts will shorten considerably, as I lose interest and creativity and whatnot. For now, it’s off to find some dinner. Maybe give the bus or subway a shot to get into downtown.