Bavarian Christmas Interlude 2018, Monday: 39 up, 39 down. What’s next?


Diana and I visited Bavaria (Munich and Bamberg) just before Christmas. Prior to departure, there was a series entitled Munich Tales 2018. This is the last of seven installments summarizing what we did, saw, ate and drank. They’re being back-dated to the day we were there.

Previously: Cool Paulaner and some delicious döner kebap.

A few random thoughts to close this series

On Monday morning we rose, gathered our belongings and made the short walk to the Hauptbahnhof, where the automated machine disgorged two tickets for the S-Bahn to the airport. Departure rituals are hard, and I always feel conflicting emotions when it comes time to leave Europe and return home.

Our short trip to Munich in December was the 39th visit to Europe for me, with the first one occurring in 1985. That’s easily north of $150,000 invested on a return of absolutely nothing  — apart from memories and experience, which are priceless. I have no regrets whatever.

Being in Munich for the first time in 1985 had lots more to do with drinking, as opposed to thinking. In those days most of what we assumed about planetary beer culture revolved around a dead certainty that America had been Bavaria at one time in terms of beer & bratwurst, then somehow lost its mojo after Prohibition amid a sea of lightweight swill and fast food chains.

Of course, the 33 years of my life elapsing since then have been devoted to finally grasping that we always had been guilty of oversimplification. Germans and other immigrants came to America and kept some of their traditions intact, but in a metaphysical sense they were no longer German (or Vietnamese, or Indian). They were American, and being American was something different.

Returning to Munich in 2018 was a chance to see how those beer traditions were holding up there — not in America. The most honest answer is they are, except when they’re not. There’ll probably come a time when I’ll step into a Munich beer hall and (a) see televised sports, (b) order an India Pale Ale, and (c) eat Buffalo wings. I hope not, but it’s likely.

And when it happens, I’ll probably cry. They won’t be tears of joy.

Happily we’re not there yet, and ultimately I don’t know what any of it means. I’m grateful that we had the chance to go to Munich, especially during the Christmas season, because it seems less commercialized than the way we do it — outdoor markets notwithstanding, and anyway, those markets are about drinking and socializing as much as anything else.

Our sole evening in Bamberg served to reinforce a truth of which I’ve been aware for quite some time: If either of us ever won the lottery, or inherited vast wealth, there’d be a cloud of dust from which we’d emerge in Bamberg to stay.

Although Diana might want to go to the United Kingdom, and that’s fine; naturally Belgium and Netherlands would be marvelous, and there’s always Copenhagen. But it’s surely too late for me to be an expatriate, and I’m not sure what I think of this.

The lead-in selfie was taken at the Murphy’s theme pub inside Schiphol (Amsterdam), where we changed for the flight home to Detroit. Come to think of it, Ireland would be good for this expatriate-minded Nawbanian, too.