Wednesday, January 18, 2012
After my Lux-host drops me off at my next ride. He's driving 220km on the autobahn to meet my ride in his Audi A8.
The next guy who picks me up is a college student in Munich. I think he resents me being dropped off out of a luxury car.
And no wonder. His car only goes 140km on the autobahn. It is slow and wearing down. But, I'm still grateful he gives me a ride. Unlike other ride sharers, he talks to me little. His other passenger, a female German journalist, talks to me often. We talk often of travel.
Five hours later, I arrive in Munich. Munich, on a Sunday. Nothing is open. I go to a pay phone and call the Bavarian.
"Ben," I say, "I'm here."
After chatting through interrupted phone connections, Ben decides he'll take a two and half hour train ride to see me. He knows he'll see me for only two hours.
So, here's my comment on Ben the Bavarian. Everybody, and I mean Everybody, needs to have an international (or domestic) friend like Ben. He's going out of his way to pay for a train ticket, to take a two hour ride, just to see me for two hours.
Here's my detour on my writing. The most commonly asked question I seem to be getting asked, is "Paul, where do you meet these people?"
I never really thought about it. I just meet them - I said. But sometimes, I'm more specific. I think I know a lot of Germans because I travel a lot, and they travel a lot. So, you put the two together and that's why I meet a lot of international friends. But then again, that doesn't explain how people invite me - and I get to stay over and eat with them.
I met Ben in Belize. I keep in touch with three people I met in Belize. Two are from Holland, and the other is Ben from Bavaria. Many people would think this is a lot of people, but it's actually not. As I told Ben, I think I must have met 200 people or more in my week in Belize. I only keep in touch with three of them. That's 1.5%. I guess when you travel enough, meet enough people, you know who you want to stay in touch with and who you don't want to stay in touch with. You kind of become good at who you have chemistry with and you also know who will be good to you. And I think you give off the same vibes. So, I met Volker and Tobi in New Zealand. Ben in Belize. Dutch girls in Belize. And a Luxemburger in France. So: there we go. Now back to the story.
I see Ben in the distance. I go and hug him. We're happy to see each other. It's time to eat dinner together at 9pm and see Ben's friends. We eat a bad pizza at a divey bar. I want to complain about the food, but why? It's Europe. You never complain. His friends come. We converse for an hour and a half.
I tell them all the new German words I learned. I learned, "Party!!! Party!!!" And "Sex Relationship." And "Can I kiss you, please?" and "Let's go." And "Hurry Up!" All of these sound much more emphatic in German. Ben said, "It sounds like you learned all the important things."
The girls say, "Just from what you told us you learned, I think you had a good time in Europe."
During the conversation, I tell Ben, "You know what I've been wanting in Germany? I want a German license plate. I have a German car at home, and I need to put a German license plate on it. I've been on the hunt for one ever since I've been here."
When we leave the bar, we walk on the streets. Ben says, "Paul!!!!" He holds an abandoned Munich license plate for me. Now what are the odds?!!! Yes, I think. Awesome.
We leave his friends, both of who are girls. I tell them in German, please to meet you. Ben and I take a ride to the main train station. It's 0 C outside. He says good bye to me. I hear in German, "Last call for Regensberg." He walks into the train. I look at the large metal compartments. The train starts up. Chug - chug - chug.
I can run faster than the train at this moment. I don't know the exact direction it's leaving, but I know this: it's moving away from me. I look at the different windows to see if Ben is there. I can't find him. He's sitting down already. He's in there somewhere. And I just watch, as the train keeps driving away from me further into the darkness. It's somewhere out there. It's midnight now.
He's gone. So, I wait for the next train to come in. I ask a person, "Do you have a Bavarian pass?"
He says, "Ja. 10 euro."
I give him five. He gives me the pass. I can take it to the airport now. An airport ride typically costs 11 euro. So, I save more than 50%. I decide not to get a hotel. I check in at 5 am. It's already midnight. A hotel isn't worth 4 hours. It'll take me one hour to get to the airport.
I take the S-Bahn to the airport. Two months ago, I was taking the same line from Munich to the Airport. Everything looks so different in the night view than it did with the day view. Two months ago, I took the day view. I get lost easily in Los Angeles, with streets I'm familiar with during the day but not night. At 1 am, one hour exactly, I am at Munich Airport.
The intercom says, "Munchen Flughafen." I leave to London soon enough. And from London - Los Angeles.
At the Munich airport, I go to MacDonalds. I get a One Euro cheeseburger. It doesn't taste as good as my Austrian one in the cliffside. I down a bier as well. And I fall alseep on airport chairs for four hours.
I then check in groggy for my flight to London. I arrive into London. I fall asleep at the airport for two hours. And the check in game begins; I'm going home.