The Dr. is in, or is he?
Did we eat our way through Spain, Germany and a very small part of Alsace? Yes, yes we did. We had memorably good and not so great meals. But memories they are. And while this foodie journey is NOT going in chronological order, it is going to go in some sort of order. I’m just not sure what order it will be. But come along, and I hope the tales are good.
We arrived in Munich on the 29th of June; flying in from Madrid. It’s 8:30 at night, but of course it’s still light. We get our luggage and head for our first taxi ride…on the autobahn. For those not familiar, the autobahn is the German highway’s answer to the Indy 500 but without the “only left turn”…and unless otherwise indicated, the speed limit is up to the driver. Let’s just say, if you are faint of heart, you want to be sure to stay out of the far left lane. Our taxi driver, a nice man and apparent expert in autobahn driving took an easy cruise to our hotel, at 250 km (that’s about 155 MPH) all the while showing us sites left and right…and talking to my husband sitting shotgun. Trevor and Evan, both 17, are thinking this is really cool as does my husband, but they are not sitting on the hump in the middle of the backseat with precious little to hold onto. The Door’s song “Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel” jumps into my head, repeatedly. But we make it safely to our hotel, the Kings Hotel First Class in downtown Munich.
The Kings Hotel First Class is a 4 star hotel. If you have never traveled in Europe, a 4 star hotel may only mean you have room for you AND your luggage being in the same room at the same time. AND it may have air conditioning. That may work. Or not. The boy’s room is fine for them, but our room is smaller…hubby off to the rescue. Upgrade to a suite. We now have two rooms, a bigger space but unfortunately unknown to us, the old air conditioning unit that doesn’t work…and it’s a record hot spell…oh well, we do have extra room.
The boys are so excited to get out and “taste” the beer gardens. They make arrangements with the hotel for bikes (free) and off they go. It is then we look outside to see what we can see, and what do we see? The porn store, the strip club, the casino…ummmm 4 stars? Well, it is a nice hotel…and entertainment is close by…another added plus??? As it turns out, there were many people riding bikes at 11:30 at night and it was actually a very safe area. Got to get my head out of American logic…
The next day, after tooling around town, we decide to go to a beer garden for dinner. I mean what else are you going to do in Munich? We decide, after many recommendations, to go to Augustiner Keller Beer Garden. I’m not expecting much, and at first they really deliver.
It is a huge place, they serve around 7,000 people a day during the season. First order of business, find a place to sit. There is the beer “garden”; literally tables set in the trees where they will bring you your steins of beer and you go to various stands to get food. No places to sit, but I really wasn’t so much into the serve yourself mode anyway, so we mosey up to the “we serve you here” part of the garden. There are many tables open, but they all have reservation signs on them (the hotel told us they didn’t take reservations but apparently they do, if you have the right number of people or a special occasion..I’m hungry, and in Germany, special enough?…)
Augustiner Keller Beer Garden
The tables are long with one butting up against the next. As I pass through a party of 4 gets up to leave…thinking it’s the “In n Out Burger” model, cruise around until you see someone leave and then snag the table, I am ready to jump in a chair and spend the $.50 to text the others I have conquered a seat. But to my dismay the waiter comes over and gives me a look…”Can we sit here?” I ask sweetly. ”How many?” he responds brusquely. Smile…”four”…he looks around and give me a nod…yes, I have been honored to sit.
I’m still not expecting much…after all, if they serve over 7,000 meals a day, then how good can the food be? And then there is this whole feeling of the “cross sale” and the “sell as much as you can” and the feeling of “move the customer, turn the table”… but we are seated…big ass beers are served, along with my tiny little Pinot Grigio, and dinner is ordered…
These are some big ass beers!
By our waiter’s suggestion Trevor and DH are getting the “everything we make and serve in Munich plate”… Evan and I are holding out for Wiener Schnitzel. The food is promptly brought…(remember…move the customer, people is money, more people is more money) and you know what? It’s good. Well done. Well prepared.
The "everything we make" plate
As we are prone to do, we start talking to our waiter. The pace of the dinner slows…a reserved sign goes on the tables next to us, taking up 8 places…reserved for Dr. Frei at 12:00 midnight. Our waiter, Tilo starts to talk to us about foodie things, he brings us some cheese that a friend of his makes…we have a couple of Jagger shots…I have another glass of wine, it’s a fine evening. Dessert is fresh berries and cream, Apple Strudel…good times. He’s telling us about how many people they serve and how many large steins of beers they can each carry (the best can do 12, 6 in each hand) and how it all works. I comment; “and you work late hours too, as I see you have a reservation for midnight”. He laughs and lets us in on his secret.
He had been having a bad day and was in a bad mood. His boss had been on his ass and he wasn’t happy at all. When I asked if we could sit, his first gut jerk reaction was to say no…go away. But he didn’t and between our talks of life in the states, his sharing his life in Germany, including many hopes and dreams, he felt happy. He was glad we were there and didn’t want anyone jostling behind us with big mugs of beer or plates laden with food, so he put the “RESERVED” sign down so no one would sit there. Yes, he took out a table for 8 for us. And Dr. Frei, well it’s just his Dr. Free…as in, keep the table free. Did he get a little extra on his tip? Yes, yes he did. And a meal that was supposed to take less than an hour to serve and get us out of there, went on to about 3 hours…each and every minute a pleasure. We will all remember his as one of the best meals we had!
A fine time was had by all...
But maybe more for some than others
Remember it’s the experience. And you always have the ability to change your experience…at any time..