Monthly Archives: September 2016

Day 8: Oktoberfest and Fleeing Munich

This was just one of the eight or so large beer tents. They're all decorated differently.

This was just one of the eight or so large beer tents. They’re all decorated differently.

Oktoberfest is a three week festival. You start drinking beer by the liter at noon and you don’t stop until… well, actually, that’s unclear.

I attended this festivities on Saturday. It was raining but many people still went to der Wiesn early on Saturday morning. I had made friends with a Naval Police Officer from California who is currently living in Spain. We went together and found seats at a medium sized tent called Zum Stiftl.

Making new friends at the Zum Stiftl tent at Oktoberfest 2016.

Making new friends at the Zum Stiftl tent at Oktoberfest 2016.

In total I spent about €100 on food, drink, and entertainment on Day One. Oktoberfest is a massive festival with many delicious treats to try and carnival rides to jump on. So, you could spend a little less or a lot more.

I was supposed to be in München for 7 days and go to Oktoberfest for two of them. Unfortunately on the Friday before Oktoberfest started, it began to rain a lot.

I was staying at a wonderful campground called The Tent. The Tent is a cheap hostel and campground where you can camp for €99  for a whole week. There was only three problems:

  1. The Tent is extremely busy during Oktoberfest. My inner introvert was screaming for alone time by Sunday morning.
  2. The rain didn’t let up by Sunday morning and it negatively impacted everyone’s mood.
  3. Everybody was drunk and or hungover by Sunday morning. This further darkened the mood.

For these reasons. I decided not to attend Oktoberfest on Sunday. Furthermore, I had a good friend in Utrecht invite me to stay at their place.

I got a refund on my last two nights at The Tent (€28, thanks!) and bought a bus ticket to Utrecht.

I arrived in the Netherlands early Monday morning, and was glad to be greeted with clear weather:

There is water everywhere.

There is water everywhere.


Day 2: It’s Hot in Munich Because Everyone Smokes Cigarettes

Justus Eapen in Munich Airport

The Munich Airport has an incredible open-air shopping complex. Check out the roof on this.

I’m actually writing this in the morning of Day 3.

Yesterday I woke up at 5am and quietly packed my bags in the darkness of Anker Hostel in Oslo. My roommates didn’t stir. I ate a coffee-bar and wandered into the sleeping city of Oslo.

I had a ticket departing from OSL at 10:05 AM. My bags are heavy: A full 70L backpack and less-full 25L bookbag. I think they weigh a combined 60lbs or so.

I pay 180 Norwegian Krone for the express train to OSL. That’s like $22. Everything in Norway is ridiculously expensive. The evening before I spent $30 on a burger and fries. Not a fancy burger and fries. Just a regular bar-style burger.

Anyway, I get to the airport and get through security around 7am. I spend the next couple hours coding on a client project. My plane is delayed 20 minutes. The airport only gives me 2 hours of internet, and it doesn’t work on my phone.

The flight is great. I sit next to a couple that needs to use the bathroom a lot, and I’m in the aisle seat. They wake me up at least twice to go to the lavatory.

We land in Munich a bit before 1pm.

I take an expensive (maybe $12?) train from the airport to the Moosach station which is about a mile from The Tent.

What is The Tent, you ask?

The Tent is an incredible piece of property maintained as a civic institution for young travelers. We’re talking something like 3 or 4 acres of buildings, tents, and open campground.

Yeah, it’s beautiful.

Anyway. I get to the Moosach station with 60+lbs of gear. It is at least 85ºF. I’m wearing a denim jacket, like an asshole. The one mile walk through the München suburb is not highly enjoyable.

You might think from my tone that travel is not always fun and games. And that is true. We have a very romantic image of travel. I’m guilty of this. We talk a lot about the personal growth, cultural learning, and discovery. It might seem like that’s all that happens when you go abroad.

In fact, most of solo travel is a lonely process of problem solving:

Where am I going? What does this sign say? Where do I check in? Why is this old man in a loincloth hovering over me in the dark?

That last one happened to me on a beach in India. Story for another day I think.

I get to The Tent drenched in sweat and relieved to have not gotten lost. It’s not like I have cell service to use the GPS on my phone. I have to download maps and rely on WiFi for location data. It’s pretty effective actually.

Of course, you have to pay at check-in. Of course they only take cash.

Of course, they’re kind enough to let me set up my tent before venturing off to find an ATM.

I find a good spot and set up my two-person, four-season Alpine tent:

Yes, those are my sweaty socks drying on the vestibule.

Yes, those are my sweaty socks drying on the front vestibule.

I hate following instructions, so this is the first time I’d set up the tent. It was easier than I expected, which I am grateful for. You can see from the brown grass and shade that I did this in the scorching heat.

I find an ATM at a nearby hospital and take out €200.

I pay €99 for a 7-day campground reservation and €25 deposit. Then I settle in and code. I have a beer €2 which is the cheapest thing I’ve bought in Europe.

Dinner is calf liver and onions from Poseidon, a greek restaurant where no one speaks English. They give me a free shot of Schnapps and a huge beer. The liver is sizeable, like three times the size of what you’d get at Ma Maison in Boston. It’s not as well-prepared. They grilled it. I always fry my liver. It’s pretty good though, served with rice in a tomato sauce. They also give me a wilty salad that I drench in oil and vinegar and salt.

Contrary to popular opinion, I sometimes have a hard time making friends. Since I got to The Tent I’ve made two friends. An Austrian man named Martin. He just left this morning for Prague.

Now, I’m sitting across from an Australian woman named Cherise. She’s in town for Oktoberfest. Meeting a friend. Hails from Zanzibar. I used to yell “ZANZIBAR!” at my dogs to make them go away. I never knew it was a real place.

Here are some things I’ve noticed about Germany in my first day:

  1. Everyone smokes cigarettes. I’m going to die of secondhand smoke.
  2. The airport has an indoor pod made of glass where people can smoke.
  3. The airport also has nap pods, which is awesome.
  4. It’s cheaper than Norway.

Day One: Wandering In Oslo, Drinking with Strangers

This happens to me everytime.

I wander deep into the city. Where only the locals go.

I find a dive bar. I drink with strangers.

Today, I had a beer with a 54 year old woman who hails from a part of Norway called the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Its called that because for a month or two every year the sun does not set.

Then she left, and I had another beer with a Latvian economist/singer. When I finished, he helped me find a cheap hostel, and walked me to the place.

I took a nap in a bunk bed for the first time in a long while.

When I was leaving Boston, I had a sense of fear. Of loneliness. It lasted just a moment as the jet escaped the tarmac at Logan International.

It went away quickly because I realized I was embarking on a journey of many new friendships.

Yes, I’m leaving a lot behind: great friends in an incredible community, a deep network of professional colleagues, an abundance of sure opportunities in the Boston tech scene.

And its nothing to mourn. The world is before me. There is mostly love and velkommen ahead. I have nothing to fear.

Loneliness is just a thought in my head.