|Subject: Travel Serendiptiy - Munich (long)|
Hi there Ziners:
During my solo 1967 Round-the-World Trip, someone I met suggested that I get to Munich for Oktoberfest..yeah, right! the average, normal person plans for this event months, if not years, in advance...but since Salzburg was on my schedule, I decided to train to Munich in the hopes of staying for 3 nights. Armed with my flexible ticket which would fly me out of Munich that night if necessary, I proceeded to the Welcome Center at the station. My request for a single room was met with a what, are you crazy! look...so I suggested my willingness to take a double and pay the extra...again A Look!! But, the clerk must have had pity on the dismay/panic on my face, asked if I spoke German, to which I replied nine. He then told me of a Meet The Germans plan which allowed one to stay with a family at a very reasonable rate, the only problem being its location 20 minutes away. I accepted, with the self-assurance that I could surely find a hotel among the many (30?) around the station and then call to cancel. It wasn't that easy; only one hotel could accommodate me for 1 night..(remember, I wanted 3) so I declined - Very Big Mistake!
As my 4PM checkin was near, I hunted out the tram (wrong direction at first) and finally boarded with all the locals/workers..this was the very first time in all my travels that I actually felt like the Foreigner I was...no one spoke English! and the conductor was getting agitated at my waving the map with my destination at him, but finally assured me thru sign language that he would signal where I should disembark...the tram moved 5-10-15 and now 20 minutes out of town as industrial buildings loomed on both sides..I was scared, uncomfortable and just then decided that perhaps when I got off, I should immediately get to airport and outathere!
I was now in front of the BMW factory and had been shrugged off by a policeman when I showed the directions to the house..my nerves were on edge/it was getting late and fear took over!
But, Suddenly Serendipity!!
Out of the blue, came the following three sentences, imbedded in my mind (and heart) forever:
I speak English....I have a map....Maybe I can help you
Looking around, there seated on a bench to my side was a young character-looking man, wearing blue factory coveralls, a goatee and a smile. As I sat down next to him, teardrops exploded and I got the point across that I didn't want to be here in response to his what are you doing way out here? Besides, I had loving friends and family back home and here I was traveling alone..and to top it all off, it was my birthday!! He was right...what the heck was I doing out there!!
Anyway, he went on to introduce himself and said he had helped another young lost American out last week, that he knew of a pension in his neighborhood and I could go there with him and they would, no doubt, have room for me...Feeling very unwanted by now, my response was that I was not going anywhere unless I was sure that such a place existed and would want to take in this American. Rudy thinks and thinks, can't remember the name of the place...finally does..we get to the phonebooth to call and, would you believe, there are Two hotels by the same name on different streets...now he can't remember the street name closest to his neighborhood, a matter of passing it almost daily and not paying attention..If this is starting to sound suspicious, it did to me too and I was more than hesitant to continue this venture.
A...The Satchel... to the rescue...yes, next to him on the pavement is this black satchel which Rudy picks up, opens and lo and behold!, it is loaded with maps! Now, I ask you..(1) what are the chances that one frightened American could run into an English speaking person in the heart of a German industrial zone? and (2) who would know of a potential hotel and (3) who would have a bag of maps handy for reference to find the right street in order to make the phone call? Serendity at its Best!!!
To shorten this story, Rudy Grude spoke English because he was adopted by an American couple, lived in the States and was sent back to Germany to avoid the draft..he subsequently married and was on a train with his pregnant-with-twins wife when a terrible crash occurred; all he could remember is carrying her to her family's house where they were headed; she and the unborns perished. After going thru a very difficult emotional time, Rudy was now devoting his life to helping the German version of Boy Scouts on camping/other trips...reason for his satchel full of maps! He was a kind/gentle soul.
A few minutes later I was on the tram returning to the city and amazed at this sudden turn of events on this quirky, dismal day..fortunately, I was trusting and lucky! and times were different then!
When we arrived at the pension, Rudy rang the bell and pointed me inside, saying it would be out of order for him to enter with me..the older couple spoke no English but I got the point across that I wanted to stay for 3 nights and burst into tears when they said 1, so they agreed to 3 and took me upstairs to the cleanest little room with a balcony over a garden and the fluffiest white quilts which I immediately jumped onto and cried my heart into for several long minutes.
Rudy had asked if I had plans for the evening (big joke!..for a while I thought I wouldn't even be around) and suggested he would call for me about five to walk me around the area to Oktoberfest, tour line, etc. so I could familiarize myself with the area.
At the appointed time, the doorbell rang and I ventured out to be met by Rudy in his knickers/beret/sunshades dangling a camera over his shoulder! During dinner at a rathskellar (which I insisted on treating for, much against my old fashioned non-woman's-lib ethics at that time - how the world of today has changed!) Rudy dis- appeared for a while only to return from the inhouse gift shop with a little Munchen doll donned with the traditional gold-colored trimmed black hooded robe. Can you believe...it was my birthday present, so I shouldn't feel so alone in this big wide world!
The end result was that we got to Oktoberfest which was an incredible sight; people dancing on long, common tables; the Bavarian band ompah-ing along; the hooking of arms and singing while glasses clinked...I had to pinch myself that I wasn't seeing a movie scene! I met several of Rudy's friends, so got to Meet the Germans after all...and on a tour, met an American whose relatives had an in with the Hotel Italia (in Germany, no less).
As a result, my unplanned stay stretched out to 6 nights during Oktoberfest and was one of the Highlights of my RTW trip!! I had never connected Serendipity to this experience until prompted by you Ziners...but it certainly fit!!
Keep on Travelin'...Lucille Marques Gioello