The Only Way is Essen.

This weekend Mum and Dad were in town! They decided to opt for a city break, which is convenient seeing as I have now set up residence here.

Friday evening: I met Mum and Dad at a rather suave hotel and to fit in I decided to pretend I was James Bond by walking up to the desk very abruptly in a dark jacket. Coupled with my sinister and serious attitude I decided to speak more than one language in the vicinity of the receptionist, mainly to throw her off. Yes, that’s how I roll. We had a good catch up in the hotel room whilst we prepared to brave the drizzle in search of traditional German eateries. In the lift on the way down we agreed that it was in fact best to plan tomorrow once we were intoxicated.

To my dismay, all the good restaurants seemed to be booked out. Just when I was starting to wish I had booked somewhere ..anywhere…where else did we stumble upon on Friday evening but the Hofbräuhaus! The world famous beer house has been delivering mouthwatering, thirst-quenching beers and starchy grub since it was founded in 1589 by the then Duke of Bavaria, Wilhelm the 5th.  Amongst the regulars were Lenin, Mozart and Hitler, though presumably not at the same time (Hallo ve’d like a table for four…Bismarck vill be joining us at eight sirty). Without being too flippant, we embraced ourselves for a messy night knowing that on previous occasions the antics had in fact inspired World Wars. Without a moment’s hesitation we ducked out of the rain and hurried on inside just before Mum started making jokes about sausages (she had by this stage already expressed a preference for restaurants which offer more than just porcine recipies). As the men of the party, myself and Dad took it upon ourselves to look not only busy but authoritative, by sorting out a table. We tried our best to get the attention of the waiter. A waiter, we thought naively, would surely be polite, accommodating and friendly before leading us away to free table. We were wrong. Not in Germany. Politeness is inefficiency. You’d have thought I’d know by now that waiters weren’t as friendly as in the UK. And like any normal Brits we were immediately displeased with a foreign queueing system and publicly criticised it, mainly because we didn’t understand it. However, out of the corner of our eyes we noticed Mum waving a bit manically at us. She was giving us the signal. The technique she had employed actually predates me…it dates back to her days in training with the Grandparents at Saffron Walden car park…my Mum’s side of the family have yet to be defeated in the theatre of war that is Car Park Management (shout out to Granddad and Grandma!). Nowadays you could probably dedicate four years of your life to a degree in Parking Studies. Before we knew it we were working in synchronisation like a team of honeybees supported by the Queen Bee (Mum, of course). She had managed to chat to a smashed Irishman and partly because of his drunken stupor, partly because of her charm she secured us a table. We waited…poised and ready to pounce once the current guests eventually decided to leave.

Once sat comfotably we ordered drei mal Maß, drei mal Schnitzel (mit Pommes, obvs). We got our three Steins without a problem at all. However, the waitress had misunderstood me and brought a meagre two Schnitzel with chips. Deep breaths were in order…but I instead decided to vent my dissatisfaction with the situaiton in the direction of the waitress, to whom I had clearly repeated the order to…with counting on fingers and everything. In the style of Inglorious Basterds, I then realised that I had used my middle three fingers to describe the number of Schnitzel required, instead of the Germanic thumb, first finger and middle finger. Needless to say she was very apologetic and continued to bring me a steady supply of Jäger shots as I waited for my food to be prepared. Andy and Alex took almost no notice because they were busy tucking in to the grub and discussing the different merits of the Bavarian delicacy. Both were absolutely loving the lemon juice sqeezed onto the breaded meat. So we eventually washed our meals down with another beer and stumbled back in the direction of Marienplatz. All feeling fairly tipsy we rejoiced in Germany’s ability to provide brass music, hearty meals washed down with frothy beer.

Hofbräuhaus with Mum and Dad

Saturday: Some of us feeling slightly worse for wear, we met at BMW Welt at around lunchtime. We had a look around at all the cutting-edge technology in the German automakers pristine and iconic King showroom. BMW Welt really showcases the future of automotive travel. The secrets lie in the heart of this building in the new electric cars the BMW i8 and the BMW i3. Awestruck by the shiny cars, we took a look at Rolls-Royce once I had persuaded Dad out of the Junior-Campus kindergarten room. I then found myself dragging Mum away before she convinced herself that buying the new Phantom was a good idea. We grabbed a snack and no sooner had we started chomping away on sausage, than a chap from Husqvarna Motorcycles had started revving up. He showed off by giving us an ironic indoor display of one of their new off-road bikes. It ripped around the showroom going up and down stairs, doing wheelies and other cool tricks. Every kid wanted a photo with the motorbike man after the display – it was a truly spontaneous and unforgettable performance. We then decided to hit the BMW Museum located just over the road, right in the shadow of the awesome BMW-Vierzylinder building.

Andy & Alex at BMW Welt/BMW-Vierzylinder. We keeping you up, Dad?

We took a quick look around the museum and were amazed at the different types of early engines. So many cylinders…so many changes in design – it really showed just how far BMW had come in so many years of innovation. As the weather was fantastic we decided to take a quick walk up to the hill in Olympiapark where on a clear day there is a breathtaking view over Munich with the mountains in the distance. Deciding to capitalise on the great weather we then headed straight to the Chinesischer Turm at the Englischer Garten for needless to say…a couple of Steins. Andy was still feeling it from Friday night but me and Mum didn’t want to let the side down so we cracked on and got zwei Maß Weißbier in. Having drunk previous generations of rugby players under the table at Oxford…Mum was polishing off her Bier in no time at all – a great effort indeed.

Sunday: The Munich Marathon happened to be on and we cheered on competitors including the leading woman who was miles ahead of everyone else, including a load of older men. We paid a visit to the Alte Pinakothek (recommended by Alfie) which is a massive art gallery near the Technisches Universität München (TUM) main campus. The Alte Pinakothek was very interesting indeed and gave a great overview of some impressive pieces of art throughout the centuries. And because Sunday is a cheap day to visit museums, we paid 1€ each for the pleasure – not bad in the slightest. The only thing that did get on our nerves was the blatant disregard for British art, the gallery made a point of displaying zero English paintings. Still though, you can’t change the fact that we are associated with the flag of St. George. So there! If you like to see Jesus doing some of his magic tricks then you would have loved this place. He was a real magician. One minute he was dying (on and off the cross) then he was being reborn. Then he was being a baby again. Mary was also ascending and descending throughout, if that interests you. To really appreciate the amount of different pieces of art, a quick morning visit simply wouldn’t suffice. It was a marathon in itself. In the early afternoon we decided to call it a day and head in the direction of the university to a very trendy Thai restaurant. The last thing we wanted was more German food! Again the weather was bright and despite being a bit chilly in the late afternoon we managed to sit outside comfortably in the fresh air having demolished our various dishes. It was then that Dad came up with a pun that will go down in history. He described my chemical state during Oktoberfest as “tempura”. Tempura being battered shrimp. “Were you absolutely tempura, Marcus?”

Mum and I doing our best to look edgy.

I really can’t thank Mum and Dad enough for taking time out of busy schedules to come and visit. They treated me very well indeed and I believe the weekend was a huge success. But best of all it was great to just see them again and I now look forward to coming back and seeing the whole family at Christmas and finding out how everyone is getting on.  I am very lucky to have had so many people visit me already – may it continue the entire year.


2 thoughts on “The Only Way is Essen.

  1. Love the Bond anecdote! Whenever I’m in public speaking English with friends, I like to drop a few French phrases in, to prove I can. And to show the pervy old man talking to his friend about us in the background that I understand every word…

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