Katie and I were ecstatic to have my twin sister and brother-in-law in town this past week. Kim and Bill arrived early Saturday morning and just left this morning, taking with them both German and Danish memories.
We met them at the airport on Saturday, complete with an unnecessary sign that read “Kim and Bill” (we were excited to see family for the first time in three months). We took the train into town, dropped their luggage at our place and hit the streets, making the 2.5-mile trek from Schwabing to the Marienplatz. We made a beeline for the Viktualienmarkt and feasted on brats, pretzels and beer.
We took the Metro back to our place so that Bill and Kim could take a much-needed nap. As fate would have it, it rained while they were napping — the only rain we would see for their entire trip. We spent the evening in Schwabing and took them for Indian food at Dhaba, our favorite neighborhood eatery.
We spent Sunday biking around the English Gardens. The Munich transportation system — the same one that operates the trains, trams and buses — also operates a bike rental service. They have bikes scattered throughout the city and, after registering online and putting a credit card on file, all one has to do is call the number on the bike, punch in a code and they’re off. You can rent a bike for the entire day for just 15 Euros (20 dollars). It was a gorgeous day and we were able to bike all over the gardens. We stopped at four different beer gardens (having a drink at two of them) and even spent some time laying out on a blanket with hundreds of other Munchkins. It was a perfect German afternoon. We spent the evening back at our place where Katie made us some delicious turkey fajitas.
We had a bit of a scare late that night. Kim began to get significant stomach pains in the early evening and they intensified as the night wore on. At about 12:30 a.m. we decided to take her to a hospital, fearing that it might be her appendix. Katie called Munich’s emergency number and, because Kim’s condition wasn’t life-threatening, they encouraged us to call a taxi. So we called a cab. As soon as we hung up with the cab company, Bill and Kim started to walk down the single flight of stairs to get to our front door. By the time they got there, the cab driver was pulling up to the door! We’re fortunate enough to have a hospital just blocks away from where we live, so it was a short ride. Katie — who really came to the rescue this night with her German skills — handled all of the paperwork at the clinic’s ER. It wasn’t long before Kim was wheeled into an exam room. To make a long story short, we believe Kim ended up having a ruptured ovarian cyst (something she’s had before). The local doctors ruled out appendicitis with an ultrasound and blood work. It was welcome news as the last thing we (especially Kim) wanted was to have emergency surgery in another country. Going on a trip to Munich only to have an operation done followed by days of bed rest is not an ideal vacation. And despite how wonderful we’ve heard German healthcare is, when the nurse says, “I think she will have her appendix lost tonight,” in broken English, part of you starts to panic.
The hospital itself seemed very barren and lacking patients. It was actually a little creepy. Ever the opportunist, I did manage to snap a few photos with our iPad.
Despite the lack of action, we were at the hospital until about 4:00 a.m. We all had flights to Copenhagen, Denmark the next day and had to be up somewhat early. Katie had an earlier flight than all of us (our trip to Denmark was based around Katie having to be at a three-day conference) so she got the least sleep of any of us, but we all managed to catch naps on the plane so that we were able to hit the ground running once in Copenhagen.
We’ll dedicate a future post entirely to the Copenhagen trip (although if you’re antsy you can see some photos we posted online). But for now I will say that it’s an expensive city with a rich history, beautiful waterways, an abundance of cafes/restaurants and a comforting Seattle/San Francisco feel to it. As for its priciness, the good news is that with a little bit of research you can find affordable dining options. The four of us had an amazing time. Katie’s conference went really well, Kim, Bill and I had fantastic weather for our days touring the city, and the four of us enjoyed two fun nights in the city.
We traveled back to Munich on Wednesday. Kim, Bill and I were back home around 5:30 p.m. and Katie made it in around 11:30 p.m. Weary from travel, we spent that evening indoors and enjoying some much-needed rest.
On Thursday, their final day in Europe, we went back to the Marienplatz to walk around some more and see some of the shops. We also popped in St. Michael’s church before swinging over to the Hofbrauhaus for a liter of beer. We thought about staying for dinner, but decided to take them to the good old Wasserman instead. They got to taste Schnitzel for the first time (they liked it) and have a few final glasses of German beer.
This morning came early — a 3:45 a.m. wake-up call to be exact — as Bill and Kim had to make a 6:40 a.m. flight. I rode with them halfway to the airport before seeing them off on their final train. After a couple of big hugs we said our good-byes and I made the lonely walk back to the U2 train to head back home, somewhat surprised at the homesick pain in my heart. It was a feeling that reminded me, despite this trip of a lifetime and the wonderful time we’re having, how nice it will be to return home next year.
And thus ended a week we’ll never forget — nor will we forget any of the days or weeks we get to spend with family and friends that come to visit us. Our trip out here is as much a life opportunity for us as it is for those who come visit. It’s also a nice touch of home for Katie and I who are spoiled with how much we’re used to seeing family. It was good to see familiar faces.
And speaking of familiar faces, five hours after saying good-bye to Kim and Bill, we welcomed our friend Jeff who will be staying with us for the weekend. The forecast is for cold and rain, but Jeff came for the beer and food, so we should be okay.