July 30, 2012

Eurotrip - Munich to Brussels, July 30

I think I actually slept worse last night than I did the first night here. I got maybe 3 hours of sleep. At least it got me up early again so we could go out exploring some more. Also I discovered that we get into Brussels at 9:30, not 11:30 so today's journey shouldn't be too bad. We take a train back from Munich to Stuttgart and then on to Siegburg before transferring to a Brussels line. In short, we have 7 hours of train time in which to catch up on sleep.

We visited the former Olympic park in Munich from the '72 games. It's kind of a sad place. They're doing a decent job of keeping some of the buildings active still, but a lot of the land is sitting unused.

We stopped into the swimming building and climbed a really big weird looking hill which was covered in school-children.

 I'd love to see a photo collection of the current states of former Olympic villages. Do they all have abandoned carnivals?

I forgot to mention the last thing that pissed me off about the music instrument collection at the Deutches Museum yesterday. Their example of a modern grand piano was a Steinway and Sons concert grand. This is a problem with lots of the music stores we've been to. The piano selections are mostly Steinways and Bostons and Yamahas. Europe used to be the piano making center of the world, and still makes a lot of fine instruments. Why in the world did the museum not choose a Bosendorfer, the German flagship piano maker? Alright, this interests no one but me. But now i'll be able to read about it in perpetuity!

We also saw the glockenspiel performance in the Marienplatz this morning. I took a video of people taking videos and this picture if Justin watching it.

We were tired and grumpy, but luckily our European Coca-cola lifted spirits. The glockenspiel thing was basically 19th century animatronic dancing a-la chuck-e-cheez. If we had been more awake it might have been more appealing, but as it was we spent more time giggling at the gawkers than truly appreciating the show.

As promised it has been an overwhelmingly dull day. It's fascinating how something as breathtaking as zipping across countries in a high-speed train can become commonplace. When you settle in for an entire day of travel though, you tend to space out a lot of the time.

I'm looking forward to Brussels. A large portion of my family's heritage is Belgian, but none of us has actually been back the homeland. I really have no idea what to expect from it. For some reason in my head it looks like Poland or Russia but I know it looks more like France or the other cities we've been to. It was weird to hear French being spoken again the train today as well, just when I was starting to get used to German. I think we do better with French anyway. C'est Bon!

Cologne, like the cologne
The train passed through a bunch of cities that are all musically historically significant but I'd be hard pressed to name why. Cities like Bonn, Cologne (I took a picture of that church over the water from a bridge), Stuttgart again, and of course Mannheim. I remember why Mannheim is important. There was an orchestra there in 1700's (pre-Classical times) under a conductor/composer named Johann Stamitz which was famous for several orchestral techniques including bowing together and a big crescendo which became known as the Mannheim walzer. In English this translates to the Mannheim steamroller. So next time you're hanging out with your friends at Christmas listening to everyone's second favorite electronic easy listening band (after Trans-Siberian orchestra), you can share my favorite anecdote about music history.

It's kind of weird how both of my premonitions about Brussels came true. Our station, Brussels Nord, was what appeared in the dark to be the sketchier of the two main train stations. It was dirty, sparsely occupied save some people who didn't seem to have anywhere to go, and it was surrounded by sex stores. We of course had no idea where we were going so we wandered around the outside and inside of the station before figuring out what the hell we were doing. Once we found it route we walked up a dim street with the scary buildings on our left and the giant office buildings on our right. I haven't walked this fast with my backpack on since we tried to outrun a sandstorm in Utah with Odyssey in high school.

In short the walk was terrifying, not because of any real danger, but because it's late, we're basically guessing our way around, and who knows what kind of evil lurks in the heart of Belgians?*

On a positive note, the hostel here is way better than the one in Munich. There are fewer kids running around, they seem to offer more, and we have our own shower. Still, the Hilton in Amsterdam is looking reeeally good.

Also, I saw one of the greatest graffitis of all time in a dark and terrifying tunnel that we had to cross through, and I posted it for your enjoyment. Sleep ahoy!

Currently listening to: the streets of Brussels

*The shadow knows.

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