Some of the scenery is OK, though the weather isn't hugely pleasant. Our carriage was blighted by some loud and fast scouts running up and down the aisle and I wasn't the only one pissed off by this. After a shitload of grief getting photos off my phone I eventually manage to complete what I'm doing, and also have time to talk to Helen. And then, still booze free, we are in Munich.
Our hotel isn't in the centre because everything was too expensive; we are in an area called Laim, with which none of us are familiar. But it's a short S-Bahn ride and then, oh, there's just train lines and industry and a huge roundabout and a building with our hotel name on it. It seems weird, the ground floor is actually just the entrance to a normal residential/business tower block, with reception actually being on the first floor.
Both Jon and Mike come to realise they've stayed here before. Everything is small and strange but we check in, get keys, take half hour in our room and I try to post my blog. It fails. The others come to get me because it's time to leave, and it's time to get on the beer.
So it's like 3pm or so and we're in Munich on a Saturday. The S-bahn back into town isn't crowded and we go to Marienplatz, which is a touristy area and we all know there's beer to be found. But apart from the Ratskeller, which none of us fancy, we spend 20 minutes failing to find beer. In Munich. For fucks sake.
Eventually we find Zum Franziskaner and go to the restaurant part. In the interests of varied and balanced diet, I opt for the 5 sausage platter and a pint of wheat beer. The others all have huge chunks of pig, called schweinhaxe (I think?). The food is ace, but no-one is drinking quickly and really none of us are in the mood for this. There's no energy. We're not feeling bad, just fatigued and defeated. We've checked in online for our flights home and mentally I just feel like I'm done with this shit.
"the horseradish is quite hot" said the waiter
However, we have an appointment to meet two ex-colleagues of Mike and I, at 6pm in the Fraunhofer bar. This is a 15 or so minute walk from Zum Franziskaner, except that doesn't account for the slowness of Munich pedestrians nor my inability to lead us through Viktualienmarkt well. But we do find the venue and we're 40 minutes early, which is fine because it's empty and our reserved table is right there in front of us.
Symptomatic of our collective malaise, Jon orders a soft drink. The rest of us have beer, but there's still no enthusiasm. I'm obsessively refreshing the football scores for both Macc Town and AFC Wimbledon. At around 5.55pm, just before Antonia and Holger are due, I get a huge mood boost as the Dons score a super late equaliser and we climb to 8th. It really is like night and day in my head, and come on, someone get me a new beer.
Antonia arrives and injects more enthusiasm into the evening. She wants to hear what we've been up to, on this trip and in general, and I am accused of having the most interesting job ... until I describe it. I'm also patronised for still being a Perl programmer. A hen night arrives on another table and they are ludicrously tame.
Geoff gets a beer called the TRIUMPHATOR and it's fantastic, so I have that next. And Holger arrives, much later than planned, and bearing gifts: 5 bottles of beer from the Stortebeker brewery. This is not the bad news it would have been just a couple of hours earlier.
After a while we're all in a food mood, so naturally I get a plate full of sausages and sauerkraut. Once that's done we elect to decant to another venue, because the locals have told us about a craft beer venue with 30 taps and hundreds of bottles. It's a bit of a trek to get there, requiring a tube and a bit of a long walk but it'll be worth it.
Even I am getting tired of this. Why are you still reading?
It's snowing on the walk, and when we get there no-one wants to stay because a good place is popular so there's no seats at 9.30pm on a Saturday night. I totally would be happy to stand around in people's way for the sake of the drinks but am roundly defeated in the non-vote which takes place. So instead we walk another 10 minutes to a bar called Escobar, a cocktail place but with rumours of beer.
Miraculously, the second we arrive a table the size of our party all up and fuck off, so we are seated immediately. There is beer on the menu, woohoo. But it's pretty late and some of us are tired, plus Holger has a 90+ minute journey home. What's more, Geoff almost passes out and has to go outside to get himself sorted. Ooer. So once the drinks are finished we head off.
Outside, Geoff has already recovered from his episode. None of us have bags so the 5 beer bottles are carried between the 4 Englishmen in various pockets. Holger and Antonia both bid us farewell at Hauptbahnhof, and we head back to Laim and our hotel. It's a refreshingly tame end to a comparatively low key day. Whew.