The second weekend of July held a visit to a nearby municipality of southern Bavaria called Berchtesgaden. The area is just a few miles from Austria and is also home to the mountain peak where Hitler’s Eagle Nest rests. Lauren and Raul’s destination was the Berchtesgaden National Park, where they took a ferry across an immense glacial lake, Königssee, and disembarked at St. Bartholomä pilgrimage church. The crystal-clear lake, surrounded by sheer rock walls and forest, is a stunning image of beauty. On the ferry ride across, the captain of the boat played a trumpet to demonstrate the echo that those tall cliffs produce. At St. Bartholomä, Raul and Lauren put their camera to good use and then followed a hiking path along the lake-front. Later turning their backs on the water, they delved into the forested hillside for a steep scramble up rocks and the dirt path. They were eager to continue exploring the many hiking possibilities here, but they had to return to the dock before the last ferry of the day left. They had just enough time to visit the beer garden and order fries, spritzer drinks, and dessert before departing. Since it is an easy trip from Munich, they are sure to come back in the future.
The next day, Raul and Lauren acted as tourists of their city and followed Rick Steves’ walking guide to learn about München and its most celebrated sights. They ended up in Hofbräuhaus, the most famous beer hall in the world, according to Rick Steves. Although frequented by plenty of tourists, the food and live oompah music made for an enjoyable break, and they followed the sausage, pretzel, and cheese snack with some delicious ice cream from a nearby shop.
On Tuesday, July 16th, Lauren gathered up materials for Mexican-American tacos, and prepared lunch for Raul and his colleagues at Agrista. The eight employees generally eat lunch together and take turns cooking, so Lauren took the opportunity to cook for them and become acquainted. She had done a test-run of the tacos at home a few days earlier and found that German beef is quite unappetizing. According to what she read, Germany primarily raises dairy cows, not beef cows, and then just slaughters the old, tough dairy cows for the beef that is in the supermarkets. To avoid that tasteless beef, Lauren turned to the more common 60% beef, 40% pork mixture that seems commonly to replace the 100% ground beef that is called for in recipes. Thankfully, she found Old El Paso soft taco shells and cheddar cheese in an unusually large grocery store and had brought a container of taco seasoning all the way from the United States. She thinks the tacos at Agrista turned out well, since she made a large amount, and it was completely gone at the end. In the future, she plans to make her own corn tortillas, and then they will certainly have a taste of home in Munich.
After lunch, Lauren stayed at Agrista, and she and Raul accompanied his colleagues after work to Tollwood once more and spent a pleasant evening outside in very “mixed” company. The eight employees of Agrista are from a variety of countries: Germany, South Africa, Britain, China, Romania, and the United States, so it has been fascinating to get to know each of these people and their stories.
Raul’s colleague Diane and her husband Tai came over for an American dinner of chicken fajitas on Thursday. After enjoying nice dinner conversation with them, they took the subway one stop down the line to the square known as Münchner Freiheit (Freedom of Munich). Lauren was in heaven when they found the darkest chocolate ice cream she’s ever had – it was even called black chocolate. She knew she would never love another dark chocolate ice cream after that moment. After purchasing the treat, the four of them strolled around Münchner Freiheit and became acquainted with the area, which houses many enticing restaurants and two large, public chessboards on the pavement like those that Raul and Lauren saw in Switzerland last year.
On Friday, the expatriates once again sought out German garage sales, which are called “Flohmärkte.” The previous week, they had bought a wooden chair to be used at the desk in their apartment, and this week, Raul found a British Harry Potter book. German and American garage sales seem to be not very different. Raul and Lauren found used clothing, dishware, children’s toys, and a lot of mediocre novels.