Archive for July, 2010

A brief interlude for more bizarre search phrases

salzburg panorama painting laundry, “jamie and patrick” commitment celebration, dachau, weekend nuremberg

Also, whoever was searching terms like these a few days ago, I hope you found what you’re after…

eric sorcha ross making out kissing, eric schwartz blog munich sorcha ross, erichalschwartz sorcha ross kiss

Quite a theme…

Categories: Germany, Personal

Swamp City

Exhausted and heavy-hearted over leaving, but overall pleased with my final night in Munich, I headed to the airport. Luckily I’ve been to the airport often enough to make the journey practically in my sleep since that was pretty much what I was doing. I sleepwalked through the airport procedure and slept from takeoff to landing, waking when the wheels touched down and feeling somewhat more alert than I had before. I managed the bus into East Berlin close to where I was staying though I got a little lost getting from Alexanderplatz to Rosa-Luxembourg Platz and the St. Christopher’s hostel I was staying at. After I dropped my bags off I gave Julie a call.

Julie is my friend Clara’s former roommate in Washington D.C. We had been “friendtroduced” to each other by Clara via e-mail way back in January and had kept up a semi-steady string of correspondence and online chatting since then, punctuated by an unfortunate lack of meeting up in either Munich or Berlin. Even now she was getting ready to leave for a trip back to the States for a wedding, giving me a very limited chance to hang out with her that I was determined to take.

I arranged to meet up with her for brunch (a Sunday event Berliners take very seriously) not far from my hostel by bus. She was there with several of her friends and I met them while getting my own meal. I didn’t have too much to contribute to the conversation as it was also a sort of goodbye for several of them who had finished their year in Berlin and were moving on (often reluctantly). They all worked for the Jewish community and gave me an interesting insight into that world. I’d felt rather disconnected from that part of my life for the last six months so it was pleasant to hear the familiar kinds of stories wash over me. After the brunch was over, I made arrangements to meet up with Julie later for dinner and went off to explore Berlin.

I went to the famous Berlin flea market first. I might have enjoyed it more were it not so hot and sunny that it was almost painful just to walk around. I did have corn on the cob though, so it wasn’t a total bust. I next went down to the East Side Gallery, where murals painted on the Berlin Wall are displayed for the public. Some of the murals were very moving, others less so, a bit like the story of the wall itself. Maybe it’s just that history seems less romantic from up close, but the story of the wall being built and it’s early years are far more interesting to me than the story of the decline of the DDR and the wall’s collapse. It doesn’t feel important when it has David Hasslehoff involved I guess.

After wandering about some more I went back to the hostel to rest until Julie called and I met up with her and her boyfriend nearby to go to a little Mexican restaurant Julie knew that she said was really good. It took a while to get there and even longer for seats to open up but it was totally worth it as Julie was right, the food was incredible. We were also joined by another friend of hers, recently moved to Berlin, named Stephen, she mentioned that he was from Seattle too, but I didn’t recognize him until we got down to discussing who we might know in common. I mentioned Thea’s name and his response of “She’s my best friend!” led me to riposte with “No way, she’s my best friend too!” Somehow, two of her good friends were meeting for the first time thousands of miles from her. Of course we had to call and leave her a voice mail, and I like to think it both pleased and startled her to receive it. After dinner, Julie had to go home and pack. I was already tired from my previous night’s exertions so I headed back to the hostel and fell quickly into a dreamless slumber.

I still wasn’t feeling gully rested when I awoke on Monday but decided to not sleep in too much because I wanted to go on a tour of Berlin, the free one that I had taken versions of in Paris and Prague. Despite some reservations based on possibly incorrect information given during the Paris tour, I was still interested and eager for the experience. Sitting down with a  roll and jam (the basic part of the free “breakfast” offered at the hostel) I struck up a conversation with a guy sitting next to me. Mike, a fellow American who had just finished studying in France for a year. Conveniently, he was also planning on going on the tour and since the tour picked up people from the hostel before going to the main meeting site it worked out quite well as we headed toward the Brandenburg Gate with the guide. Once there, the milling mob of people wanting a tour (even larger than the one in Paris, let alone Prague or the groups I’ve seen in Munich) was organized by the guides into groups of twenty five people to a guide. Mike and I ended up with a Canadian guide named Victoria. While not as informative on everything as I might have liked, she did nanage to rap Berlin’s history to 1918 and share a lot of other interesting bits of history as we went along. I chatted with others as we toured, including a couple of nice Australian girls who were going to Munich and who I gave plenty of good suggestions to. When the tour ended alas they vanished. Still, Mike and I got to know a few Canadian guys in the tour group and went with them to the German History museum, which was incredibly absorbing., We were there nearly three hours and only left because it was closing. Afterwards, we went back to the hostel to change and relax a bit before meeting up with them and a couple of other friends of theirs at their hostel, from which we proceeded to a Vietnamese place they had seen nearby for dinner. It wasn’t too bad although not my favorite cuisine. When dinner was over we all wanted to go see the Reichstag and try to get on the roof but even though we ran the last bit of the trip it was closed, or so it seemed. It turned out later we had just gone to the wrong entrance, live and learn. We went back to their hostel and hung out but I called it a night early, hoping to recover the rest of my energy.

As we had planned the night before, Mike and I woke up early on Tuesday to go to the Reichstag right when it was opening and avoid a long line. There was still something of a line but not too bad and we got up to the rood without much difficulty. Unfortunately the glass cupola was closed but we were still able to get a wonderful view of the Berlin skyline, such as it is. Rather than do another tour that day with New Berlin, I took Rick’s advice and Read more…

Categories: Germany, Personal

Auf Wiedersehn Munich

The last couple days in Munich were a paradox in emotion, both wonderful and sad, it lasted forever and took but a moment, I felt like I saw everybody yet missed so many more, I reminisced and I looked to the future, my heart ached with the thought of leaving and nearly burst with the joy of what I had accomplished. I was wrung out by the time my flight landed Sunday morning in Berlin.

My last day at work was naturally very quiet as I had already finished all of my assignments days earlier. I finished up a few last bits and pieces, made my goodbyes to my bosses and so on, and headed back to my apartment for more packing until it was time to go into town. I had arranged, informally and at the last minute, to do dinner and perhaps a drink with people but had no actual idea who would show up to the event. Jamie had told me about a place named Riva, with supposedly the best pizza in Munich. That sounded good to me so I made reservations and arrived a little before eight. On my way in, while standing in the crowded train, I heard my name called and looked up to see Sorcha standing there, apparently just getting off work and going into town with some colleagues. I told her my plans and she said to call her after dinner so she could meet up with us for a drink. Munich as a small town struck again.

I saw Colleen there just as I was walking up and together we got a table in the back of the restaurant and looked through the menu as Jamie, Jennie, and (much to my very pleased surprise) Luisa arrived. Jamie teased Colleen about the way the waiter flirted with her but she took it in stride, evidence perhaps of her acclimation to Read more…

Categories: Germany, Personal

The Munich Alphabet

This is the toast I gave at my goodbye party. Imagine me saying it aloud to get the full effect.

The Munich Alphabet

By Eric Hal Schwartz

The time has come to say goodbye
My Munich trip concluded
So I have penned this rhymed reply
With every letter included

An alphabet from A to Z
To cover my life here
It’s filled with six months potpourri
With laughter and good cheer Read more…

Categories: Germany, Personal

The Goodbyes Begin: First Half of My Last Week

July 8, 2010 1 comment

When I fly to Berlin on Sunday morning I have absolutely no idea when I will be able to write and post here so I want to make sure I am as up to date as I can be before then. Even though it’s only Thursday I still have plenty to write about, as I have been decidedly busy cramming the hours with events.

After I left Casey’s and went home this past Sunday morning, my plan was to just sleep until my body decided to wake up. Unfortunately for me this was only a couple of hours later because my room had grown stiflingly hot. Unable to bear it any longer, I arose, showered off the sweat, dressed and went out. Anything was better than sitting in that oven I decided. I took the train downtown and spent a pleasant couple of hours strolling through parks and gardens, punctuated by a funny phone chat with Casey (who I’m pretty sure was still drunk) to rehash bits of the previous night and get the usual injunctions against mentioning some of her more…provocative comments.

A little after noon I felt up to meeting up with people so I called (British) Amy to see what she was up to and found out she was quite close by having lunch with her visiting friend who was leaving soon, so I headed over to Karlsplatz to meet up with them. After they had finished we walked over the train station and bade farewell to Jack. Amy had no specific plans for the afternoon, but my earlier calling around bore fruit when my phone rang as we were leaving the station and Roel informed me that there were several people hanging out on the beach by the Isar. That sounded fun to both Amy and I so after a quick stop to get sausages and beer by request, we headed over to the beach. On the way our talk ranged from Amy’s thoughts on matrimony (“an engagement ring is just there to show you’re engaged”) to a bizarre and soap-operaesque tale of her housing situation in England and getting screwed out of a place to live by a friend of a friend. By the time we got off the train I was even more intrigued to meet people in northern England.

At the beach, we located our group by the large American flag planted there in a complicated arrangement of wood and stones by Prashant and Becky who were barbecuing and relaxing on the beach along with Roel and Charne. I slathered on some sunscreen and sat down with the others, enjoying the sun much more with the river’s breeze. The afternoon drifted by, punctuated with moments that briefly raised me from Read more…

Categories: Germany, Personal

My Nearly Final Farewell Party

My last Monday at work, my last news team meeting, and very nearly my last blog entry begins now.

I put the story of Friday night and my random late night out in the entry about last week to make room for all I have to write about Saturday and Sunday both what happened and my thoughts on it. It was a really amazing last (full) weekend in Munich, and deserves more said about it than I might otherwise put in on a busy Monday. It might go up later than I normally would publish it though because of that.

After Friday’s unexpectedly late night, I slept in late Saturday morning. My room was unbearably stifling hot, which made it even more difficult to drag myself out of bed thanks to the heat-induced lethargy. Unfortunately the things that people were doing that day were not only quite far away on their own, but with the uncertainty of the train past Kieferngarten, I would essentially have to turn around and come home nearly as soon as I arrived. Instead I contented myself with a long walk, striking out in a random direction from Garching and walking until my feet grew tired, then walking back. The heat again made me sleepy so I took a brief nap and awoke somewhat refreshed, getting ready and heading out into the bright sunshine a little after five, randomly running into Oana (whom I randomly run into so often it’s almost not even random) on my way to the train.

The reason I left so much earlier than I typically do for a night out was because I had been invited to Jamie and Roel’s apartment (which I had never been to) for dinner. Jamie and Roel live far away from me. I had to take the train almost to the other end of the line and then a bus to get to their apartment. No question but that it was well worth the trip however. I was welcomed into the apartment by Roel dressed in a kilt and Jamie dressed in just striped pink and white shorts. Really I don’t know why I was even surprised. Jamie was cooking chili for our meal, explaining that he was running a little behind because Casey had cooked for him the night before and he was simultaneously cleaning and cooking. Roel showed me around the apartment, which fairly well reflected their personalities I would judge, from Roel’s collection of travel books and strange paper geometric orbs to Jamie’s gauzy white drapes and the overpowering scent of a variety of colognes and aftershaves. When the chili was ready, Jamie made three heaping plates of rice and chili for us and we watched the In-Betweeners, British comedy I had not seen before, but liked quite a lot. It explained a lot about English awkwardness. I was already starting to feel full but I made sure to save some room because Roel had made dessert, both a chocolate mousse and homemade chocolate ice cream. I did my best not to overeat since I didn’t want to be sick later. Jamie said he was having some trouble settling his stomach after all the rich food but nonetheless managed, along with Roel, to dress and get ready with credible speed and together the three of us traveled by bus and train (after suitable olfactory enhancement by Jamie that left me coughing) to Isartor and the beginning of the party.

Originally I wanted to have the first part of the party at Clubhouse both for the cheap drinks and because of the symmetry of the bar as my first Toytown event. Sadly there was a private event there so I hurriedly informed people of a venue switch to Havana Club, a bar across the street from Clubhouse that Fraser had told me was pretty good. The bar definitely tried to be the kind of place Hemingway would have gone to back in Cuba or the Florida Keys, even with a slowly turning ceiling fan. Pictures on the wall of the author and others around those locales added to the effect. Although fancier (and more expensive) than I would have chosen for the pre-drinking venue, it had a certain charm I liked a lot.When we arrived, Melon, Charne, Kayla, Rim, and Sara (the tall Swedish one) were sitting at a table, while Beatrice (the French girl I helped move once) was at the bar, not knowing they were all Read more…

Categories: Germany, Personal

The End Is Near But Never Fear…

July 2, 2010 1 comment

Tomorrow is my big going away party. I’m not actually leaving for another week but my flight on the next Sunday is so early there’s no way I’d want to have a big party the night before. At any rate I am very much looking forward to it, minus the absence of a few people who cannot attend.

I’m enjoying these last few weeks quite a lot as long as I don’t think too much about leaving and how that makes me rather sad. I’ve been out at least a little bit every night this week apart from Monday, which was mainly spent in packing and sorting and otherwise preparing. On Tuesday, instead of going to Shamrock straightaway as I normally do, I stopped off at Read more…

Categories: Germany, Personal