The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Jugendherberge

Clarissa Grunwald
April 28, 2016

So, first, a note on my last blog post. 

In retrospect, I feel kind of dumb about it, because I wrote the thing literally the day of the first practice, auditioned the next day, aaaand didn't get in. So tip to anyone who is interested in playing with the Humboldt: it is possible to not get in. 

That said, I don't take back anything I said about it being awesome and me being very happy to hang out with a bunch of musicians. And luckily, Berlin does not have a shortage of orchestras, so tonight I'm going to check out another one. It's very possible that they won't want me to stay either (especially since I'm not 100% sure what their concert schedule is) but they have four open practices, so, all goes well I will probably go to all of those. Whether they want me to or not. 

Anyway, that's the quick update on my life. And now, for our feature presentation, here's a thing that I wrote while on spring break:


The Hitchhikers Guide to the Jugendherberge


Don’t Panic

Here’s something you shouldn’t do:

Get off the plane at Munich Airport, pull out the print-out of your hostel reservation and look at it for the first time since you’ve made it, check the address, and go, “Okay, let’s figure out where this place is.”

Don’t do that.

Because the offline map you downloaded onto your phone will be glitching, and you won’t be able to get wifi, and the man at the information desk won’t recognize the street name, or your accent.

You can ask the man if there’s any public transportation from the airport, but between your pronunciation and his (he’s got this weird mumbly schwabish thing going on) it’s a frustrating conversation. Eventually he gives you a city map, which is nice but not entirely useful because there are lots of streets in Munich and it’s printed small. But you’re flustered and you’ve never been good at asking for directions in English, much less German, so you leave and wander around the parking lot until you find a bus that takes you to the Hauptbahnhof.

When you arrive at the Hauptbahnhof you’ll discover, quite by accident, that the street you were looking for is a block and a half away from the station, because the thing about people who make stupid choices is that they tend to have way more luck than then deserve.

Welcome to Munich.


Always Know Where Your Towel’s At

Because guess what youth hostels don’t always provide.

Because guess what is really inconvenient to shower without.

Because guess who used a hand towel to hide some valuables in her backpack, totally not planning to actually use the thing for showering purposes, and who once again cannot believe her dumb luck.

And speaking of showers, let’s talk logistics. The hostel showers are small, which you expected. The hostel showers mostly lack hooks upon which you can hang your clothes, and entirely lack shelves where you can place your soap, which I did not expect.

This is a problem. I am still unsure how one is supposed to solve this problem. I can tell you how I solved it: hung all my stuff over the door, rolled up the cuff of my jeans, and balanced my soap in there. But I can’t help but suspect that there’s a better way to do it. Bring a robe? Go streaking down the halls?


The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Somebody please explain to me how biergartens work.

Munich is full of them. They constitute more or less the whole of Munich nightlife. I mean, after 9 PM, there’s not a whole lot to do in Munich unless you’re going to a biergarten.  

So I tried to go to one. The one I picked out was, according to Google, very big, and therefore, superior to other biergartens. Or something. So I went in, sat alone at a table for a bit, came to the conclusion that the proper thing to do is not to sit alone at a table, got up, and tried to leave.

This is when it gets interesting.

I got lost in the biergarten.

Literally lost. The place was huge, it was dark, there were about five bazillion people and several hundred waiters carrying absurd numbers of biersteins. There was a playground in the biergarten. Like, this was a restaurant, but outside, and with a playground in the middle of it. There were a bunch of stall things, like little road-side restaurants, except that each one apparently served something very specific. Like, beer. Or a different kind of beer. They were all around the edge of the place, and there was a fence behind them. I wandered through, looking for the exit, trapped in a dimly-lit purgatory of beer-drinking Germans.

After what seemed like hours (it was probably twenty minutes) I escaped with my life and some of my sanity, went into a convenience store, and bought a coke.

Which was literally all I had wanted in the first place.

Like, all I wanted was something sugary with bubbles in it.

And, okay, a story.

So I got that. 


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Clarissa Grunwald

<p>Writer, composer, musician. American student with a terrible sense of direction set loose on Germany. After years of telling people that I love to travel, this is my first time actually leaving the country.</p>

2016 Spring
Home University:
Franklin & Marshall College
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