I lay there, with wide eyes, watching the ceiling fan revolve slowly above my bed, just a moment after waking from a deep sleep. The indistinct rumbling of Chicago’s police sirens, car horns, and people accompanied an odd realization. A subconscious decision had been made in my slumber. My mind was now making me aware of its plans for the day.
We are going to travel to Europe.
I had not yet traveled beyond the confines of my North American continent. Yet, I had seen it done, and had heard the resulting tales from my traveling peers. Certainly it could be done, I decided. I would guess my way through the process, and learn by doing. Moreover, my field of employment had equipped me with the special privilege of free, unrestricted, world travel.
Why had I not thought of it sooner?
With these tools in hand, I decided: No use in wondering. Let’s go.
- Unsystematically, I packed a backpack with clothing, and a toothbrush. This adventure was going to design itself, i hoped, as I improvised the details of the scheme’s conception. I visited the essentials as they occurred to me, in my mind. Food/water, shelter, clothing, entertainment, transportation, people. Surely Europe had those things.
Before the advent of smartphones, portable answers could be found in few places. In short order I found my local bookshop, right where I had left it, on my way to the airport. The love of all things German ran warm within my veins for as long as I could recall, it should be mentioned. I came fortified with a few years worth of German language study, which certainly couldn’t hurt matters. The destination thusly chose itself, but was reinforced by the only remaining travel guide on the bookstore shelf: Munich, Germany.
Reaching the airport, I was given a ticket to Munich, and tucked-in for a short transatlantic flight. I paged through the travel guide i had purchased, finding answers to my predetermined essentials, and closed my eyes.
- Some six hours later, the 767 jetliner began smoothly descending over Paris, as window shades were thumbed opened by curious hands, spilling the French dawn onto the sleep-deprived, huddled masses, of coach class.
The Line forming at Customs & immigration moved speedily after deplaning. “Hallo.” said the customs official, crisply stamping “✈Flughafen München,” with black ink onto a blank blue page of my passport, with a smile.
Signs overhead spoke promisingly of trains to the city. These signs were my guide, and I followed them. Automated kiosks took my money in exchange for a ticket, pleasantly offering to communicate with me in my native language.
Aboard the S-Bahn, My sleepy eyes widened further, recording the view of rural Bavaria, along the banks of the Isar River, onto my memory. Somewhere between an international airport and the city of Munich on that fall morning, my trip began in earnest.
I wandered away somewhat aimlessly from the central train station, destined only for east, to see what could be seen. After just a few moments of following the main street which I had emerged onto from the station, I discovered a crowd gathered around Munich’s famed Glockenspiel, which was beginning its show. Wooden figurines danced and twirled to the chiming bells. Consulting my bookstore guide, it seems I was catching the only show of the day. How lucky i am.
In the next hour, I pleasantly wandered the map held in my hand, comparing the record to what my senses could describe. Meandering the banks of the Isar, my feet lead me through the Englischer Garten for a tall Munich Weissbier, and a fresh Weisswurst breakfast sausage. I sat with other Munich-wanderers, considering the magic of the endeavor I had undertaken, then. The same eyes that had traced the path of the whirling blades of yesterday’s ceiling fan were now counting the spires of Munich’s churches at the foot of the rolling green lawns of English Garden.
Somewhat exhausted, but glowing with passion for the newness of everything, I exited the garden, no longer wandering, but aiming for a point on the map denoting a budget hotel. Finding a nice spot on the top floor, replete with a nice skylight window overlooking the trendy Schwabing district, I found the place to be better than adequate, (hardly the budget hotel an American would recognize) and settled in for a nap. As I focused on a new sort of urban soundscape, with foreign sirens, and a din unfamiliar to my experience, I drifted into Eurodreams.