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When I was in middle school, my family’s third exchange student came to live with us for a year.  We’d previously had exchange students from Sweden and Yugoslavia, but Sonja came when I was close enough in age to really click with her.  She was a punk and introduced me to counterculture in a very cool way.  Our family has stayed in touch with her over the years, and I’m so glad to be able to spend some time with her while I’m here, including our Girls’ Weekend in the capital of Bavaria.

Munich is a beautiful city.  There’s culture, architecture, history, and shopping.  Sonja and partook of all these fine attractions.  But mostly the shopping.  Armed with my new fascination with the 100 Thing Challenge, I went out and bought 5 new things, only 2 of which I love.  Ho hum.

But!  This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy our weekend together.  Friday night went late as we joined Frank and Sanni for dinner and conversation.  A lovely couple, Sanni and I had lots to talk about since, as it turns out, she’s a musical theatre actress and kind of a big deal in Europe.  Besides theatre, we had great discussions about world politics including what I think of my country, what they think of my country, what each of us thinks of theirs, and also the price of gas.  It’s always so fascinating to widen my lens, and learn how my world is perceived by those who are not so ensconced in it.

Saturday we slept late in our lovely hotel with the tiniest elevator I’ve ever seen (see picture above).  A full and fancy breakfast was included with our room, and by noon we were out to shop.  And shop we did!  Hoo boy, I’ve never seen such a shopping town.  We walked for hours and hours and couldn’t get away from all the shopping.  We also got to walk through the old town center, which included some lovely architecture (and three Esprit stores alone).  By evening we were pooped and stayed in our hotel room, watching Pirate Radio on my computer thanks to the magic of iTunes movie rentals.

Sunday we hit the museums – or rather, museum.  Of the many, many choices in Munich, we chose the Pinakothek der Moderne (Modern Art Museum) which featured a huge collection from some of the big, big names in modern art.  Yeah, I can’t recall any of them right now.  Oh!  Baselitz.  Warhol.  Lichtenstein.  Alessi.  That other guy.  Oh, and yeah.  Him, too.  Women represented?  Can’t remember.  What really caught my eye was the people looking at the art.  I got fascinated with it and ended up taking a bunch of pictures of that subject.  My first formal “series”, if you will.  I am so high-brow.

In the afternoon we sat in the Englisher Garten for a bit – a gorgeous Central Park-like green space in the middle of Munich, only I’m told it’s much bigger than Central Park.  Well known for its nude sunbathing, we saw no booty but did see a city alive and in love with the sunlight that it gets.  I’ve noticed that cities where winters are harsh just come alive when the sun is out (unlike in California, where we sort of get spoiled, I think, and take it for granted more than would someone in, say, Chicago).  The Englischer Garten sports temples of the Chinese and Greek persuasion.  Go figure!

All in all it was a lovely trip, and a tiring one.  I was wiped out by the time I got back home.  But Munich has won my heart, and I’ll be back in a few short weeks to witness the opening of Oktoberfest.  Do you think I’ll be the only glu-tard there who can’t partake of the beer??