I have no choice but to stop for half a day in Munich, then catch a late bus to Prague. When I arrive in Bavaria’s capital in late-afternoon I want nothing more than to stuff my face with contemporary Germany’s monument to cultural hybridity: currywurst. Central Europe suffers under an oppressive heat wave and I am soaked through with sweat as I step into Gaststätte Bergwolf, an unpretentious sausage-and-fries joint where I order a paper placemat stacked with currywurst and fries, and a large Bavarian beer. I drink the liter bottle faster than any I have drunk before, and the alcohol and blesséd sweet-and-spicy currywurst sends me into dreams of hot samosas and tamarind chutney. I lay on a park bench in the shade for about a half hour to digest the next in a string of magnificent meat-and-potatoes meals.
My free, self-guided tour of Munich leads me to the inside of Asam Church (“Asamkirche”), an ornate, Baroque masterpiece built in the 18th century, as well as to the great plaza Marienplatz with its imposing Gothic architecture. I stroll through Hofbräuhaus am Platzl, Munich’s most famous beer hall where lederhosen and accordion music abound whimsically amid the dark undertone that Hofbräuhaus is where the National Socialist Party held their first meeting in 1920. The other tourists seem unaware, or at least disinterested, in this fact.
My night bus to Prague is to depart at 11:55 that night; it is now eight. The sky is to finally darken after ten today, so I sprawl out in the shade behind the Munich Residenz, in a carefully manicured garden, until ants begin crawling up my legs. The heat fails to subside despite the setting sun. It is over ninety degrees Fahrenheit and humid, and none of my fellow park-goers seek relief in the water features and cool alpine tributaries of the Isar River.
Back in New York, when it gets exceedingly hot, not only do people so famously pry open the fire hydrants for relief, but they flock to the nearest park fountains as well. As far as I am concerned, these public water parks are some of the last great testaments to the great American melting pot. Children from all neighborhoods, all backgrounds, can be seen splashing around, ankle-deep in the waters of Columbus Circle or Washington Square Park. On this night in Munich there are no kids, only twentyish years-ancient lovers strolling arm-in-arm among the just-as-photogenic flowers. And no one seems to be sweating like I am. Perhaps today was not the day to schlep across Munich instead of paying the likely insignificant bus fare, but I have much time to kill.
I come across a tranquil fountain by the opera house, and decide to soak my feet until I have to leave for my bus. The central urn, from which flows crystal-blue water, makes a sort of umbrella; the child inside me wants to lean against it and look out to the dark city from behind the liquid veil. I set my bag down and, just as I shuffle deftly between two streams of water to keep my shirt dry, I feel a sharp pain. Through the ripples below, I can see brown shards from pulverized beer bottles, at least one fragment of which has now lodged itself in the ball of my left foot. I limp out of the fountain. A block away, I retire to a well-lit cement bench, and begin to operate using a tube of Neosporin, my remaining bottle of water, and a small plastic pen-cap, until I am dripping blood onto the sidewalk from my aggressive deglazing. I notice that this wound is only an inch away from a years-old scar from when I stepped on dead coral in the Bahamas. I note the importance of donning sandals before wading into unfamiliar waters.
Between my surgical removal of the glass, and the violation of the shard itself, I have a roughly half-inch incision on my sole, which stops bleeding soon after I apply pressure. Thankfully, I have napkins and a Band-Aid with me, and am capable of limping my way to the bus station, after stopping briefly at a McDonald’s to fill my water bottle. My bus leaves on time, and I get a row to myself the entire air-conditioned trip to Prague.
Victor Bernabei is just another millenial travel blogger. But here's the twist: He isn't a millenial! His goal is to see as many countries as he can, and spread the message that the world is not as scary as the news wants you to believe, and that there is beauty in all people, places and things.