In total contrast from the Thriller tour, our four star hotel on Dachauerstrasse was conveniently situated less than a ten minute walk from the Deutsches Theater on Schwanthallestrasse, with Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, sitting between the two. It also appeared that we were smack band in the middle of the red light district, allegedly in a run-down part of town although it still looked nicer than certain parts of central London. General milling in the foyer turned into a quick migration to one of the major beer gardens in town, a couple of blocks away.
And so it began! The drinking festival that I knew would envelop most of our lives for the next three weeks, and what a gorgeous setting. Anyone knows what a beer garden is, but these people invented them, and they know how to do them. There must have been at least five hundred people at the Augustiner, all peacefully nestled together on long tables, sheltered under a canopy of dark pine-looking trees. As I looked around in amazement, we were all in agreenace that something like this just wouldn’t work in the UK; it’d be too edgy, people would starts fights or something….
A slab of pork and several steins later the tour was getting off to a fine start. It was a mix of familiar faces from Thriller; Damo, the swarthy red-headead guitarist (left-handed) from Mudgee, my original connection to this whole adventure; JM, our illustrious musical director from Manly; and Ollie, a Munich native, bass player, tall and thin, bespectacled, quietly eccentric in a way difficult to describe. His local knowledge would prove quite useful in our later forays into the countryside.
The night was steaming along in time-honoured fashion when all of a sudden, seemingly from nowhere, a strong breeze struck the tops of the trees, the lamps started swaying, and people started leaving, much to the amusement of our table of tourists. Clouds were brewing in the not too distance and we thought we were in for a downpour, but it passed without event. We later learnt that there was a word for it, a sudden type of localised storm that just appears, obviously related to the alps nearby.
Our later adventures took us back past the hotel and to the north about three blocks to this beautiful little cocktail bar off the main road on what I think was Nymphenburgstrasse, a major road running from a palace in the west to what appeared at the end of the street to be some massive Babylonian-looking temple. Behind the two massive square towers was a huge square bordered on northern and southern sides by massive Roman porticoes and steps, tonight holding hundreds of people there for late night open-air cinema.
Back to the cocktail bar and it was happy hour 11pm-1am. The Cuban theme with low lighting, black leather chairs and glass front open to the street was a gorgeous place to while away the small hours as sip half-price mojitos, as it started to bucket down on the street outside. Ahh, the continental vibe; it’s good to be back!