March 14, 2000

Greetings from Europe!
Max Emanuel Brauerei My first foray into European Swing was at Max Emanuel in Munich on Sunday. The place was packed and the energy was high! The smallness of the Swing World was hammered home to me when my German contact Sigi said there was another American in the room, and it turned out to be someone I know: Misha (whom I know from Catalina and the Seattle Lindy Exchange)! I also met a couple from Spain, and taught the woman some Salsa on the fly (Thanks for the lessons, Hallie!).

Max Emanuel Brauerei

Tonight I visit Sigi's classes: Lindy and Blues! Most dancers here dance Boogie Woogie. I haven't mastered the footwork yet, but I can fake it with East Coast 6 Count. They have some great dancers here, and I'm anxious to jump in more. The dance I attended has been on Sundays for 15 years in its current location, and apparently ten more before that. The DJ starts with slow songs and then slowly works up to fast songs over about 45 minutes and then starts the process over again, which was a little strange for me. I'm accustomed to the tempos changing back and forth between each song, not gradually progressing! I also had to adjust to dancing in a line. The floor is long and narrow so they form two lines and dance in them. It's almost synchronized!

After being hosted by my friend Olaf for four days, I am now on my own with the run of his apartment, while he is in France. This is the easy part of my travelling, and I am enjoying it. Olaf toured me around at a breakneck speed, and while it was fun, I need the rest.

Some of what I experienced with Olaf:
We visited many sites in just a few days of touring including a fantastic old cemetary, the (empty) Oktoberfest grounds, The Hoffbrauhous (too smoky for me!), a University, and more, more more! Gravestone
Detail of a gravestone in Munich

smart car
Olaf in his Smart Car
The autobahn (in Bavaria, at least) is just like I-5, and was no big deal. His car is small and relatively slow. We were just fine cruising at 80 km/hr. He drives a Smart Car, sold by Daimler-Chrysler. They are extremely tiny, but when you are inside, you would hardly know it. The trick is they don't even pretent there is a back seat. Behind the seats is a small shelf and that's about it. They are so small people can back them in between cars that are parallel parked, and they fit!

The Bavarian Counryside
The countryside is very much like the Skagit Valley. The weather is also just like home, so no adjustments there. Due to my jetlag I kept dozing off in the car. (NOT because I was bored or unimpressed! Quite the contrary.) We visited some Bavarian villages which I enjoyed very much. The architecture, quite often, was straight out of storybooks and I had to keep reminding myself that this was the real thing! Village
A Bavarian Village

1972 Olympic Grounds
1972 Olympic Grounds
Olympic Park (home of the '72 Olympics) is surprsingly peaceful for something so big and popular. I hadn't expect it to have so much green space. They have a tower much like our Space Needle in concept, though not in appearance. Inside there is a vending machine with a picture of our Needle! Again, I'm having trouble feeling far from home... Olympic Tower
The Space Needle?

Culture shock is affecting me far less than I expected. Granted I'm in a large city, but I guess I was expecting it to be less...American. The Coke here tastes like Pepsi, and there are very few Hondas. That seems to be about it! There is a movie of Marelene Dietrich I'd love to see when it hits the US with subtitles. Most movies are American, though. The department stores look just like ours - to the extent that I can compare one to the Bon, one to Nordy's and one to Lamonts!. I am anxious to get to some smaller towns, as you can imagine. I'll lose the comfort of English, but it will be worth it.

In a couple days I head to Frankfurt to meet my friends Chris and Tricia and let the real adventure begin. For now, I am running errands. I have successfully exchanged a defective CD, and will pick up my jeans from the tailor in a bit (I guess I should have checked closer for holes when I packed...).