Forty-five minutes in Germany feels like a breath of fresh air. Although only two hours by plane from Barcelona, I already feel continents away. Such is the diversity and cultural magnitude of Europe.
Resting on the S-Bahn into central Munich, the silence of the smooth train car is deafening. The dark-haired, fair-skinned woman across from me snacks on a pretzel sandwich and coffee, while carefully brushing away crumbs from her long chiffon floral skirt. I feel under-dressed in my black leggings, t-shirt, denim jacket, and Chuck Taylors. The casual street style of Barcelona has claimed another victim.
In Munich I feel relaxed. This may be because I just woke up from a desperately needed afternoon nap after having been awake since before sunrise.
Or maybe it is because I am able to speak English to everyone, so less effort is involved when ordering food or asking for directions.
Perhaps it is because this is my first solo trip in half a year, and I can succumb to my ever-wandering and ever-changing mind.
Emerald pastures and seemingly symmetrical groves of trees whiz past outside as the crowded-yet-mute train car tip-toes through the Bavarian countryside. Fatigue from travel and my morning rise time of 4:40 a.m. attempts to consume me, but the adrenaline of a new city and new challenges pumps me full of energy.
Maybe it is because I feel like I fit in more with the German population. Germans seem to be a bit more alert and focused than the Spanish. Men in suits grab coffee before marching to the office. Women carefully craft their ensembles and take pride in how they look. I don´t feel completely mobbed by tourists like I do in Barcelona, but that may be because I am the green tourist for a change.
A stark contrast to Germans´ more rigid way of life, entering the Englisher Garten (English Garden) is akin to embarking upon a natural utopia of sprawling fields where sunners bathe, and shaded paths where bicycles and pedestrians coexist in peace.
There is simply no other way to say it: This park is huge. With every intention of traversing the entire space (larger than New York´s Central Park), my fatigue forced me to turn around about one-quarter of the way in.
In every possible way, Munich is a city but at times it feels more like a gigantic village. It sprawls at points but it also maintains an intimate aura. I don´t know if I am comparing it too much to the cosmopolitan behemoth where I reside, but either way I am at ease.