This is story #5 in my Short Stories from the Road series. Introduction found here
Munich was turning into a disappointment. Where were all the travelers? Where was the excitement? We hadn’t done much research, and for that we had only ourselves to blame, but here we were, in Munich for four nights, and it just seemed sleepy. Munich is really an industrial city. We knew it was no Barcelona, with the midnight dinners and sunrise bedtimes, but visions of Oktoberfest and giant beer halls brimming with revelry were not coming to fruition. The architecture and history were great, the streets clean, pleasant and likely indicative of normal German life, but for better or worse, we wanted more. We wanted an experience. Something to look back on more fondly than a few snapshots of old buildings.
Leaving the Hofbrauhaus, a solid buzz in tow, we began wandering the streets of downtown Munich, looking, hoping, praying that someone would come up with an idea to keep the night going, but most establishments were closing up shop for the night. God forbid we go back to the hostel and order a pizza. A lovely time no doubt, but not exactly why we traveled around the world. Nevertheless, here we were headed to the underground, searching for any excuse not to get on the train.
Looking back, I don’t know how the conversation begin. I assume it had something to do with our American accents standing out in the German city. Regardless my friends and I found ourselves in a plaza talking with a group of young locals somewhere around their early twenties. They loved the fact that we were from California and we loved the fact that they loved us. After the usual drunken pleasantries and the passing back and forth of some information you’ll find on our resumes, we had formed the initial stages of a drunken friendship. They soon told us of their nights plans, a “party in the forest,” and promptly invited us.
Oh course we accepted the invitation. A forest party? Are you serious? It could be nothing but a few people in a backyard but who cares because the possibilities were endless. Regardless, we would soon find out. Isn’t moving into the unknown what traveling, and dare I say living, is all about?
We were now along for the ride, at the will of our new friends. Their backpacks loaded with beer and no open container enforcement in sight, we followed them onto one train and then another headed in the apparent wrong direction, before boarding a third in the right direction, and eventually returning to the dimly illuminated foreign streets far from our origin. By this point, I was solidly in the drunk category. I was beginning to believe it was the best night of my life and these were the best people on the planet. We talked of school, California, the intricacies of the English language and, of course, girls, as we walked through a local neighborhood becoming more rural with each passing step.
The street eventually turned into a bike path and then abruptly we left that for a trail into the woods. Using our phones to light our way, we swatted away branches and stepped over roots and fallen trees as we made our way into the darkness. I vividly remember becoming aware of a thump. Thump. Thump. A beat. A beat coming from the blackness ahead. It grew louder and lights became visible, then a mass of swaying and grooving bodies also appeared. We’d found our forest party.
I was immediately dragged off to the pop up bar for some Jagermeister. New found friends feeling the need to christen their friendship with a cup of poison together. Turning them down would be sacrilegious when one found himself in the middle of a German forest party. The drunken revelry was only heating up, and as our voices grew louder, the drinks grew stiffer. And so I lost track of time.
At last I found myself holding onto a tree for dear life. Swaying back and forth not in rhythm, but in an attempt to stay upright. All that talk of using my absolutely brilliant pick-up line, “Hi, I’m from California” never materialized, but I was fine with that. The time crept ever closer to five as the people began to thin out. It was time to head back to our bunks as well. Tomorrow would be one long headache, but the Munich forest party would stay with me much longer.
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