Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mekelle to Munich

The bus ride from Mekelle to Addis Ababa turned out to be not too bad. It actually turned out to be rather amusing because sitting beside me was a first year law student of Mekelle university and behind us a group of his female classmates. Being law students their English was really good and the girls we quite funny and the 11 hours of the first day went by "quickly".
I can understand why it would be a bad idea to drive in the dark in Ethiopia and buses actually don't do it. We left at 6am and stopped at 5pm, well before sunset, at some random tiny town and some seemingly random little transit hotel with dinky little cheap rooms. The following morning we woke up at 3:30am for a 4am start for the final 5 hour drive to Addis. Why start so early that you arrive in time to hit rush hour heading into the city? If the whole ride took 16 hours and you are driving half the 2nd day in the dark then why not just finish it off on the first day? Oh well, part of the experience as always and I was just happy to be done with long rides for a while.
I spend the next 2 days in Addis couchsurfing with Maski, a truly amazing host, and just chatting travel the whole time. She's an African woman that has travelled all over the globe, a very rare kind of traveller indeed and it was great to swap stories and inspire each other to continue to travel.
From Addis it was a long flight to Frankfurt, Germany. From Frankfurt I got a rideshare to Munich. I had to wait a couple hours and got the ride from Frankfurt central station. I've flown in and out of Frankfurt now a couple times but I've never actually visited the city. I don't think walking 2 blocks down the road from the central station really counts either. It was my first time doing the rideshare thing in Europe though I'd heard about it before and it's said to be the cheapest way of getting around now.
The English language website is
The ride was good but squishy which was about the only thing that didn't culture shock me on the day. I swear I get culture shock worse when I get back to the first world than when I leave it. In this case the cold was a shock and the grey buildings and bare trees had me immediately understanding why so many Germans want to move to Australia also. After all my days on the buses in Africa, the autobahn was definitely a shock. The ride from Frankfurt to Munich took 4 hours and we were going 150km/h most of the ride. The roads are beautiful and not busy on a clear night so you don't even notice the speed but the shocking part was how many cars were passing us like we were standing still...
Verena met me in Munich (and had arranged the ride for me) and I'm staying with her at her mother's place. I'd been there before last year for a night before we went and stayed in Nuremburg together. She's just starting to work on her thesis here in Munich and I'm more or less hanging out distracting her as much as possible.
Generally it's too cold but the weather has been sunny and beautiful and I've been into the center for a quick look around. I didn't see anything a year ago when I was here and only visited the city for 2 days back in 2000 so I really couldn't remember anything at all except for the town hall. Munich is a really wealthy and expensive city apparently and the people look it with their nice clothes and BMWs. I've been told we are staying in one of the worst areas of the city and I would never've guessed, it still looks like luxury to me. It also feels really quiet here. I go out on the street and feel like I'm in a library or something.
The coolest unexpected thing about being in Munich now was that I was able to meet up with Jetti for a couple hours. Jetti is someone the girls and I met on the film set in Delhi, India 6 years ago and have kept in touch with ever since. She's very cool and are paths have almost crossed several times in the years since but we'd never quite connected and I'd recently been in touch with her and was not expecting her to be in Munich this time around. She's from Munich but currently working in Kabul but was on an emergency visit to see family and was able to take a bit of time to meet up before leaving the country again. It's amazing how you can meet someone for a single day and then meet them again years later and feel like such good friends. I love that.

Clean, quiet streets, even in the center.

Theatiner church.

With Jetti in front of the town hall.



At 7:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well done on your most recent journey! I enjoyed reading your blogs. Africa is such a zoo..



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