With all the things we need to do, it is hard to decide what to do first, but we figured getting a roof over our heads beyond 30 days would be a good place to start.
So we tag-teamed the apartment search: Beth scoured the internet for places while Torsten set up an online profile and called agents to arrange showings. Beth knew from reading the online expat forum Toytown Germany that the apartment supply is tight, so we braced for the worst.
But Torsten presents as well on the phone as in person, and he was able to set up two showings for the next day — one of them right down the street from our Airbnb apartment.
It was another beautiful day, so in the afternoon, we played tourist and explored our neighborhood. The habits of the last three months are hard to shake.
We checked out the local library, then walked through the old walled cemetery where Beth has been running in the morning. It’s just a half block from our place and more like a park with a lot of marble statues.
What Beth really likes are all the spring flowers on and around the graves — daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, botanical tulips, bergenia, forsythia, primroses in every color and carpets of blue scilla. Germans don’t go in for plastic flowers, not even for dead people.
The 18th- and 19th-century epitaphs were interesting, too. Most of the men were identified by profession: royal decorator for King Ludwig, secret war adviser, brewery owner, even inventor of lithography. Most of the women were identified as “wife of the royal decorator,” etc., but one had started a theater group in the king’s court.
There was an Eiscafe down the street, so we got gelato and wove our way through the Isarvorstadt neighborhood. Street cafes were packed with mothers and the little kids they had just picked up from school.
We made our way to the Isar River and followed it towards downtown. Many people were spending their afternoon lounging along its banks, and Torsten wondered if anybody in this town was working.
From the river, we walked to the Viktualienmarkt, an open-air food market near Marienplatz. We got freshly made juice, and at an exotic-fruits stand, we spotted favorites from Thailand and Costa Rica. Torsten chatted with its proprietor, a young African man; Germany is much more diverse than it was when he was growing up.
In the evening, Catiana brought us the landlord’s paperwork we needed to register with the city. We got up early Wednesday morning, ready to do battle with the famous German bureaucracy.
If we expected lines, we were disappointed: We followed signs to the office serving people whose names started with “M,” pushed a button to get a number and waited for our turn, which came in a few minutes. A nice woman looked at our passports, punched in our information and we were done.
Then we split up. Torsten went to another office to officially leave the Roman Catholic Church and therefore avoid the annual church tax, then to drop off the registration at the bank. He was impressed with how well everything is designed, down to instructions on which buttons to press on a fee-payment machine.
Beth went to look at a thrift shop down the street, then bought groceries. At the check-out, she was amused by the cigarette-package warnings, which didn’t pull any punches: “Smoking threatens your potency.” “Smoking damages teeth and gums.” “Smoking is deadly.”
At noon, we went to look at an apartment just off Rotkreuzplatz in Neuhausen, which we decided is our favorite neighborhood after a hotel stay there last June. The bright blue privacy plastic on the balcony was an eyesore, and a third room meant the bedroom and living room were undersized. At least now we’ve learned that more rooms are not necessarily better.
Back at home, Torsten called the tech agency he visited last June, and within an hour, he had an appointment for 10 a.m. the next day. If only we all could have such in-demand skills!
The second apartment was just around the corner and down Maistrasse in an imposing 1885 apartment building called the Isar City Palace. There was a two-story lobby, iron grille work on the doors and wide marble halls that we walked to the apartment, which looked brand-new and had a big balcony and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Torsten was impressed, but it left Beth cold. And we would have had to install our own kitchen, which seems strange but is not uncommon in Germany.
Catiana was at the apartment cleaning, and when we told her about the apartment, she said she’d move into it. Before leaving, she invited Beth to coffee the next morning.
Then Torsten went to a tech-geek meetup at a company called JetBrains, and Beth spent the evening taking Deutsche Welle language-placement tests online. Only Day Five, and we feel as if we’ve been in Munich for weeks.