It’s been 30 days since we touched down in Munich, and it’s been a blur.
We got the keys to the apartment early because our official move-in date fell on Easter weekend, when Germans get four days off because Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays.
Torsten started putting together the massive wardrobe on Good Friday, but one step required pounding a metal piece into the wood. After putting together one frame, Torsten went to the upstairs neighbor and apologized for the noise. The rest of the day, we quietly put together our patio furniture, which we’ll use indoors until our sofa and dining chairs arrive (in six to 12 weeks!).
Then we returned to Isarvorstadt and our Airbnb, where we still have a week and half. For dinner, we again went to Mixto, a great little Italian restaurant around the corner from our Airbnb, and down the street to an Easter performance of Bach’s Johannes Passion at St. Matthaeus on Sendlinger Tor.
Our seats were in the balcony, right next to the organ, with an obstructed view of the performers. We could see the choir, but the musicians were out of view, and every once in while, someone would pop up to take a peek over the railing. Students had brought sheet music and were reading along with the performance, which reminded Torsten of his high school days, when he would do the same.
On Saturday, we went to a Baumarkt (like a Home Depot) and found that stores in the U.S. carry a lot more stuff and are a lot bigger — probably due to the high cost of land in Munich.
We found an okay pair of table lamps, but it was a frustrating experience, made worse by a cashier who shook her head at us when we didn’t remember how much the lamps were. Also, just as in the U.S., there were hardly any employees around to help two foreigners who just got off the boat and don’t know how things work.
We weren’t very motivated on Easter Sunday, Torsten even less than Beth, who went to an Easter artisan market on the Praterinsel, an island just up from the Deutsches Museum, and found a pretty red scarf for 9 Euros. Torsten was content with reading a book and thinking through his next steps in the job search. He’d had a few phone interviews and an in-person chat, so things were moving.
On Easter Monday, Torsten spent most of the day putting together furniture and Beth updating MidwestWeekends.com, which needed attention after our three-month adventure. In the evening, we returned to our new apartment and went straight to another concert, this time right around the corner at Schloss Nymphenburg.
It was probably one of the most interesting concerts we had been to.
Mozart’s Overture to Magic Flute and Beethoven’s 6th Symphony were on the program. But instead of a full orchestra in a large concert hall, we entered a ballroom where six soloists were playing versions adapted for strings.
The Magic Flute’s overture was replaced with a Haydn viola concerto to take advantage of a viola d’amore, a viola with 14 instead of 4 strings and a much richer sound. Although Beth was disappointed to miss the overture, it was a rare experience to listen to this unique instrument.
That night was our first in our new apartment, camping amid empty cardboard boxes in sleeping bags on thin backpacking pads.
The next morning, we woke up to an inch of new snow (that’s our patio, above), which made for a fun walk to the bakery to pick up our first, celebratory batch of breakfast brötchen.
Then we headed “home” to Isarvorstadt for our last four nights in the Airbnb. It’s a Dachgeschoss apartment, tucked under the roof with slanting ceilings, and you have to climb six flights of stairs to get to it. But at this point, it was starting to feel like a welcome — and furnished! — retreat.
The following Friday and Saturday were taken up by another marathon shopping spree. We had ordered a small station wagon for two days, but the car rental company didn’t have the size we reserved, so we got upgraded to a spanking new Audi A4, which was a treat.
We picked up a used dining room table from a place 50 km out in the boonies, then went to a nearby Biller furniture store, IKEA, the Höffner mega-furniture store and an Obi, another Home Depot-like store. By the end of the day, we were frazzled.
We soldiered on the next day with stops to buy electrical appliances, look at washing machines and stop at a larger grocery store, where we spent two hours stocking up.
We still had a few hundred free kilometers to burn, so Torsten went on a joy ride to Dachau, which isn’t exactly a fun destination, but he was intrigued after reading about the five-hour guided walking tour of the former concentration camp, Nazi Germany’s first. Driving back over open fields and through small towns cleared his head.
By now, we had an almost fully furnished bedroom, but we still lacked mattresses. The local mattress store was selling them for €1,700, with a delivery time of six weeks.
Not wanting to sleep on air mattress for that long, we made yet another trip to IKEA to get mattresses. Well, Torsten did, since Beth started her intensive German class that day — 3.25 hours of German instruction a day, 5 days a week, with homework in the afternoons, plus a 1-hour trip each day to the suburb where the class is held.
We met up at — where else? — a furniture store, Mobeleum, and ordered a sofa and dining room chairs.
We bought a desk on Ebay, which Germans use instead of Craigslist. The sellers were a very friendly family who shook our hands, asked us about ourselves and invited us into their house, which was the proverbial pink unicorn: a single-family house and a huge backyard with a fountain and American-style lawn — all within walking distance of Munich’s Olympic Park.
We had browsed real-estate listings a few days before and found that small, two-bedroom apartments were selling for €650,000 and up, so we couldn’t imagine how much this place was worth.
So here we are, 30 days in. We’re sick and tired of shopping and never want to see a cardboard box again, but now we have one partially furnished apartment and a potential job on the horizon.
We’ve had some fun, too. That’s not bad for the first 30 days.