Words and Photos by: Chris Panayiotou | @CPLocalCeleb
On a recent trip to visit family in Cyprus, I had a pair of 12-hour layovers, one on the way there, in Vienna, Austria, that I wrote about in COSIGN issue XXIV and one on the way back, in Munich, Germany. The biggest difference was that Munich was an overnighter, 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
After hitting a souvenir shop in the terminal, I found the transportation options a bit more complicated than in Vienna, and the train ticket kiosk would only take debit, which was going to incur international exchange fees (my bank sucks).
Between the airport terminals, on the way to the train station, Munich Airport proved to be very festive, as it was the end of November and since Thanksgiving is “some dumb American holiday,” Christmas was in full effect. It was after hours and the area was being shut down and cleaned, but there were Christmas trees, an ice skating rink and several closed vendor booths. It was cold out and there was snow on the ground, so my hoodie and heavy coat were very much necessary.
Upon jumping on the S8 train to the city, I found a seat on the train. It was about 45 minutes from the airport into the city, and I felt slightly uncomfortable walking around with a DSLR around my neck in the middle of the night, looking oh-so-not-from-here and thinking everyone on the train was sketchy and that I wasn’t gonna let them get the drop on me. First time in my travels that I felt like this, I chalk it up to it being in a foreign land at night and my upbringing around sketchy individuals.
Considering that it was dark, I had minimal options of things to go see, and it seemed like Marienplatz, one of the city’s main square, was my best bet. I hopped off the train, taking more than one escalator up to the street level, grabbing a pretzel in the process, because it’s Germany. Once on the street, it was cold and dark, but I came out right at New Town Hall, an impressive, tall building taking up one whole side of the square. And with the train station below me, I was still able to use the Wi-Fi so I could post pics on my social media, as well as have access to the map on my phone.
I began to wander around, taking pics of really old but cool looking buildings, and then I began running across strip clubs. I was curious but still had more exploring to do. I jumped back on the train, learning that each floor underground was for a different set of trains, so after trial and error in finding the right level and the right side of the tracks, I was off to Hackerbrücke station, which was amazingly dark and empty on a Tuesday night at 11:30 p.m.
I doubled back to Hauptbahnhof Central Station, which was a bit livelier than my previous stop, as this station was at the city centre. When I got up to street level, I found quite a few hotels, and of the very few establishments that were open late night, there was Café Schiller, a packed German pub showing a soccer game. I was hungry, but wasn’t trying to fight the crowd, and the guy working the window in the walk up to-go area didn’t seem interested in selling me, or anyone else, anything to eat. Walking further down the block, I found *drum roll* more strip clubs! These were stocked with aggressive dancers standing outside trying to recruit unwitting men into their lairs. I walked around the block declining their invites, but when I realized I had perhaps seen everything this area had to offer on a Wednesday morning at 1 a.m., I decided to become one of those unwitting men. I often live life to have stories to tell, and I wanted to see how strip clubs were abroad. I didn’t get the name of the place I went in.
The cover was €10, which included a drink, so I got a beer. The entrance was street level but the club was one level down, and as soon as I sat down, I was pounced upon (figuratively) by two German strippers. It didn’t help that I was the only customer in there either. But the flirting began and so did the sales pitches. I even tried the “I only have U.S. Dollars” bit, but didn’t stop them, they probably would’ve accepted scratch off lotto tickets, if that’s all I had on me.
The girls here were far different than you would see in the U.S. The two in my face were in their 30’s, one was decent looking, but had a muffin top and the other almost fit the Eastern European/Russian mom stereotype; kind of thick, kind of stocky. I’d say that, once their looks fade, completely, these young ladies… well, ladies… well, women, definitely have a future in timeshare sales. They failed to work me for my cash, but not from lack of effort. They were trying to get me to go to the private area for €50, and then trying to get me to stick around for an hour for €200. I didn’t ask what all that included, but I can could only imagine the walk of shame that would have accompanied that poor decision. I finished my beer and on the way out was caught by an aggressive stripper at the door that grabbed my hand and was trying to get me to “have some fun.” After I gave a retort to every one of her advances, she either hit me with a “Fuck it, then,” or a “Fuck you, then.” My formal journalistic training tempted me to ask her to please repeat, so that I wouldn’t misquote her, but I didn’t. (Upon researching Munich strip clubs after the fact, I obviously went to the wrong club or at least on the wrong night.)
By this time, I had been up for a while, and decided that I had had enough of the nightlife. I tapped out by about 2:30 a.m. Back to the train and to the airport, to wait out the rest of my layover. Sleeping with your bag in an airport surrounded by strangers was not the move, so I roughed it until they opened security and I could pass through and go get some breakfast and coffee.
Bonus Coverage: The flight was about 40 minutes late leaving, due to the weather, so I was worried about my connecting flight in Frankfurt. I got off the plane in Frankfurt at 9:40, but my flight to Dallas left at 9:50. I’m already preparing myself mentally for a longer than planned stay in Germany, at this point. I arrived in terminal A and my departing flight was at gate Z-69 (the absolute last gate at the far end of the terminal), and I still had to go through Customs. So here I am, running as best I can with a camera around my neck, a heavy backpack on my back, in heavy winter attire, sweating, lungs burning. I kept thinking that Frankfurt must have a higher elevation and that’s why I was struggling to catch my breath, but come to find out that it’s lower than my hometown of Dallas, and the issue was that I need to get my cardio game up. Thankfully Lufthansa was holding the flight for me, the last person to board the plane, as they were aware that their other flight I was on was late.
I actually liked Munich more than Vienna. It seemed more modern and there was just a better vibe, for whatever reason. The degree of difficulty of maneuvering around the city was higher because it seemed less English friendly, but that may have just been my perception, but even with my small window of time there, I do #COSIGN visiting Munich, Germany.