Waterslides in domes, Mines in basements, Trees in the road: Erding & Munich

| February 25, 2014

Last weekend we headed to Erding, home to Erdinger brew and a giant indoor spa and waterslide situation.  Day two was spent there and in Munich, at what I would call a world-class family museum, the Deutsches Museum.

On our trip, were joined by Some Guy’s Hat, who wanted out of the house (he’d heard about the beer); and Flat Stanley, a child’s literacy project we were participating in that weekend.  It was a full carload of things that really can’t talk.  Flash, who found it all ridiculous, checked himself into his favorite kennel and animal shelter, where he has a regular girlfriend that they board him with in his love shack.

We arrived to find that I’d bombed on hotels this time—unusual for me.  The area had been booked up (and there really are Germans who know about Valentine’s Day, we soon learned), so I reserved a room at the Azimut.  It had seemed just fine online.  While the room itself was not awful (aside from falling into a hole if you sat at the end of Sequoia’s pull-out bed), it was situated next to the tracks of the speed train.  At all hours, we heard the train speed by.  The room, which at its lowest temperature gave you heat stroke, featured a lovely cement balcony overlooking the loud train and a seedy shopping center across a field.  The good news?  Giant bottles of beer out of the Coke machine for 2 euro.  erding

erdingShortly after arriving, we headed down the road into the small town of Erding to find the brewery for dinner.  First we parked in a garage we had trouble getting into (and later, much more trouble getting out of).  After wandering around lost—an aware child whining “DO YOU KNOW WHERE WE ARE GOING?  I’M HUNGRY!”, me unaffectedly holding SGH and Flat Stanley up to photograph around town, and Paul attempting to follow the iphone with no assistance from me or Sequoia—we finally turned around to head in the completely opposite direction.  Unfortunately, even at 6:00 when most Germans typically aren’t heading to dinner yet, the Erdinger brewery was packed and reservation-only.  We made a reservation to return the next night.

All over town there were Valentine’s Day menus posted and romantic settings inside.  I was surprised, since earlier that same day Sequoia’s teacher was unclear as to what valentines were when Sequoia brought them in for the kids.  Who knows what kind of Valentine’s business was going on back at Flash’s love shack while we wandered town, from restaurant to restaurant, searching for food as Sequoia grew less patient.  After only a few places, we returned to the car to head to a promising restaurant I’d spotted en route.

german menuWhen I entered the restaurant, I was greeted by the Bavarian proprietors in traditional dress.  There was room for us, so I called Paul and Sequoia in.  The menu was presented in large, cursive paragraph form.  It was like a homework assignment.  I spotted something that was the recipe of the proprietor’s grandmother, but had no idea what one of the words meant; google translate proved useless.  The dish turned out to be a Bavarian deer goulash accompanied by a big-ass potato ball at least the size of a grapefruit.  Result?  Delish.

tiny tvBack at the hotel, Paul attempted to avoid the hole at the bottom of Sequoia’s pull-out bed as the two of them huddled in front of a TV smaller than anything I’ve seen outside of an airplane since the ‘80’s.  E.T. came on in German, befitting the size of the screen.

In the morning, we headed straight from breakfast to the Therme-Erding, an indoor spa and water park. It opened at 10:00; there was a long line at the entrance at 9:45.

We entered the locker rooms first.  As is typical, you can use changing rooms or let it all hang out, co-ed. We shuttled through the showers and into the giant waterslide room.  It was huge.  Germans can economize on space.  Twenty waterslides were intertwined in a snake pit.

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therme erodingEven the “little kid” area was pretty impressive.  Because we were there at opening and most people, it turns out, were busy staking out their claim in the larger spa we weren’t even heading into yet, we had the waterslides practically to ourselves for at least the first half hour.  Eventually, it became more and more crowded and we decided to check out the spa oasis.  We walked through a tunnel, past some food vendors, through additional locker room entrances, and into a spa at least three times the size of the area we’d  just left.  A giant pool led to an outdoor pool, which steamed in the February cold.  (It wasn’t too cold, though—it would hit 50 that first day.)  I was asked not to take photographs in the spa area.  Paul surmised it was because they didn’t want people feeling self-conscious; I think it’s because of…

What we did not fully realize: Germans would be practically making out all over the pool.  Everywhere.  I saw a couple in their 60’s easily, with the guy gliding his woman around the pool by squeezing her rear end.  Teenagers were seeking each other’s tonsils with their tongues.  If you are prudish, this family spa is not the place for you to spend your day.  Go back to the water slides.  I’m not sure if this was a Valentine’s weekend phenomenon or a “you’re in Germany” phenomenon.

We spent about 8 hours at the spa and waterslides, with me getting a massage, checking out the facial masque bar, and doing water aerobics with Sequoia on my back while Paul kicked back and enjoyed that debacle with some beer and pizza poolside.

That evening, we headed back into Erding to eat dinner at Erdinger.  For the second night in a row, we were not disappointed by our meal—this time a big pile-o-Nurnberger wurst followed by Apfelstrüdel.  It was serious yum.

In the morning, we headed back to Therme-Erding.  This time, we purchased a two-hour pass.  Paul and I let each other ride the adult slides that Sequoia could not ride.  Unfortunately, there was an incident that nearly wishboned my legs.

All Paul said to me was, “Don’t ride the Wild River–it’s too rough for you.  Ride the Space Bowl.”  So okay, I stood in line for the Space Bowl.  I didn’t know what it was, didn’t realize that there was a viewing area where you could look down to see what was, essentially, a giant toilet bowl.  You enter the slide–a normal water slide–in typical body form: arms crossed, body straight, lying back.  Okay, done.  But when I reached the toilet bowl, I just leisurely drifted around the ring.  I thought this was a problem.  I wondered what was wrong, so I sat up and opened my eyes.  I’m not sure why, since without my glasses I was unable to see anything, including: the drain.  I therefore was sitting straight up, my legs somehow drifting apart, when my body gravitated unwittingly toward it.  By the time I noticed it, I was already upon it.  I was able to tilt in time to not smash myself too badly on the edge of the tube, but my legs were not closed, so one was on the outside of the pipe as the rest of my body swished into the drain and swept my screaming body down the ride that was not too rough for me.  To be fair, if I’d followed the directions and graphic on the sign, remained in position, and been patient, the ride would not have been too rough for me.  As it was, one leg was nearly torn off.

I was done.  After hitting the waterslides, we enjoyed the outdoor pool a bit, although it was much colder outside that day.  Sequoia was sad to leave, but we we’d had enough water.  Next up: search for the actual Erdinger brewery.

Erdinger is a huge exporter.  We suspected it couldn’t have just been brewed in the restaurant in town.  Plus, a colorful map had shown it to be in a field.  After about two minutes, I was about to give up; Paul, however, has more patience.  He took the additional two minutes to check the iphone, then drove around a little until we spotted towers of beer cases outside a large warehouse.  We’d arrived.

Paul dropped me and Some Guy’s Hat off on a street corner to photograph the brewery while he drove around the block.  Next we took off for Munich, a half hour quest for parking, and a museum I’d read would be a good stop with Sequoia along.  That’s an understatement.

deutsches museum

This was a world-class family museum that we didn’t have enough time to get all the way through in several hours—and this was with a few areas of the museum shut down for renovations.

The museum is touted a science and technology museum, but certainly could be labeled history as well; in fact, it was as if they’d put a history, science and technology, air and space, and nautical museum under one giant roof.  In the basement?  An actual mine they’d recreated.  I’m talking, a full maze you worked your way through, hoping “Night at the Museum” didn’t take over while you were stuck in the endless coal mine (the shorter, higher salt mine at least provided more light).  The museum address?  Museum Island.  Just sayin’.

deutsches museum mine

deutsches museum

In the machine technology area of the museum, you really felt like you should be punching the time clock before entering first an old-school shop floor, and then a modernized  factory floor.

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Right around the corner?  A giant, working water wheel turning as water poured on it; across from it stood a high metal windmill.

deutsches museum

There were giant ships in the first room of the museum, one of which was sliced down the center to give you an idea of (claustrophobic) life at sea.  The model ships all over the exhibit were so large and impressive, beyond description.  In back, a full submarine was bisected like the ship, to give you an idea what (even more claustrophobic) life was like under sea.  It was part of a military-focused exhibit featuring model battleships.  Sequoia went from counting cannons up front to machine guns in the back.

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In the hangar, a giant propeller turned above.  There were German planes and…an Air Force chopper.  Vintage German vehicles reminded me of every old-school German-stereotype movie and TV show I’d ever seen.

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A mathematics exhibit (they’re Germans, after all) featured awesome wooden puzzles that made me feel like I was competing on Survivor.  I would totally kick ass, if only there weren’t endless days of rain, getting beat up in the physical challenges, and oh, yeah, starving.  I think I’ll just buy some puzzles and silently vote off people around me that I don’t like in real life.

deutsches museum

After leading Sequoia through every wrong corner of two floors of the museum (including the mine shafts, which fortunately she loved), we finally located the exhibit I sought: the children’s area.    It was kid museum heaven.  A giant hamster wheel.  A guitar to climb into.  A whole room of giant Legos.  Pulley systems to swing from.  A fire engine. Water stations where you just gather and move water with mechanisms that presumably teach you something other than you should have brought galoshes.

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deutsches museum

After we were able to drag Sequoia away from her half hour of fun, we schlepped her, unwillingly, through the microtechnology area.  Well, honestly, we all sped through that one until I noticed, at the end of the exhibit, one of the most important inventions on display:

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I’m sure E.T. would agree.

deutsches museum

After visiting the pendulum housed in the high tower, we came to a communications exhibit with a large section on telephones.  Paul and I spent a lot of time acting like my grandmother placing phonecalls on the wooden telephone my grandparents still display on their wall, through the switchboard operator on display.  Then I showed Sequoia the difference between dialing their old Pennsylvania number on the rotary phone in the hands-on exhibit and the push-button phone.  Oh, the nostalgia.  She was fascinated by the notion that Paul and I had grown up using these two types of phones.  Funny enough, she was completely familiar with the old wooden boxes with mouthpieces on wires; she mimicked cartoon characters screaming into them.

Let’s just say, this is one museum you will never regret paying to enter.

munich lionWe departed Munich after bidding farewell to one of its mascot lion statues, valiantly guarding our parking garage.

The next morning, I drove to the kennel to pick up Flash.  I turned onto the back road that my kennel is located on, to find it blocked by municipal vehicles.  They were chopping down tree branches, which were stretched across the road.  Some were long-dead branches; others were overgrown evergreens much alive.  All of them blocked my forward progress.  I pulled up regardless and just sat, staring, incredulous at what sat between me and the kennel where I had an appointment to pick up Flash.  A burly, reflective-vested man walked up to my window and told me to back up and park farther down the road and walk to my destination.  “Walk?”  “Yes.”  Incredulous.

I parked and, wearing Coach sneakers and a look that I don’t think I’ve given anyone in a very long time, began walking through mud toward the GODDAMNED DOWNED TREES I WAS GOING TO HAVE TO CLIMB OVER.  I could not believe that there was not some kind of safety regulation preventing these men from allowing me to crawl 1) through these trees, 2) around their equipment, and 3) UNDER THE MAN CHOPPING DOWN THE TREES.  He was kind enough to pause while I was crawling UNDER HIM and OVER the TREES.

I picked up Flash from his weekend getaway and then, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, was forced to climb around the trees (which the men were now attempting to clear a path around since I was just the first of several people now attempting to reach the kennel) with a Jack Russell Terrier.  However, I was able to enjoy a moment of sweet and absolute revenge when Flash, while circumnavigating a section of tree and in plain sight of the paused workers, took a big, runny shit.  The kind you can’t clean up.  The kind you look at the workers and smile about, and walk a little taller as you saunter to your car as much as you can saunter while sloshing through mud in your muddy goddamned Coach sneakers.

I reached the car and Flash, a muddy mess, jumped in.  And there went the smugness.  Bastards.

deutsches museum

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Category: Activities, Family Travel, Germany, Hotels, In Germany A Broad blog, Museums, Restaurants, Travel

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

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