2023 Europe Trip: Munich, 10 September

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It was a Sunday. We got up and walked through Hofgarten on our way to Odeonsplatz. I don’t remember if there was a specific reason to go there or if it was just, “We heard it’s nice.” There were statues and grand buildings, but a lot of the area was obscured by construction and/or some sort of event.

We walked to the English Garden (Englishischergarten or something), possibly passing through part of that transportation expo Uli was talking about. We had a quick FaceTime call with the kids as they got ready for bed on Saturday.

We started wandering through the huge park — like 910 acres according to wikipedia. We wanted to go to a place called Koenigin 43, but it wasn’t open very early — when we got there, the cafe next door was open, so we went in for coffee and a pastry while we waited for our breakfast place to open. We got stopped by someone who thought we were professional photographers because of the size of our cameras. Breakfast was really nice.

Then we resumed our walk through the English Park. We went to see the Chinese Monument and the associated biergarten, which is also gigantic — it can seat 6,500 people. Apparently the largest biergarten can seat 8,000. Incredible.

Once the biergarten opened up, we had a beer (we did a good job of using perspective to make KrisDi’s 0.5L beer look bigger than my 1.0L beer). We decided to go from there to Paulaner’s Brauhaus, one of the first German breweries that really impressed me. We took a train to get most of the way there.

We had pretzels with obatzda and of course beer. From there, we went to Glockenbachviertel, the “gay district,” looking for gelato because it was really hot. I felt at home when I saw rainbow crosswalks.

We went to a beer shop named Bierkiste, finally the first actually craft-beer-focused place that we found. We had some beer, had a short chat with the folks at the table next to us, bought some beer to take back to the room and/or take home. We stopped at a department store to get lederhosen for Chilkoot (which was a bit of an adventure, with help from staff who didn’t speak much English).

We headed back to Schneider Weisse for dinner, looking for a mulligan schweinhaxe for me – this was successful. We also had cucumber soup (cold like gazpacho, and delicious) and pork belly. And of course beer.

Then we finally made it back to the hotel, and talked to the kids again (this time is was Sunday morning for them).

Some commentary:

  • Most German beer from the traditional breweries is pretty well-made, and it feels weird to not group it in with craft, but I don’t. It’s too narrow. Schneider Weisse gets close — they have a number of interesting styles and exhibit some experimentation. Anyway, it’s hard but not impossible to find craft beer in Munich, and very hard to find craft beer centric places, and those that exist have limited hours.
  • And nothing is open on a Sunday in Munich except biergartens.
  • We saw some fancy-ass cars, like a Wiesmann GT (never heard of it until I saw it) and a Bentley and a classic Porsche.
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2023 Europe Trip: Munich, 9 September

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Saturday morning. As usual, coffee was hard to find. Best option was a bakery near the hotel. Our plan was breakfast at Schneider Weisse‘s brauhaus. We walked around the surrounding area (I think it was called Marienplatz, but it might have been Odeonsplatz) for a while. Lots of old buildings with towers and clocks. There was a big clock with animated figures that “danced” around a couple times a day.

We saw what appeared to be a drinking team, a group of loud youngish men wearing lederhosen (and I think drinking beer and stumbling at 8 AM). They eventually came to Schneider Weisse for breakfast, too.

Breakfast was good. They just assumed we’d be having beer with breakfast (so we did). We specifically had wanted to try “weisswurst,” a white sausage that apparently is only served very fresh. We learned after the fact that you’re not supposed to eat the casing. We didn’t die.

We went to visit some grand, glorious cathedrals after breakfast. Peterskirche, Asamkirche, Frauenkirche. Asamkirche was gaudy and occasionally amusingly macabre. Frauenkirche was plainer, and was so big it felt very open. During our wandering, we discovered a row of seven side by side butcher shops, which was pretty interesting. There were more butcher shops on the same block, but there was a break in the streak.

We went to Hacker Pschorr and had some beer, and talked to a couple from Boston. This was in a square with a huge clock with “dancing” figures, and we happened to be there at the right time to watch them “dance.” It was underwhelming. Things started getting really crowded around this time, as lunch approached.

From there, we walked quite a bit to get to Muffatwerk, a smallish biergarten, whose thing I think was being “greener” than other biergartens. Anyway, by this time, we were hot, it was muggy, we were thirsty, KrisDi was starting to develop blisters on her feet, and we wanted to rest. I got a beer and KrisDi got a radler, we sat in the corner where we thought we would get the most shade for the longest time, and we met a guy named Uli and chatted with him for some time. He was a recruiter for Aptiv, his English was basically perfect, and he was excited about some kind of car show or transportation show or something that was in town. We are now connected on LinkedIn. As we neared the end of our lunch (boeuf bourgignon for me, roast pork for KrisDi, pretty good but not great), some apparent LARPers started filming something just outside the garden, but apparently I decided none of those photos were good enough to keep.

We walked to a little beer shop nearby where I found actual local craft beer, and picked up a rotbier to drink while we continued to walk (remember that whole thing about Germans being okay with drinking in public). We walked through a park along the Isar River. Some of the same grandiose buildings were visible from afar. Some new ones cropped up. We wanted to go see “Eiswave” — a standing wave park where people can apparently surf, but I guess it was closed.

So, we walked back to the hotel to rinse off, try to cool down, and rest.

We went to Augustiner’s bier hall for schweinhaxe and schnitzel. It was sweltering inside, the food wasn’t very good — the skin on my schweinhaxe was rock hard. Also, the waiter dumped sauce on my foot. The beer was good, of course.

From there, we just went back to the room for an early bed. KrisDi was in the throes of jetlag, and I think I was just at the tail end of it. On the way back to the room, we saw a classic car, a Griswold car, and a pink limo. Oh, and another gigantic clock/cathedral. And a panda.

General observations:

  • There are a lot of humongous clocks in Munich, and their bells can be heard throughout town. But, they go off at seemingly random times. You hear the bells and you think to yourself, “Oh, it must be a time!”
  • Drinking while walking around or sitting on the street or on the train is ubiquitous. Also, the low drinking age (16, if I understand correctly) means you see lots of very young people drinking.
  • Smoking seems more popular and also seems more accepted in restaurants in Munich than in Japan, which surprises me.
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May 2022 Part II

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Mother’s day. The kids made KrisDi breakfast in bed. And this time, they actually made part of it!

Chilkoot participated in a Karate tournament for the first time he started sparring. I thought he did really well, though based on judges’ scoring he was soundly defeated. We went back and looked at the video, and I still don’t really agree with a lot of the judgement. In particular, I was proud how he was more aggressive than is natural for him. He went on the attack more than I’m used to him doing. The other kids he sparred with were more experienced.

KrisDi and I had our anniversary (13 years, I think?). She made us big steaks and shrimp and salad. We also went out for tapas at Castilla, which was really good.

Other stuff:

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2021 Kitchen Remodel

A few things came together to make this decision. One, we decided that despite the rising value of our home, the rising costs of upgrade homes and the limited selection in our acceptable region were going to prevent us from improving our living situation by buying and moving into a new house. Two, we never liked the granite tile counters much, and the grout was starting to come apart, so why repair it? Three, it was summer time, and we figured we could grill a lot if the kitchen was unavailable. Four, we could afford it. Also, KrisDi just really wanted a double oven.


Dissatisfactions with the old kitchen included:

  • Only one oven
  • Limited counter space
  • Limited cabinet space
  • Granite tile (as mentioned); prefer slab

We talked to two different contractors. One of them was pretty straightforward, asked questions, listened to what we wanted, and frequently said, “Yeah, we can do that.” The other was more sales-y, didn’t seem to listen to our reasoning for what we wanted, kept trying to tell us we wanted something else, and he was going to charge us money to make a plan and estimate. So we went with the first guy, Russell.

Lead times were pretty long. Something like 3 months for cabinets and similar for the range/oven we wanted. They delayed ripping stuff out until it was likely that the cabinets (first step) would arrive shortly after. Demolition was surprisingly quick, like 4-5 hours for two guys while KrisDi and I worked from home on 11 Aug.

After demolition and before new cabinets started going in, we let the kids draw and paint on the walls that would be covered up with new cabinetry. It was about 6 days before enough cabinets were put in for our old sink to be put back in a temporary installation, so that we could actually hand-wash real dishes. The old nuker/oven combo also got reinstalled the same day, so we had some heating options, too. We ordered food and ate with disposable stuff until then. We were also out camping for part of the time that the kitchen was completely out of commission.

The bulk of the cabinetry install took only a couple more days (19 Aug). Electrical came in and replaced the light fixtures (unexpectedly, including all the can lights) and the outlets for the island four days later (23 Aug). We just lived on the cabinet tops for a while.

Granite slabs finally showed up on 7 September. Only two guys were sent for this job. We estimate the slab on the island, which is huge, weighs about 800 pounds. Kudos to these strong men. They came with the counter tops, but not the backsplash (which needed to be measured out after the countertops were in place).

Unfortunately, this is where the excitement starts. The island slab is essentially a giant rectangle with a 36″ wide slot cut out for the stove. The slot was cut too wide (by maybe 3/16″ at max), and with the sides not parallel. We decided it wasn’t acceptable. They left the slab on the island (just sitting) while we figured out what to do.

I thought that maybe the depth of the counter would make the gap not so noticeable if the edges were straight, so when they came back with the backsplash on 19 Sep, they brought everything to try grind the sides parallel. They improved the parallelism, but the gap was clearly noticeable. We could see the unfinished tops of the cabinets. We decided it wasn’t acceptable.

At this stage, the kitchen was basically fully functional, except that we didn’t have a stove or a second oven. Lots of things were unfinished (most notably the giant gap in the island). But, the new sink and faucet (now touchless!) and the old dishwasher could all be installed and used.

Second piece arrived 1 Oct. Two different guys came and had to take the old one out and put the new one in. But, the new one had the exact same problem as the first. Maybe not as pronounced, but still exactly the same problem. We decided not to accept it, and had Russell call and bitch at them. They actually told him, “We don’t know what went wrong, we did exactly the same thing!” You mean…exactly the same thing that produced an unacceptable result once already…?

Third piece arrived on Friday, 15 Oct, while KrisDi and I were in New York. Les & D were watching the kids, and received the countertop for us. Russell had very explicitly told them to cut the slot too small and then grind it to size on site, which is exactly what they did.

Paul (the guy that actually did most of the work) came back to install the downdraft, move the gas line, move the ventilation duct (which was challenging due to a support joist in just the wrong spot), and install the oven, starting 25 Oct. But it didn’t fit. Also, we learned later, he didn’t tighten the gas line enough, and we kept smelling gas until we sprayed soapy water on the joints and realized what was going on. Les came and fixed that for us.

Anyway, we got to live with the kitchen fully assembled and functioning, but the oven occupying space in front of the sink for a little while. We could finally boil water again and make mac & cheese, but the layout was pretty weird.

When the counter people came back out to grind the slot slightly wider on 29 Oct, it was very…exciting. They were there until like 9:30 on a Friday night. And they manhandled that 400 pound oven so much I was afraid they were going to break it. They got it in place, though (but it may never come out again). They had to make some modifications to the way Paul had mounted the downdraft to make room for the oven to slide into the slot (he had left some screws/brackets protruding into space that needed to be occupied by the back of the oven.

Paul came back at least one more time to finish more stuff up, and in fact there is one or two more things that need to happen, such as replacing the panel that has a weird green paint streak on it.


As a wrap up, we’re mostly very happy with everything. Not everything is perfect. The pop up downdraft does not actually work very well, and the smoke alarm goes off a lot more (and it already went off a lot). There’s a bit of a gap between the oven and the downdraft (apparently that bothers me but not KrisDi). With the new island size and the new configuration of my coffee mess, the little bottleneck on the fridge side of the island seems to generate more traffic jams.

Also, going through everything again to write this post, I realized we still have a problem with the fridge that we discovered during the remodel. It has been building up a big patch of frost/ice on the back. I bought a kit to try to fix it, but haven’t done it yet (because I forgot entirely about it). So, I guess that’ll be a project for another upcoming weekend.

Here’s the album of all the photos.

Other noticeable changes / acquisitions:

  • Blue themed everything. New placemats, new bench, new barstools, butter dish, spoon rests, curtain, floormats in front of sink and stove, towels.
  • Got rid of the toaster and the air fryer and bought a toaster oven / air fryer combo to free up a little counter space.
  • Got a cool knife holder thing that is made of cork and goes in a drawer to free up some more counter space.
  • New drawer organizers and re-organized a bunch of stuff (and got rid of some unnecessary stuff).
  • We now have a cabinet for the trash and recycling cans, so we only have a little compost bin (on a blue mat) that is visible (this also gave us a bit more counter space).
  • All the cabinets and drawers are “soft close,” which is pretty cool, although one of the drawers wasn’t working correctly. In theory, the contractor should have fixed it, but I did, out of impatience. The problem was one of the drawer slide mounts was not mounted firmly because the wood had split.
  • New dishrack that fits in the smaller right-hand-sink, but is two-level.
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2021-10: NYC III

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KrisDi arrived midafternoon on Wednesday. It was time for some “victory lap” visitations — back to The Grand Delancey!

This was with a specific purpose. KrisDi and I love Cantillon, which is incredibly hard to find in the US, and they had bottles of it there. For $35 each. So we each had one. Treat yo’ self!

We ordered random food (including pierogi!) from the neighboring food places and continued drinking beer (including a notably unpleasant Firestone Walker — notable both for its unpleasantness and the fact that it was FW, they never make bad beer). Unfortunately, Sam wasn’t there that day to chat with.

We headed back to the hotel and stopped at a place called Craft + Carry, where they have a pretty good selection of mostly local beers and free skee ball. We enjoyed both aspects of the place, then started to head back to the hotel and realized we wanted to eat something…so we stopped at another bar (“The Globe”) for fries and beer.

The next day, we walked down to Katz Delicatessen, which is apparently famous and has been used as a location in several movies. While we were there, some film staff was talking with restaurant staff about logistics for recording there early the next morning before customers arrived. It was the most confusing restaurant I’ve ever been in. Different counters to order different things. I think we had to order at three different counters to get our food. There was a ton of stuff we wanted to try, and we ordered way more than we could eat. But it was really good.

We walked from there to Malt & Mold, a beer and cheese place. We had…beer and cheese. Then we subwayed back out to Grimm and tried more of their stuff! Still awesome! Same server was there! Unfortunately, they didn’t have the inside open at first and they only use plastic glasses outside. I bought a shirt and some glasses to take home. Again, loved everything I tried. And retried the best ones. Excellent!

From there we followed KrisDi’s Polish coworker/friend’s advice and went to a Polish diner named Christina’s, which was great (particularly their beet soup). We also went to a nearby bakery and picked up some poppy seed cake (not as good as P Dubs’) and apple cake. Then back to the hotel.

One of these mornings, and it might have been the next one, KrisDi and I toted two large flat rate USPS boxes of beer, painstakingly packaged in the hotel room, to the post office to ship one to our house and the other to PoD’s. PoD had asked me to put together a box of IPAs for his uncle (who has provided Pliny the Elder many times) and if possible to get Unicorn Farts for his wife. This was a beer I had seen in several of the delis in Part I of the vacation, but then was completely missing despite a concerted effort to check at every deli we walked by the rest of the trip, so none of that was in the box, unfortunately.

Bagels for breakfast the next day at Bagels & Schmear (excellent). Some wandering. Surprisingly, we found local cheese place Beecher’s has a location out there. Went to the Union Square market. Subwayed back out to Brooklyn and visited the Talea brewery (it was OK). Wandered a bit there, and got pizza at Tony’s. Waited for Brooklyn Brewing to open.

Brooklyn Brewing was a good brewery to visit but I was deeply annoyed by them — not customer friendly. I wanted to get small pours of big beers because there was a bunch of stuff I wanted to try that was like 13% abv. But, most of them they only allowed to be purchased as a “sidecar” or something with a regular sized beer. So I bought more than I wanted to so I could try the things I wanted, and the staff were jerks about it. The place was cool and the high end beers were good, though the “standard” stuff is boring.

We went back to the hotel and dropped stuff off, then went out to a German place called Heidelberg for dinner. In particular, I was looking for schweinhaxe for dinner. They had it, and it was excellent. Afterward, we met with KrisDi’s friend Sahnj and her husband at a place called the Stag. I noticed at the very end that someone had ordered a Heady Topper, a white whale beer for me, but we were well done for the night.

That might have been the night we realized why the street noise was so loud in our room: The window was coming detached from the frame wasn’t fully connected to the wall. This may have also explained why the AC was working so hard and dripping so much condensation that the floor was wet (or rain was getting in). Maintenance came in the middle of the night and improved the situation. The hotel apologized profusely and offered to move us to the only available room, which was smaller than the one we were in. We deemed it not worthwhile.

We met Mr. and Mrs. Sahnj again for brunch the next day at a place called Cookshop. We were there too early, so we went to the nearby Chelsea Market and shopped around a little bit. We didn’t buy anything there, just looked around. After breakfast, we all went to Milk & Hops. I chatted with the staff there, and was a little puzzled by their mix of knowledge and ignorance of the beer world. The Sahnjes went their own separate way from their.

We went back to the Stag to get Heady Topper. Unfortunately, it was fairly old, and nowhere near as good as I remember from the previous two cans I have had. I don’t really understand why, but the server seemed to think it was a good idea to buy us shots, so we both had “picklebacks” — a shot of whiskey chased with a shot of pickle juice. We survived.

We had dinner at an Italian place named L’Angeletto, and then we went to the boat for the Pietasters. We remembered earplugs this time (I think I did permanent damage to my hearing last time), but forgot them in the hotel room, and got the last box off the shelf at a CVS on the way to the show.

Lucille is the boat. According to the stats on that page, the maximum standing capacity is 125 people. I don’t think we were close to that. I would guess there were maybe 80 people there including the band. I don’t know how the Pietasters can be making money on this. But, once again, it was several hours of just the Pietasters and a small crowd of super engaged fans. We skipped the buffet (yeah, they had a buffet!), I drank a couple JW Blacks and Bud Heavies (best available). It was so much fun, once again.

It was raining quite a bit when we got off the boat. We stopped at Mike’s for a slice of pizza and then went back to the hotel room to cool down with a fancy sour beer.

The next morning, we went to the Bluebell Cafe for breakfast, which was very good. We walked out to a couple places looking for NYC souvenirs for the kids and found a place run by a crusty old dude. KrisDi was trying to buy two clear blocks with 3D NYC scenes laser-etched inside them and two small ceramic mugs. At checkout, the guy decided we needed more stuff, and insisted KrisDi take a kitchen towel if she would use it (it was an apron), oh and she definitely needed these three post cards…and yes, of course, this pen….and how could we leave without taking this magnet? All at no additional charge. It was very strange and very cute.

We went back to the room and packed. We decided to keep the remainder of the Talisker and passed the Willett back and forth taking swigs and left it behind for housekeeping.

Afterward, we walked back to Good Beer NYC. We were slightly early, so we stopped in a nearby market and found Unicorn Farts! We bought a couple of those to stuff in my suitcase when we got back to the room. We got more food from the Morelos place.

We got a Lyft to the airport (long, expensive ride), and found scales to check our bags’ weights. With the addition of the Unicorn Farts, my bag was slightly overweight, so we moved a pair of jeans into KrisDi’s bag and we were golden. We ate some boring, extremely expensive food at a place in the airport. The flight home was fairly uneventful, except that it was super hot (like to the point where I didn’t feel well), and we took some weird zigzag over Montana / Idaho that didn’t make any sense.

The bag arrived without smelling delicious, and we Ubered home. Then work the next day.


Overall, I think a very successful trip. My friends and I agreed we shouldn’t wait forty years to do it again, but we should have gotten a place more downtown than suburb, although a three bedroom place in Manhattan would have been prohibitively expensive. I learned that Brooklyn is essentially a suburb, although there’s still a lot going on.

I had a great time drinking alone, visiting breweries and beer spots, trying new beer, and chatting with fellow beer nerds. But footwear is important. The shitty flip flops I bought went in the trash. I was developing a rash from the strap and I had some kind of bruise on the ball of my foot that took more than two weeks to heal.

KrisDi and I had a great time, even though we did very little “touristy” stuff. The hotel was shitty, but the location was good for us and we didn’t exactly hang out there. The Pietasters are awesome and as long as they keep doing this Rock the Boat thing, I want to make an effort to get out there. Probably if we’re going to be tourists out there, it would be better for us to be out there the whole time together (rather than me there for a week before she arrives), and maybe plan a couple specific things.

No regrets on my part, though.

I learned also that essentially there are no exaggerations about New York in movies and TV, except one: I never saw a single human being using their fire escape as a patio.

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