While an essential and intrinsecal part of traveling is the experiences one accumulates, these can be greatly influenced by the lack of knowledge of the language of the country you are visiting. Before arriving in Munich , I’d managed to memorize certain key phrases so that I could survive the ten day stay.
I ventured into the city with a German pharesbook in my pocket. My plan was this: to lock myself in bathrooms and secretly check the words I didn’t know. That is, if it wasn’t one of the phrases I already knew, like ja, nein, danke, vielen dank, and bitte. These phrases were mastered with the ease of a non-native German speaker. However, learning the names of food is a whole other beast. Food was the reason to have the phrasebook in my pocket.
My hostel, 4-you München, was located near the city’s Hauptbhanhof or Central train station. This was most convenient, particularly because my budget was very limited or almost non-existent, and there were scores of small convenience shops I could buy food from. When exploring the station, I discovered one such store, which had a nice selection of pre-made sandwiches, drinks, and other minutiae. I looked at the names and, being a vegetarian at the time, the only thing I could eat was the mozzarella and tomato panini. But what seduced me, even more than the freshness and overall yummyness was the price: a measley 2 euro. Just 2 euros for a sandwich that could count as both breakfast and lunch.
Needless to say, I efforlessly mastered the German phrase “Eine mozzarella und tomaten, bitte.”