We are well into our time here in Munich and tour life continues to be surprising, and challenging, and a whole lot of other stuff, but never boring.
My phone was stolen at the movie theater, womp womp. Bottom line is it was mostly my camera and all adventures will rely on being catalogued through my oh so pseudo-sophisticated speak…text…words?
I have been back in the show for about a two weeks now and it feels fan-freakin-tastic. Weight lifted, return to semi-normalcy, not feeling useless anymore type of fantastic. I don’t have enough bone to do the iconic Jet number “Cool” yet (why does every jump land on the right foot?!) but I can dance in the gym scene and do basically everything else…in life. Many times I wonder if I had not been hurt and had been performing this whole time, if I would be tired of the show, the routine, and the people. Probably not but I also tell myself that if my foot wasn’t hurting, something else probably would be. There is still something about West Side Story that is so beautiful and now that I have seen it from many different angles, I can’t help but love it even more.
Enough about me, let’s talk about Germany.
Being in the Bavaria region, we are surrounded by a few castles and palaces that were the home(s) of King Ludwig II. From what I gather on tours and the all knowing internet, he was a bit of a controversial leader. He was a likable person but spent most of his time and the country’s money on extravagant things and Richard Wagner. One of those being a huge castle in the middle of gorgeous mountains. The castle itself is a little underwhelming but there are a lot of factors that go into it.
It was built in the 19th century as his take on medieval castles. The rooms are large and covered in gilded paintings justifying his divine right to rule. The throne room being the most elegant with natural light, angels, past kings, and a large painting of Jesus over…a cardboard cutout of a throne.
Hard truth is the people were getting rather upset with their King. His castle took about 17 years to construct and the furniture in his room alone took 14 years for the best craftsmen to carve. It was still incomplete but he lived in it for 172 days before he was mysteriously murdered. His nickname has shifted during his life time from the Swan King (whole castle is full of swan pictures) to the Mad King. There is also a rumor that he and Wagner had a “thing” which might have made some people angry, on top of the neglect for his country.
In this particular case it is fine that I don’t have a camera because we all already know what the outside looks like. This is the castle that inspired the castles for Disney’s Cinderella AND Sleeping Beauty. They’re both the same castle taken from different angles. WHAT?! I KNOW!! We were freaking out. I was freaking out. Because really even with all this controversy, it is a gorgeous view, from a distance. Do I smell a metaphor?
We have been in Munich for a week and a half and already I have been punished for not updating often. Namely, my iPhone was stolen along with the picture proof that I am indeed in Munich.
Opening Night went off without a hitch. I was at first pretty bummed that I would not be able to perform our last opening of tour with the rest of the cast. Then I bought a fabulous bottle of wine made of Italian raisins to open when I DO come back and got over myself. This was my fourth time seeing the show since being out…well actually, ever seeing it (disabled list perk). Regardless, it was the cleanest, most lively show I had seen so far and every time I watch them I am so proud.
We also were the main event for the Deutsches Theater’s reopening after renovation. “West Side Story” also opened the theater when it was new back in 1961. Being a part of the audience put into perspective how big of a deal this really was. Most of the time backstage, it can feel like another day at the office. A very cool and exciting office but a known routine nonetheless. Now that I have A) been out B) watched it from the audience and C) sat in the pit (amazing experience), I feel like I have tried out every ring of this circus. That night, people were dressed up, there were cameras, a red carpet, champagne, German celebrities, the whole glamorous experience. A reporter even came up to me with a camera in my face and asked me something in German to which I muddled out that I speak English. She then asked me if I am a dancer and if I know West Side Story. One of my biggest regrets of this tour so far is that I did not play along with some elaborate story about how this is my favorite show and I am studying abroad yadda yadda yadda. Instead I told the truth instead and said I was part of the cast. Camera turned off, she moved on. Virtues are boring.
Pictures from the Opening Night performance and party:
Ok, this might be a little gross, but I couldn’t resist. I call this segment “Galen in Switzerland”. Ergo, the boyfriend being my model and in all the pictures. ISN’T HE JUST DARLING?
Anyway, Galen being here in Zurich for 9 days was the best thing the doctor could have ordered. Up until his visit, I had been recovering. Which means I had been downing vitamins, hanging out, working out, and rocking out (on that new guitar!). Impatience and frustration were my worst enemies and although they did not come around too often, his presence was the best defense. Although it was a bummer that he could not see me in the show, we had a great time watching it together. He got along well with the cast and likewise they were all very enthusiastic to meet him. My injury also meant that I had a lot more free time than originally planned, so naturally we went everywhere.
With Rick Steves as our guide and Galen’s new best friend, we explored the towns of Luzern (post Carnival), Bern, and Zurich, as well as the Alps. Each town had it’s own charm and historical markers but it was in the mountains that we found an adventure.
The one thing Galen wanted to do above all else, even if I was too tired to try anything else or the weather was bad or we had to eat only PB&J to save up for it, was to eat breakfast at the top of Mount Schilthorn. This particular breakfast was a breakfast buffet in a rotating room at the Piz Gloria, also the setting for the James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. The journey there was to take about 2.5 hours and if we wanted to get there by the time breakfast finished, we had to leave at 6am. Long story short, after 4 trains, 3 gondolas, and a whole lot of ski traffic, we arrived five hours later. Well the lunch was excellent and the view was breathtaking. We were so high up. And we were so cold. I mean cool. We were really cool.
On the way down we stopped in a small village called Gimmelwald, a cute little town covered in snow and the home to the first ever “Honesty Shop”. When purchasing an item from an honesty shop, you simply write down what it is you want on an envelope, put the money inside, drop it in the appropriate box, and take the item with you. One such shop looked like someone’s personal basement and had a note explaining they were out in the fields working with the cows. We bought a block of cheese and some milk stored in a recycled Fanta bottle. It was the best milk I think I have ever had.
Another cool thing about Switzerland was the fountains. Not only were they everywhere, they were spouting clean, drinkable water. Galen insisted on filling up at almost every single one. Gotta stay hydrated somehow when exploring!
Today is our last day in Zurich. Tomorrow we leave for Munich and begin the final stretch of tour. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s recap the last few weeks.
This special group of pics come from the Carnival Parade in Luzern. Switzerland was full of Carnival events to celebrate before lent, kind of their Mardi Gras and we came just in time for this one. Fun fact: “carnival” comes from the words “carne” and “vale” meaning “meat-leaves”. The festivities have been happening all over Europe and if this was a typical one, a visit to Italy’s is now a new edition to my bucket list.
The whole town was celebrating with events scheduled from 5am until very late in the evening. Crowds of costumes everywhere and the smell of fondue mixed with competing brass bands made for an exciting and slightly overwhelming day.
Everyone was in costume but unlike the Halloween basics of variations on playboy bunnies and Freddy we have come to know and love, the mask work seemed like it took months to prepare. We later learned that each float in the parade was sponsored by a city guild and each had their own political statement to make. Maybe that was why we were the only ones cheering for the band dressed in American Flags and Obama masks…
Astrid made me a step stool. Almost there, guys! #babysteps