While writing my #FLEuro2016 recap series, I almost forgot about one city: Munich.
The main reason why Munich may have slipped my mind is simply because we didn’t do much when we were there. I mean, Fatima and I had our fair share of radler and pork hock, listened to outdoor band concerts, and checked out some tourist attractions, but we didn’t do much… not because Munich is a boring city, but because we were (initially, at least) afraid.
You see, on the day we arrived in Munich, there was a mall shooting within a 30 minute walk from our Airbnb.
This news was unknown to us – we were at a local pub when the news broke out. Our Airbnb host messaged us on his way to Berlin to warn us (to which Fatima replied in Chinese, thinking it was a relative sending us translated news, hahaha).
Pickpockets, shootings, and terrorist attacks were all in my mom’s “Scary things that happen in this world” lecture when I first told her about going on a backpacking trip to Europe.
Now Munich was one of our last stops and until then, we had nothing bad happen to us – no pickpockets, no gypsies, no big trucks and strange men kidnapping us. We saw soldiers and police in many tourist attractions, but I had always dismissed them as just an act to reassure the public, not because there was really a threat to public safety (but who really knows?).
The mall shooting was not linked to terrorism, but to a sad and mentally unstable man. It still freaked us out a little upon our arrival to Munich. Originally, we had planned to go shopping the next day. Now this idea no longer seemed appealing to Fatima, who was more worried about the news than I was.
We did end up going to a nearby shopping plaza after we read that the police had caught the shooter and there seemed to be no more accomplices involved. Some of the stores were closed (Nooo Adidas!) with signs in German taped to the doors. We assumed it was due to safety concerns for their employees since the shooting occurred just the day before and the news could’ve encouraged or lead into a chain of similar events by other perpetrators.
For the rest of our stay in Munich, we mostly chilled and caught up on Netflix (please watch Lie to Me everybody!). We still went out to eat and checked out the English Garden (“So this is where all the young people are!”), where we saw surfers and swimmers, possibly making English Garden the most hip park anywhere. Yet after all this, nothing extraordinary happened other than the news of the shooting from the first day, which in the end was still somehow news that was strangely detached from us.
It’s the kind of feeling where you watch the news and they give you all these numbers – 10 injured, thousands dead – but it all seems so far away from you, until the phone rings and you realize your friend is one of those numbers that you just heard about. All of a sudden the story hurts you so much more. That one story of your friend being one of the thousands makes such a big difference.
It was kind that kind of a feeling, the it-could’ve-happened-to-me realization, except in the end nothing actually happens and you continue on with your life and you forget how precious your life – or anyone’s life – instantly felt at that one point.
For anybody traveling to Germany for Oktoberfest (or anywhere in the world), I wish you all safe travels.
“You can’t prepare for everything life’s going to throw at you. And you can’t avoid danger. It’s there. The world is a dangerous place, and if you sit around wringing your hands about it, you’ll out on all the adventure.”
― Jeannette Walls,