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This post is about a 20km walk from Waldtrudering to Munich. I have lunch in my favorite restaurant, get drenched and drunk.

You live in an oasis, I told Anja as we were having breakfast. And it was true. I had crossed a few other oases before, big ones like Zhangye in Gansu and tiny ones like Liaodun in Xinjiang.

the urban oasis

Anja’s house was one of them. It was a forester’s lodge, and as such it sat in the middle of some woods and some fields in a completely rural environment. Everything was quiet and green, and deers and foxes came by at night.

And yet around it, just a few hundred meters away, was the desert of suburban sprawl: villas and apartment blocks, concrete and asphalt, garages and driveways and parking spaces occupied by heaps of steel, a world of breathless people who wanted to be urban without being actually urban.

what it entails

“It does come with some work, though”, said Anja. Living in a forester’s lodge meant having to take care of the trees and the animals. Both she and her husband Nick knew how to operate a chainsaw, and Nick had recently got a hunting license.

Anja Fritzsche was a visual artist and a bestselling author. Her studio Atelier Flieda was the place where she created her art, and it was located in the oasis.

hello Munich, my old friend

It was raining in the morning, so I sat on Anja’s porch and tried to wait it out. When the sky cleared up a bit at around noon, I got on my way.

Of course it immediately started raining again, just in time for my walk from Waldtrudering to Munich.

I walked through different intensities of rain for a few hours until I arrived in the district of Au. I had lived there for a few years during university. It felt bittersweet, maybe more bitter than sweet. Munich and I had never really become comfortable with each other, but my favorite restaurant was there: the Mai Garten.

my favorite restaurant

“You’re back!” said Auntie Xiaomei, the owner. I got a hug and a generous serving of yuxiang eggplant with vegetables. A plate of veggie dumplings appeared. I munched and I munched, just like I had done so many times before. It felt like everything had changed, but the Mai Garten hadn’t changed, and neither had Auntie Xiaomei. It was good.

words from my agent

When I arrived at my literary agent Franka’s office, I was drenched once again. I changed my shirt and sat down for cookies and tea, and then I breathlessly told Franka about my plans. Instead of just writing one book about the walk from China to here, I wanted to write three.

“Well,” she said, “the book market hasn’t gotten any easier, you know?”

the way to Lilu

One thing had changed about the Mai Garten restaurant, though: there were two of them now. Having been to the original, smaller one, I decided to also check out the new one near Gärtnerplatz.

Some more hugs, some more food, and a few drinks later, I was a bit drunk and on my way to my good friend Lilu. The plan was to stay at her place for a little while.


the walk from Waldtrudering to Munich:

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