Hofbrauhaus, Munich

American tourists mostly comprise the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, the city’s most popular tourist attraction. Large steins of beer are delivered to haughty, fat-spirited tourists by Bavarian women in low-cut dirndls. Lots of cleavage. It’s a pure fraternal atmosphere. It goes on 24/7.

Every table next to me is speaking American English. It is obvious that all the American tourists come to the Hofbrauhaus, and the Germans do not. Most American tourists tour the world for one simple pleasure – to get shitfaced in as many places as they can remember. Or not remember. By the end of the day, with all the standing, walking and scenery-gazing, tourists are culturally exhausted. They need a place to sit down, be with other Americans. Talk about their own country. For some, even being in the Americanized Hofbrauhaus is too much cultural exposure.

To me, tourism is cultural anthropology. Not just for the culture I’m visiting, but for the one I am trying to escape. It is much more authentic to become “one” with the space you are visiting. I ask questions. I learn. I want to know what people in other cultures think, feel, and experience on a daily basis.

The irony of the situation is that Americans have traveled thousands of kilometers to sit in a gigantic drinking hall with hundreds of other Americans in the meaninglessly reflective culture exchange. And yet this is same principle American tourists follow: eating at the “Little America” parts of foreign countries, like a McDonald’s or a Burger King. Drinking at a beer hall with hundreds of other Americans, naturally, is a perfectly picturesque and ornamental activity.

Hofbrauhaus, Munich