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Oktoberfest In The Rain

It’s Oktoberfest time!

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest fair, and it runs for sixteen days every year from late September to the first Sunday in October.  (It runs for seventeen or eighteen days on years when the first Sunday in October is the 1st or 2nd of the month, because the 3rd of October is a holiday here, German Unity Day.)  It was started in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of King Ludwig I to Therese

This year’s Oktoberfest started on September 22nd and runs through Sunday October 6th.  In Bavaria, its often referred to simply as die Wiesn.  This refers back to the name Theresienwiese (Theresa’s Meadow),  the fairgrounds in the center of Munich where it takes place.

Many of my bloggy friends in Germany have written about Oktoberfest.    LLMW wrote “Best Bets for enjoying Munich’s Oktoberfest & the Parade” and Alex wrote about how to get a seat at oktoberfest in munich.

Factoids for everyone!

  • Oktoberfest receives more than six million visitors each year.  That’s more than four times the population of Munich itself.
  • In the first week of Wiesn in 2012, more than 3.6 liters of beer were consumed.   This also led to an increase in Bierleichen, or “beer corpses” — a term referring to people who have drunk themselves into a state of unconsciousness .  (I love that there’s a specific word for this.)  According to the Red Cross, most of the Bierleichen were below the age of 30.
  • The price of a Maß (one liter) of beer in 2013 is €9,85.  That’s more than $13 per liter.
  • For beer to be served at Oktoberfest, it must be brewed within the city limits of Munich.  It must also conform to the Reinheitsgebot (the German Beer Purity Law.)

I went to Oktoberfest on a Thursday with Jenny.  The day before, it had been sunny in Munich.  Not so on our chosen day.

This is the Hippodrom tent, one of the first tents seen when you enter Theresienwiese.  It’s very popular with the younger crowds.

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Inside the Hippodrom tent, at around 4pm on a Thursday:

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A percentage of the tables in each tent can be reserved.  Often, companies reserve these tables and food is on standby for these reservations.

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A job I would not want:  Dishwasher at Oktoberfest.  This is one of many racks of beer steins ready to be filled.

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The Hofbräu Festzelt. (Zelt means tent.)

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The Augustiner tent.

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The Löwenbräu (Lion’s Brew!) tent.  The Lion is mechanical-  it lifts the stein and drinks, then roars.  Highly entertaining.

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The Paulaner tent.

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Sekt is champagne.  This was a wine tent.  As a result, it was a bit more mellow than the other tents.

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Theresienwiese is adjacent to the Bavaria Statue.

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As with all festivals in Germany, there are places to buy Lebkuchenherzen (gingerbread hearts) on ribbons.  They’re decorated with various phrases, and it’s traditional to buy one for your significant other.  It’s not uncommon to see people walking down the street wearing these.

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This carriage was pulled by six of the most enormous horses I have ever seen in my life.

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This one had slightly smaller horses.  Still big, though.

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Jenny and I found a table for lunch in the Schottenhamel tent.  The Schottenhamel tent is where everything begins-  on the first day of Oktoberfest, no beer is allowed to be served until noon.  That’s when the mayor of Munich taps the first keg in the Schottenhamel tent, proclaiming, “O’zapft is!” (It’s tapped!)

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Prost!

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Bavarian men always seem to have such jaunty hats.

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Just one of these is heavy.  This woman must have incredible upper body strength.

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Children in Tracht (traditional clothing) are pretty much always adorable.

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I do love the giant pretzels…

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After lunch, we went back outside, to check out the rest of the fest.  There’s a lot of rides.  This is the view as you’re approaching the front of Theresienwiese.  That ride with the airplane on top goes much higher and faster than we expected.

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I’m still trying to figure out why a) this one has American flags all over it, and b) the breakdancer is a Gremlin.

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There are several places to ride bumper cars, which is a great idea after drinking a few liters of beer.

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The ferris wheel at the back seemed like a good idea, because the gondolas are covered.

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These next two pictures were taken from the ferris wheel, during one of the many rain bursts.

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You can just barely make out the white balloon with a red cross in this picture.  That balloon made it easy to find the first aid tent from a distance-  kind of ingenious, in my opinion.

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While most of the locals went with traditional Lederhosen and Dirndls, a few people went with a more modern take on Bavarian garb.  I like to think of the guy on the left as Bavarian Jesus.

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Do you have any fun Oktoberfest stories?

How Not To Travel

Usually, when I decide to travel to a new place, I do fairly exhaustive research.  I look at information about what other people like to see in the city.  I check for walking tours or hop-on/hop-off tours.  I confirm information about the public transportation.

Most importantly, I do something that I’ve been doing before trips to new places for many years.  I make a list with three categories:

  1. Stuff I absolutely must see while I’m in this new city.  This category is the stuff that I’m most excited about. This category often includes the reason I went to the new city in the first place.
  2. Stuff that I really want to see.  This stuff isn’t quite as important as the MUST SEE category, but it usually includes a lot of interesting things that I’m glad I saw after the trip is done.
  3. Only if there’s time.  This is stuff that seems interesting to me, but if I don’t get to it, I won’t be too sad about it.

I’ve been using this three tier method for a lot of years, and when I’m traveling with a friend, I have them do the same list.  More often than not, we manage to get ALL of the must-see stuff, most of the really-want-to-see stuff, and occasionally, we even get to the only-if-there’s-time level.  Having things tiered this way makes it very easy to figure out a day by day plan without it becoming too overwhelming or stressful.   This planning method has always worked very well for me while traveling, and I should know better than to stray too far from it.

Yesterday, I tried something different.

I’ve been feeling kind of stuck lately- I don’t travel as much in January and February because it’s fricking cold and I don’t usually want to go take pictures of things when the sky is full-gray and I’m bundled up like the Michelin man.  Climbing hills to castles is not fun on snow and ice.

In order to combat the feeling of stuck-ness, I decided recently that I would try to visit some of the really close towns, places that I can get to in about an hour on the train.  A Bavaria Ticket costs me 22 Euros, and that covers the train there and back as well as any bus lines or public transportation in the destination city, anywhere in Bavaria.  The idea here is that if I day-trip to a new place, I don’t need to muck about with getting a hotel, packing a bag, and so forth.  I just go, wander around a new city for the day, then come back.

Why did this backfire?

  • It failed because I chose Ingolstadt as my first foray out this way.  Ingolstadt is perhaps the most boring city in Bavaria.  The most interesting things about Ingolstadt are that the Illuminati was founded there and the monster was created there in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  Neither of these things is easy to see in a touristy way on a day trip.  Oh, and Audi has a factory and tour there, but I didn’t think to get information about that before I left Regensburg.
  • It failed because I went on a Sunday.  Everything is closed on Sundays.  Bus routes are cut down to once in hour in many routes on Sundays, which made getting around town kind of a pain in the ass.
  • Above all else, this little day trip failed because I didn’t prepare for it.  It failed because I didn’t do my list this time.  Ingolstadt doesn’t have many old buildings because it was significantly bombed out in World War II.  The few remaining old buildings look pretty nifty, but since I didn’t do my research before the trip, I didn’t know where to look.

This is the most interesting thing I managed to see in Ingolstadt yesterday:

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That’s directly opposite the Bahnhof.  I spent the rest of the day using the tediously slow Sunday bus routes to try to find cool things to see.  I didn’t even manage to figure out where Ingolstadt’s “Altstadt” or Zentrum (city center) was.

I did have a successful conversation with a passerby who spoke no English, so I feel like that was a win, but I learned a great deal on this trip about what doesn’t work for me when I travel.

What lessons have you learned in your life about what NOT to do when traveling?

Palmator: Das Starkbierfest Am Adlersberg

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Palmator: Das Starkbierfest Am Adlersberg, a set on SmugMug.  There are more pictures in the set, so click on through!

On the way to breakfast this morning, there were a lot of people wearing lederhosen and dirndls, the traditional Bavarian outfits that Americans always picture when they think of Germany.

The reason for this belongs to the Prösslbräu Brewery in Adlersberg

Palm Sunday is the first day of the year that they serve Palmator, a dark and strong bock beer from their kegs. A lot of people turn out for the beer, the band, and the traditional Bavarian outfits.

I managed to find my way out there, sharing a taxi with some friendly guys who were also going after the number twelve bus was far, far too packed to be useful. The beer is served in one liter glasses- this is a much larger volume of beer than I’m used to, and those glasses were heavy!

Also of note- one of these pictures shows what was being used as a men’s room- the Germans have turned public urination into an art form.

The brewery sits on top of a pretty good sized hill, so there’s a fantastic view from the top of the wall, looking all the way back to the city.