Sunday Snapshots: More Fest Food!

Berchtesgaden, 2010

Since one of last month’s photo post included the festival carb option, I thought today we’d look at one of the more popular protein choices. Now, who wants to split a chicken?

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Sunday Snapshots: Bardentreffen Alert!

Nürnberg, 2011

Nürnberg, 2011

Bardentreffen is one of the biggest events of the year in Nürnberg, but somehow I have only been there once, and that was in the first year I lived here. Whoops. It seems to go one of two ways, 1) either the weather is crap and you spend all day wet or 2) the weather is great and the city is more packed than a sardine can.

On the plus side there is a ridiculous amount of music, as performers set themselves up on every available open spot, and many of them are as good (or maybe better) than the officially advertised acts. Not to mention that there is food and drink available at every turn, so if you are a fan of drinking tasty things on the street and listening to kids play box drums, you are in luck! It’s from the 29th to 31st of July this year, and you’ve still got time to check it out.

Bardentreffen Official Website

Nürnberg Volksfest: Oddities

First… let’s all just pause for a moment and take note of the fact that I’m writing about an event before it’s over.

That means, dear readers, if you are in this area and actually wanted to take part in said event… you actually could.

For another five days, at least.

volksfest3After a delicious lunch with some of BV’s friends on Sunday afternoon (in which I learned that they are all #teamcookies, thanks kids!), BV and I headed over to the Nürnberg Volksfest.

The  Volksfest, for those of you who don’t know, is pretty much a biannual festival (spring and fall), with all the usual carnival rides, junk food, and other festivus-ness. The usual assortment of teenagers hanging out, people in Tracht, and families trying to run the rest of us over with strollers are all in attendance.

Since we have to* fest it up at Oktoberfest in a mere few weeks, I think it’s best to save our energies for that, but we still thought we ought to go check out the Volkfest, if only to stock up on roasted nuts. That’s pretty much what we did, but of course I took note of a few things along the way.

volksfest1We didn’t pop into any of the “big tents”  because unfortunately in Nürnberg, the big tents mostly have Tücher Bier, which is pretty much crap. Somewhat strange, given that this region (Franconia), has some pretty damn good beers! However, we did find that Schanzenbräu, a fantastic small brewery based in Gostenhof, has it’s own little beer stand. Don’t settle, kids! Keep circling around until you see that antler light fixture, and get yourself a decent beer.

Of course, a number of other regional breweries are also represented, so Tücher isn’t the only choice, but again… don’t settle. Support team Schanzenbräu!

After we got ourselves a delicious brew, we set out in pursuit of pretzels and roasted nuts… because we are adults and those two things would be excellent to take home for dinner. On the way, what did I spy but this…

volksfest2 First though, I was distracted by what I *thought* were crab rangoons; something I miss desperately from Chinese buffets in the States. When they turned out to be not crab rangoons, I was able to focus on the read problem. Somehow, I’m just going to guess that Planet Hollywood didn’t sign off on this name. Seems questionably close.

Most festivals and carnivals can boast some kind of haunted house. The Volksfest had a few similar things,  but one was Wild West-themed, and the other… well…

volksfest4Okay. I think anyone who has traveled in the post-9.11 world can agree that airports suck. There is almost no part of it that is enjoyable, so really, is it any surprise that there is now a carnival ride to imitate that horror? Even the fresh popcorn and the rotating stacks of fake suitcases can’t dress up this 20th-century shitshow.

I’m not sure if I’ll get there again this year… like I said, I have to save my energy for Oktoberfest in a few weeks, but if you want to go…

Volksfest Nürnberg:  August 28-September 13, 2015

P.S.~ Drink the good beer!

*”have to” fest at Oktoberfest: the annual phenomenon wherein I’m not planning on going to Oktoberfest and then people just decide to come visit. Prost!

A Very German Weekend: Part Two

First of all..

short·ly [shawrt-lee]
adverb
1.in a short time; soon.
2.briefly; concisely.
3.curtly; rudely.
4.a unit of time in Heather’s world that may extend to more than two weeks

Apologies once again for the delay in posts (I know people are falling over in despair around the world and all), but things got a bit hectic in the preparations for my parents being here. They visited for a week, but the cleaning, laying of hallway floor, and trying to make this look less like a haunted house in general, was  pretty time consuming. But we’re back, we’re recovered, and so it’s time to blog again.

Back to the German weekend….

One of the things I really wanted to do this summer was to see the raising of a Kerwabaum (or Maibaum, if you prefer), at one of our local festivals. I mentioned it briefly in this post about the Erlangen Bergkirchweih, but it’s something I haven’t seen here yet. For the last three years, I’ve been driving past these things, or spotting them rising above villages on the train, and by God, I wanted to see them actually put one up. Part of the charm of moving to ze village here, is that our town actually still does this as part of their Kirchweih celebration. Last year, BV and I were back in the States the weekend of the fest, but this year I was determined to go. So on Saturday afternoon, we wandered over to the Marktplatz to see what there was to see.

Another part of the charm of moving to the village means that there aren’t that many people so we were able to get a good spot. BV was still put in charge of photography on this one though, because the majority of Germans are still taller than I am, and I don’t enjoy taking pictures of people’s backs. The tree was still on the ground when we arrived, so BV was dispatched to grab us some beers before the show began.

The whole operation took about an hour to complete, and of course, the soundtrack was provided by a local band. Different parts of the procedure seemed to involved different songs, as the conductor kept a close eye on the tree’s status at all times. Here you can see the band, and the tree propped up on sawhorses. If you look closely, you can also see the snazzy hats that the “Kerwa Boys” wore pre/post tree-raising, and their Maß beers, which were consumed at every possible pause in the process.

kbaum1After this, the “Kerwa Boys”  began to get out the long poles, which you can just see in the photo above. Two poles are connected at one end with a short chain, and the poles are used to gradually scoot the tree higher and higher.

As I said before, the band’s conductor kept a sharp eye on things at all times, so when the tree was being set in its final position she could cue the band for the celebratory song. All in all, it was very festive, and the Kerwa Boys celebrated by draining whatever was left of their beers. Immediately after that, they traded the long poles for their special beer tables, which were placed at the bottom of the tree. Tradition says that they tree must be guarded by them for the remainder of the fest, lest another village come by and swipe the tree. How anyone sneaks one of these things away in the middle of the night is beyond me, but apparently it happens.

Once the tree was settled in place, the mayor came out to give a little speech and officially open the festival. He talked for a few minutes, and then introduced a poet, who came out in a super-sweet outfit to read a poem that basically talked about all the shenanigans that the Kerwa Boys and Girls had gotten up to the year before. Village lesson: they do not forget your shenanigans, so behave yourself!

kbaum10After the Poet of Shame was finished, the band played a bit longer. I noticed the guy pictured below standing there, and asked BV what was up with the alarm clock.

kbaum12He had no idea (bad German, bad!), but our questions were about to be answered. The band cleared off, and made way for a semi-reluctant sheep to take the stage.

kbaum14He was not entirely thrilled with being the star of the show, at least not at the beginning.

In some towns, the dancing takes place around the Maibaum, but because of the placement in our town, that’s not possible. Instead, the dancing took place around the sheep on the stage. Yes, around the sheep. Because the winner of the dance, gets a sheep! Score!

Okay, they probably don’t really get the sheep anymore, but… traditionally speaking, they got the sheep. So how does one win a sheep?

kbaum15See the bouquet in the girl’s hand on the left? That is the winning bouquet. The afore-mentioned alarm clock is set, the band plays, the older gent in the middle calls out the dances, and the flowers are passed from couple to couple. When the alarm clock rings, the couple holding it scores the sheep. Soooo… keep your eyes on the bouquet!

I found this whole thing to be totally adorable. Plus, the sheep seemed to have accepted his fate, and just hung out watching the dancers. Some of the dancers seemed a little fuzzy on the steps, and I also enjoyed watching them as they kept an eye on the feet of the other couples. I guess the dancing club needs to meet a bit more often. But then, the alarm rang, and we had a winner!

kbaum24The winners then got to take a celebratory solo circle dance around their new sheep….

Finally, the opening ceremonies had come to an end. The last thing to do was for some guys to shoot off some old-fashioned powder guns, and for everyone else to drink more beer. We headed back home, so we could gather our grillables before heading to a friend’s house for a BBQ and the Germany-Ghana WM match.

kbaum28Naturally, those guys also had sweet outfits to wear. But since that isn’t such a nice picture to end on, I’ll give you this one instead….

kbaum27Fest love connections happen at all ages…. even the mini Kerwa Boys can’t resist a lady in a Dirndl.

A Very German Weekend: Part One

Last weekend was a long weekend (yet again), due to Corpus Christi on Thursday and then the inevitable Brückentag* that almost everyone takes on Friday. Add to that the current World Cup madness, and you have a recipe for general feelings of festivity around every corner.

Since it was a long weekend, it was only right to take full advantage of that fact and indulge in an assortment of very, very, very Deutsch activities. First up….

 

A beer fest. Like you had to ask.

I heard about this beer fest back when I first moved here, but always managed to miss it until this year. Before in this blog, I’ve gone to beer fests in tents, under trees, and pretty much everywhere else, but this one is a little bit special. That’s because it takes place in the Nürnberg Burggraben. What the hell is a Burggraben, you ask?

Literally, castle moat.

Damn right, it’s a beer fest, in Europe, in a moat. From a castle.

 

Personally, I found it to be a much-needed reminder that though I spend a lot of time on this couch, worrying about things like money, and time, and life goals…. I still live in Europe and it’s awesome and I can go to beer fests in castle moats. Yes.

This year, the Fränkisches Bierfest Nürnberg, offered about 40 varieties of beer from Franconia, our region of Bavaria. Sadly I didn’t get to try all 40, but I did have three, along with some fellow English teachers who joined me for the event. Seating was fairly easy to come by, and though the sky threatened, only a few drops of rain fell. The fest extended for quite a long way underneath the castle, and bands were sprinkled along the route. There seemed to be a little something for everyone, and even balloons and some rides for the kids. Hopefully the children stuck to drinking Radler, at the very most.

I didn’t take a ton of pictures (too busy concentrating on the beer), but here are a few….

nbg bierfest1Part of the Nürnberg castle makes for an impressive backdrop.

nbg bierfest2In this picture, you can see one of the bridges that crosses the Graben behind the castle. The moat and old city walls aren’t complete anymore, but they do still surround a good portion of the Altstadt, and there are walking paths and gardens inside now. And beer fests.

nbg bierfest3A very dramatic Creperie lit the night for us. I’m sorry I don’t have more details on the beers, but I will say that they were good. Specific, I know. I tried one from the stand on the right in the photo above, but I don’t remember the second part of the name. Blogger fail, as per usual.

So yes, part one of a very German weekend was festing. As for part two…. that will come shortly.

Does anybody want to help try all the beers next year? 😉

 

 

More info on the Franconian Beerfest (stay tuned for next year!):

http://www.bierfest-franken.de/

 

 

*Literally: Bridge day, a day off taken between a holiday and the weekend. Some companies leave it up to the employees, but quite a few companies are entirely shut down on those days, presumably to avoid the chaos of people trying to beat out their colleagues for the day off.

Fest Season Is Upon Us: The Erlangen ‘Berg’

Shhhhhh.

 

Do you hear that? The ominous thumping? Sounds like an Oompah band mixing with the bass line of German Schlager music, aka DJ Ötzi and company? (Side note: if you don’t know what that is, Google. 🙂 I’m not linking to the silliness.)

If you hear that, it means that you are somewhere in Bavaria and there is a fest nearby. Don’t see anything? It’s easy to find one, just turn around. Summer around here is pretty much a non-stop traveling parade of giant pretzels, people in Dirndl und Lederhosen, giant beers, and brightly lit rides. In the mail the other week, we got a complete guide to all of the village fests in our area, so if we want to, we can pretty much hit one a weekend from now until September. At least we can’t say there’s nothing to do on the weekends, right? Almost every village has it’s own separate Kirchweih, which just lasts a weekend. The bigger towns and cities will party for a longer time though.

A note: according to most people, a Kirchweih is officially a celebration to mark the anniversary of a town’s church. Somewhat suspiciously though, all of these seem to take place in summer. Kirch (church), is still in the name, but at this point the religious aspect is as elusive as a Wolpertinger. Today, it’s just a fun town celebration, an excuse to put on your Dirndl and do a little ridiculous dancing. Some traditional aspects remain, and many villages still put up their Maibaum at this time. According to the poster for our village fest in a few weeks, this will happen so I’m hoping I can get there in time. I still haven’t seen one go up, and I want to see this!

Since our fest isn’t for a few weeks though, today I’d like to share with you the Mother of All Franconian Fests: the Erlangen Bergkirchweih. Around the area, it’s affectionately known as the Berg (or Berch), or the much-less clear Kerwa. To be honest, that might be spelled wrong but that’s how it sounds in the Franconian accent. Except less clear. I’ve been hearing about this from my students since I arrived here, and was assured that this was Franconia’s (our region of Bavaria) answer to Oktoberfest. In fact they said, it’s better, because Germans actually GO to this one. I said that I hadn’t gone to Oktoberfest and not run into any Germans yet, but I would take their word for it.

Now, I don’t think I got the full experience, as we were there early in the afternoon on Saturday, but it was enough time for a beer and a few pictures. I was very happy that I had convinced BV to go along with this, as he was convinced that it would be packed and horrible. Which is exactly what all my students had been saying for the last three years as well.

“Germans go! It’s better than Oktoberfest! But so many people! I don’t go!”

I’m paraphrasing three years worth of conversations here, but you get the idea.

Granted, Saturday was hotter than bejeezus, so perhaps it wasn’t as crowded as it could have been, but I thought it was totally fine. But, once you’ve survived The Pit, aka, the standing-room only area in the middle of the Hofbräuhaus tent at Oktoberfest, no other fest looks crowded in comparison. A word of advice? If you’re at Oktoberfest, do not go in The Pit. It’s horrible. Just don’t.

We walked up the hill- hence the Berg in Bergkirchweih, bypassing all the food goodies, until we reached the row of Keller. This was a pretty cool thing, I thought. At Oktoberfest, each brewery has it’s own huge tent, or Zelt. There aren’t any windows, so you have no idea what’s going on inside until you get in, and that’s if you get in! Once you’re in, you have to get a seat at a table in order to get a beer. If you try to flag down a waitress while lurking in the walkways, they will knock you over with the ten empty Maß (liter glasses) that they’re carrying. Or worse, the ten full ones. Those ladies do not mess around. Get out of their way. At the EBK (I’m lazy, sorry), there are different Keller, which are large seating sections, stepping up along the hillside. Underneath the seating area was a place to walk up and buy beer, and some had stages at the top. Most of them served Tucher (the beer from Nürnberg), or Kitzmann from Erlangen.

After taking a look down the row, we found a place in the front row at one of the Keller. This was easy to do as that was the only place exposed to the sun, and as I said before, it was hot. Our table was reserved later in the day, but that was no problem as we weren’t planning on staying too long. BV drove, so his fun was limited. We weren’t sure if there was service, as we didn’t see any waiters or waitresses, so BV consulted with the next table. They assured us that there was service, but said it may be faster to just go get the beer ourselves. This is a definite advantage over Oktoberfest… waiting for a beer there could be an Olympic sport. We were thirsty as could be by this point and waiting was not going to happen.

BV ran to go get us beer, and I baked a bit in the sun. While he was gone, I realized while he was gone that we were sitting in a Keller that served Tucher beer! The brewery had another name, but was owned by Tucher…. uhoh. It’s the biggest brewery in Nbg, and they’ve bought up a lot of smaller breweries, but usually it’s still their beer in the glass. Neither of us are fans of it, and there are just so many better beers around here! Luckily he caught our mistake too, and returned with liters from the Steinbach brewery, a small brewery right down the hill in town. Yes, we sat in an area with the incorrect beers. For shame! To be honest, I’m not sure if that’s a big no-no, but better safe than sorry. When a waiter finally did pass our table, we turned our glasses just in case. I’m not big on scoldings from harried waitstaff, sorry. I would normally show you a sweet beer picture here, but the only one is of me looking very warm, so we’re skipping that today. BV needs to work on his portrait skillz. As far as cost goes, a beer this year was 8€ everywhere we saw, plus of course the 5€ deposit fee on the mugs.

The seating areas were pretty full, but as I said before, it was early so things were still fairly tame. There was the usual array of bachelor/bachelorette parties, people in weird costumes, and of course, plenty of people in Tracht (traditional clothing, aka Dirndl and Lederhosen). We enjoyed our delightfully cold beers, and watched the show. These adorable ladies were selling shots, presumably part of a bachelorette shindig, and I’m not sure what’s holding the attention of the gentlemen better. The girls, or the shots… what do you all think?

berg7berg6Not a great picture, but you can kind of get an idea of how the terraced seating looks. I absolutely loved being under the trees and in the open air! I will say though, that if you’re clumsy, you may want to consider drinking as close to the main thoroughfare as possible. The steps up were a bit steep and tall. A few Maß and I could see people tumbling down faster than Humpty Dumpty! And once the table dancing starts later in the evening…. look out. There were a fair amount of warning signs but who knows how effective they are. Drink with caution, kids.

We headed out in search of lunch after our beer, as we wanted something more substantial than fest food. But there was of course time for a few more pictures. The next one I’m including for a few reasons: 1) it shows part of the edibles area, 2) it includes the terrifying ear of corn that appears at all fests and sometimes haunts my nightmares, and 3) there are children in Tracht. Kids in Tracht are pretty much the cutest damn things in the world, but no, I will not be producing any in the near future. Sorry not sorry.

berg3But since I don’t want to give you all nightmares too, I won’t let that be the last picture. Instead, here are some pretzels and the Erlangen Schlossgarten, on our way back to the car. Not a bad place to lay in the grass and people watch, right?

Have no fear, we absolutely had a pretzel. On our way to lunch. Fest!

So if this post has at all convinced you to head to the Bergkirchweih, you’ve got a few more days to do it. The fest ends on the 16th this year, so strap on your traditional finery, hop a train, and get on over here!

More info:

Erlangen Bergkirchweih Official Site

Have you been to the Berg? What are the best fests where you live?

2013 Recapped

Some bloggers are kind enough to post regularly, and keep their readers up-to-date on all the goings-on in their lives. I…. am bad at it. December was chock-full of things to do at work, things to do at home, things to do out and about, and so here we are with more than a month between posts. How time flies when you’re having fun. Or doing mountains of paperwork… could go either way in my case. But luckily I’m nursing a massive hangover from a little too much New Year’s celebration last night, so post time!

Since 2013 is coming to a close, I thought I’d take a cue from every other blogger out there, and try to figure out what in the world I’ve been up to all year. So hop on into your time machines and let’s journey on back…


January:

We rang in 2013 in Tuscany with hiking, sight-seeing, and eating more than anyone should probably ever eat. Thankfully we even saw the sun in Italy, because we supposedly had the darkest January on record back in Germany. It was looooong and dark.

February/March

I have nearly no recollection of February or March. I’m guessing the weather was still crappy and I protested it by watching too much bad TV. In good TV news though, my episode of House Hunters International finally aired, and Courtney and I didn’t seem like total spazzes, much to the relief of friends and family. 

April:

The clouds lifted and we celebrated with some weekend drives to the Franconian Switzerland.

May: 

Germany came out of hibernation, which meant it was time for my balcony to get prettified. I also found the cutest Gartenhaus in history.

We took another drive to the Franconian Switzerland, where I made a tiny friend.

Across the street from the horses, we visited the Felsengarten Sanspareil. Today it’s a forested park filled with huge rock formations, a natural theater (above), and wandering paths, but in the 1700s it was a pleasure garden.

Katie, my old Prague friend, visited from the States over BV’s birthday weekend. We took a big group beer hike, and Katie made friends with some locals.

June:

May ended with us on a plane bound for San Francisco. We had a great time visiting my college friend Aaron, before we hopped another plane to spend a few days in Las Vegas with my friend Courtney. We wrapped up the trip with a week in Wisconsin. We did some hiking, visited German history at Old World Wisconsin (above), and I stood up in my friend Angie’s wedding. I even managed to not completely botch my Maid of Honor toast, thank goodness. At the end of June, my great-aunt and great-uncle stopped in Nürnberg on their European river cruise, and we gave them the local tour.

July: 

In July we visited my friends in the village and their ever-growing menagerie. The goats always provide some entertainment if the kids, rabbits, and cats are too boring for you. We took an accidentally long hike and found this crazy purple field, before we spent the evening at a local wine fest which could give Oktoberfest a run for its money in the crazy department.

Another weekend was spent hiking in the Allgäu, where I found one of my happy places. With marmots!

August:

I turned 30 in August, and decided the only possible way to deal with that number was to run away from civilization for a few days. We drove to Berchtesgaden, spent a day at the Königsee, and then the next few days hiking up and down the Watzmann. We also hosted a small barbeque with friends to celebrate, lest anyone think I’m an anti-social weirdo. 

September

Of course, September means Oktoberfest, and this year I even made it there on opening day with the ladies. It was such fun that I even went back a few days later when my buddy Karl was visiting us for a week. He charmed our table mates and pledged to come back as soon as possible. We might even get him to buy some Lederhosen before the next visit…

BV and I also celebrated our first anniversary, and prepared for moving in together. Somehow I seem to have acquired a lot of stuff for a person who moved abroad with two suitcases…. 

October:

I officially moved out of my apartment in October, and in with BV. We also took a trip up to Gladbeck for a family party, I got to meet a bunch of his extended family, and learned that dance parties can go all night even if I can’t.

November:

 BV and I took an impromptu trip to Brussels and I absolutely loved the city! We will definitely be going back, because we didn’t get a chance to do all the museums and touristy things we had planned on. 

One thing we did manage to do was drink a lot of tasty Belgian beer, including this one for the pretty price of €15 per bottle. Thankfully it was delicious, and got us bonus bar snacks. They were very necessary as the beer has an insane 10.2% alcohol content.

The reason for the Brussels trip was a concert, and it was great show! I’ve loved Jimmy Eat World for years, but never got a chance to see them live until now. It was well worth the drive to Belgium, so thanks guys for the excuse!

December:

December was spent buried in a sea of paperwork, and hunting for additional work for 2014. I came up for air a few times though. My village friends visited Nürnberg for an afternoon at the Christmas market, and a week later I visited them (and goats) at their new place outside Regensburg, so we could do a little cookie-baking.

BV and I got our Christmas tree and the tree man even remembered us from last year.

Work finally ended and I got to spend some time enjoying the city. Christmastime in Nürnberg is really nice, but I’d advise against coming on the weekends….

BV and I spent our second Christmas together with three days of family celebrations. We hosted his dad and brother on the second day and I introduced them to some exotic American specialties… or, biscuits (thanks for the recipe Allie!). 

We ended the year at our favorite Greek restaurant in the city, eating and drinking far too much. Clearly far too much, as I’ve spent most of today horizontal. Ouch.

Looking back at all this, 2013 was a pretty darn good year. Here’s hoping 2014 is the same… and best wishes to all of you reading! 

Happy New Year…. any favorite moments from 2013 to share?

Would you like to make an all-week party?

Ah, the Germans love their all-night parties. Love them. 

I’ve settled in on my couch, with a glass of Cola Light mit Lemon, my notebook, and a clear mind. That means I am finally ready to document the events of last week at Oktoberfest. So here we go, there are Dirndls and Maß Bier consumption ahead… It gets long, and this post is rated PG-13 for slightly ridiculous behavior and excessive alcohol consumption. If you’re down with that, click away. You have been warned….
Monday would be the logical place to start, so here we go…

For whatever reason, I couldn’t sleep on Sunday night. I ended up going to bed at about 6am, which meant I slept for a whopping one hour before I had to get back up and make my way to the train station. I anticipated a full train at 9am on a Monday, but I certainly did not expect the train to be full of dirndls and lederhosen, and people cracking beers open before they got to their seat. I should be used to it at this point, but my American-ness was going, “Really? IT’S 9AM. ON MONDAY.” But it made for an amusing train ride. I get down to Munich, and make my way to the Ostbahnhof where I would meet my friend Alicia (who came last year), and her co-worker Abby, who were arriving from Greece. (Side note: they spent the whole previous week partying on assorted Greek isles. So the fact that we all survived this is even more amazing.)

We met up around 12pm, and got out to the flat we had rented for the week. Dropped off stuff, went to find a supermarket and get some basics for the week, and then headed down to the center. Our original plan was to stop at the store we bought dirndls at last year, so Abby could try to find something, but when we got there, it no longer existed. Oh well, on to the Fest! We walked around a bit, and then just like last year, ended up in the beer garden of the Löwenbräu tent for our first Maß. 

Donkey was the girls buddy they brought along from Greece. He also enjoys Maß biers. 

So you might think that Monday afternoon is a good time to go, because you can get into a tent no problem. Right? Wrong. Most of the doors were closed as they were already full. For example, here’s the line at Löwenbräu…

I believe this was mid to late afternoon. Sit outside you fools! At least you get a beer there. Anyway. One friend that we’d met last year then came to join us for a beer before he was heading back to Prague. He suggested we go meet with some other friends who were in the Spaten tent. So off we went. 

Inside Spaten was where things started to get ridiculous. We sat down to order a beer (as you must), and about two minutes later I was injured. How? Well, the people on the table behind us were dancing on their benches (as you must), and the girl directly behind me was wearing high heels. And decided she’d rather step on my back then the bench. So I was gouged by her heel. First injury of the week, check. I had a pretty awesome black and blue upside-down triangle on my lower back for the last week. Fun! 

I decided then that standing might be a better choice, so we just hung at the end of the table talking to the motley crew of crazy people we had been introduced to. Few minutes later, a very attractive blonde gentleman (I used the term ‘gentleman’ loosely), makes his way down the table and tries to start dancing with me. He comes down off the table and continues the dance party. I’ve had maybe 1.5 beers at this point, and am not quite prepared for this. But he’s cute, so we go with it. He then tells me I have to kiss him, soooo… sure why not. (PG-13). We’ve been in this tent for like, 20 minutes. It was absurd. 

We chat a little bit; he’s Canadian (danger!) and a photographer (cool), so we discuss the merits of different cameras. He continues “dancing” with me, and then asks me to go for a walk in the park. Apparently at Oktoberfest, this is a thinly veiled request to go get some action. That’s not happening. Sorry, buddy. I’ll make out with you in front of a hundred strangers after five minutes, but I’m staying in the tent. He then says, “You get five minutes with me, make it count.” What. A. Charmer. He says he’s going outside. Have fun buddy. You were cute, but nein danke. 

So we hang out in Spaten for a while, and our friend from last year has to go get his train. So where to next? For this next part, you need a little background…

Since I moved to Nürnberg, I have been frequenting one establishment in the city center. It’s easy to find. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. At said establishment, there is a certain gentlemen who has been flirting with me shamelessly. Henceforth, he shall be referred to as IM. We went on a date the previous week, and he was at Oktoberfest that day with a crew from work. So we said we would try to meet up. 

Cut back to ‘Fest. They were at the Augustiner tent. Problem is, there is more than one of them. And this was several Maß later. So we were running around, and I was diving into these tents, to see if it was the right one or not. At one point, I’m 95% sure that I left the girls outside and dodged a stretcher to get into one tent. It was the wrong one, but I got directions from a very confused security guard. 

We get to Augustiner, find their crew, and more beers arrive. At their table, IM was sitting calmly, one guy was sleeping on the table, and one was dancing on top. I think the others were outside smoking. Despite the fact that they got there late in the day they were in good shape. They don’t mess around. The girls were tired, so they left before the tent closed (I think). I decided to stay with the crew and IM. The tent was closing, but they said, “hey, let’s go to this bar in the center!” Sure, why not? On the way out of fest, someone got the bright idea to go on one of the carnival rides. I don’t know who paid, all I remember is dropping my purse on a bench on the ride (smart), and climbing on. No one came and checked our safety harnesses, which is awesome, as this ride GOES UPSIDE DOWN. I feel that I should get some sort of award for not losing my cookies on this thing. For real. Look at it. With day and night view…

I thought we were going to die.  Seriously. 

After the ride o’ death, we joined the parade of dirndls and lederhosen to the U-Bahn and made our way to the center. We went to a bar near the Frauenkirche and then completely lost the last few guys we were with. I heard later that some of them apparently made their way to trains and back to Nürnberg… God knows how. Also the ride had done a number on one of them and he had some issues walking after that. Whoops. But we stayed at this bar and engaged in a completely inappropriate level of PDA for… oh several hours. In the bar, outside the bar, in the street, looking for a taxi, in the taxi, all the way back to our flat. The taxi driver got lost, IM tried to argue the bill because the guy didn’t know where he was going, and so on. Got home, I fell asleep in about three seconds and didn’t move until the next morning when IM woke me up because he was leaving.

So that was Monday. THERE ARE FOUR MORE DAYS. Ridic. 

Tuesday.  

Got up that morning and would have paid a million dollars for someone to deliver me an IV of Coke Light. It was rough. But we had places to go and things to do. Dirndls were the order of the day, so we headed to a second-hand shop that had been recommended to me. It’s a bit outside the center, but we found our way. Unfortunately the selection was not so great, and the girls didn’t see anything they were interested in. So back to the center we went. Conveniently there are little stands set up right inside the Hauptbahnhof that sell them as well. That leads to pictures like this one….

Yep, you can try one on over your clothes right there! I personally like the look on the Deutschbahn guy’s face.  But Abby wasn’t settled on anything, so we continued on our way.

We made our way from the Hauptbahnhof towards Marienplatz and stopped pretty much at every store with dirndls or lederhosen in the window. Last year we had gotten lucky and found a store that had some cheap options. This year there was no such luck. Directly across from the train station was a shop that had a few that were only 20 Euro, but without blouse or apron and very, very ugly. Alicia decided that she wasn’t going to get one this year, but would just wear mine from last year, but Abby still wanted one. So in and out of stores we went, and she finally found something satisfactory. We headed back to the flat, changed, and headed down to the fest. 

We were shooting for inside, so we decided to try the Hofbrauhaus tent, which has some “standing tables” in the middle of the tent. Never again. NEVER AGAIN. I thought we would never get out of that clusterfuck. It was a hot, sweaty, ass to elbows situation and there was no way we could edge into a table.

Finally we got a spot at a table that was reserved for a company party, but some guys let us grab a seat so at least we could get a beer. That whole “you have to be sitting somewhere to get a beer” rule is a pain in the ass sometimes. But we got a spot, and sat there for a bit before a table across the aisle opened up, and we snagged that. Here’s some shots from the Hofbrau tent…

Wait for it….

And Prost!!

Here we are. All cute and dirndled up. Good times. So we hung out in the Hofbrauhaus tent all night. The only problem was that we had perhaps the worst waitress in history at this table. Getting a beer was like a challenge from a reality show. Or, a math problem. 

Q: “If you order a beer from your waitress, but she disappears for 45 minutes at a time, so you order beers from 3 other waitresses that are passing by, how long will it take you to get a beer?” 
A: Too damn long. 

I was still rough from the previous night, so beer was the only thing keeping me going. I didn’t say it was logical, but that’s how it works. At one point, we were joined at our table by this charming fellow. 

In between falling asleep at the end of our table and knocking empty Maß glasses to the floor, he said he was American, and asked me how I could “stand all the idiots.” Buddy, at this point, you probably don’t want to be pointing too many fingers. Some people just can’t handle Oktoberfest.

Eventually closing time rolled around, and somehow we ended up chatting with some German gents at the table next to us. They were going to one of the After-Wiesn parties at a club, and invited us to join them. Sure, why not? So we walked to the Wiesnclub, and stood outside waiting for their friend who was in VIP inside to come out and get us in. And stood, and stood, and stood. There was quite a long line, and we weren’t really into the idea of paying to get in normally, so we decided to roll on home. We started walking, and one of the guys came running after us because his friend had finally come out. So in we went. We got to be fancy and VIP and everything. I was all about standing on the balcony being comfortable and not-crowded while watching the masses below.  And I’ll totally admit it: The shallow part of me very much enjoyed hanging out on the balcony while boys below implored me to come dance with them. It doesn’t happen that often, I’ll enjoy it while I can! Plus, from this vantage point I also had a front row seat for an impromptu concert when one of the bartenders below me got up to sing “You Shook Me All Night Long.” Those Germans love their traditional music. Let me tell you.

The others had gone down to dance, and I just hung out upstairs for so long that we all thought we’d lost each other. Turns out that they were just in a spot on the dance floor that I couldn’t see because there was a DJ booth in the way. I went down, found them right away, and we continued the dance party for…. a long time. Never thought I’d be in a dirndl in a club in Germany, dancing like a complete spaz with a guy in lederhosen, vest and knee socks. But it happened. And my Sprachduo friend was correct… those suspenders are useful for pulling boys around. Good times. 

We left the club very late and straggled across town. We knew there was a night bus that went near our flat, but we had no idea where the thing picked up. So we got some pizza, and a taxi instead. Second night in a row with a taxi, second night in a row home around 4am, and with an almost full beer in my purse. How? I don’t know. Some of us are just gifted.

Wednesday. God help us all.  

We decided to take a day trip one day this week, and Wednesday ended up being the chosen day. A few ideas were tossed around, but eventually we decided to go out to the famous ‘Disney castle,’ aka, Neuschwanstein. I’d been out there twice already this year, both with ex-Freund’s family, and my family, but both times we drove. This time we took the train to Füssen, and from there you grab a short bus to the village with the castles. 

The train ride through the country was absolutely beautiful. Rolling green fields with brown cows, farm houses and the mountains in the background. I would recommend this ride… especially if you have as great of a day as we did. 

As I said, I’ve been to the castles twice this year, so I opted out of the tour, and the girls decided to only do one of the two castles. They were going to do the Neuschwanstein tour, but had a few hours before their time, so we popped into some of the shops, and climbed up to the Hohenschwangau castle to get some pictures and see the gardens. 
Here’s Hohenschwangau from below…

And Hohenschwangau with Neuschwanstein from the gardens…

Can you spot Donkey?

So we walked around a bit, took the back way down (which wasn’t open the last times I was there), and were treated to a bit of a forest walk and this great view of the Alpsee.

The water looked fantastic. The shallow area was so clear and blue-green, and I really wanted to go stick my feet in. But we had things to do. We got in line to get the bus up to Marienbrücke where you get that postcard view of Neuschwanstein. The bridge was chock full of tourists so it was a “elbow on, picture, get out” situation. 

That’s the money shot. 

After the bridge, we ran down the hill because we thought we were a bit late and I didn’t want the girls to miss their tour time. We got there in plenty of time, but better safe than 12 Euros wasted. I left the girls and headed down to a bench below the castle to enjoy a Radler, a pretzel, some quiet time, and these awesome views….

Very nice. 

The train ride home was a bit longer and we had a stop for 30 minutes in some random town, so that wasn’t great. But we got some pretty good jokes out of it. Not to mention having some seriously colorful characters on our train. And by colorful characters, I mean people who actually gave me a headache when I looked at them. (Granted, it didn’t take much to give me a headache on this day, but this was extreme.) Look at this. Look at it.

Ok, it’s a little dark. But that is a sequined back pack. There was also an aggressively patterned shirt, jacket, and pants that had a star sewn over the crotch that appeared/disappeared as she walked. I couldn’t even look at it, it hurt my head that much. Agh. But we got back to our flat, made some pasta for dinner, watched the news and tried to turn in early. There were two more days of fest ahead of us.

Thursday. The day I finally found Jesus.

Last year we wanted to do a free tour of Munich, but got up too late and missed it. Today we decided to take another crack at it. We got rolling and headed down to the city center. There’s a tour company called Sandemans New Europe Tours and they operate in a lot of the bigger cities. I’d seen their tours in Prague (and snuck a listen a few times), but have never gone on them before. They operate some paid tours as well (in Munich they have a Third Reich tour, a Dachau tour, they go to Neuschwanstein and there’s a pub crawl-type tour), but we were shooting for the free stuff. Our guide was an American named Curt (with a C), and he was pretty fantastic. Funny, informative, all that good stuff. The tour lasts 3 hours with a short break in the middle, and takes you around most of the main sites in the center of Munich.  Here’s the Rathaus/Glockenspiel, the fest hall from the Hofbrauhaus, and some street performers…

Check it out if you’re there but please wear appropriate footwear. Alicia was at this point reduced to wearing her awesome toe shoes because she had wicked blisters from everything else. 

After the tour, we headed back to make some French toast for dinner, and to strap ourselves back into the dirndls for Fest. We wandered around a bit before deciding to head back into the Hofbrauhaus tent. We got a table with some German guys who happened to be from Nürnberg… any guesses on how long until I run into one of them? One of them kept trying to talk to me in German, and when he found out that I could speak some, he informed me that “Tonight, we speak German!” Whatever you say calve-warmer-sock man. And PS, I can understand that your friends are talking about our chests. Some words are easy. We hung out there for awhile, but on a trip to/from the bathroom, the girls found their target market: that’s right, Australians. Oh dear. 

Thankfully they came back to retrieve me, and then we joined the Aussies at one of the standing tables. Again thankfully, it was a standing table on the edge of the area and we didn’t have to go back into the sweaty armpit cesspool of death like we experienced on Tuesday. We hung out there for awhile and chatted with our new friends. And one of them looked exactly like Jesus. EXACTLY. I am very angry I didn’t get a picture of him. In talking I learned that he had the same name as my ex-Freund, and after verifying that fact with 3 forms of identification, I told him I was just going to call him Jesus anyway. So no worries. We spent the rest of the night with the Aussie crew until the tent closed. We spilled out into the street where people got separated, but made plans to meet them the following day. Abby had her heart set on getting into the Hacker-Pschorr tent, and one of them promised he would have a table there tomorrow. Boys. 

We decided that we didn’t want to take the taxi route again, so we wanted to get home early. We headed back to the station, stopping once again for the world’s greatest pizza on the way. At pizza, we somehow found ourselves sitting next to Scotsmen in kilts who were quite chatty. Only at Oktoberfest can you have this kind of day. I tell ya. It’s like Halloween except the costumes are more authentic. 

Finally, on the U-Bahn home, we were treated to this…

Here’s the lesson children: If you’re going to be sick on the U-Bahn, it’s ok as long as you dress it up with a rose.

Friday.

Our original plan was to get up early so we could get a table at Hacker-Pschorr and just stay there all damn day. Or at least long enough for stealing a Maß glass (side note: apparently it’s a 40 Euro fine to do that. Don’t. Or, don’t get caught). But due to the afore-mentioned promise from the Aussie, we decided we didn’t need to go so early. We got down there in the afternoon, and did some wandering and shopping around for those last minute souvenirs. I finally got my money shot….

The holy trinity of awesome. 1) Wizard Hat, 2) Lederhosen, 3) Inexplicable calf-warmer socks.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my love for gnomes. I might have to reconsider after seeing this picture painted on one of the carnival games…

Creepiest. Gnome. Ever. Agh.

Let’s make up for it with some people having fun. How many dirndls and lederhosen can you count??

After some wandering about it was, of course, beer time. It was a beautiful day so we figured a beer garden spot would be great. Friday afternoon proved a bit tricky though. We finally snagged a spot at Spaten, and only had to climb (literally) over Italians to get to it. 

Yay sunshine!

We also were greeted by a very drunk Australian guy (sensing a theme here?), who was sitting right behind us. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of him, but here’s what he was wearing: a yellow plastic hat (similar to a fisherman), and EXTREMELY SHORT yellow plastic lederhosen with no shirt. The lederhosen had a very helpful identification tag attached to them, giving his name and where he was staying. A good idea considering what followed. I think he was insulted by a young German lady telling him that his tattoos were really bad so he moved away from us. This was positive, because a bit later, he stood up on the table, yanked his nutsack out of his lederhosen and was singing and dancing. If he had stayed where he was, that would have happened on top of my head. Thankfully, it was a table over. Hats off to you, bluntly honest German teenager! 

At any rate. Our spot in the sun was great at first, but eventually it got a bit warm. Here’s a photo essay for you…

Alicia melts…

Abby fans herself…

And I am very happy to have sunglasses! 

But before we could completely melt in the sun, it was time to go try and find our friends from the previous night. We headed to Hacker-Pschorr and found the first one. We waited a while but his friends were on a delayed train or some such thing, and we figured they could find us when they got there. The tent was closed, so we shot for a place in the beer garden (in the shade), and found one no problem. 

We spent quite a while out here talking and meeting random people who plopped themselves down at our table. But eventually we decided to go inside. We ended up heading for the Spaten tent, presumably because the doors were open. We got in, grabbed a table end, I handed Alicia 20 Euro, said “order me a beer, I’ll be right back,” and went to the restroom. The restroom was directly at the end of the aisle we were in. But when I came back, couldn’t find them. They had gotten pushed to the middle of a table, and I went up and down the aisles but never found them. 

So I wandered around for a while in the tent, then headed to our ‘meeting point,’ to wait for a while. During this time I went through the 20 Euros of credit I had on my phone trying to call Alicia’s UK cell phone. Which she didn’t have with her, but I didn’t know that. Whoops. I waited until the tents were closing, then gave up and headed home. I took a very roundabout way to the Hauptbahnhof, thinking maybe they would call when they got out of the tent. But that’s hard with no phone. They must have been right behind me, because I got home about 12, and they got in at 12:30. I did miss out on bumper cars though, so that’s a bummer. 

Fin.

Well not quite. 

Saturday.
 
We got up early on Saturday because the girls had a morning flight. I went with them out to the airport, which is entirely too far out of Munich on the S-Bahn. I left them in the line to check their luggage, and got back to the Hauptbahnhof where I got to wait 40 minutes for a train. Uncool. Took the train back to Nürnberg, dragged my suitcase up four flights of stairs, and collapsed on my couch. Thank God that it was the start of the new television season because that gave me something to watch for the next three hours while I laid on the couch and moaned. I will be eternally grateful that I didn’t have to fly halfway around the world like those girls. Here’s your next lesson kids; 5 days of Oktoberfest is too many. My body hated me. And even more so when I realized that I had no food in the house so I had to go to the grocery store. And because this is Germany, I couldn’t put it off until Sunday. So I scraped myself off the couch and went out. It was painful. I definitely slept like the dead that night.

Sunday I had planned to meet a Sprachduo friend who needed some help. She had written a research paper and it had to be in English so I was going to meet with her and give her a hand. I was happy to do it, but my brain was not at all prepared for four hours of technical English at that point in time. We got through it but that was rough going. This was definitely one of those times where I was absurdly grateful that I didn’t have to work until Tuesday. 

So that about sums it up. Without doubt, it was a good time, but it’s a good thing it’s only once a year!