Sunday Snapshots: More Fest

Nürnberg, 2014

Nürnberg, 2014

If Oktoberfest seems more chaotic or rowdy than your taste, consider coming to the fair city of Nürnberg this month. From the 14th until the 25th of September, the Altstadtfest will be taking place, primarily on the Insel Schütt right in the center of town. There you can find all sorts of delicious brews from around Franconia, as well as some traditional cuisine. A word of warning… the menus do tend to be written in Franconian dialect, so if you don’t know what something is, ask the waiter or a neighbor! I once wound up with jellied meat, so… yeah, it can be dangerous. After you’re all fueled up, head to the Hauptmarkt, where you’re find the fall market for all your random kitchen appliance and basket needs. Oh, and more beer and sausage, of course.

Want more info on the Altstadtfest? Course you do!

Altstadtfest Nürnberg (site only in German)

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Sunday Snapshots: Czech Out These Dogs

It’s been a good while since I used the horrible “czech out” pun so, there we go.

Once upon a time, way back in 2009 (I don’t know why I can’t stop rhyming today, sorry), some friends and I went on an adventure to go hiking outside the village of Karlštejn in the Czech Republic.

What we neglected to realize was that we were visiting there on the weekend of the local burčák festival. Germany-dwellers might know burčák better as Federweisser, or a very young wine that can only be drunk for a very short period of time, and is either relatively light, or completely lethal, alcohol-wise.

Long story short, this festival was total mayhem, yes we did hike a little bit, but of course we made our way back into the village to watch the Renn Faire glory and drink all kinds of delicious things. And, as I tend to do, I spotted a few furry friends that were worthy of attention. I love the dog that is basically drawing you into his booth to check out some sweet wigs, almost as much as I love the dog that is just having a grand ol’ time taking himself for a walk.

This was also the same trip where one of our friends touched a plant and had a very similar allergic reaction as Will Smith’s character did in the movie Hitch. Totally irrelevant to the dogs? Yes. Does it still make me laugh every time I think about it? Yes. She was perfectly fine after she got home and took some Benadryl (I’m not totally heartless), but watching all the burčák-drunk Czechs on the train trying to figure out if they were seeing what they thought they were seeing was hilaaaaaarious.

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Sunday Snapshots: Ze All-Night Party

Munich, 2011

Munich, 2011

Shhhh… do you hear that?

The Australians are coming…

Or at least, I assume so. That’s how you know that it’s almost Oktoberfest time. While I have no immediate plans to make the all-night party this year, this night was a damn good time. The fest this year will be from September 17th until October 3rd, so if you’re planning on going, you still have a few days to practice your Maß lifting techniques, or shop for that new Dirndl. And of course, don’t forget to perfect your “Sweet Caroline” sing-a-long skills. Enjoy!

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!

Grab Your Maß… and a Mop

This past weekend was the opening of yet another Oktoberfest. Last year, I was there on opening day, and some of you may recall my “before-and-after” pictures on Instagram. If not, here you go…

Because I wasn’t there, I only got to hear about the various shenanigans on the radio. On Saturday, the DJs were having an absolute field day making fun of the Munich mayor, who traditionally opens the fest by tapping the first keg in the Schottenhamel tent. What was so funny? Well apparently, the poor mayor took four whole hits to tap the keg. In his defense, he is a new mayor, and now I guess he knows to do some more arm exercises before the opening ceremony next year.

The radio wasn’t the only place where a few jokes were going around. BV’s university group has a ongoing group chat going, and they often send funny pictures and videos to each other. After the opening ceremony, this one got sent around, and I’d like to share it with you all as well. It’s in German, but you really don’t need to understand much here.

 

Where I’m from, we call that a party foul. As long as the mayor can avoid doing something like that, I think he’s doing okay.

As for me, I’m not planning on any serious festing this year… but that can always change. I may have to grab my Maß at some point in 2014. I just hope I can remember the words to “Sweet Caroline”…

Did you get to opening day?

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.