01 October 2009

Oktoberfest in Munich

View from Sankt Peter's belltower, overlooking the 
Cathedral and the Glockenspiel

The Glockenspiel at Marienplatz

Theatinerkirche or St. Kajetan, a baroque church at Odeonsplatz

Hohenschwangau Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Enjoying the view of Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle courtyard

Bavarian Wilderness

Sankt Peter

Oktoberfest Beer Tent

Oktoberfest Beer Tent madness

Oktoberfest Beer Tent

The best of Bavarian cuisine

Schottenhamel, supposedly the best beer tent at Oktoberfest

Inside Schottenhamel beer tent

The group!!!

My first European holiday since landing a job in France, and I haven't even started working yet! I just returned from Munich Germany with several fellow American language assistants from towns neighboring Metz, and the series of events over the past few days are so action packed that they're a blur! 

Overall it was a fantastic time, although I had a few unintentional pitfalls (getting kicked out of a Biergarten by a scary German cop who I could have sworn was going to arrest me... don't ask! Well, if you MUST know, I stupidly picked up someone's half empty stein, and set it down when I realized my mistake, but the cop thought I had drank half the beverage and tried to set it down discreetly without paying for it. I was physically escorted out, and made to pay a 7 euro fine! It was quite traumatic! My last day in Munich, I was nearly thrown off the train for stretching my legs onto the empty street in front of me, a big no-no, apparently.  The controller screamed at me, and although I apologized profusely and told him I didn't understand German, he continued to rant, making a motion like he was going to strike my feet with his ticket machine, even lifting his leg and shoving his shoe in my face to illustrate his point! Both experiences were results of unintentional, albeit stupid mistakes on my part, and one good thing about me is that I NEVER make the same mistake twice, so at least I know I can never get in trouble again for those gaffes.) 

Despite these experiences, I thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of Munich, and marveled at how precisely the city was rebuilt after being over 85% destroyed by WWII bombing.  Sightseeing highlights included a free three hour walking tour of Munich, the Glockenspiel, the Cathedral Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), climbing the bell tower of Sankt Peter for a fantastic view of the city, Nymphenburg Palace, the Englicher Garten (a 900 acre park that apparently permits nude sunbathing on Sundays, as we were surprised to discover) a gorgeous outdoor market selling fresh produce, flowers, and gifts, and of course, Oktoberfest itself! We also took a day trip to the whimsical Neuschwanstein Castle (which inspired Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland). Although the trip to the castle was severely delayed due to various train issues, I adored the picturesque German alps, quaint villages straight from a fairy tale, and the sheer magic of the history of King Lugwig II, his mysterious death, and the legacy of his castle. It's definitely topped my list of castles so far.

The German people overall are very friendly. At the beginning of our trip, we were wandering the suburbs of Munich looking for the house we would be renting.  A woman pulled over to help us, and when the language barrier proved to be too much, she hailed another driver (who spoke English) to pull over and help us.  This girl, Sylvia, proceeded to ring doorbells and ask passers-by if they knew where our address was.  This lasted probably half an hour, and we were completely grateful to her kindness. 

The landlord of our rental house, Klaus, was a magical creature indeed.  While we waited for the previous guests to vacate our rental house, he welcomed us with a charming German breakfast complete with bread, cheeses, cold meats, Christmas cake, and coffee.  His home was adorned with his hand crafted mosaics, inspired by Gaudi, and surrounded by fragrant pear trees and gardens.  Even his little dog was perfect.  He was so helpful, giving us tips about the best times to go to Oktoberfest, free tickets to Neuschwanstein Castle, taking a sick girl in our group to the pharmacy, and the list goes on.

In the tents at Oktoberfest, the Germans were festively dressed in lederhosen and dirndls, no matter what their age!  It's quite adorable! They were very receptive when a few of us joined a table in a tent, welcoming us to dance on the table with them, singing German drinking songs, and toasting. The live music played a mixture of traditional German songs and modern pop music, but it seems that every other song was a repeat of an anthem commanding one and all to raise their glasses and drink! Every time it played, everyone stood, raising their glasses, swaying ceremoniously. The name of the song escapes me, but melody endures in my head. The beer was delicious, as were the pretzels, pastries, and brats.  

There were eight of us in the group, and while we split up at certain times, we managed to stay together a good portion of the time too, which ended up being the perfect mix.  The night train from Munich returned me to Metz at 6am, after which I proceeded to crash until noon.  It's so good to be back in France... 

1 comment:

  1. I love reading your blog, Jamie! You know, you're going to have to write a book when you return.

    I look forward to checkin in here every day! Love you!


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