Tag Archives: Bavaria

Beautiful Bavaria

So far, Oktoberfest has been really fun (when you throw in lots of beer, anything can be fun). Before my third and final day attending the festivities, Miriam wanted to show me around not just Munich, but Bavaria as a whole. Of course Bavaria is too big to show in just a couple of days so she took me to a spot where I oughta see. I have a soft spot for giant castles, so she took me to one called the Schloss Neuschwanstein. It’s presumedly the castle Disney used as inspiration to make their castle in Disney World.

The drive was two hours. By the way, I am not a great person to have with on long car rides. If I’m not the one driving, I tend to fall asleep almost instantly. Most of it has to do with the motion sickness tablets; one of its side effects is drowsiness. I wish there were some tablets that didn’t make me want to sleep! Anyways, we made it to the castle grounds relatively early, by the suggestion of Miriam’s father. If we didn’t get there early, we’d be swarmed with iPad welding tourists! Those guys are bananas.

We purchased our tickets for entrance into the castle and made a short hike to the castles base. This castle was ginormous! Probably the biggest castle I have ever been to and I’ve been to quite a few!

IMG_2775.JPG

IMG_2763.JPG

IMG_2764.JPG

We had an early tour group and in great timing too because gangs of fanny packs and iPads starting showing up in hoards. If you’ve been a regular follower of my blog, then you’d know that guided tours bore me to the brink of death. This tour was no exception. Of course the inside of the castle was cool looking and all, but our prude tour guide wouldn’t let anyone talk nor take photos nor touch anything nor barely breath. Normally when places warn us we aren’t allowed to take photos, I’ll try to sneak some anyways, but I wasn’t inspired to sneak some snaps here at all. We did have a pretty sweet view of one of the lakes below from the castles balcony.

IMG_2765.JPG

The castle belonged to a guy called King Ludwig II. Based on what I found out about him, he was a swan loving introverted, nocturnal human being. He didn’t like having company over, he had an entire room dedicated to swans, and he slept mostly during the daytime and was active during nightfall. One of his bedrooms was also a dining room…for himself! What a character this guy was.

If you ever go to Schloss Neuschwanstein, skip the overpriced tour…trust me. The real magic is outside of the castle and is completely free! Once the tour was over, Miriam and I walked over to a bridge overlooking the castle. What an amazing view!

IMG_2766.JPG

From there a trail led on to the tops of the mountain nearby. A trail designed for fanny packs and iPads.

“We’d get to the top so much faster if we cross these barriers”, I told Miriam.

The barriers were placed with signs in German that read something the lines of “Danger! Do not cross!” Something like that? We crossed anyway.

IMG_2772.JPG

IMG_2771.JPG

And yes I was correct, we ascended so much faster than if we took the safe path provided for us. I was glad that Miriam was game for a little rule breaking. We eventually reached a point where there wasn’t anyone around. We certainly were off the marked path. We continued on anyways. The unbeaten path was not dangerous at all so no worries. We made it to as about as high as we could and we were the only ones. There were people way down below looking at us probably thinking “How’d they get way up there?” We had awesome views of the castle and everything surrounding it!

IMG_2769.JPG

IMG_2768.JPG

We also had a view of this…

IMG_2773.JPG

I’m glad we were able to avoid that mess on that bridge. It was clogged with tourists! We were safe in the tranquility of the mountain top, completely solitary from the wake of the masses below. This place was great and the scenery was surreal. Whenever I see places like this, I really have to take a moment and soak it all in otherwise it doesn’t feel like I was really there.

IMG_2770.JPG

On our way back, we went down the same way we came up. It shaved off plenty of time and wasn’t difficult at all. If you ever decide to visit the castle, skip the overpriced tour and hike around the castle. Break the barriers and take the unbeaten path. It wasn’t dangerous whatsoever. Those signs were designed for all the fanny packs and iPads that visit in the busloads. As for the castle itself, if you want to know about it and its king, go to Wikipedia. It’s far more entertaining.

We went over to the lake we saw from the top and actually went right up to it. This had to be one of the clearest, calmest lakes I’ve ever seen. The lake cast a perfect reflection of the woods and sky above. If I were a duck, this is where I would want to live.

IMG_2774.JPG

We were growing hungry so we left the castle grounds and drove over more to a restaurant near the countryside. The food in Germany has been great so far! I’ve never had so much bread in my life though. Seriously, so much bread. But it was so good, I didn’t mind it at all!

Thank you Miriam for showing me that place! It was pretty cool. That trip was the perfect way to relax before my final day in Oktoberfest and my final day in Germany for that matter.

Day Three

Day three in Oktoberfest was destined to be the best one yet! Why? Because Björn was coming down to Munich for a visit and this would be the first time the three of us (Kevin, Björn, and myself) have been together since we parted ways in Cambodia last year. This time we decided to go to the Hacker tent, one of the most popular tents. Miriam and I arrived around 11am and joined Björn and a couple of his friends. Later on, a few people we met earlier and then Kevin, Nicole, and Guiren joined in! It was great!

IMG_5381.JPG

By this time I knew the words to a couple of songs and I knew the proper “la la la’s” to the songs they sing “la la la” to. I also wanted to beat my four liter mark I hit previously, so then I went bananas on the beer. It was my last time in Oktoberfest with some cool German friends, so I wanted to live it up!

IMG_5382.JPG

IMG_5385.JPG

IMG_5389.JPG

Time flew by and the rip I accidentally made in the crotch of my Lederhosen grew a little bigger, my wallet was getting lighter, and more random strangers were squeezing at our table. We had a great spot too, right next to the German band!

It was almost closing time. I was able to manage five and a half liters of beer. Surprisingly I wasn’t hurting at all. The only thing hurting was my wallet. That’s a little more than 60 Euros down the drain. I budgeted for Oktoberfest and actually spent way less than what I initially thought. I had free accommodation thanks to my incredible German friends, I had a free Lederhosen thanks to Miriam, and I didn’t have to reserve any tables or anything because we joined in with friends who already held tables for us. I was completely spoiled here and extremely fortunate. Most travelers who come specifically for Oktoberfest pay boatloads for accommodation and proper attire.

IMG_5384.JPG

IMG_5386.JPG

I can now officially mark off task #16 on my ATLAS (Attend Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany).

ATLAS UPDATED!

With that, my trail through Germany is complete. I’ve had a heck of a great time visiting friends I have met from all over the world. From Hamburg of the north to Munich in the south, Germany has been most welcoming. I said farewell see you later to Björn, Kevin, and Miriam once again.

My next and last stop in Europe is up next and that’s just a two hour bus ride down below to Austria!

Advertisements

The Prost With The Most: Oktoberfest!

I don’t consider myself a big beer drinker. Then I spent three months in Southeast Asia and everything changed. It’s hard to pass up pints of beers that cost half of a dollar. From then on my palette grew. I actually preferred an ice cold brew over mostly anything else, however I still didn’t consider myself a regular beer drinker (compared to everyone else I know). Knowing well in advance that I would be attending Oktoberfest this year gave me plenty of time to step up my drinking game. Germans are known around the world for their beer and they’re also known to be able to handle an insane amount of it. I couldn’t go there in the current state of condition I was in, so I had to train myself. Whenever I went out, instead of my usual white russians or captain & cokes, I would order a beer and beer only. Progressively and slowly I would work my way up (responsibly of course). I wasn’t sure what types of beer they had in Munich so I tried a wide variety: ales, wheats, stouts, lagers, blondes, darks, lights, low alcohol content, high alcohol content, you name it. It wasn’t until the beer crawl in San Diego and then Europe when I really started to go beer crazy. It’s not a myth; it’s true what they say about Europeans and booze–they really can drink up a storm! Americans can too but I think the biggest difference here is that generally the Euros can handle it better. This also explains why I have been slacking on keeping up with my blog posts. There were many nights and morning-afters where I just…couldn’t. I’m just doing what the Europeans do! And that was the perfect training I needed leading up to the ultimate goal I had for Germany and that is Oktoberfest!

IMG_2762.JPG

After a brief meeting with fellow Full Moon party buddy Daniel, I took a seven-hour bus journey from Berlin to Munich. It was nightfall by the time I arrived so I couldn’t really see much of the city. Though I did see Kevin waiting for me at the bus station. Do you remember Kevin? I met him, along with Björn, in Thailand.

IMG_5581.JPG
Me and Kevin in Pai, Thailand back in August 2013.

He comprises a quarter of the Pai Guys! Björn, Viola, and myself make up the rest of the group. It’s always a great feeling meeting up with travelers I met previously. Usually when foreign travelers meet for the first time, it ends up being the last time. I’ve been breaking that rule all over Europe!

Kevin guided me to his flat which is about a five minutes walk from the center of Oktoberfest. He had the prime location! There he made us homemade schnitzel and we reminisced about our previous travels through Thailand and Cambodia. I also met his roommate Guiren, who was also keen about the festivities going on. I would only be staying with Kevin for the night. Tomorrow morning, Kevin, his girlfriend Nicole, Guiren, and I would take a quick train to my friend who lives just a few stations away. And that friend is a person I met in South Africa by the name of Miriam.

IMG_5580.JPG
Miriam and I in Kayamandi, South Africa in November 2013.

I met Miriam last September in South Africa. I didn’t volunteer with her nor did she live with me in Kayamandi. I met her through Hanneke and Mieke. They all worked together. Miriam was the only one of all of us who had a car there and she was kind enough to drive us everywhere! Today all of us, including Miriam, would be attending Oktoberfest! But first, Miriam invited us to her place for a traditional Bavarian breakfast.

IMG_5132.JPG

IMG_5130.JPG

For Oktoberfest, it’s proper to wear a Lederhosen (a Dirndl for the ladies). It’s typical Bavarian clothing they usually wore back in the day and it costs loads to get one! Thankfully, Miriam had one prepared for me. It was her dads and since he wasn’t going to be wearing it this year, she thought it would be perfect for me. It was a tad tight, but it did the trick! We were on our way!

IMG_5135.JPG

Day One

Here’s my prior knowledge of Octoberfest: I know there are tents where you sit and drink beer, there are some carnival rides, and lots of tourists. Upon entering the epicenter of Oktoberfest, I found that it resembled a very large carnival bursting with all sorts of fun. There were loads of rides, skill games, food stalls, and people everywhere dressed in typical Bavarian wardrobe. The beer tents were not actual tents, but instead buildings about the size of a gymnasium, each with a unique name, featuring a unique beer, usually harboring a specific demographic of beer drinking enthusiasts. The place was packed! It was the weekend after all, meaning it would be busier than the rest of the week.

IMG_5138.JPG

IMG_5142.JPG

IMG_5151.JPG

We made way to one of the beer tents called Schottenhammel. We met a few of Miriams friends who already held a table and joined them in the midst of everything. There was no sitting. We stood the entire time on top of the benches. I ordered my first liter of Bavarian beer and within minutes I was able to join the rest of the table. Prost! It means “cheers” in German.

IMG_5189.JPG

IMG_5383.JPG

Every couple of minutes, the live band in the middle of the tent would play a song that the crowd would sing to. A lot of the songs were in German, so even though I didn’t know the words to anything, I found that saying “Blah Blah Blah” in a melodic fashion did the trick. One song they played the most often was called “Ein Prosit” a popular prost, toast, and drink kind of song.

IMG_5392.JPG

IMG_5193.JPG

Within hours we were all tuned into liters of beer. I was able to keep up with my German comrades mostly because if I didn’t drink fast enough, my beer would get warm and nobody likes room temperature beer. Kevin told me I should slow down and take my time. I knew he was right but I was in such an energetic atmosphere and whenever someone went “Prost!”, you kinda had to drink!

IMG_5393.JPG

IMG_5391.JPG

By the time I finished my fourth liter, I decided to stop. It was still relatively early and I had two more days of Oktoberfest to go! Plus these liters weren’t cheap. Ten Euros a piece! Do I look like I’m made out of money? We stayed at the tent until closing time at 11pm but it didn’t feel that long. Throughout the night I would leave the tent to go find some bratwurst from the food stalls. The price of the food in Oktoberfest is nuts and even more so inside the actual tent! But whenever I came back, I always managed to squeeze myself back into the table of drunk Germans and foreign tourists alike. By the end of the night, everyone was all over the place. There were mugs shattered everywhere and masses of beer being sloshed and splashed amongst everyone!

IMG_5203.JPG

IMG_5202.JPG

IMG_5208.JPG

IMG_5160.JPG

Miriam and I decided we’d go again the next day but in a new tent!

Day Two: Prost Dos!

I woke up the next day thinking, I do not want to go back today! Thankfully, Miriam agreed and we decided to give ourselves a day to recover. I woke up feeling like all of the moisture in my mouth evaporated while I was asleep and my head was buzzing. We went the next day though, a little bit earlier and to a tent called Bräurosl. Here we met up with our friend Max who we also met in South Africa.

IMG_5582.JPG

This tent was a little different from the previous one. The tables were a little smaller and there were guys standing on the tables whipping their whips along to the music the band played. It was actually pretty neat.

IMG_5279.JPG

IMG_5268.JPG

Other than that, it was more of the same and that’s a good thing! By this time, I had the Ein Prosit song down! Everyone liked this tent better but I preferred the Schottenhammel tent, but thats just being nitpicky. We didn’t stay too long this time because we had plans to explore the city some more later on. But we would come back to Oktoberfest once more where I wanted to go out with a bang!

IMG_5190.JPG