Although I celebrated my new favorite holiday, Oktoberfest, a few weeks ago, it’s just now that I’ve collected decent pictures from the classy event because someone (ahem. Juli.) happened to lose her camera that contained the most German-fabulous pictures. Wonder how that happened…Oh well, we’ll just have to go again next year.
Oktoberfest may be one of the most kitschy, hyped-up international festivals, but I FREAKIN’ LOVED IT! A weekend at this Bavarian beer-fest far exceeded my expectations of, well, just beer. While there was beer aplenty, (a-excess, to be more accurate), the festival grounds were full of families with lederhosen-ed tots, beer-loving seniors, (Papa, let’s go next year? An elder-hostel excursion! Your favorites: beer and pretzels, and all to to your heart’s desire!), and enthusiastic partiers from all over the world. We made more than just beer-goggled drinking buddies–people were so excited to be a part of such a global guzzle-fest that great conversations were spontaneous, singing and dancing was wholehearted, and meeting friends of mutual friends was all too common because virtually all of America’s junior college class abroad is in Europe, attending the ultimate college beer party.
A party it certainly was, but our “accommodations” were anything but. Camping out in the nearby Campingplatz among emerald trees and fields was a beautiful, economical, and undoubtedly more exciting choice than a hostel. Camping always beats a hotel room for me, but it just so happened that rain poured just as much as the beer did that weekend. It suffices to say that the tents may have been water-resistant at some point, our lack of sleeping bags and pads was idiotic, and beer-drenched clothing didn’t help ward off the cold. Thank the beer Gods that I packed my Bogner down-vest, not only for its German heritage, but because temps dropped to a brisk 36°C. Freezeyourbuttoff-schnell! Regardless, we went to bed with smiles frozen to our faces every night. Literally, frozen.
Before heading to our campsite after flying into the spectacular Munich airport, we hopped off the train in central Munich to explore a bit. Five minutes passed, and we couldn’t stop expressing our love for Germany. Beautiful baroque buildings, ornate churches, genial people (ok, maybe it’s just the beer), and a constant waft of something buttery baking nearby instantly secured our love for this modern, yet romantically traditional, city. I felt much more at ease while wandering through Munich–I’m not going to attribute that to the camouflage of blonde hair (as opposed to anomaly in Barcelona), but I wasn’t getting the normal curious looks that I do in Spain. Which blatantly say, “Hi, American” (euphemistically, of course). Munich was so international that tourists didn’t seem like such, other than big camera straps and backpacks. Don’t get me wrong, I love Barcelona, but Munich was such an unexpectedly inviting city.
Our last day in Germany was also spent exploring the city of Munich rather than the tables of the beer tents, and I visited far too many churches to remember their names (except I knew they were of some cultural importance from a past architecture class), the 1972 Olympic Park, the BMW Welt, strolled the streets of Marienplatz city center, and stormed more than a few grocery stores to stock up on German chocolate. The fantastic underground and many walking streets made the city easily navigable, and although we saw much of the city, I’d love to go back again and see more of Munich as well as pretty much everything else in Germany. The streets were full of traditional architectural masterpieces, but interspersed with über-modern achievements like the BMW Headquarters and the steel-cobweb-like structures of the Olympic Park.
And now for some beer-ology:
Especially during Oktoberfest, streets and storefronts are bedecked with traditional cookies and costumes, but the modernity of Munich is always apparent…I mean, their beer production alone is impressive. By the numbers (yes this is the research I perform during class):
1,300 breweries in Germany
5,000 brands of beer
494 years of German breweries’ strict adherence to Reinheitsgebot (“purity order”), according to which the only allowed ingredients of beer are water, hops, and barley-malt
>6,900,000 liters of beer are served every year at Oktoberfest…!!!
115.8 liters of beer consumed annually, per capita (beer belly much?!)
So I loved Germany, but alas, I will never be considered a true German as I don’t think I can measure up to 3-digit consumption of liters. One can always dream…