Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nate Comes to Visit! aka A Trip to Oktoberfest

I apologize, first and foremost, for my perfidy in not updating in over a week now. Best intentions aside, things....got in the way. Such is life. But here I am, back with more German tales! 

Most recent piece of news is that my boyfriend, Nate (who most of you know is currently living in Sofia, Bulgaria studying on a Fulbright scholarship), came over to visit for the weekend (that being Saturday through Tuesday). This being the first time we'd seen each other in just shy of two months, it was truly a fantastic weekend with lots of sightseeing and fatty food and tourist-y-ness and really just a lot of fun. We did, of course, drink plenty of (read: too much) beer, including a trip to Oktoberfest (that deserves its own paragraph), have a lot of good food, and made the most out of his three-day trip. A few highlights include:

Watching the surfers in the Eisbach of the Isar River in the English Gardens

Visiting the Chinesischer Turm biergarten in the English Gardens. (Though we got our beers elsewhere to avoid the incredible lines and jacked-up prices.)
Actually getting beers at one of my favorite cafes Augustiner am Dom, right next to the enormous Frauenkirche
A comment in regards to that last photo: German pretzels (Brezen) are some of the most delicious things known to man, and taste even better when dipped in senf (mustard), preferably spicy honey-mustard. Also, this cafe is wonderful for keeping prices down. Though the beer's 4 for half a liter, the side dishes are quite generous and cheap!

Also, German restaurants are super sneaky and trick you into eating their bread. Not at like a nice restaurant, per se, but relaxed outdoor cafes like this one put a basket of rolls and pretzels on the table, chuckle snidely as they watch unassuming Americans used to gratis bread chow mindlessly away, and then when it's time for the check, charge them per piece of bread consumed. It's not cool. Fortunately I was forewarned as to this concept, so our pretzel consumption was with the knowledge we'd be forced to pay. 

Paid a visit to the beautiful Frauenkirche in downtown Munich

More Frauenkirche

And of course, a traditionally tourist-y picture in front of the Rathaus (City Hall) in Marienplatz. (Sorry Nate, disgusting to put this up, I know.)


I contemplated making this its own entry, but that just seemed like too much work and I don't have that many stories, so bear with me on the length of this blog and take it as my apology for not writing for a week! If you'd rather hear some more mundane stories, skip down a few paragraphs.

Nate and I headed out to Oktoberfest on Sunday night, not really knowing what to expect. The trains have been full of people in Tracht (dirndls and lederhosen) since the fest began, but actually seeing the festival itself was something else. The subway takes you right to Theresienwiese, the huge meadow where the festival takes place. We arrived at about 8 PM, so it wasn't terribly packed, but there were definitely a LOT of people, mostly wearing aforementioned traditional clothing. It really is a lot like a huge state fair; there are rides everywhere, from bumper cars to swings to terrible swinging rolling dizzying rides that seem like a terrible idea at a festival dedicated to beer. There are haunted houses, magic shows, and food EVERYWHERE, from pretzels to rolls to grilled corn to huge hunks of meat. The highlights of the fest are the tents. These are where the magic really happens. 

For beer to be served at the fest, it has to be brewed within the Munich city limits, so there are only a few types of beer that can be found, and each tent only serves one kind. (These include Augustiner, Spaten, Paulaner, Hofbräu, Löwenbrau.) There are fourteen of the big tents at the fest, and each can hold about 5,000 people. To throw some Wikipedia statistics at you, just for the heck of it, last year at Oktoberfest there were 6.4 million visitors who consumed 7.1 million liters of beer, 522,000 chickens, 104 oxen, and leave behind about 1,000 tons of trash. Delicious. You can also only get a liter of beer (called a Maß), so no being a wimp! This liter costs about nine euro at any tent you'll go to. 

We had basically no foreknowledge of this going in, so it was all really confusing. Having been given the heads-up that none of the tents were full and which were supposedly the best, we headed first to the Hippodrome, which is by far the most popular. With no seats to be found and drunken people screaming everywhere, as well as a loud band playing traditional music and waiters and waitresses who'd smash into you with their platters and steins if you stopped moving, we left, bewildered, in search of something we understood. We walked around the Fischer Kroni tent, realizing upon entrance that the name comes from the fact that the only food they serve there is fish, and boy does it smell like it. We finally made it to the Armbrustschützenzelt, one of the huge Paulaner tents, and found a seat outdoors in the smoking section.  We got our hands on a beer apiece and sat awkwardly for awhile amidst hordes of--pardon my obscenity--utterly shitfaced people. We managed to befriend some Australians for a bit, then headed off in search of something else. At the Augustiner tent we got a liter between us, chatted with a German couple sitting with us, then were told the tent was closing and to get out. (The fest closes at 10 PM; seems ridiculous, but it also opens at 9 AM....) Our new friends told us they know of a tent that stayed open later, and we managed to get into the Käfer beer garden, apparently one of the most exclusive places at the fest. The place was utterly packed with people, but we found a table and drank...enough beer, certainly. A couple photos:

Inside the Augustiner tent

Nate with our German buddy at the Käfer tent

Augustiner tent. We're actually standing on a table post some song everyone stood up for. No idea what.

Finally left the fest at about 12:30. By the time we realized we were lost and took a cab to the train station, it was past the time when the subways run, so we took another cab to another train station to catch the bus. Unfortunately for us we missed the night bus by literally one minute, and those only come once an hour, so we shivered in the cold until 2:57, when we finally got a bus back to my house and stumbled home. Quite a night.

End Oktoberfest//

We also spent some time with the kids. Anne gave me as much time off as she could, so yesterday all we had to do was pick Kilian up from his playgroup, take him to tennis, then entertain Cliona for about an hour. Despite way too much walking, the day was beautiful and it was a peaceful afternoon. Kilian started out being very suspicious of the idea of Nate (he doesn't understand what a boyfriend is and generally thinks I'm being very selfish to only have one; he has lots, why don't I?), but warmed to him instantly and had a lot of fun talking about Porsches and Audis with him.

Nate headed back to Bulgaria at 5 PM this afternoon (and is in the air as I write, I hope), so naturally the rest of the day was a bit mopey. After quite some excitement with getting him headed off (to make a long story short, after he barely made it on the train to the airport we realized I was carrying one of his backpacks...a train station rendezvous and two missed shuttles later, he was finally on his way. Having not talked to him yet, I'm going to feel like a total idiot if he did end up missing his flight, so fingers crossed!) I'm awful at goodbyes in the best of situations, and though we've been doing a lot of goodbye-ing lately, it really never gets any easier for me. I'm eating a chocolate bar right now though, and that's helping.

Picked the kids up from school and talked them into going to the grocery store so we could make a fruit salad for dinner. Unfortunately for me, Cliona's (probably) getting her last molars in, so she screamed pretty much non-stop from the time I picked her up until the time she went to bed. She ate maybe a bite of her dinner and threw most of her fruit on the floor, howling the entire time. I was so not in the mood today. Fortunately her father came home, packed her sobbing self off to bed an hour early, and I could relax, which consists of watching Simsala Grimm with Kilian sitting on my lap (an animated kids fairy-tale show) and then sneaking off to my basement room to contemplate the rest of my week. 

Other stuff has been pretty low-key. Managed to set up my checking account Monday morning (with a rather hungover banking representative who typed everything wrong and said "Oops-a-la! Ugh...Montag" when she noticed). Plan for tomorrow is to get signed up for a language course, hopefully starting next week! 

I'll leave you with a photo of the kids from the park last week. They are incredible goofs, basically.

1 comment:

  1. Vati hier: Du hast das Oktoberfest so gut beschrieben, dass ich noch ein Bier schmecken muss. Das Bild des geheimnisen Festes sieht wie meine Religion aus. Ich freue mich ueber deine Zeit zusammen mit dem Nate. Im Bild seht ihr so glueklich aus! Du bist meine Tochter, die ich liebe!