Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Field Trip: Munich, Germany & Oktoberfest

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The first 24 hours in Munich I kept wondering how we could have paid so much money and then not even felt like we were on vacation.  We were renting an apartment so there was no concierge or people trained in English and willing to help you.  Plus, despite what every travel guide about Oktoberfest tells you, the people of Munich do NOT universally speak English.  It IS hard to figure out what they are trying to say, and, the food is completely unlike the "German food" we eat at home.

The first 24 hours, I ate a lot of pretzels.  Don't get me wrong, I love pretzels.  But eventually you want some real food.  Luckily, John was all about the 1-meter long bratwursts at Oktoberfest and so I ate a lot of bratwurst!  Within 48 hours, though, I felt like we had gotten the hang of living.  We took the metro, tried different foods, and ate...a lot!  
 
We took a nice walking tour around Munich Center and stopped in a local restaurant for lunch the 2nd day.  The waiter was horrified when John ordered a half-liter of beer (that is for women, he said) and even more shocked when I ordered a Coca-Cola Light (that is for the children, he said).  When Coke is the same price as beer, you do feel sort of silly ordering it.  But, enough is enough on the beer front already! 
 
 That night we were able to get into one of the famed Oktoberfest beer tents and enjoy the festivities like the locals.  We had a pretzel the size of my face and a cheeseplate that some Germans recommended.  We drank a LOT of beer.  We sat with a group filled with different nationalities but the overwhelming one German.  There was a bunch of guys and one other girl and they easily made us feel completely welcome and authentic.  Before you can say "oompa" I was dancing up on the tables, singing German songs (apparently German is learned by downing 2 large beers), and generally having a completely wonderful time. 
 
The tent was nothing like I expected.  The entire time we were there (over 5 hours) there was only one fight where I saw security come and take people away.  People were very tipsy, and happy, but there weren't many who I would say were incredibly inebriated.  
 Next to us, a young girl (must have been 18...maybe) was there with her 2 parents and a boy met her there.  They sat and drank beer with her family like it was nothing.  Talk about a first date!!  The people watching rivaled the dancing, for sure!  To say we had a good time listening to the oompa band and dancing on the chairs is a complete understatement.  To say I felt tired the next day is even more of one.
 
But alas, the journey must go on.  We took the metro north to the BMW plant for a tour.  This was one of John's essential parts of visiting Germany and I was glad I booked that tour in advance - it was full that day!  We were stupid and decided not to switch lines.  I printed out the walk (1 mile) from the subway line we were on. 
 
 It was a long, hot, miserable walk where everything was (duh) in German and we couldn't find the right way.  Luckily I had printed out a map of the facility to we got there...eventually.  We had left plenty of time so we got there with about 40 minutes to spare.  I wish we could have taken pictures but they wouldn't allow it due to confidentiality.  The cool thing was they are so squeezed on space that all of the machines are built for them and their space requirements.  This means you see machines going under and over steel beams or other machines quickly with large pieces of car equipment.  It was just like Transformers!!

On the last night, we went to Haxenbrau, recommended from John's brother and sister-in-law who are truly seasoned travelers.  It's a traditional German restaurant with pig knuckles roasting in the window.  We couldn't pass up the chance to have one so we ordered that in addition to some weinerschnitzel (sorry - veinerschnitzel).  It was so delicious and tender.  The knuckle meat fell off the bone and the "veinerschnitzel" was pretty much everything that could go right with food.  

We also ate a lot of pastries!  Who knew Germans would have such delicious sweets.  I had naively thought we'd have to wait until Paris.  Nope, we ate doughnuts, delicious doughnuts, gelatos, and lots of cakes and tarts.  We had lingonberries for the first time and ate those by the handful (making tart pucker faces all the way).  Best of all, we were able to get past the language barrier, the tourist barrier, we were able to make real connections, see how Germans live, and enjoy being so removed from our normal life.  We learned so much about another country (and you'll find this trend continue in Paris) and ourselves and how much we could do that is was overwhelming, inspiring, life-changing, and most all, really fun.  We want to go back...I'm saving my pennies.



6 comments:

  1. Oh I'm so glad that you had such a wonderful time. I love Germany but have never been there for Oktoberfest. Your post has made me hungry for brats now. Mmmm, I feel a German night coming on.

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    1. Thanks Karen - I should have asked you for some traveling advice :) German night is a must. John has been craving bratwurst again (I try and explain how if we ate them all the time, we'd have a serious problem)!

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  2. I read this post like 3 times since you posted it! I want one of those head-sized pretzels heehee! I'm glad you had a good time! Can't wait to hear about the rest of your vacation!

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    Replies
    1. Reeni - everyone needs one of those head-sized pretzels!!! I had wanted one so bad and all I kept saying to John was "you have to take a picture of me with a pretzel the size of my head" "when we get a pretzel the size of my head..." He was like enough already! Here is your pretzel and your picture. Let me drink my beer in peace woman!!

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  3. What a great trip -- perfect time of year to visit Germany!

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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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