Hey everyone, it’s Will here writing about our adventures in Germany. We took a bus from Prague to Munich to get here, and we had an action packed week! Oktoberfest was a blast and getting down the the Alps twice was very nice (and surprisingly easy). The weather mostly cooperated with us and we’re glad we were able to have such a great time in Munich.
Munich made our travel list when I convinced Jenny that going to Oktoberfest is a must-do at least once in our lives. She took less convincing than our good friend Jay (who is living and working in London and has never been). So the three of us made plans to attend opening day of Oktoberfest in Munich on Saturday, September 19th. Surrounding the ‘fest were two trips to the Alps. Read on to find out how we did it all!
As I mentioned above we targeted opening day for our visit to Oktoberfest. On top of that, we targeted the main tent on opening day as well. Oktoberfest lasts for a couple weeks but it starts in the Schottenhammel tent on the first day at 12:00 sharp with the Mayor of Munich tapping the first barrel of beer. This isn’t a tap on a metal keg, mind you, it’s a wooden barrel that he must pound a tap into before the beer can flow. It’s mostly for show as the beers for the attendees come from other barrels, but it’s a fun way to kick things off no matter.
Getting into the tent
Jay and I donned our lederhosen before 7am, ate a quick breakfast, and walked our way to the ‘fest. We knew we had to be there early to queue up, and infact we would have been slightly late had Jenny not come in and saved the day. How did she do that? Well, as Jay and I were in line waiting patiently, almost to the front of the line that would get us into the tent, the line stops moving… We knew that once the tent was full they would stop letting people in, but we felt we got there early enough and it wouldn’t be a problem but it seemed like we were going to miss out. However, Jenny who was planning on joining us later after her morning workout, ran to meet us an hour later when the line started moving faster. We called her telling her to meet us in line earlier than expected and to follow our google map pin point drop texted to her. Instead of changing at the flat, she ran to the Schottenhammel tent with her drindel dress in a bag, went to the front of the line and asked a nice group of guys from Utah if she could get in with them (the google pin thought we were already inside) and was actually into the tent before Jay and I even though she left the flat over an hour later! Lucky she did that, because as she was inside I mentioned that the line stopped… no more people were getting into the tent because it was deemed ‘full’ by the staff. But, not to be denied, Jenny used her new Utah friend’s cell phone to call Jay, convince a security guard that she needed to let her husband and his friend in, and we ducked under the security tape to get into the tent. Wow, had we only known! Thanks again, Jenny!
Anticipation for the event to start
Once inside we scoured the giant tent (that holds 6,000 people) for an open table with limited hope for three seats. But, with our good looking and friendly female (Jenny) we scored seats with a really fun group of Australians and the wait was on. Like I mentioned earlier, the beer doesn’t start flowing on opening day until 12pm… and it was barely 9am. We passed the time by drinking water (yay), sharing stories and eating giant pretzels (all these pretzels are making me thirsty!). When the time finally came to watch the mayor we were all more than ready for a mass bier (a liter). The whole tent cheered when the tap went in, fireworks went off outside, the band started, and the beers starting flowing… finally! Finally… sort of. With 6,000 people all wanting the same thing (a beer) it actually took us another 45 minutes to get our first beer – and let me tell you the whole table was getting a little angsty waiting for that first beer. We learned that we should have worked with our waitress to pre-pay for our first round of beers like the table of veterans did next to us; that table made us so jealous as they drank!
With our table now served we put our tall glasses together for a hearty “Prost”! The beers were delicious, and Jenny even had a one saying “this really isn’t too bad” – she switched to drinking radlers (half lemonade, half beer) after almost entire first liter. During the ‘fest we were treated to lots of sing-alongs by the band, learned some German songs from people next to us, crashed our glasses together lots of times, and had a really fun time.
You can see us in our outfits, and we were so glad that we were able to dress up for the ‘fest; it wouldn’t have been the same if we were just in our same travel clothes. I was wearing a set of lederhosen that had actually been to about 12 days of Oktoberfest in the past. This was due to a big thanks to another friend who is living and working in Europe, Kirk (and his girlfriend), for let us borrow his gear! Not only were we lucky that they weren’t going this year, and that the clothes fit perfectly, but they recently moved to London so Jay was able to bring us the outfits! It worked out great and we are thankful to both Jay and Kirk for making it happen.
After about 4 liters of beer it was time to move on… or so said my better half! I’m glad she was there as she is able to ensure I stay on track (and healthier) much better than I, especially when it comes to drinking beer. I was getting pretty drunk by the end, but not over the top. We said our goodbyes to the table mates just when things were starting to get messy and left the tent. Thankfully it was still sunny outside (and I was still able to remember it, haha) so we decided against going on any of the rides and had a relaxing walk back to our flat*. What a fun event meeting new people, drinking excellent beer, and soaking up an amazing atmosphere. Will we go again? I hope so!
*I say “our flat” but really this was a flat that was the result of another huge favor by a friend and ex-coworker from Jama. Keith and his wife were actually out of the country (visiting California and Portland) during this time and they graciously offered to let us stay at their place for a week – thanks again! It truly felt like a home.
Two trips to the Alps
Prior to our visit to the ‘fest the three of us took the train down to Austria to do a 4 lake loop hike in the Alps. It was a great day for hiking, a little overcast but no rain which was lucky. As you can see from the pictures it was a beautiful region to be hiking in. A few things from the hike:
- The trail was 7 miles with a slight elevation gain/loss and took us past 4 lakes
- Not much wildlife to speak of (disappointing) as a result we counted the few slugs, dead toads, dogs and people as wildlife 🙂
- It was great to get away from the crowds of Munich before Oktoberfest’s massive crowds and enjoy the peace and quiet of the outdoors
- We ended up on a couple of private property roads – no problems just felt a little uneasy at times
- The lakes were beautiful and if it was a warmer day we definitely would have been swimming
- We went up into a cool hunting blind structure
- Schnapps definitely makes the hike better
- And finally, it was neat to hike to the border of Austria and Germany
Hiking to the Kings House on Schachen
For our wedding anniversary I organized a trip down to a neat little town (or two towns, really), Garmish-Partenkushin, which is south of Munich and boarders the Alps. The hike I wanted us to do was about 3.5 hours up, and 3 down. I may or may not have told Jenny it was only a 12k hike (oops, that was one way, the short way), but we ended up doing about 26k or ~17 miles on our anniversary! After all, we live adventure! While I thought it was awesome, it took a little additional convincing for Jenny.
Prior to starting the real ascent up into the forest and up the mountainside we first had to walk through a pretty amazing gorge. It’s bright blue, rushing water, high walls, carved out walkways made for a really neat beginning to the hike. The sun was shining on the trees growing on top and as we looked up we could see additional springs pouring over the side as little waterfalls. One through we started into the forest and up about a million steps.
As I mentioned earlier, Jenny took a little convincing to realize that the hike was awesome… once we made it to the top the views, peacefulness and sense of achievement made it all worth it (right Jenny?). Upon making it to the Kings House we ate a quick lunch and then I decided that the view wasn’t quite good enough and that hiking up a little more would yield better views. I didn’t force Jenny to come, but she said something like “I know I don’t have to come, but I am going to anyway. What’s another mile after 8 already!” And so we headed up further for some amazing views and to break away from the crowds at the cafe hut. Although our legs were in disagreement, we were both glad we did the extra section and at a height of 2,222m on our 2nd wedding anniversary, it just seemed like a fitting place to stop and turn around.
Overall we had amazing hiking conditions. A full day of sunshine, little to no wind, not many people on the path, fantastic views and a really well maintained path. As we walked through town on the way back to our hotel we were able to catch the sunset on the mountain tops that we were so close to just a few hours ago. A great way to end a day celebrating our marriage.
Also in Munich…
- We loved running throughout the huge English Garden that is bigger than NY Central Park. We saw the urban surfers!
- We visited the Tower and the Glockenspiel
- The Hofbrauhaus beir house that is one of the oldest most famous in Germany and was originally founded as the brewery to the old Royal Residence in the 16th century.
- We did a shopping day to buy new running shoes (we wore holes in our last ones!)
I finished up this post on a rooftop in Kathmandu, Nepal where we are now. But before we tell you all about that, Jenny is writing up our adventures in Egypt! We are very lucky to be traveling like we are and having this much fun.
Stay tuned, and keep adventuring,
Will and Jenny