Friday, October 10, 2008

Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany!

Pictures (in order from top to bottom):
1. Seeing Scotty when we got off the train! We were so happy to find him!
2. Crazy German words
3. Arriving at Oktoberfest
4. The tent we were in
5. My arms fit through the handles! That's how big they are!
6. Entrance to the main shopping strip
7. St. Peter's church (the reason KY has a Hofbrauhaus)
8. Memorial at Dachau, the concentration camp
9. Ferris Wheel at night
10. Picture of Oktoberfest from top of ferris wheel
11. Scott, Karen, and I at Oktoberfest
12. Going into Hofbrauhaus!
13. Beer and menu at HB
14. Traditional German menu at Ratskeller
15. Beds on the train home
16. My reaction to mom's box
17. I love America!

This past weekend we went to Munich, Germany! It has been my favorite travel destination so far! Karen and I left on Saturday morning around 8:00am. We had to switch trains two times and had to wait in between for a while, so we finally arrived in Munich at 5:30pm. I really wish we had a similar train system in America. It is so convenient, quick, and definitely saves on gas! Scott had gone a day earlier, but hadn’t texted me back all day, so we were worried that we wouldn’t be able to find him once we got there. Luckily, once we got off the train Scotty was standing right there waiting for us! We were so happy to see him! Apparently the night before he was going to sleep in tents set up by Oktoberfest, but when he got there they were all full. I swear he is the luckiest person I know because at some point during the night someone called out to him asking if he was a UK fan (he had a UK hat on) and when Scott said yes, the guy said he was from Louisville! What are the odds of that! So the guy and his wife took Scotty out to dinner and found him a hotel when he told them he had nowhere to stay! Scotty even lost his I-phone during the trip and one of the hostels we stayed out had it behind the desk. SO LUCKY!
Anyways, the first thing we did was look for a place to have dinner. We found a place near the main shopping strip and I had some kind of pork with fries. After that we checked into our hotel for the night. I had to book three different hotels/hostels for each night because they were all full for Oktoberfest. After we dropped off our stuff we went out and found a sports bar where we met some guys from England and Whales. It was a pretty good time but after a while we just went back to sleep since we were so tired.
The next morning we got up early to go to Oktoberfest since it was the last day. Walking up to it I saw an enormous festival with crazy rides and 14 massive “tents” that looked more like warehouses. We picked a tent and went in. It had rows of tables and benches lined up around a center stage where a German band was setting up. We found seats next to older guys from Finland and Sweden. We each got a liter of beer and a pretzel. The beer was pretty good but we found out it was 7.5% alcohol! That’s ridiculous! Later we were joined by an older German guy and his wife. They were currently living in Iowa. I know, small world. So from about 11:00am to 4:00pm we hung out in the tent, listening to the German band sing songs about praising beer.
Around 4:00pm we went to check into our hostel for the night, Jaeger’s Hostel. As soon as we walked in we all laid down in the beds and fell asleep until 8:00! We had planned on going on a brewery tour at 6:00 but that didn’t happen. We decided to go back to Oktoberfest to check out the rides at night. Everything was lit up and it was a beautiful sight! I wanted to ride the famous ferris wheel they have even though I was pretty scared of how high it went. It ending up not being too scary and we got great pictures from the top! Some of those rides were crazy! Even sober people would get sick on them, so I’m not sure if they were the best idea for a beer festival. We also found something that looked like a Merry-go-round but it turned out to be a rotating bar, of course! It ended up being a great night! Oh, and Dad, I definitely didn’t see anyone doing the chicken dance, so I’m guessing that it’s just something stupid the Americans made up!
The next morning we went on a free tour of the city. It was actually really interesting. I had no idea that Munich had so much history, including the beginning of Hitler’s movement. We passed an old church, St. Peter’s, and the tour guide told us it had originally been bombed by the US. The German-Americans from Cincinnati had then paid for it to be rebuilt. In return, Munich built the only other Hofbrauhaus in Newport, KY! We were so excited to hear this because the whole visit we were wondering why there were only two in the entire world. Now it all makes sense! We also learned about the German beer gardens. They contain three things: tree, tables, and beer. They are always packed, even in the morning when many Germans stop by for a breakfast beer. The rest of the tour consisted of historical buildings and memorials. A lot of it had to do with the start of the Nazi movement. Like I said, it was very interesting and I took many pictures.
One thing we were told on the tour that I know my family can especially appreciate was about Germans and their dogs. They treat them like kids and take them everywhere. Outside of places they are not allowed, like pharmacies, they have places to “park your dog”. But the best part about it is that Germans have to pay taxes on their dogs. The amount they pay depends on how well-behaved and how aggressive their dog is! That means that if we had to pay tax on Levi, we would without a doubt go broke!!
Once the tour ended the three of us headed to the Hofbrauhaus to have some German beer and pretzels. I jacked some coasters for our basement, Dad! Now I can officially say I’ve been in the only two Hofbrauhauses in the world! Talk about awesome!
Throughout our trip we saw nothing but Mercedes and BMW’s, obviously because they are made there. It just got a little weird seeing semis and garbage trucks sporting the luxurious Mercedes symbol we all know. I did, however, see my first mustang since I’ve been abroad! It was an old, ugly one, but hey, it’s a start! The other thing that I noticed was how ridiculously lengthy the German language is. All the words exceed about 25 letters! One sentence takes approximately two minutes just to say! (Okay maybe I’m exaggerating, but seriously people, crop those words up!) We took pictures of a lot of signs just to prove the point. The nice thing, though, was that almost all people there speak English so it was a heck of a lot easier day-to-day than it normally is in Dijon.
On Tuesday we took the subway and a bus to Dachau, the location of one of Germany’s concentration camps. The tour was first and foremost really depressing. The overall mood was extremely somber. It’s hard to explain the feeling of standing in rooms where people have been tortured or died for no reason. We saw a very graphic movie as well that just made it worse. We saw prisoner cells, beds, the crematorium, and a gas chamber. That particular gas chamber had never been used, but just standing in it was indescribable. It wasn’t exactly an enjoyable experience, but I learned a lot and was very glad we went.
On the way home we booked an overnight train with beds! Our room consisted of two columns of three beds each and luckily we had it to ourselves the entire time. It was really hard to sleep with all the stops, loud breaks, and really hard mattresses, but at least it was better than a seat! When I arrived back in Dijon there was a package from good ole mom waiting for me at the front desk. As soon as I opened it I was in pure bliss! It contained not one, but TEN boxes of Velveeta macaroni and cheese!!!!!! HEAVEN!!! I LOVE YOU, MOM!!! It also had Gold Star Chili, candy, medicine, and travel games! Nothing can describe my excitement. It was like my own little America-in-a-box! (If anyone reading this would like to send anything American my way just ask for my address and I’d be more than happy to accept!! Haha)
That is all I can think to write about Germany at this point. I might add more later if I can remember anything important!

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