Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Munchen

We arrived in Munchen (so much more fun to say than Munich don't you think?) around 4 pm and headed straight to Oktoberfest! I mean - HELLO! What would you do - right?
So the one thing I didn't know is that Oktoberfest is basically like a State Fair - well a real cool State Fair that has huge BEER tents that seat 8500+ people, but still a State Fair. Rides and everything. My question is - who rides rides after drinking several 1 liter beers? Okay, so say there ARE a couple crazy drunk people (guys I'm sure) who ride the rides. Do they puke? Are there huge puke buckets at each ride? Sorry so crude - but seriously these were the questions that were going threw my head, so basically we just stayed really far away from the rides!:)
The beer tents at Oktoberfest hold the "Big Six" Breweries. If you want to find out more about them go here. I think the history behind their origins is very interesting.

The first tent we came upon was Paulaner - but when we saw the white table clothes we thought - NO WAY - we need craziness and dancing on tables:) So we just walked around their tent and on to the next. But it was beautiful - see:
Paulaner

The next tent was J.W. Augustiner. We REALLY wanted a beer but were told that you had to have a seat to be able to get one. Of course there were no open seats, so I asked a waitress if we might be able to "get a beer". She said "Vate right here". She then continued to smoke two cigarettes and I was like "what the hell is going on" but I wasn't about to ask again in fear that she might say no - so we "vated".

Then she started yelling something at another woman - went away for about 5 minutes and then came back with our 4 beers and pulled us over to a table. We were on the "outside" of the fence and there were lots of signs that said "YOU CAN NOT STAND HERE" in big letters and NO ONE else was standing there - but hey the waitress said we could - so no questions from us!

The 1 liter beers at the Oktoberfest were going for 8.50 Euro, but the waitresses pretty much expected 10 Euro. A lot of them take unpaid leave from their "real" jobs to waitress at the Oktoberfest because it is so lucrative! Our waitress was really nice, and we ended up finding out a bunch of information from her. If you want a reservation for a table you basically have to make it ONE YEAR in advance, because that is how quickly they fill up. And when you make the reservation it is for 2 beers and a chicken:) I thought that was a fun tidbit:)

So here she is -our waitress - who Nathan now fondly refers to as "His Girlfriend" - don't they look cute together? She could carry about 12 of those 1 liter beers at one time! It was amazing! I tried to get a picture, but was never at the right angle, and I thought she might kill me if I stopped her while she was carrying all that and said "Can I take your picture?":) And yes, my husband has a Miller "Champagne of Beers" hat on at Oktoberfest!:)



So that tent was a lot of fun - we made some friends, ate some BIG pretzels, drank some beer but it was time to move on - next up Hofbrauhaus!

Now this is where it got interesting! The Hofbrauhaus is obviously the party tent! We tried the same trick with asking a waitress and it worked again! We were outside the "rail" but so were lots of people and obviously the Hofbrauhaus didn't care about fire safety!:)

We found out that this tent was set up a little different - so they still had the tables you could reserve a year in advance, but they also had standing tables in the back that were first come first serve. We started talking to the people on the "other side" of the rail at the tables - they were US Marines stationed in Germany and we had a lot of fun with them! They ended up giving us their place when they left by helping us climb the railing!:)

Here are some pics from the Hofbrauhaus - definitely my favorite tent! Unfortunately my camera ran out of batteries around 8 pm so I don't have any of the late night craziness (it definitely got crazier by the hour). I'm also really bummed that I don't have a picture of the two Russians that Nathan gave his phone number to and told them to come visit us in the States when we get back - good times!:)

One liter beers are fun!!!!!

Most people were dressed up in the traditional Bavarain outfits of Lederhosen and Dirndls - these guys.... not so much:)

It was definitely a party atmosphere! People were singing with the band, dancing, and just having a good time. They played a lot of american songs - I think here it was Sweet Home Alabama:)
I'm not exactly sure how Nathan and I had the sense to get ourselves back to our hotel but we did! I say this b/c apparently I ate a huge plate of fried potatoes and honestly have no recollection at ALL of doing that:)

So needless to say Nathan and I were hurting a little the next morning (my parents were a little more sensible with the amount of beer they drank), but we rallied and went on the Sandeman FREE Walking Tour of Munich (Nathan had done one of these in Prague and really enjoyed it!) The tour is technically free, but they ask you to tip for what you think it was worth at the end.

The walking tour was 3 hours long and highlighted many of the significant city landmarks made infamous by the Third Reich. I thought our tour guide was very knowledgeable and I would recommend doing this if you are in Munich. Munich has so much history - I can't possibly recap it for you here - but if you are in Germany I think it should be on your list of "must visit" cities (even without Oktoberfest:)) Unfortunately, I don't have many pictures to show you either b/c I was a little hungover and didn't take my camera out much:(

Dodger's Alley Tribute - This is the gold line painted in the road as a memorial to all who refused to salute the Nazi plaque on the wall in the main street and went down this alley instead.

The New Town Hall in Marienplatz - home of the famous Glockenspiel - rated #2 on Most Overated Tourist Attractions in Europe:)


We spent the rest of the day revisiting some of the spots on the tour (you don't get to spend that much time at each place), checking out the market, and finally walking through the English Gardens.

We stumbled across something REALLY cool at the English Gardens - Surfing! What?! Yes - surfing! So cool! So there are a bunch of streams running through the garden, but at this one bridge (I think it was on Prinzregenstrasse) there were waves (I'm not sure how there were waves but there were). Check out the video:
video

That night we ate at the Ratskeller - a traditional cellar restaurant in the Rathaus (city hall) basement. The Rathaus is the beautiful building with all the flowers in Marienplatz. I was worried it would be hard to get a table because there were tons of people in Munich but the place was so huge that it wasn't a problem at all. The food was really good and I would recommend it if you were visiting Munich.
The next morning we went to Dachau, the site of Germany's first concentration camp under the Hitler regime. Now it is a memorial to those who died under the Nazis. Some 200,000 prisoners passed through Dachau's gates between 1933 and 1945, of whom 32,000 lost their lives from disease, starvation, torture, execution, slave labor, and medical experiments. The museum with all the pictures of the horrors of the Holocaust, stories from survivors, and detailed explanations as to how such atrocities came to pass was a very sobering experience. We were at Dachau for about 3 hours, and still didn't get to read all the information in the museum. Visiting Dachau and walking through the gas chambers and crematorium gave us a creepy feeling that is hard to describe. How could people be so evil? There was a plaque near the museum exit that said "those who forget the past are destined to repeat it". This was the main statement throughout the memorial and the reason they are still educating people on the Holocaust today. If you are in Munich, I would definitely recommend this day tour. The memorial is free, but we purchased the audio tour. I enjoyed the audio tour, but the memorial is so well documented (in English) that it wasn't absolutely necessary.

The Gate at Dachau Translated to "Work will set you free", this sign hung over the entryway to all camps.
The "Roll Call" Area Everyday the tired and sick were forced to take roll call at attention, a long and painful process that was part of the torture

The Living Quarters - the camp was originally built to hold 6,000 prisoners but at its height it held 30,000

The Crematorium


Now back to the train station to head home to Zurich:( Why is it that when you are on vacation the time flies by, but when you are working sometimes the days seem to drag on?:) So not fair!

Well that was the end of our adventures for a while. Back to "normal" life. But what I want to know is "Hey Nathan, where are we going next?!"

Love to Everyone! Mandy

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