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More on Munich

If you’ve read my other posts on Munich, about Oktoberfest and the Starkbierfest, you might think that beer festivals are all the town has to offer. But that’s not all that’s cool about Munich, as I found out. The Marienplatz is a distinctly different type of European old town square area. Instead of many of them where there is a square formed around the original old church, the Marienplatz is just outside the ornate Gothic city hall. Though churches do flank the area. And in looking for the Cafe Glockenspiel I’d heard about I realized that there are about a half-dozen clock towers in the area. (By the way, the cafe I was looking for was not in any of them but in a modern building.)

I went to the Hacker-Pschorr restaurant near the Marienplatz for a lunch. I had the Bavarian meatloaf (offenfried liebenkäse) and a Radler. A Radler. I didn’t know what it was either, but it’s apparently a half beer half citrus drink. Fairly refreshing, but too sweet for me. The meatloaf looks like, and is basically cooked spam. Not recommended.

And no blog post would be complete without a post about a bar. The Euro Youth Hostel bar is a good one. Though the sign on the door says it’s for guests only, if you’re nice to Burt the bartender, he won’t give you much of a hassle.

 

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I Went to Munich and a Beerfest Broke Out

You ever get the feeling that people celebrate wherever you go? I’m not talking about people smiling when you announce you’re leaving – I get that a lot. But I’m talking about thousands of people coming together with you in a celebration of you being there. Well it feels that way whenever I’m in Munich.

I’ve been here before, as you may recall. On my mystery trip I ended up in Munich for Oktoberfest. Now I’m not claiming that Oktoberfest was just for me. Clearly that’s not the case. But it did kinda lose some of its oomph (but not it’s oompapa) when I left. Or so I hear.

Now I’m back in Munich and come to find out there is another beerfest coinciding with my arrival. The Starkbierfest or Strong Beer Festival, is to be held the weekend I’m here at the Paulaner am Nockherberg Brewery,  just a stones throw from town. These are semi regular events but I highly suspect that they plan them around the schedules of visiting dignitaries and soon-to-be-legends like myself.

So I walked along Fraunhoferstraße which turns into Ohlmüllerstraße across the river on the way to the festival. It’s a pretty cool street. Record shops. Antique shops. Place to get what look like real dirndls. But why is there a Confederate Battle Flag?

Went in to the festival – a combination outdoor and indoor venue. First thing I did was went and got a maß (literally “measure” but use here for a liter) of Salvator, a schweinefleisch haxe (which is like a pigs knee or something) and a bretzel and dug in. The haxe was interesting – seasoned with rye an deep fried so the outside was crispy and tasted like a pork rind (which it is) but fairly dry inside despite being full of fat. Tasted great though.

When it started getting dark and cooling down I went inside the festhalle and accidentally sat next to 3 Americans who are here working at a hotel on a military base. They’re students studying hotel management at the University of Oklahoma. On my other side was a group of Germans. It was one of their birthdays. The guy would randomly look over and loudly sing “I’m proud to be an American! And I’m proud to know I’m free!” It was so funny I didn’t correct him but let him just go on butchering Lee Greenwood for hours.

After a while of that we all split up an I headed up to near the front where the band was playing and where a lot of volks were singing and dancing. Every once in a while the band would strike up an English song like Country Roads and I would belt out the lyrics like the rest of them. I left as they were shutting the place down, having thoroughly exhausted myself on singing, dancing and drink. The event was definitely reminiscent of Oktoberfest and I guess most Bavarian beer fests would be the same.

Nuremberg; City of Brats and Beers

Nuremberg, or Nürnberg in German, is famous for their bratwurst. And rightly so. Several types of sausages are made in the Franconia region. And about 300 active breweries in the area! Gutmann Dunkel is a good one that you likely won’t find elsewhere. All the beers and wursts I tried were great.

The Bratwurstkuche lays claim to the title of oldest bratwurst restaurant in the world! They’ve supposedly been serving up sausages here since before Columbus’ parents were even born. And though I’d suspect the place has been improved and rebuilt a time or two, it still seems pretty authentic – low ceilings, exposed beams, bricks and stone, etc. The famous dish here is the grilled version of their sausages that come with a pretzel and some potatoes or cabbage. It’s wonderful.

If you’re in need of an Internet fix when you arrive be sure to stop into the little Internet cafe in the main train station. From coffee to beer to wine to Jägermeister, they can quench your thirst. And you can sit all day on their Internet, unlike many cafes.

All through St. Sebald church in Nürnberg are photos of the area before, during and after World War II. You can see how the place looked and how they rebuilt. Some poetry crudely translated from German adorns the placards. Some of it is funny. The place is certainly worth a look if you’re in the area.

As I was on the way out of town I saw they had some kind of booth set up in the train station with a wheel of fortune and a line with people waiting to spin it. I had some time to kill so of course I decided to hop in line. When it was my turn I spun the wheel and it landed on 10. They gave me 10 little coins. I asked what they were for and they said it was good for 0.50 Euro each in spending at the train station. Cool!

 

Quick Tip on Train Travel in Bavaria

To save some money traveling by train in Bavaria, get a Bayern-Ticket. Get a few folks together and take advantage of the 29€ ride all day pass – good up to 5 travelers. Don’t know 4 other people? That’s fine just hang out by the ticket machines and ask folks. Seriously! Regular fare is 30€ or so, this way it’s only 6€. that’s for the local not the express trains. Express is about 50€ and saves only 30 minutes or so from Nürnberg to München. But for 10% of the cost it’s definitely worth it!

Beer, Bretzel and Haxe

NASA Im Munchen

NASA Jet

Auf Wiedersehen, München

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Italians, Germans, Kenyans, Russians, Polish, Canadian, Irish, Americans and Brits and Aussies and Japanese. I have made and lost hundreds of new friends over the last few days. But now I must bid them, and Munich, auf wiedersehen.

I set myself a mission here: to have a drink at each tent on the grounds. That’s 15 by my map. Its apparently not very common for people to have visited all tents – even residents of Munich. I can see why, it’s a very difficult task.

Last night I had to find the back way into the Kafer tent – it’s usually just the rich and famous who get in there. And I talked my way into the Weinzelt where their specialty is wine. It was completely full, but I just told my story and showed my map with the other tents crossed off. The security guards actually cleared a path through the line for me to get in front of everyone else. I had breakfast and a coffee only this morning in the final one. Appropriate since the Kaiser-Schmarrn is a cafe.

I don’t think I could drink another liter of beer. It would be good to get out of town and clear my head a little. Fortunately, I have my next destination determined somewhere along the Danube.

Right now I’m on a speeding train winding its way through the Alps at 200km per hour. I’ll shortly arrive in Vienna and then to my next mission, whatever that may be.

Oktoberfest

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It’s nearly noon at Oktoberfest. Waitresses carry massive trays of food and armloads of beer. Nine liters (2 gallons) of beer in one armload. Trays that must be a yard across, filled with wursts, fowl, potatoes and more. If I hadn’t seen it I wouldn’t have believed it.

I feel like Neo in the Matrix dodging trays and steins like bullets walking up the narrow rows between tables in the beerhalls. Nearly all seats are filled. Men and women wear the traditional dress of their native lands. I feel under dressed – my belt is the only thing I am wearing made of leather. Here you can see an idealized version of the German-speaking peoples’ past.

I sit next to a group of Austrians and discuss their attire. “This is the traditional clothing of the farmer and the farmer-shooter [hunter] near Salzburg. The farmer-shooter was quite a good job because in times of war, they were called upon. We have a long tradition of beating up the German man.” And they laugh. Old disagreements are buried now, as you can see when the band strikes up a particularly popular song. Everyone sings along, standing on the tables and benches.

I feel like I’m at a college football game. The large brass section and booming drums. Um-pa-pa Um-pa-pa. I hear familiar sections of songs. It occurs to me that The Budweiser Song would probably be very popular here.

Oktoberfest is like a giant picnic with a quarter million of your closest friends and lots of beer. Lots of singing and talking and laughing. It’s time for another stein. Prost!

The Grand Triangle

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I opened the Mission Pack. It had previously occurred to me that the envelope was a bit small to contain more than one travel book – therefore I assumed I would be staying in Germany. I found that one assumption was right, the other wrong. There was one book. But it covered the whole of Europe.
Also enclosed was a rail timetable, a large map of Europe and a letter.

Into Munich and out of Athens. Two options: Eastern Europe or south, through Italy. I was shockingly close in my previous guesses. The Philadelphian told me I’d have 9 and a half hours to plan the trip. There would be no sleeping for me.

I think I will be going through Eastern Europe, rather than Italy. I can either hug the coast or go deep into the heart of the continent. Either path would be a lot of fun would allow me to see places I’ve long wanted to. It’s going to be a good next couple of weeks.

My Phone Drowned

I was on the tilt-a-whirl today. You know, the one that launches you up and around and flips you upside down. Well apparently my phone fell out of my pocket during that time. Spectators said they saw it  mid swing. In other words, it launched a few hundred yards. Yeah, it’s bad. Luckily it landed softly in the water. Yeah, that’s bad too. The up-shot is that I found it. Or rather the guys who run the ride found it. They held it in a towel so it wouldn’t drip all over the place. It’s drying now. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you called me in the past day, understand if I don’t answer.