Germany: Oktoberfest, Pork Knuckles and… Oktoberfest

After arriving by plane into Germany’s Munich airport I rushed to try and find a sim card while the rest of the group was pulling their bags. I found out that all the sim card stores had closed just 5 minutes ago. We were met by a very cheery Johannes (our airbnb host) and his father. They had a sign made up for us and quickly took us to their vehicles which were waiting outside. They had a large 9 person van and a 5 person car waiting for our group.germany-oktoberfest-me-britt-aussies

After a 45 minute or so car ride we arrived to the airbnb which is about 35 minutes from Munich city center where Oktoberfest is. We had the top floor of a 3 story house and the 12 of us slept in 4 different rooms. The place was spacious and our hosts were really friendly. The spoke english really well which made making plans throughout our stay much easier. They had a traditional German meal prepared for us and kept the beer flowing.

The morning of our first full day I wanted to get a sim card and went with our hosts to try and find one and also pick up breakfast for the group. We went to the super market and the butcher (where we picked up traditional german white sausage). We also picked up a sim card. This card came with some voice and texting options but also ONLY 150mb worth of data. Seeing as all I need is data to use google maps, browse the web, use skype, etc….. 150mb wasn’t nearly enough. I thought I would be able to add more data via a credit card through their website but had no luck.

I found that most of the places that I visited here in and around munich didn’t accept credit cards. This makes no sense to me. Munich is a well developed, modern, touristy city and its 2014!! Not accepting credit cards considering the circumstances and ESPECIALLY not accepting them online and thereby forcing your customers to go to an actual store and pick up “reload packs”, is just silly. But alas, our hosts were able to get me set up with an extra sim card that they had at the house and had enough reload on it to put on the 1.5 gig data package I wanted. So, by the 2nd day I was up and running. I really only got a day and a half out of that sim card, but it was worth the little bit of hassle.

After breakfast (which was really good) we hopped a train from the main station right in the city center and headed to some town which I can’t remember to visit a castle. this was supposed to be a 5 hour trip, 2 hours out on the train, an hour at the castle, then 2 hours back and hit oktoberfest for a bit that day. It turned into a full day trip with the typical delays you would expect when traveling with 12 people.

We arrived to the town and rented some bikes for the 5km ride up to the castle area. It was cool rolling thru germany with 12 people in a little mini bike gang. Other then some flies which ended up in my mouth, the ride was really cool. I never would have thought to rent a bike if I had been alone. I’m glad I did though.

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We got up to the caslte grounds and grabbed a bus the 5 minute ride up a really steep, winding road. The driver was a lunatic and I’m surprised we didn’t get drive off the edge. Once at the top we walked to a bridge which had a really great view of the whole castle from a distance. It is perched up on a mountain top and is really beautiful.

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After the bridge we walked around to the actual castle. Tours had been sold out for the day so we just walked the grounds a bit. I think the view from the bridge was more appealing personally, but if we could have gotten a tour pass into the castle Im sure that would have been cool too.

We returned our bikes and ate dinner in the town before getting back on the train. By the time we got back to Munich main station it was about 1145pm so going to Oktoberfest was not an option. That was fine though because I was exhausted from the day anyway. Our airbnb hosts picked us up and took us back home.

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O yea, this is what I’ve been waiting for. I finally found a glass of beer where it only takes me one to get buzzed!

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For our second day we finally got to oktoberfest. But not before spending a couple hours shopping for lederhosen. The whole kit, the pants, shirt, suspenders and socks cost me about $100. I ended up packing it into my suitcase to bring back to the states with me which means I have a good idea of what I will be wearing for Halloween this year. Most of the guys got lederhosen and the girls got drindles (dresses). Everyone looked great and fit in with the crowd.

So, we entered Oktoberfest. The layout is basically a giant carnival atmosphere with rides and games and food and then spread out through the grounds are the beer “tents” (not really tents, more large buildings). We realized very quickly that we showed up too late. The couple of tents we did pass by (which are essentially owed by the big german brew houses) were full and you’d have to wait online for at least an hour to get into any of them. This did not make seth a happy camper. I came to Germany to do one thing. That was drink beer! And now you’re telling me I need to wait even longer. GRRRR

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Luckily, though, some guy (who ended up being a waiter at the tent [shottenhamer] that we really wanted to get into) came up and asked us if we wanted to get in. He saw that we were a big party and said we could get in and a get a table right away as long as we bought beer and food. Ummmm SOLD. We went in the back door and were escorted to the upper deck overlooking the entire tent. It was perfect. We got our table, and some beers and hung out. The entire crew was going to need to leave shortly, though, to do a meet up with their youtube fans and do some filming. I was NOT leaving!! No way. I was finally here and was gonna soak it all in.

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Lederhosened revelers were all over the place, cheersing big mugs of beer, dancing on tables, and signing songs. It was an awesome scene. A group of 4 australian guys sat down next to our table and I made a quick decision to hang out with them instead of leaving this paradise to go with the rest of the group. I would NOT regret this decision.

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The next 5 hours or so was filled with beer, pork knuckles, pushups and a game of kings (which I’ve discussed previously but is essentially a card game where each card in the deck has a rule attached to it. For example a 5 means all the guys drink while a 6 is for the girls. Jacks let you create your own rule like not being able to say to someone “drink” and if you do you have to drink yourself. There are tons of rules that you can make up and its always interesting playing this game with people from other countries because their rules are almost always different then the ones you are used to).

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germany-oktoberfest-crowd-from-aboveThe pushups came into effect because the aussies (Mitch, Tyson and 2 Camerons) have had this rule amongst themselves for years where you can’t say the number “10”. If you do, no matter what you are doing or where you are, you have to drop and do 10 pushups. I ended up doing about one hundred pushups throughout the day, but they were well worth it.

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There was another rule that if you cursed, you’d have to put you head down on the table until the next person cursed. This got really interesting as you try your hardest not to but you are bound to fuck it up eventually.

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O yea!!! HAHAHA …. One more thing about the game we were playing. So there is a rule for queens which is called “categories”. The basic premise being you can chose anything you want as the category and you have to go around the circle and call out something that is in that category. If you hesitate, repeat one, or just can’t come up with something, you drink. Pretty simple right. You might say “types of cars” and then you could call out Mercedes, BMW, Ford, etc. One of the guys, Tyson, chose the easiest category EVER… Letters of the alphabet (pretty lazy choice, but whatever, its fun). So he is supposed to start off and immediately says “Seven!”… I mean HE picked the category and just completely blew it. That warranted a nice ribbing from the group and several heckles throughout the rest of the day.

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The aussies introduced me to something which apparently is popular in Germany. It is a menthol powder that comes in a little jar that you actually snort up your nose. It looks like cocaine but its just menthol. If feels like you are snorting scope toothpaste but totally clears up your sinuses. It is something that would not take off in the states as it is to similar to snorting cocaine, but it seems to be pretty popular here.

Throughout the day we were joined by different groups of people who needed a table and they would swap out every hour or so. There was a really great, communal vibe to the whole event.

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The aussies got ready to leave and wanted me to come back to their campsite where they promised free beer for the night. I had to decline because I didn’t know how I would get back to the airbnb from there. Lucky enough, as we were leaving the festival grounds, I ran into the rest of the group who was finishing up filming their videos.

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We went to grab some dinner at a local german restaurant. A bunch of us got schnitzle (I opted for pork). It tasted good and it wasn’t until about a half hour after the meal that I regretted eating that schnitzle. It did something mean to my stomach and as I am writing this I am struggling through something fierce. Everyone else seemed fine so I’m not sure what happened with mine.

Anyway, we got back to the central station to meet our hosts who were awesome the whole visit about providing us transportation. We got back to the house and just chilled a bit and passed out.

Up early this morning to pack up and get to the train station to head to Zurich. All in all it was a quick trip. I didn’t get to explore Munich all that much which is a shame because it seems like a cool place. The people are generally nice and mostly speak english from what I found. It doesn’t seem to be too expensive and is pretty accessible from the little bit of traveling around we did. The whole city was packed though with people attending Oktoberfest and also celebrating a national holiday which marks the anniversary of when East and West Germany united back in the 80’s or something.

Thats all for Germany. We are currently on a 4 hour or so train ride to Zurich where I am hoping to go skydiving over the Alps. Yeaaaaa that would be UNREAL. More updates soon, folks. Enjoy!

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