Just a super quick post here to let you know that last night a friend and I hit up Bierhaus in midtown, a very fun beer hall that bears an uncanny (if somewhat small) resemblance to the Hofbrau House in Munich. (Which I talk about here, and here.)
It’s essentially one huge beer hall, with live music (including a band that plays all the traditional German Oktoberfest songs), amazing pretzels and humongous beer mugs.
So if you’re ever in the area, and you need a little community beer drinking only the way Munich can do it, I would highly suggest hitting up this fun beer hall.
Bis bald, friends! Oh, and I just booked my tickets for D.C. next week. Wednesday through Sunday, five whole days with one of my best friends. The best.
So part deux of our European adventure story starts off in Munich, where we stayed at the Citadines, which are more small apartments than hotel rooms (meaning we had a little kitchen and a living room, but no one to clean the place up when we left for the day.)
The location was perfect for Oktoberfest–it was just a short walk to the grounds where the tents are. It’s not the best location if you’re in Munich mostly for the city center, though, like to visit Marienplatz or stroll through town. (For that type of trip, I’d highly recommend the hotels I stayed in during this trip to Munich a few years ago.)
Lucky for us, we were there for Oktoberfest, and our adventure began that Sunday night …
About three weeks ago now I set off on a trip that was really special to me for a bunch of different reasons. Firstly, I would be taking my first ever solo international flight. And on top of that I would be spending a good day a 1/2 in Munich all by my lonesome, and I was a bit nervous, to say the least. I wasn’t sure how I would end up reacting to that. Here in the city I never go out to dinner by myself. I never see movies by myself or get a drink all alone. Would I be able to pull myself out of my comfort zone and actually leave the room, by myself, in Munich?
Turns out, I learned a lot on this trip about myself. Firstly, taking an international flight all by your lonesome is totally easy—if not pleasant. When you’re with someone on a flight, depending on who said person is, you’re always left wondering how much of a conversation you’re going to have to make. Can you sleep when you want to? What if I just want to listen to my music or read my book or watch the same show on the free in-flight television over and over again? The only time that you can truly do all of this without any worry is when you’re by yourself.
And then, when you actually get to your destination, you alone are in charge of your itinerary. Feeling a big jet lagged and want to take a nap, even though you just arrived in this fantastic new place? No worries. Want to take a shower to wash off the plane before you head out into the bright new world you’re about to discover? No worries, take your time.
All of that was fantastic. The thing that I did miss, however, was the ability to share in the fantasticness with someone. When I arrived at the airport in Munich and heard the German announcements and saw the lederhosen and dirndls (yup, even in the airport), I was ecstatic. I was in MUNICH! And yet, there was no one to share in the excitement with. I remembered arriving in Heathrow with Stephanie back in May and how excited we had been. It’s great to be able to take in a new surrounding with someone. That part I really missed.
For the rest of it, though, there wasn’t a single thing negative I can say about it. In the end I totally made it out of my gorgeous hotel (after the jet lag nap and shower), and ended up discovering quite a bit on my own that first day:
After a Friday afternoon and evening discovering bits of Munich by myself, I headed over to the Deutsche Museum on a rainy Saturday morning. Thanks to my handy-dandy Foder’s Munich travel book I know that if you were to spend just 1 minute checking out every single exhibit in this amazing museum, it would take you over 300 days to get through everything. Anything you can think of—physics, automobiles, flight, kites, shipping, planets, animals…you name it, there was something in the Deutsches Museum pertaining to that subject. I even took in a planetarium show—in German. Can’t say I learned a lot from that, but it was pretty amazing.
After spending a good 6 hours in the museum I headed over to my first hotel, Hotel Advokat, (I seriously recommend this hotel, absolutely everything about it was great. The rooms were tiny, but super clean and very nice—and the breakfast, which is included in your hotel fee, is absolutely on par with any restaurant breakfast you’ll get) to pick up my stuff and make the walk to our second hotel, Novotel Munchen City, where Carla would be meeting me in the afternoon.
I’d like to take some credit (any credit, really) for the hotel bookings, because both hotels were pretty great. Perfect locations, perfect prices, nice people, the whole shebang—but really, that was all Carla. Luckily this friend of mine does a lot of traveling in Europe and had been to Munich many a time before, so she was a bit aware of what we would need and want out of a hotel, and she did a great job picking them. (Also, we booked in February. Prices were drastically more expensive the closer it got to Oktoberfest, so who knows if we could have afforded the same hotels had we booked at a later month).
So Saturday night Carla and I met up and took a walk through the town center again to find a place for dinner. Being that Germans aren’t exactly known for their vegetarian fare, we ended up at an Italian restaurant, which was just as fab. It was also the site of my first ever “mass” beer:
Just trust me my friends when I tell you—it was nowhere near as delicious as it looks. I honestly don’t even know what type of beer it was, but let’s just say I had much better at later times in the trip, thank God.
After dinner Carla decided she could navigate our way to the Oktoberfest grounds, which she did very well (despite my teasing her whenever we would take a wrong turn here or there). What we found at the Oktoberfest grounds around 9:30 on that Saturday night was not for the faint of heart:
It had been raining for the majority of the day on Saturday, and the tents open around 11 a.m., so you can only imagine what thousands of drunken people can do to a campground by 9:30 at night. Still, despite the fact that it was muddy and we couldn’t get into a beer tent because they were all full and we were being groped by drunken men, I’d still say that Carla and I were happy to have at least seen the place lit up (neither of us knew that Oktoberfest is basically one big, huge fair ground with food and rides and games, and interspersed with 20 or so humongous beer tents).
So we stayed for a while and then headed back to the hotel, intent on starting over early in the morning and making it into a tent and having a fabulous time at Oktoberfest on Sunday before we headed off into the night on our train to Salzburg for our day trip. And that’s what we did:
Oktoberfest is, in a nutshell, unlike anything else I’ve experienced anywhere. After our experience on Saturday night I was a little worried that it would just be one big drunken madhouse (which, to some extent, it was), and that Carla and I would have to be worried and on edge the entire time we were there—but it wasn’t one bit like that. At all. We met the most amazing and friendly people. We sang German drinking songs and danced in the aisles in between beer and pretzels. We screamed “Prost!” with thousands of others in our tent and cheered to everyone and everything. No one fought. No one was gross. The boys were all lovely (no, really!). I have decided that Munich is a place I could find myself living some day. And although my trip in Munich was short (only two and 1/2 days), I long for more of Munich, and I hope to get back there some day very soon.
But Sunday night found me pulling Carla away from the adoring Brits as we made our way back to the hotel (the second hotel in as many nights for me), to get our bags, grab a cab and head to our train to Salzburg.
But I’ll do Salzburg in another entry, because it certainly deserves that.