We know you have all been waiting on baited breath for our next post…and we have definitely kept you waiting. We’re sorry about that but with night trains and so much to do & see, we just haven’t had time to write and/or the means to post. But we are back & better than ever…or at least just as good…we hope…
We know you have all been anticipating our tale of our first night train! Well here is our opinion…it was an adventure…not necessarily a postive one…but not an entirely negative one… Our seats ended up being in a compartment. In case we never mentioned, all night trains need prior reservations so you have a specific seat. If you need help picturing a compartment watch Harry Potter…it’s just like on the Hogwarts Express except the seats are a bit more divided and less of a continuous bench. There were 3 seats on either side. We were the ones closest to the door, so we were across from each other. The seats didn’t lay back. They also didn’t leave you a lot of leg room when you consider here’s another person across from you. Our compartment was full with 4 other people also crammed in. We were able to turn off the light & we had eaplugs (as always) but it was very difficult to get comfortable. We both did get some sleep but just couldn’t get a good long, continuous sort of sleep going. It was very disjointed and not entirely restful. Oh well…hopefully tomorrow will be better…
We “woke up” in Munich. Yes that does mean we have officially reach country #10! We celebrated by finding a train station bathroom to change & fix ourselves up in. Being as it was a night train into Munich during Oktoberfest, there were a lot of other girls doing the same thing. Justine was feeling pretty tired at this point as she is a fan of a good-nights sleep so Kristin started trying to wake her up. She realizes that she was probably being more annoying than helpful but she was really excited about the day ahead! We found ourselves a station map to direct us to day-use lockers. At first glance we weren’t sure our bags would fit, but then we turned the corner. Here we found lockers big enough to easily fit both of our bags in one. With extra space! Nice deal.
At this point it was 8:30 am…is 8:30 am too early to show up at Oktoberfest? We thought maybe a bit so we found some pastries & coffee and wandered around the central station area of Munich. Eventually we made our way to the subway and went the one stop to the Oktoberfest grounds. We say eventually because there was some major delay in the train showing up…we of course have no idea what it was, being as everyone was spouting off angry German (which probably wasn’t actually angry, German just makes people sound unhappy). But we got there!
And boy was it cool! Think Stampede but instead of it being about Cowboys & Rodeo, it’s about Leiderhosen & Beer. We’re serious about the Leiderhosen too. Everyone is dressed up. At least one third of the men are in their checkered shirts, high socks & leather Leiderhosen. And at least a quarter of the women are in cute traditional, peasant-style dresses. It was awesome!
Everything is set up like a standard fair-type event. There was a midway with rides. There were a million food stands selling traditional German food. There were also a million souvenir stands selling anything you’d ever want. Then there were the cookie stands. They were large heart-shaped cookies with icing decorations & sayings written on them. They sold them everywhere so this must be a normal thing. They also had a string through them so you could wear it around your neck…lots of people did.
We did 2 full laps of the grounds. The first one was just us trying to take it all in. The second was to take in the main event: the beer halls. There are lots of them…more than you would expect…and they are huge! Each it decorated in it’s own special way and has it’s own specialty beer, food and traditions. The halls themselves are like giant barns with tables and wood benches everywhere. You can reserve tables if you are serious about being right where you want to be, but the unreservedly section is where the party is really at.
Being the experienced girls we are (don’t look at us like that…university isn’t just about school learning) we knew we had to eat some lunch before we hit a beer hall for good. We missed the corn dog, mini donut & deep-fried-everything stands we woud normally find at a fair…but we are here to embrace the culture! After examining many booths we made our picks. Justine got a schnisel-y sandwich. We are still not sure what type of meat it was made with but it was breaded & bunned and she thoroughly enjoyed it!
Kristin couldn’t resist the sausage stands. She got a Brathwurst dog with some yummy onion toppings. Basically Kristin couldn’t be happier, being that she has entered the land of beer & sausage (Justine is holding out for 2 weeks till we hit the land of pasta & wine).
Selecting a beer hall was almost as hard as picking food, but we had done our research. After our “looking-in lap” we decided we liked the look and feel of the Haufbraus Tent best. It was decorated with hops (because all of our brewry tours have taught us to recognize them) and already had a pretty hopping un-reserved section. We walked around until we found a free space and plunked ourselves down. There was pretty decent party going on with lots of rowdy boys & girls.
There are beer-maidens walking around who are happy to grab you a beer. These girls are amazing! They come from all over Europe just to waitress for the couple of weeks of Oktoberfest. Apparently the pay isn’t great, but the tips are utterly amazing. It’s not unusual to see them carrying around 8 full beers. And let’s not forget that these are not your average bar pint, these are giant glass tankards holding a liter of beer each! The waitress for our area (who, for any of you who have seen the show, looked just like Casey from Greek) grabbed us each a liter for ourselves.
Then we mingled. We had some New Zealanders behind us, an Aussie couple on one side and a group of Norwegian men on the other. They were all really social and fun and we had soon bonded with everyone. It’s easy to bond when you’re all there solely to have fun & drink beer. Justine is proud to say she drank about 3/4 of her beer. Kristin drank all of hers…plus at least half of the one a nice Norwegain bought her after…eek… At least she wasn’t one of the people standing up on the table and attempting to chug their whole drink. The entire hall then cheered or booed at you depending on your success. The whole situation is so hard to describe, but was so much fun. There is a traditional band playing traditional music with tubas & accordions and everything. Approximately every 10 to 15 minutes they would play this one song and everyone in the hall would get up (often on their benches) and sing along. It was in German so we were just trying to make sounds similar to everyone else. We did get someone to translate it for us though and it was something along the lines of “Cheers – Cheers – Cheers – We all drink more and we are all happy – Cheers – Cheers – Cheers.” Truer words were never spoken.
The cheersing was an intregal part of the event…but did you know it’s also very dangerous? During one enthusiastic round the cups all clinked a little too hard and chip actually flew off Justine’s glass. Look at the far side of the cup…
The chip then decided to hit Justine in the eyebrow! She was suddenly just bleeding! Kristin whipped out her glasses cloth to staunch the flow and then Justine found Kleenex to clean it up. It was just a tin cut…nothing serious…but she is lucky it didn’t hit her further down in the eye.
Eventually Justine wanted to go do a bit of souvenir shopping & Kristin wanted to ride some roller coasters. So while Justine did her thing Kristin tagged along with her new Norwegian buddies and forced them to ride roller coasters they were afraid of. She really didn’t force them, she just said she was going on and they felt to lame to back out if the only girl was riding.
It was all just a surreal experience! So cool to have seen! So cool to have taken part in! Justine is really glad she’s done it once. Kristin wants to do it every year!
Now we are seated at the Munich train station. There is a spot of wall where we could prop up our bags and scam off Starbucks’ free internet. We don’t feel too bad seeing as it’s kinda slow & frustrating. In a matter of minutes we will be boarding our next night train. Kristin remembers reading something about reclining seats in one of the reservations she made, btu there is no guaranteeing that it was this trip, or that the reclining seats will be any better than the compartment from last night. It’s a long trip tonight so we have lots of time to try to fit in some sleep…which hopefully will work out better than last time. Justine is starting to turn into a zombie and even Kristin (aka the girl who never sleeps) is starting to feel like she could use a good rest. Either way we have a bed in Berlin tomorrow night…Yay! Wish us luck!
Love, Luck & Leiderhosen,