Welcome back friends and vicarious livers!
We departed from our hotel in Riquewihr, Alsace and headed for Munich. We made one stop on the way, but it was a memorable one, Monkey Mountain. There lives 280 or so Barbary Macaques that roam freely within the park, and the visitors just stroll through and try to keep a safe distance. We definitely enjoyed the experience watching the varied behaviors and feeding them popcorn. A worthwhile stop for sure. We then made a b-line for Bavaria. Traffic was off and on, but mostly on, as we and thousands of other tourists headed for the largest beer festival in the world. We arrived late once again to our hotel in Sank Wolfgang, a small town about 40 minutes outside of Munich. The town looked strangely deserted, as we have found a few small towns to be throughout our trip. We visited a few closed restaurants in search of food to finally find the only open place in town. To our delight it was a delicious traditional German place where we dined with the locals and enjoyed some local fare. We then retired back to our accommodations to prepare for our journey to the Fest the next morning.
We woke early and boarded the train with large groups of other festive partygoers. Doug and Claire dressed in traditional lederhosen and dirndl that felt pretty awkward at the hotel, but felt right at home upon arrival in Munich. After a short walk, we arrived at the bandstand where we would cheer on the Oktoberfest’s Traditional Costume Parade. The weather was cool and rainy, but that didn’t stop the thousands of onlookers from attending the fantastic event. For hours, droves of costumed Bavarians marched accompanied by horse-drawn keg wagons, marching bands and various other curiosities. After two hours, we had had enough. We walked over to the festival grounds and took in all of the sights. Rides, attractions and massive beer halls were among the highlights of the day. We enjoyed some delicious food and copious amounts of beer. Seriously, it was kind of ridiculous. Mormor and Grandad headed back to the hotel with Meier, while Doug and Claire stayed out for some late night festivities. It was as you might imagine, a total wasted drunkfest. Costumed locals and tourists alike dancing on tables, making out, disrobing, falling down, and singing along to the bands that seemed to play the same 10 songs on repeat while drinking shit-loads of beer, liters at a time. Good times were had.
The next day, the party goers slept in while the rest of the group awoke bright eyed and bushy tailed. We all reunited mid morning and planned for the remainder of the day. We decided on Munich’s English Gardens, so we loaded up in the family truckster and headed out. The English Gardens are a fantastic, central-parkesque series of natural areas, cafes, lagoons and garden areas in the heart of Munich. We parked and strolled through the natural areas, ending our hike at the Seehaus, a delicious gourmet restaurant on a lake. The food was delicious, and the meal nearly rivaled the amazing dinner we shared in France. We dined on Filet of Sole, Seabass, hangar steak and pork shank with crispy skin. Even Meier’s meatballs with mashed potatoes and gravy were fantastic. We loosened our belts for the hike back to the van where we boarded and headed back home. The aging partygoers were unable to head to the fest for a second consecutive night of debauchery, so they tucked their tails for an early night in hopes of another attempt the next day.
On the third day, we regrouped and headed back down to the Fest. It was more of the same fun, games and merriment. Fortunately, it was family day, so the games and rides were all half price! Meier enjoyed throwing darts at balloons, balls at cans, and riding the Ferris wheel and the spinning swings (which were a little out of his league). We took the opportunity to get a few souvenirs and send them back with the early group, as Doug and Claire made another attempt at keeping up with the youngsters. This attempt was short lived as we had a couple liters and faded quickly. It’s worth a mention that Claire was fighting a cold the entire length of the fest and came down with the 24 hour flu on the final night. We still managed to have a great time and fight the good fight, but we were happy to move on to some calmer times.
On our final morning together, the group of five warily boarded the van and headed to the Munich airport. We said our sad goodbyes and said bon voyage to Mormor and Grandad before they boarded their plane headed back to Colorful Colorado. We had a fantastic ten days together across Germany and France and it was a time that we will never forget. The remaining three had a melancholy trip on the autobahn back to return the van in Frankfurt. There we ditched the wheels and went back to riding the rails. Our next destination…Belgium!
Stay tuned for the next adventurous leg of Braams on the go!