Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Munich and the Oktoberfest

From Stuttgart we took the train to Munich.  We were staying in a room in a private house just of the outskirts of the city, but it didn't take long to get there.  The prices of accommodation soar around Oktoberfest, and it can be hard to find anywhere for a reasonable price.  Having read the reviews, we didn't fancy the campsite, so found a room instead.  The room was OK, but certainly overpriced for what it was.

We went into Munich for the first day and found ourselves a nice square where we could eat outside with more locally brewed beers to wash it down.  After a wander around the city centre we ate just off the main square in a more traditional place and tried a few more beers.  Well we were here for the beer festival!

The next couple of days we spent at the Oktoberfest itself in Theresienweise. It is huge, but actually not quite as big as I had expected after just being at the Stuttgart one.  The tents are certainly bigger and busier, but there aren't as many of the big rides here.

We headed straight for one of the tents.  After queuing for a while at one, and seeing no likelihood of getting in, we moved on to another, this time with more luck.  We managed to find a seat quite easily as it was still early, and quickly ordered a couple of beers and some very tasty chicken.

The beers here come in the stein style glasses and are all sold as litres.  The beer that you get is that of the brewery tent you are in, so we had the Hofbrau .  You can order a Radler, which is a lower alcohol version, a bit like a shandy when you start to feel you've had too much, but it would not be good form to start on anything but the real stuff.
The people at our table were a couple of older guys from Frankfurt and three people perhaps a bit younger than us from around Munich.  Unusually, none of them really spoke any English, so I got to practice my German a bit.  We quickly got into the Prost habit.  Whenever one of the table says Prost (cheers) everyone says Prost, clinks glasses and drinks.  This can be a dangerous thing if you are with a group of fast drinkers, but our table was a bit more moderate.

We had a bit of a todo with the table behind us at one stage when a couple of them figured they could spread over onto our benches as well as theirs.  My German was tested a little, but I was able to hold up my end of the argument, and with some support from our new friends, we soon had them back in their place. 

We thoroughly enjoyed the tent, listening to the oompah bands and watching the people who had paid large sums of money to have a go at conducting them.  It is certainly a fun experience, helped if you have a good set of people on the table with you.  Eventually though we decided it was time for a break from the beer and a bit of fresh air, so went back out for a wander around.
Over the two days we were there we did go in a number of tents but didn't sit down so didn't stay as long as in that first tent.  We did spend some time in a beer garden which was good, and we also tried the rather smaller and more refined coffee and wine tent.  That was good fun too, as the band there played a lot of popular songs and people were up dancing in between the tables.
We spent some time watching the men lining up to test their strength on the hammer.  It was all men that we saw having a go.  Some didn't do too well, and didn't manage to ring the bell even once; they sloped off looking a bit sheepishly.  Those who managed to hit the top at least once generally looked fairly satisfied, and took their fake rose away with their heads up high.

But the crowd's cheers were mostly reserved for those few who managed three out of three right to the top.  Their prize of a pair of fluffy dice in colour options of luminous green, orange or pink, paled into insignificance compared to being able to claim victory in this test of their manhood.
I couldn't persuade Nic to try out his strength, but we did have a go at a couple of the stalls here.  Nic tried splatting frogs onto lily pads.  His first attempt was pretty pathetic, but he improved, and we came away with a few little stuffed toys to prove his skill.

We both had a go at hammering nails into a block of wood with one hit.  Nic just beat me when I failed on one of mine.
But I discovered a new skill when we had a go on the shooting range.  The initial plan was to share a go with nine shots each, but when I had got all nine of my targets down, we agreed that if we wanted the prize, I should carry on.

Having hit all eighteen and got the fluffy wild boar, I asked Nic if he wanted a go; he declined, on the basis that he couldn't do any better and might not do as well.

We had two good days at the Oktoberfest, and managed to get through them without collapsing comatose on the grass or being carried off on a stretcher like some of the people that we saw.  We certainly enjoyed it, but if we came again we would make reservations for some of the tents, and probably it is best experienced in a bigger group so that you have a table full.

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