Well, this weekend was one of the most fun and craziest of my life! It all started early Friday morning- our bus to Munich left campus at 4am. After a long but BEAUTIFUL bus ride (all through Austria and the Alps), we got to Munich around 10:30am. From there we had to catch a train to our campsite called Weis'n Camp. There were a bunch of us from my program who were all staying there so we all traveled together. We got to the camp which was already loud and crazy- there was a bar and big tent there. We checked in, found our tent (so small- hilarious!) and left to go to the Oktoberfest grounds! My friends Lauren and Lexi were dressed as beer bottles which was the funniest thing in the world- so many people asked to stop and take pictures with them! We had to catch the train (which came often and was only a ten minute walk from our campsite). I really didn't have many expectations of what Oktoberfest would be like, but esentially it was one HUGE fair! A bunch of huge beer tents, food and souvenir stands all over, and even carnival rides! It was INSANE- so crowded and so much going on! We walked around for a bit then decided to try to get into a tent. It's a LOT harder than you'd think to get in a tent- they're so crowded and only let in a certain amount of people. So we found an outdoor beer garden- the trick to getting beers if the tables are full is finding one spot where one of your friends can sit and order the beers for everyone else (they won't serve you if you aren't seated)! So we got that all worked out and just walked around the beer garden, met up with some of our friends, and had SO much fun! One of the coolest parts of Oktoberfest is how many people you meet from all over the world! We made really good friends with these Australians who hung out with us both days and met lots of people from Germany, Austria, Italy, etc. It was amazing! The rest of the day was spent running around, eating these AWESOME German pretzels, and jumping from tent to tent. Once it got dark, we went back to Weis'n Camp where the party continued- the main tent turns into a dance party at night which was so fun since all of our friends were there! Sleeping in the tents Friday night was ROUGH. It was sooo cold, despite all the blankets we had brought with us and all the layers we were wearing! Not very comfortable either but such a funny experience. Saturday morning all you could hear were people complaining and yelling about their awful night's sleep.
The next day we got up, had breakfast and went back to the fair grounds for the day! We all started at the same beer garden but split up into our own groups- it was pretty hard for everyone to stay together with such huge crowds but we used the buddy system :) haha! After another long and successful day of running around like maniacs, we went back to Weis'n Camp where everyone met up, but went to bed pretty early! We were all so exhausted! Luckily, Saturday night was MUCH better sleeping-wise. We had rented these insulation mats that really helped us- so much warmer and more comfortable!
We had to wake up Sunday to check out which was a bit of a nightmare- we had figured we'd just be able to go right up without any issues but we needed to have our tent checked before we could leave. There were tons of people trying to leave at the same time, and we had a bike tour of Munich scheduled for 11am! So I pulled one of the workers aside and asked if there was anyway we could go next- "we had to catch a train at 11am." She was so sweet and helped us out- that's one thing all of us noticed, the Germans are so friendly which I didn't really expect!
So by then, it was 10:30am so we had to run and catch the train to the meeting place for the bike tour which was in Marienplatz- a pretty famous square in Munich, where the Glockenspiel and Town Hall are located (Mom- so sad but we missed the Glockenspiel going off ! It's okay though, I definitely want to go back sometime!) We arrived a little late but luckily they had waited for us- a bunch of us from CIMBA all did the tour together so they had asked them to wait. While the others had time to put their big travel backpacks in a locker at the train station, my friends and I had not and there was NO way we were riding those bikes with those huge bags on our backs. But a really nice girl from the bike tour company helped us out and took care of our bags for us, thank god!
The bike tour was SO MUCH FUN! I am so happy we did it! Our tour guide told us that 30% of those who live in Munich use bikes as their main form of transportation so it's a very bike-able city! I fell in LOVE with Munich- it is one of the most beautiful and clean cities I have ever seen! And there is so much history in it- our tour guide told us so many cool things about the buildings we passed like where Hitler gave his first speech and where he first attempted to seize power, which streets he had marched down, etc. And I had no idea that giving the Hitler hand gesture is actually ILLEGAL in Germany! It was so interesting and we learned so much! We got to see the Residence of the old German monarchs (obviously I loved that and wanted to live there), really beautiful churches, and cool government buildings! We then rode through the English Gardens which is the largest inner-city park in the world (1/3 bigger than Central park!) It was soo beautiful and we had perfect weather! The funniest part was that some people lay out NAKED in the English Gardens- it was the most bizarre thing I've ever seen and I almost started screaming when I saw all the nudists but we were all laughing so hard! We took a break half way through for lunch at the Chinese Beer Garden, which is one of the biggest beer gardens in the world! I got such a delicious meal- the best home fry-style potatoes I have ever had and a sausage burger which I shockingly liked! I actually liked a lot of the German food I had! All this new food! Mom and Dad- aren't you proud!? Haha The last stop on the tour was this area where people can actually surf! It's called the Ice Bach and it's located in the English Gardens on the Isar River. This water is POURING out from under this bridge and it's so rough but these guys just go right in with their surf boards and use the waves to surf! It was so cool! (I'll put pics up of it soon!)
Once the tour ended we returned our bikes, which may I say were VERY difficult to ride on the cobblestone streets and I had a few close calls! Haha By then it was time to catch our bus home, so we all headed back to the train station. The bus ride home was veryyyy long and we were all so restless, but still such beautiful views of the Alps at sunset! I just wanted to keep singing the Sound of Music and now I am dying to get to Austria! We got home and passed out- such a fun, fun weekend that I will never forget!
Then, last night (Monday), we had our first formal dinner (we do this with our program 3 times this semester) which was so delicious! We all got dressed up and went to this very fancy Italian restaurant and had a 5 course meal! I tried so many new things which is so unlike me so I was very proud of myself hahah There were lots of vegetables for the antipasti, risotto then bigoli (a very thick pasta). The bigoli had duck meat on it, which I was not informed of until after eating it (thank the Lord because there would have been no way I would have eaten it haha) but it was actually good! Then really thin sliced steak and potatoes- SO, SO good and one of my favorite meals from home! I don't even know what the dessert was- some form of ice cream with a crust and hot sauce- but it was amazing! I was so full I thought I was going to pass out!
Such a fun, crazy weekend and I am so sad it's over- I want to do it all over again! haha But this Saturday we leave for our first travel week which will be so great! We're headed to Paris for 3 days, then Madrid for 2, then ending in Barcelona! Lots to do this week for school and getting ready for next week, but so much to look forward to! :)