I don’t think I would love Bavaria as much as I do if it wasn’t home to so many wonderful beer festivals. I’ve been to a few since I’ve arrived here – Oktoberfest, obviously and Starkbierfest – both interesting and unique in their own special ways. Oktoberfest is world famous and is absolutely worth visiting at least once in your life if you are a beer enthusiast and can throw back a few liters of beer on any given day. Starkbierfest (which means strong beer in English) was unique in its merchandise – beer that is loaded with carbs and a lot of potential to get you really wasted. I was lucky enough to attend both of these beer festivals (sadly I never went to the Dachau Volksfest and will miss it this summer) and, even better, I was able to attend in my tracht wear (aka dirndl) – a traditional Bavarian dress!
This past weekend, I rocked my dirndl once again and headed out to join my friends for a day of beer and sunshine at this year’s Frühlingsfest celebration. I was expecting something along the lines of Oktoberfest size but I was met with a much smaller reality. Frühlingsfest boasts only two beer tents – Augustiner and Hippodrom – and takes up about 2/8 of the space that Oktoberfest occupied. (I only fully realized this when I was ascending the crest of the Wasserbahn (log ride) and could see the grounds of Theresienwiese laid out below us.) The festival includes a midway and carnival rides and tons and tons of delicious food and drink.
Upon arrival, my friends and I first decided to have a good old fashioned race down the massive slide. I was overconfident that I would win and definitely did not. My fellow American friend, Dieter, managed to beat both Jennie and I in a race back to ground level. This carnival slide was very sophisticated – with nine slide lanes, furry bottomed slide blankets, and an escalator that took you to the top. German’s are so efficient!
After our epic slide race, we decided to try the beer tents and were met with great surprise. They were practically empty. After attending Oktoberfest, I expected it to be much of the same frenzied madness but there was no such chaos. In fact, we left the first beer tent, Augustiner, to see if the second one, the Hippodrom, was more lively or less family friendly. It was pretty much at the same level of excitement and so we settled there anyway, intent on visiting the second beer tent later. The Hippodrom is famous during Oktoberfest for being the posh, celebrity-favorited beer tent and, to be honest, it was quite fancy. The decorations were really ornate and the beer, of Spaten variety, was crisp and delicious (unlike Augustiner which we later tasted and found to be extremely flat). We enjoyed each other’s company and our beers for the first hour or so as more of our friends trickled in and joined us. After a while, Jennie left to wander the grounds and then Dieter and I shortly followed – and got 1/2 meter long bratwurst on the way.
After regrouping with Jennie, we headed back to the Hippodrom to meet with everyone else but found them all leaving the tent as we arrived. We all decided to go on some of our favorite rides and then would reconvene and go to Augustiner. Ana, Dieter, Candice, Jennie, and I went on the Super Skooter bumper cars and banged our knees up pretty bad. We took a few decent hits on that one. After the ride, we met up with everyone else and managed to get back to the Augustiner beer tent. And so began the night’s epic revelry.
After one of our friends got kicked out of the beer tent for jumping between tables (??) we decided to break things up and go on some more rides. We had managed to accumulate some cheap beer, food, and ride tickets from the Bavarian dancer children and so we had a lot of sweet deals. We took the ride passes and ventured back to the Midway where we drunkenly rode on some pretty crazy spinning machines and then ate more food.
We finished the night with our beer and 1/2 hendl (chicken!) coupons at Hippodrom (where Amy and I bonded over girl time in the bathroom) and then we went back to Augustiner where the music was better and our friends were more plentiful. We danced all night long, until they kicked us out at closing, and then we met a Bavarian Captain America in the midway. We all went to our respective homes after that and said good night to a perfect beer festival celebration. I hope I can afford to go again!
It amazes me, still, to find that I am constantly falling in love with Germany and the life that I live here. I’m always making new friends (and good ones, at that!) and I’m waking up every morning excited to live my life. There were times, as I grew up and moved on through my life, that I wondered when I would feel that absolute peace with my life and myself and for the first time in… maybe forever… I’ve found that feeling and I love it. It’s going to be so hard to leave Munich next month. I know that I am going to cry and be an emotional mess. How do I walk away from this year of my life? I have no idea at this point! I don’t want to!