The weekend after my Berlin trip, I went to Munich. This time it was a really small trip with just three of us going, myself and Jon & Kelly (I group them together because they are married). From early on, I’ve been close to Jon & Kelly because they are from Cleveland so they like the same sports teams as me, and they also both know Salesforce really well so they “speak my language” when it comes to work. Like I said before, I really wanted to do two trips to Germany this month and even though I missed out on another Prague weekend, I feel like I made the right decision. The the first weekend of the big Springfest (Fruhlingsfest) Festival was the weekend we went, which certainly made the decision to go that much easier. Basically, it is a smaller Oktoberfest that takes place in April every year. Oktoberfest has been on my bucket list for a long time but since I will be in Argentina in October, I figured this would be a close second and still check something off my list. The weekend was awesome and I loved Munich! It was so much different than Berlin so I’m really glad I did both and got to experience a part of the most German event I know of, Oktoberfest.
The train to Munich was a bit long, 6 hours, and I realized that this my threshold for train rides. Anything getting to 7 or 8 hours, I’d rather fly unless it is an overnight train, at least that is what I told myself after this weekend. Jon booked a great AirBnB for us this weekend. We were on the 11th floor of a nice apartment overlooking the city and festival grounds. The owner of the apartment usually doesn’t rent his place out, so it was nice staying in an apartment that felt more like a home. The view of the city was amazing, we were just a stone’s throw from the festival and 3 metro stops to the city center.
The first thing we did was check out the festival grounds. I had assumed it would just be a couple of big beer tents but there was a full-scale carnival going on. It reminded me of the South Carolina fair or other big fairs I’ve been to. Tons of food, games, bumper cars, swing rides, etc. On opposite sides of the grounds were two huge beer tents that could fit two to three thousand people each. We stopped in to check one out and were blown away by how many people there were all dressed up in their lederhosens and dirndls. We, wearing normal clothes, knew we had to find some traditional outfits before we could join the fun. Just outside the grounds, was a massive flea market. It seemed to go on forever and we assumed we could get a better deal on our outfits haggling here than in a store. Almost immediately, Kelly found a perfect dress for 30 Euro so Jon and I now had the pressure on us to find outfits for ourselves. The lederhosens were a bit more difficult to find because they were ether was too expensive, the wrong size or the wrong style. Eventually, I stumbled upon one in a random box. I knew this was my chance so I immediately tried it right on, and although it was a little small, I knew I had to pull the trigger. They didn’t come with the traditional overalls but they did have some cool leg-warmer type things that looked German enough for me. A lot of haggling and 40 Euro later, I had my outfit. Now the pressure was really on Jon and after another hour or so, he had found his outfit. Step one of finding our German outfits was complete and now we set out for the city center.
After Berlin, I wasn’t expecting much of the architecture and buildings but I was very impressed. Huge buildings, gardens, churches and statues surround the center of Munich. The architecture of these buildings is stunning and it was especially cool to see them right at sunset. We just walked around and forgot we were hungry because everywhere we looked was another cool building or statue. We stopped by the famous HofBrauHaus and although it was too busy to sit down for a beer, it was still cool to see. I remember growing up we had a stein in the house from here and I always wondered where it was from. Now I know and this entire trip has brought a lot of those memories back. I am able to experience some of the same things and memories my parents created in their travels in Europe, which has been a really cool feeling. Even though I am blazing my own trail, it also feels like I am following in their footsteps a bit and to see those steins at the Hofbrauhaus was certainly one of those moments.
After walking around the city, we went to a Schnitzel house for amazing schnitzel, got some groceries and called it a night. The next morning we woke up bright and early, had a nice home-cooked breakfast (by Jon) and headed to the festival grounds. Now, I won’t try to glamorize what our goal for the day was because it was pretty straight forward. Drink Steins, lots of steins in our German outfits, cheers many times and make many new friends. We definitely did all of this and more. We got to the beer tent “early” but it was still packed. Since there were only three of us we were able to find a spot right in the center. We sat next to 5 older Italian guys and it was funny seeing them struggle with our German waitress the same as we were. Sometimes, you just assume all Europeans can understand each other but that is definitely not the case and you remember how many different languages are really spoken here (Each of my first 6 months will be a different language). It took us a while to get our waitress over to order so naturally, we had to order two steins at once and naturally, we had to drink them fast so they wouldn’t get warm. The vibe in the tent was so electric! Every once in a while, there would be loud chants from a corner of the room and a live band playing many sing-a-longs that we pretending to know. Everyone was dressed to the nines in their German outfits and it was everything I had imagined it would be! The only thing I didn’t take into account was that I had to unbutton and re-button 5 buttons every time I used the bathroom. Remember as you see in the pictures above, I was wearing very tight shorts made out of leather. I certainly lost track of the steins I consumed but was still able to walk on my own when we left, so I’d call that a win.
The next day we checked out the BMW museum and the Munich Olympic Park. The museum was really impressive and the history of BMW was very interesting. It was a fairly small company making engines before WWII started when all of their efforts were switched to making airplane engines and other random items for the war effort. It was neat to learn that the company quadrupled in size from the war and became a main training center afterwards to get people back to work. The museum had many of their old cars on display and I was surprised by the history as I didn’t know they made cars back in the 1920s and 1930s. Of course, it was also nice seeing all of the more modern cars and motorcycles they are now famous for. Afterwards, we took the short walk over to the Olympic Park where Munich hosted the 1972 Summer Olympics – of course notoriously overshadowed by the terrorist attack on the Israeli athletes. The park itself was very cool and the architecture of the arenas was compelling. It looked as these arenas were made of fabric held up at different points to create sharp angels and points. When you got closer, you saw these were metal structures which made the curves and angles that much more unique. I wouldn’t say they were the prettiest arenas I had ever seen but I’m sure they were very modern and cutting-edge at the time. It was a really great walk as the weather was beautiful and a bike festival going with people doing backflips and such. We didn’t mean to walk into that but we’re glad we did. After this, we went back into the city center to eat a delicious German lunch. I had some bratwurst and sauerkraut which I was very happy but I will say Kelly’s cheese spaetzel stole the show. I daresay it was up there with some of the best mac n’ cheeses I’ve had. Once we were full, we hopped on the train to head back.
Munich blew away my expectations and I definitely want to go back. The city center was more beautiful than I expected and easy to walk around and maneuver. There were still plenty of places we didn’t get to check out that I would’ve liked to but thats ok, I will just have to visit again. Springfest was so fun and I was so glad I got to check something off my bucket list. The German people we met were very friendly even though we were clearly American tourists dressed in second-hand German outfits. The city was very, very green and the whole Bavarian region has a different feel than Berlin. The train-ride down was very picturesque through the countryside as we saw sloping green hills with many small villages along the way. Although I didn’t see the name Kreutz as often as Berlin, I still felt a connection to Munich through my last name and heritage. Germany is a country that I really enjoyed and will definitely go back to someday!