07 October 2008

Munich!

To the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game":

Take me to the Oktoberfest!
Take me to the beer tent!
Buy me some pretzels and Weissbier! ["wheat beer"]
I don't care if I never leave here!
'Cause it's prost, prost prost for the Weissbier ["Prost" is German for cheers]
Because ich habe ein Tisch! ["Because I have a table!"]
And it's eine, zwei, drei Weissbieren ["And it's one, two, three wheat beers"]
At Oktoberfest!


Oktoberfest was so much more than we imagined. We went with a large group (as you can see from the pictures). Our friends Chris Miller and Lisa Graham (the Grillers for short) each had siblings and friends of siblings flying in for the occasion, so they went on over to Munich on Friday while the rest of us slaved away at the office. By the time we arrived on Saturday, they had already had a wild evening out the night before, had gotten up at the crack of dawn to get a table in one of the beer halls (or tents, as they call them), after obtaining a table had gotten kicked out (becuase of another group's booking, not their behaviour!), and had secured another table outside the beer hall. I'll let Andrew take over from here...

Well we are back from Munich and we are definately worse for wear. We had a BIG time in Munich . Kelly and I left London around 7:30 and landed in Munich at 10:30. By the time we made our way from the airport to the hotel, checked in, and walked to the festival it was close to 1:00. When we arrived we realized it is a gigantic carnival (think Birmingham fair grounds) but with everyone wearing traditional Bavarian outfits. There were big roller coasters, booth games, cotton candy and, of course the huge beer tents.

So we wandered across the whole grounds over to the Sch├╝tzenfesthalle tent where we went to meet Chris and Lisa (London friends) and their guests, a group of eight people. We were immediately served half liters of beer but in tall glasses and not the cool steins. We stayed at the Sch├╝tzenfesthalle tent a long time as it was so nice outside (65 and sunny), and we were very thankful to have a seat. The biggest problem there were the bathrooms. They were terribly small and took a long time to get through [Kelly add-in: They were serving that much beer, and all they had was TWO STALLS in the ladies room. Needless to say, the lines were off the charts. When a person got up to go to the loo, we said, "See you in an hour," because that's actually how long it took!!].

We all sat and chatted and sang ridiculous songs we made up for the festival (see lyrics to one of them above). Needless to say, we were having a very good time. We stayed till around 6pm, during which time our other three friends from London arrived and joined us. They arrived around 3pm, by which time the beer tent "guards" had closed the gates into the tent. People were standing in line to get in. We forced our friends in by assuring security they had seats at a table, but it was really that crowded.


After a while we got sick of the bathroom situation [Kelly add-in: We girls were sick of the bathroom situation; the guys had figured out an alternative.] and went into downtown Munich to the Hofbraeuhaus. Getting in was complete pandamonium as people were jammed against one another. We were told to wait, but when they opened the gates, we all just scattered upon entering to find seating.



We secured a table outside in the courtyard and stayed there enjoying big litres of beer from the large German steins. We met all of these random people and continuously singing our songs. We had eaten a little at the first tent but we eat a little more here. By 10pm, I was finished. I mean done! No more! Nicht mehr! I put myself in a cab to the hotel and went to bed. Kelly stayed with our group of friends from Londnon, 13 people in total, and came in an hour later. Neal called me at 4:30am (German time) with the Alabama/Georgia score, but I could barely speak to him I was so tired. Needless to say, though, I was really excited.

I woke around 8am and promptly got on the internet to check the football news, read the articles and revel in UA's dominating victory. I was even able to watch some of a replay on ESPN before Kelly got up around 10am, and we started getting ready to go out for the day. So for breakfast, we wander around until we find a cafe [Kelly add-in: to which we had a map from the hotel, which Andrew dropped somewhere along the way]. To say we loaded up on eggs, pancakes, omelettes and coffee and orange juice would be a gross understatement. We ordered more food than our table could hold! There were only five of us by then, as the Griller group hopped an early train to Prague. So after an outstanding breakfast (keep in mind it's noon), we wander over to the Oktoberfest grounds and go to the Augustiner tent.



The Augustiner tent is a huge tent and very traditional. There were lots of families there, and it seemed more low key. It was really crowded, and we were about to leave for another tent until Kelly saw some folks leaving and hopped in there and grabbed seats at an outdoor table. Again, it's 70 degrees and sunny, so we were happy to sit outside. We all took lots of sun on our faces [Kelly add-in: Some of more than others; I'm still feeling the effects].



This is exactly what I always envisioned Oktoberfest to be. Our "waitress" was missing teeth, but she could carry eight steins at once. The steins hold a litre of beer and are heavy when empty. We met all types of German folks who seemed to enjoy talking to us and are definitely having a great time.



We sat there until around 6pm when one of the guys next to us mentions as he's leaving that if we want to get a table inside and sit for the night, that would be the best time, as lots of people would be leaving shortly causing a rush of tables and people waiting to get them. So we sent the girls (Kelly and Sharon) to go scout it while we three boys sat outside to hold out outside table.

Well, me and Emanuel were sitting outside while Kevin (who is single) talked to an attractive German woman in traditional garb. The phone rang signalling that the girls got seats, so we wrench Kevin away from the Geman to find that Kelly and Sharon have gotten us seats right in the middle of all of the action [Kelly add-in: Sharon and I found a table with three young Italian guys who hardly spoke any English. The table had room for about 10, so we indicated that we had three more outside, and they said we could sit down. Was it our fault they thought we meant three more women?]. We proceeded to stay there for the remainder of the evening (until 10pm) dancing on the tables (with everyone else in the room) and singing with the band and talking to random strangers while our waitress continued to bring us more steins, which by now are completely unnecessary. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. [Kelly add-in: Andrew even got hit on by a good-looking German girl who was waving to him from a few tables away, but he, of course, behaved himself!]



We finally left and Kelly befriended a random American kid who was drinking out of a running shoe. His name was Jeff, aka Alcoholiday, and he randomly joined us while we grabbed some dinner at a random restaurant on the way towards our hotel. Kelly ate something Mexican, as she usually does when it's on the menu. I don't know when she'll ever learn that Mexican food is not good in Europe. I tripped over a fallen bicycle on the way and chipped one of the steins I smuggled out, but the fact that stein survived the fall and made the trip back is a testament to the entire weekend trip.

Waking up yesterday and travelling home may have been one of the most painful experiences of my life. Coming right back into the office today was even worse. We watched the Alabama/Georgia game last night on ESPN archive. It was a great game! I can't believe we are number two in the country. Anyway, we made it home safely. Of the six glasses we stole from Germany five are just fine. Only one glass broke on the trip home, but it was one of the ones from the Sch├╝tzenfesthalle tent that weren't traditional steins anyway.

[Kelly add-in: Next time we go to Oktoberfest, I'll make Andrew wear lederhosen.]

Bama vs Kentucky


17-14!

Nathan and Emily Vaughn hosted the London Alabama Alumni Association again. Thanks so much for letting us have the group over, Nathan and Emily! Your place is so much larger than ours, and when we've had as good a turnout to watch the games as we have this year, it really makes the seating arrangements much easier!

We look forward to seeing the Tide roll on in another couple of weeks!

PS I'm wearing the scarf you gave me, Aunt Burma, because, yes, IT IS THAT COLD!