Sunday, May 6, 2012

Going out in Style....Fruhlingsfest in Munich, Germany!

The last big trip I had planned before finals and heading back to America was Munich, for an annual spring festival held, called Fruhlingsfest. It is considered to be the little sister of Oktoberfest and it certainly did not disappoint. Our trip was planned months ago, which only aided in everyone's anticipation. In total, about 25 or 30 of us made the trip to Germany. We flew in and landed around 8am and traveled to our hostel, which was a little bit of a commute outside of the main city center, but easy enough. The Munich underground system is very easy, and pretty lenient, so it wasn't difficult for us to get to wherever we needed to go. There were nine of us in the room, and the hostel itself was more like an apartment than a typical hostel, with two stories, three bedrooms and a private bath; very nice for being fairly inexpensive. 

The first day, we met up with quite of few people (everyone ended up staying at different hostels around Munich) at the Hofbrauhaus, a world famous brewery that has locations all over the world, but the Munich location is the original. It is known as being the place where Hitler gave his speech in 1920 prior to his imprisonment and Mein Kampf, and later became a popular Nazi location while Hitler was in power. The venue itself is beautiful, it's main purpose being a restaurant and brewery. We drank our first German beers out of the massive beer steins, and then headed on our way to Fruhlingfest. 

Katie and I enjoying our first liters of German beer!

The festival itself from the outside looks like any carnival or fair. Lots of rides, food stands, and booth after booth of games to play. But needless to say, the reason we were there was not for the carnival atmosphere, but rather the massive beer tents. You simply enter the tent and it is row after row of large picnic-like tables and benches, and at the very front, a large stage and band. We met up with everyone from our London program and grabbed a couple of tables for the group. Men and women walk through the rows of tables carrying steins full of beer, or if asked Raddler, which is a combination of beer and lemonade. Each was about 8 euro, which originally seemed like a lot, until you realize you are drinking the same as about three normal beers. The day started out come and relaxed, but by nightfall the entire tent was standing on benches, cheers-ing and singing at the top of our lungs to all the covers of popular American music being played by the band. The festival ended at 11pm, but Gracie, Katie and I headed out probably around 9:30 to catch some sleep for the next day. 

View of the Tent!

Eating a giant pretzel! Delicious!

The next day, to put it lightly, consisted of nothing but drinking. We had reservations for the other tent at the festival which went from 12:30 to 5:30pm. We ate some classic German food, which was absolutely delicious, and drank a lot of beer. The set up was the same, except there was not a lot of standing on benches that early in the afternoon. It was just a good time to hang out, drink, meet some Germans and overall enjoy the day. After 5:30 we headed back to the other tent to continue the drinking and festivities. I grabbed a brat to eat on our way there, which was FANTASTIC! Couldn't leave Germany without a traditional bratwurst. The night continued the same as the previous day, and once again, we had an incredible time. It is definitely a tourist attraction, and I was lucky enough to run into Thomas, who is my best friend and roommate, Emma's boyfriend. He has been studying in Rome and had come for the weekend as well; it was great to see a face from back home! 

Enjoying our time at the tents for a full day! (Katie, myself, Gracie, Renata, and Paige)

Part of the gang
On Sunday we took a little break from the beer and traveled around Munich for the day. We headed into the city center and walked around for quite sometime. The architecture and colors in Munich are beautiful, and it was not colder than about 75 degrees the entire time we were there, so perfect conditions for tourists. We spent most of our time in the English Gardens, which is a massive park in the heart of Munich. It was extremely beautiful, and filled with people walking dogs and playing with their children, just an overall nice atmosphere to spend a good amount of time in. There is a river that runs through the park, and by far the coolest thing we saw were surfers who are able to surf at one particular spot on the river. I really have no idea how or why it works, but bottom line it was amazing. We spent quite a good amount of time watching them, then made the decision to grab some food and head back to our hostel for a little break. Again, we headed to the festival for a while, and then later met up with about ten other people at the Hofbrauhaus just to hang out after a long day of touring. 

The English Gardens

Surfers on the river
On Monday we took a train and bus into Dachau to take a tour of the concentration camp that is located there. I'll do a separate post for that trip, because needless to say, it deserves its own. We were there for a good amount of time, then headed back to the city center, grabbed some souvenirs and food for the road, and headed back to the hostel to pack up our things. We took the underground back to the airport, and headed home to London. Overall, it was an incredible trip in a beautiful city, which I got to share with some of the most incredible people. It was definitely bittersweet flying out of Munich, knowing that this would be the last big trip with all of us together, but I couldn't think of a better way to end such an amazing semester with some of the best people I have ever met.