Friday, September 27, 2013

Blood, Tears, & Beer

A 6 hour bus ride turned into 7 and a half with the traffic, but there was good company on the bottom half of the bus...  Gibbo, and Nick from Australia, a Polish girl who knew 5 languages, and a boy who loved sparkling water beyond any amount of hate on the fizzy bubbly by Gibbo.  Finally arrived at the Munich ZOB around 5pm, with the S-Bahn right there I made my way to central station then to Markus's.  Waiting at the platform for me was a tall guy with curly brown hair, very sweet and easy going - it was my first time meeting him, being my friends brother, who I also havn't seen in 6 years.  I couldn't be more grateful for being able to crash his couch on late notice.  In the beginning I didn't even know I would be walking into Munich at the very start of Oktoberfest, until I switched Spain and Germany's order looking on CouchSurfing and hostels - it looked like a fucking nightmare.  And then I see the flashing sign on the screen OKTOBERFEST! Lets call it fate.

Markus is a waiter for Schottenhamel, and also a student - taking his breaks far away with dreamy travels as well, Israel being a favorite of his.  He lived with one other roommate, Teresa, and in their little common area was more waiters and waitresses for the festival.  The building was a partridge house, being next to the church, so on occasion priests lived next door or up the stairs, what have you, from time to time.

Markus and Teresa had to be at their tents the opening day at 7AM, and yes people also wake up that early to line up and try to snag a table when it opened at 10 - meaning they then waited until 12 to drink ; when the beer is finally served.  I grabbed my own lil breakfast and explored around his neighborhood in the morning, taking my time.  He lived just next to Gartnerplatz area, cute with plenty of cafes and independent boutiqes and book stores.  Made my way to the festival around 2PM.  Tne U-Bahn was packed with police, beer, feathered hats, suspenders, and laderhosen.  Couldn't tell you how bummed I was to not be dressed up too.

Lots of singing, yelling, and clinking of beers.  It's well... a festival for beer.  You got your rides, your finger food stands, balloons, etc etc. The grounds were hugeee, and people from everywhere, taking pictures, stuffing their faces, falling down, getting up, swingin around.

Markus helped me get in without waiting in line for too long, and into the biergarten where he asked a table if they could make room for me.  I ended up sitting with some aussie gals and canadian guys who had been there since 10am.  Nicky, Linny, and Rosie doin a grip of traveling as well for months, with Rosie moving to Berlin just after the festival.  The boys, well, just there for the festivities.  They were so fun, I was pretty stoked to have ended up there. hehe 


Markus! the best waiter ever

Grant, one of the Canadians and a girl from Austria...

Tiny Tim goes for a swim

Another aussie, also named Kimmy joined us, and we drank up while some people stood on tables to skull an entire stein in one sitting... or standing I guess. If you were able to - the cheers echoed, and if you paused for even a millisecond the boos shook the ground.  We witnessed plenty of both.  A group of Italians sat next to us, and we couldn't help but notice them staring... til one grabbed my hands and was saying over and over SO BEAUTIFUL SO BEAUTIFUL. I'm saying Noo, haha, I don't speak Italian I'm sorry! Ho fame?  Then, Mike was all over Nicky and Linny and then was grabbing my face as well... not sure if I've seen an Italian look so mad before.  He glared at Mike and looked to me as if for permission to kick his ass.  But, Nicky and I just laughed (while smacking Mike in the face to sober him up) not too long later we left the tent to indulge in fair food, and to try and lose them haha.

Mike, Rosie, Nicky, and the back of Linny's head


So we wandered and wandered... til making our way down to Hofbrau house where I finally found Johanna, Markus's sister!  She was waitressing in the biergarten with Teresa, and we had a handful of minutes to catch up, inbetween the drunks coming up asking if we'd like to share a beer. I met Jo in a mediocre photography class my senior year of highschool, and we both definitely look the same but I notice she grew so much! Taller obviously, but Jo's been traveling every spare minute, just recently South America I think... a real vagabond (says Markus haha) with scattered belongings but a hard working and conscious mind set - it's really motivating to see people grow like that... if that could make sense.  Maybe I'm just happy that I actually made it to Munich and to see her again; we joked about it in highschool - never thought it would happen.  Ah so proud of her, but I digress... Lost my aussie girls, who were in the bathroom or something when Jo decided to take me into the tent to see what it was like on the inside.  And it was mayhem - going through the kitchen, past the tables, and the bars, the band, the sweat mixing with beer...

Found my way back to Schottenhamel where I was spinning in circles outside until I hear a OI! 

It was the Italians, out of all people, lookin so happy to have found me isolated. I let out a drunk shriek combined with a nervous laugh while they hugged me saying they lost their friends and if I would please kiss them haha. 

Then at a table I spotted Aussie Kimmy! Grabbed another beer trying to recolate what happened during our separation, when one of the Canadians found us. Whoops hello...Awkward... but really they were nice guys, even he just said Mike was being such a drunk baby - which is yes, why we lost them earlier hah.  No time for that. 

The next day I explored the markets of Marienplatz  before going into the festival again.  It was a nice square - lovely buildings, and puppet clock thingy, fruit and meat stands in the markets, and all your big brand clothing / department stores...  Then this time I went to Hofbrau first, caught up with Jo on the night, and then she took me to find a nice place inside the tent, since I already spent my time on the outside the first day.  All the tables looked filled with outrageous and yet upset-drunks, so no room for me there.  We finally just stopped near the middle under the floating harp mascot thing (covered in panties and bras) where it was the standing area... I think Hofbrau was the only tent that allowed standing in the tent at all. Anyhow, Jo says "Well, here is the crazy area, if you go in, you'll meet some crazy people and have a beer in no time... is that okay?" Haha, more than okay.

Jono & Luke from Australia


Sensitive boys gettin in a fight

Stepping in, I met some guys from San Francisco, and then more Aussies.  Asked who I came with, and like the loner I was I shook my head and was further greeting with clinking beers and big cheers.  They were the chillest - I was really lucking out with the people I was meeting.  So ordered another round of beers, and Luke was such a pal lending me his hat to feel a little more festive (plus it was making him sweaty).  With them was Jono's brothers gf Casey, a super sweet girl, who I think may have been the only witness to me dropping my phone into a full stein of beer...maybe Jono saw it too... I can't remember. But it LIVES! It is truly a miracle. Be it my cat reflexes or the Otterbox case, my phone still worked haha.  Then not too long later, I'm dancing on a table... Luke too I think, and all over the tent there were others amongst the sea of people.  The band played Queen, and YMCA, and some other German songs having us all arms around each other singing and swinging back and forth.  Then something tumbled into our table, and I fell off.  Ouchie.

After last call and all that fun stuff, met back up with Markus and Jo for a beer off the festival grounds. Death was everywhere - young guys old guys, vomit, broken glasses, giggling girls, bars and clubs around going off with their after parties. Went to a small bar called Frau Li where some other waiters and locals snuck to. sadly it was my last time to see them, because the next day I was moving to another (recent) friend, Matt's brothers home - just also next to the festival grounds! Him and his girlfriend were out of town for the opening but kind enough to host me when thy returned. so I was excited I meet them.

The Panty Harpist

The biggest of thanks to Markus and Johanna for being the duo reason I've got to experience the explosion of Oktoberfest my first time in Munich, and at the end of my run through Germany!  Saying Danke will never be enough and I am for sure returning again. 


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Not Long Enough

With finding a super awesome host for Oktoberfest opening weekend in Munich (Sept 21), my time in Berlin was cut short (or else taking the bus the day it begins - I'd probably not make it at all) so I ended up leaving a day early... plus its a 6-7 hr bus ride too. But I sped through as much as I could with my tired eyes wide open anyhow.  There are the obvious places like Alexanderplatz, with all your touristy needs and trams on trams on trams and armycaps, and Friedrichstrasse aka shopping boulevard - moreso your highend brands, department boxes of shops, and well not my cup of tea, but a nice walk anyhow until it started raining.  

Hamburg ZOB waiting for Meinfernbus 





Off Potsdamerplatz is a good handful of places to check in a day- pieces of the Berlin Wall (then larger memorial is just north of it, and more painted pieces off Ostbahnhof).  Then continuing down the way about mmm 10 minutes is the Holocaust Memorial (Field of Stelae).  Getting there around 11am, and you'll just possibly beat the school rush of giggling, skipping teenage hormones.  And another lesser 10 minutes down is the Brandenburger Tor. 

Brandenburger Tor 

Hackeschermarkt had... yes, a market of currywurst stands, art, jewelry, bags, pastries etc and some thrift stores / independent brands further down inbetween the streets. Further on you'll come upon Kunstaus Tacheles, an abandoned shopping mall turned art center; oozing street art, street scribbles, and mannequins comin out the window up top.  

Made in Berlin Vintage Store

Kunstaus Tacheles

Remember Zoe, the Super Aussie? Well, she apparently looked into my soul when we met and sent a nice lil list of more abandoned places to check in Berlin, like an abandoned train station complex called Suicide Circus just near Warschaeur Strass, grips of bars, street art, and skate park inside this bombed out train station... Teufelsberg, an old WWII spy tower on the other side of the city... and when you look close enough you can see the patched up bullet holes on some walls... AAAGGGGHHHHH it breaks my heart to not have been able to see them all and talk about it, so I'm stopping there.  The one and a half days were a tease, but if I ever make it back out to Euro - Berlin is without a doubt going to be the first stop.  A rough city with some serious hidden gems... it's like a dream that's over too quick yah?