Beer. Sausage. A German Hockey team. A drunken Norwegian family. Naps. Loud singing until the wee hours. A poor lost Australian. Extremely polite but firm police encounters. Dancing on tables. Lederhosen.
I have just returned from Oktoberfest (Wiesn) in Munchen (Munich) and it was the best thing I could have possibly done in Europe.
This all grew out of a conversation I had on a beach in Cinque Terre where I randomly ran into some other SAIS students and had lunch with them. I shared with them my dream of going to Oktoberfest but lamented that my roommates weren't really interested in going.
Fast forward to last Monday when I got a text message from one of those students, Alyssa, asking whether Oktoberfest was still in the books. It was. I immediately started doing research and Alyssa and I picked up two other adventurers as we made a cheap hotel reservation and reserved a rental car. Is that all you need to plan a trip of this magnitude? A car, a room and 4 excited people? Well, turns out, yes that's all you need.
Well, that and songbook full of Wiesn songs. I learned a few before we left:
We left for Germany at midnight on Saturday. I took a 2 hour nap earlier in the evening in preparation for our all night drive. I was the only one who could drive a manual transmission, so I had a 6 hour drive ahead of me. We drove through northern Italy and Austria and reached southern Germany just as the sun was coming up.
We had only been driving in Munchen for about 5 minutes when our car was pulled over. This story could have ended very poorly, but two jolly German cops got out of the car, somehow could immediately tell we were Americans and asked, "Shpreken ze ingish?"
Me: "Ah! Yes!"
Police Officer (In perfect English): "Could I have your car's papers and your driver's license please?"
Me: "Sure. May I ask, what did we do wrong?"
Police Officer: "Oh nothing, it's just a random stop. Can you get out of the car please?"
The smiling police officer asked a few polite questions and seemed very amused that I was a Californian driving an Italian car in Germany. Then she breathalyzed me. At this point, the girls sleeping in the back of the car woke up and looked out the window to see me being breathalyzed by two German police officers.
I blew 0.0 of course.
On our way again, we realized that our directions had done a great job of getting us to Bavaria, but weren't so good a getting us to our hotel. We pulled over a few times to ask people, but none spoke English and it was 7 in the morning. We finally ran into a french dude who gave us a printed out Google Map of Munich. We thanked him in broken French, parked the car and headed to Oktoberfest!
To be continued...