The first stop on my student exchange adventure was the authentic Bavarian Oktoberfest in Munich. Everybody thinks that Oktoberfest starts in October but it actually begins in mid September which is when I went. I wasn't supposed to go on this trip at all but a spot opened up that my Australian friend told me about and I jumped at the opportunity. Being spontaneous was one of my mindsets on this exchange and to take every chance at adventure.
After a long 9 hour delay ridden train ride from Frankfurt we arrived in Munich at last. We wanted to fit in as much as possible so we all purchased authentic lederhosen for about 70 euros and we looked legit. Our accommodations were outside in a campsite a little bit outside the city, my first time camping too. It was pretty cold but I can honestly sleep anywhere, just ask my friends.
In the morning we headed off to Oktoberfest, my first assumptions of Oktoberfest was people getting drunk all over town but it was actually contained in a carnival ground area much like the CNE in Toronto. I was surprised that it was a family type of environment with rides, food, midway games and of course the beer tents. The beer tents and each have their own different look and feel to them which was cool. We all ordered the famous 1 litre Steiners with German beer for 10 euros each, which is a bit expensive. This was the definitely the earliest I have drank alcohol (10 AM). In these beer tents there are a lot of singing and dancing up on tables but with drunk people it gets very messy/sticky and a couple of fights actually broke out and that was our queue to get out of there and explore the city.
Munich is a nice city but very small. There are essentially two main parts to the city, the industrial side and the historical side so we went to go see some history. We had no idea where we were going but I feel like getting lost in a city is the best way to explore it and you are constantly getting surprised by what you see. So with our lederhosen on we walked all around the town, saw some churches, stumbled upon a cultural fair, the shopping district and grabbed some food.
The next day we all decided to go see Dachau the concentration camp, which was one of the first camps to be created. It was very eerie walking the grounds of the camp and you could just feel what had happened there. The quiet made it easy to put yourself into the shoes of the captors and try to feel how they felt during that time. Definitely a unique experience. The first picture below is the Dachau Memorial. It is a symbolic representation of the struggle of the the jews and people in the camp as all the bodies are trapped in what looks to be barbed wire.
After that a friend and I headed to Olympic park and the BMW museum to check out some cars. The Olympic park is huge but very outdated as the Munich Olympics were in 1972. The BMW museum was interesting seeing how BMW got here today and saw some of James Bond's cars. We went back to Oktoberfest to check it out at night and it definitely comes to life with all the lights, music and people still drinking since the morning. You could honestly just stay in the beer tents for the entire day and you wouldn't even be aware that you did, time passes so fast especially with good company.
Some of the great people I met on the trip were students from UNSW (University of New South Wales) in Australia. Australians are so adventerous, nice, down to earth people much like Canadians, I really felt like they were my brothers and sisters. There were also a couple of crazy New Zealanders who the Australians refer to them as "Kiwis", I am not sure why though. That's what the great thing about travelling, especially if you do it in hostels or big campsites you meet people you would have never met before and they educate you on the world and bring different perspectives to it. It is one of my favourite things about the hostel life.
Finally back the way we came to good old Manchester. Until next time...
Final Thoughts and Recommendations
Food/Beverages: Sausages were really good. The bratwurst and the currywurst were probably my favourite. They also have this pork knuckle dish that was interesting, the skin was really crispy and salty kind of like Chinese roast pork. I had the Lowenbrau beer, which had a good taste but was surprisingly strong for about 4.5% alcohol. Drink your beer at a good pace or else it will get flat and is visible to the waitresses since there are no suds and they will then not serve you as quickly. If you want another type of beer there is always the radler, which is a good alternative if you do not enjoy beer as they mix it with soda or lemonade.
People: Everyone there was really friendly and almost everyone speaks English so it is easy to get around. Service is really bad in restaurants as there weren't really any hostesses so we had to find seats ourselves, which I found weird but we didn't have to pay tips so I guess it makes sense.