Hallo meine Damen und Herren!
My plans to regale you day by day with our adventures were squashed due to poor reception in Germany – not Germany’s fault, our phones just did not want to actually connect with any network. Very sad indeed.
However, I shall charm and delight you all with the tales of our Germany journey – starting from the very beginning.
We arrived at O’Hare super early, cause you really never know how security is going to be. Sometimes you get stuck behind people who have never flown before and have no idea what they need to do to get though in a timely fashion. Sometimes you’re behind travel pros who have everything ready to put in the bins before they even reach the front of the line. You just never know.
Luckily for us, security didn’t take too long, so we had enough time to enjoy a pint or two before our seven hour flight do Dublin.
Boarding the plane was painless – no seating issues this time around, plenty of empty seats to spread out (which was good because Andrew was stuck behind a gentleman who reclined his seat fully the entire flight – including immediately during meal service before Andrew had fully finished eating). The movie selection was also pretty top notch, with such titles as Deadpool, Jupiter Ascending, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and Logan. There was no sleeping for either Andrew or myself that flight (as I expected), so good entertainment was definitely appreciated.
We arrived in Dublin about 30 minutes early, had some coffee, and walked about the terminal for a bit. It was exceptionally hard for me to not go through customs and out the front door. Oh, Ireland, you forever have my soul.
Getting on the plane to Munich was somewhat eventful. Boarding started off very much the same as any normal flight, with boarding groups based on where you were seated, long lines of groggy travelers lurching forward slowly with the familiar “bing” of scanned boarding passes in the back ground. But at the end of the gangway, there stood no plane, but instead, several buses.
We packed into those bad boys like sardines, and suddenly boarding groups didn’t matter. We were all mingled together holding on desperately to whatever our hands could reach as the bus meandered through the tar mat of Dublin airport.
When we finally arrived at our plane, we boarded old school style – carrying our baggage across the pavement as the Irish sun rose over the distant mountains, climbed up a flight of stairs to the plane itself while the brisk morning air tickled our faces. It was so awesome.
After a quick two hour flight across central Europe, we arrived in beautiful Munich! Customs was easy as pie, and we were on the S-Bahn to München Hauptbahnhof within 30 minutes.
Things got a little squirrely when we arrived at the Hauptbahnhof, however. This is when we discovered our phone coverage was not what it should have been. We would be able to use them for a few minutes after we restarted our phones, but soon it would advise that we were not connected to a network -.-. This lead to the issue of having only a basic idea of where our apartment was and no way of receiving turn-by-turn directions as we planned.
Alas, we found our apartment, met with the owner (who was extremely nice), got settled in and took a quick much needed power nap.
Once refreshed, we went on the hunt for our first liter at Augustiner Keller. My good gravy, they did not disappoint. We had a delightful meal consisting of Wurst Salad, half a roasted duck, potato dumplings, and pickled red cabbage complete with a liter of Augustiner Dunkl. Heavenly, I tell you, HEAVENLY.
On our way back to the apartment, we decided to take a detour through the Theresewiesn (since it was on the way) and scout out some of the things we wanted to do for our first drinking day. We took note of all the tents, inspected the available souvenirs, and gazed through the ride/game offerings. Upon further discussion, we purchased a postcard or two, a hat for Andrew (as this was one of only two souvenir requests) and ventured up the Ferris wheel.
Now, the Ferris wheel should have been a calm, enjoyable ride. We were boarded with a family from Australia – no big deal there, as we were only two people and the cars held at least eight. But this particular family was a bit obnoxious. The father decided to stand up at the top of the wheel and shake our car back and forth – super not ok. It’s safe to say I was ready to get off when the ride was over.
The next day, we roamed around Altstadt in the morning rain. It was then I discovered I had a hole in the bottom of my boot. Very sad indeed, as they were the only pair of shoes I brought that were not heels (for my Dirndl, of course). So we found a discount shoe store, and replaced those bad boys as soon as possible.
Before long it was time to head to Enterprise to pick up our rental car. Now, we booked an economy car – small, but easy to maneuver through the crowded and small streets of Munich. What we received, however, was a 7-9 passenger van. This beast was nothing short of over the top for the two people who where to be riding around in it. Not to mention trying to find parking with a car that size was nearly impossible. After about an hour and a half of driving around, we ended up leaving it in an overnight garage for 20 euro a night.
After that little adventure came to a close, it was time to ready ourselves for an actual Oktoberfest experience. We clad ourselves in Dirndl and Lederhosen and ventured off to experience Oktoberfest German style – aka, the right way.
We settled on the Schottenhammel tent – Andrew was hankering for a pork knuckle, and I just wanted to sit and have a nice drink. By the nipples of Zeus, this evening was absolutely amazing. I simply cannot accurately describe how awesome it was. Seriously, everything I could have hoped for and more. We sang, we drank, met locals and tourists alike. I was suckered into buying a cookie I swore I wouldn’t buy, chit-chatted with a gaggle of old German men who didn’t speak a lick of English, and belted “Sweet Caroline” with 3,000 other people.
Unfortunately, I over did it a little bit. See, we only had a small breakfast pastry that day to eat – and for me that was it. 3 Mass in, I was pretty well gone. It was not a great night for either of us after we left the Oktoberfest, and let’s just leave it at that.
We woke up less than refreshed the next morning, but we had places to go and castles to see! I slept pretty much the entire way to Neuschwanstein Castle (shout out to Andrew for finding his way through the Bavarian Alps on his own). But alas, we made it to the AMAZING Neuschwanstein Castle and surrounding Alps. THIS IS SO WORTH A VISIT GOOD GRAVY IT IS SO INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL.
It was super crowded – I think we arrived shortly after several tour buses. That set aside, the tour was well worth it. The inside is absolutely mesmerizing (sadly, you cannot take pictures inside the castle), and the view from the castle itself is aw-inspiring. Had I felt a bit better, I would have stayed there all day.
We left Neuschwanstein and began to head towards Rothenburg ob der Tauber (we decided to skip Harberg Castle for the sake of making it through the day in one piece. We ended up pulling over at a roadside oasis and napping for a few hours – literally the only time I was happy we got that massive van instead of the compact we booked).
When we pulled into Rothenburg, I thought we went to the wrong place. I was looking for an old town center somewhere, but all I saw was slightly modern buildings and gas stations. I was a little upset, until I saw where Andrew was heading. There before me stood a medieval wall, with a small archway beckoning us from the parking lot. I could do nothing but oblige.
Stepping through the arch was like stepping back in time. As soon as you crossed the threshold, you were in a completely different place. Uneven cobblestone streets zigzagged between houses older than I can fully grasp, hidden gardens and castle walls surrounded us as every turn – not to mention an ice cream shop on literally every street. And everyone who knows me knows how much I love ice cream. It was a small, quiet piece of heaven hidden in the middle of Germany. I could have stayed there for the rest of our trip and been completely content.
The next day, we dropped off the van, packed up what we could in the apartment, and headed out to do some souvenir shopping – steins needed to be purchased, chocolate needed to be found, and schnitzel needed to be consumed.
Andy’s Krebelergarten is the place to go for a killer schnitzel. These things are massive, delicious, and addictive. I’m sad we found them on the last day, because in all honesty, I would have eaten there for breakfast lunch and dinner.
We walked off our lunch in Marianplatz and did the shopping that was needed. We found some epic steins (that will have a permanent home in our kitchen), then headed back to the apartment to get ready for our last round at Oktoberfest.This time around, we started in the Oide Wiesn – the old area of the grounds, where the games and tents are more true to the original than the huge celebration it is today. It was much calmer, more families, less glitz and more authentic. I love this area. We settled in an Augustiner tent, met a few folks from just north of Heidelberg who were gracious enough to explain the finer points of several traditional dances we were witnessing, and I sipped on a Radler while Andrew enjoyed his last Oktoberfest beer.
Stay tuned for Deutschland Part 2: Berlin coming your way in the next few days!