September 18, 2017
The next morning we got up at 3:30 to get ready and catch our 6:00am flight to Munich. After arrival, we locked our baggage in the train station and made it into the city center, tired but excited. Our first stop was, you guessed it, the Hofbrauhaus, the largest and most famous German beer hall with the Columbus franchise being the frequent haunting grounds of Lauren and me.
The inside of the brewery is probably one of the biggest restaurants of any kind I have ever set foot in and is capable of sitting up to 1300 people. The brewery contained, as is custom for German beer halls, lines upon lines of wooden tables and benches.
Though we got there at 10:30 in the morning, we are never ones to let that sort of thing get in our way so we cracked open our first beer in Germany in the first of many liter-sized steins we would consume whilst in the city. Being in the brewery that we have spent so much time in in Ohio was very special and being with our great group made it that much more of a good time. I am so happy that we got to have that experience so early in our Germany expedition.
After departing the Promised Land we made our way to a museum nearby the beer hall called the Residenz, which is the former royal palace of the old monarchs of the German province of Bavaria in which Munich is situated. The residence has a museum with 130 rooms on display containing thousands of paintings and relics of the old monarchs including a bizarre room containing various body parts of the monarchs themselves. The various pieces were quite interesting but after our journey and the beers we had at the Hofbrauhaus, the giant museum became too large eventually and we left. Afterwards, however, we all agreed it was a very informative part of our journey that we were glad to have visited.
We walked around the city for a little more before deciding we were tired and wanted to go toward the Airbnb in which we had booked for the trip. It was in a little southern town on the outskirts of Munich called Hohenbrunn. As part of our group did various things around our Airbnb, others went out for a drink and found somewhere in town for dinner while the other group found some other place in town to eat. As it turned out, funny enough, both groups universally agreed that each restaurant in this small city on the outskirts of Munich was one of the best meals we had ever eaten. This signaled for all of us that we were in for something special in Munich.
September 19, 2017
The next day was what I for one had been urging to do from the day a beer had first touched my lips and that was to visit Oktoberfest in Munich, the beer capital of the world. That morning was filled with nothing but excitement as the ladies of our grouped donned their traditional German dirndls and the fellas strapped into their leather lederhosen and stripped shirts (all but one wearing blue). The excitement in the air was palpable. This was what we had all been waiting for.
We walked into the festival in awe at the many beer halls, food stalls, and carnival rides that make up Oktoberfest. Since we were visiting on a Tuesday, we were lucky enough to go to on a less busy day so the crowds were not too bad and our large group, which on a weekend would never find enough room to sit together, did. The tent we chose, of which there are 14, was the Hacker-Pschorr tent.
The Hacker-Pschorr tent is one of the older and larger tents at Oktoberfest and the brewery dates back to the year 1417! The thing that sets the tent apart from the others is the ceiling of the tent, which every year is painted a bright sky blue decorated with clouds of all shapes and sizes. When viewed in person, the tent is awe-inspiring and beautiful. The other thing one notices upon first encounter is the sheer size of the tent, which holds up to 10,000 people.
Together, the giant tent produces a deafening drum of conversation that over-whelms the uninitiated’s entire sense of hearing. As a group, we found a bench in the middle of the tent next to a separate group of Americans with a talent of beer stein clanging and cheersing, the only German word out of their mouths being “prost” which is the equivalent to the American “cheers.” All throughout the tent were brave drinkers who stood on their tables to chug their steins of beer, all cheered on by the other festivalgoers around them. All in all, the atmosphere was nuts.
After that first tent, we ended up in two other tents, the Schottenhamel, which is the oldest tent and the festival, and the Löwnbrau tent, both of which had similar, yet slightly less-rowdy crowds. Both tents also had their own unique flavors, beers, and décor. At all threes of these tents, many pictures were taken, several beers were drunk, and we left all smiles.
We left with a few hours before the close of the festival for the night and we walked around the festival marveling at the flashing lights of the stalls and rides. We rode several of them while those who chose not to ride them danced to the lively music that radiated throughout the park and we all ended up having a fantastic time. It was everything I could have wished for at Oktoberfest.
September 20, 2017
Due to the lateness of our adventure the night before, we again got a late start on our way back to Munich to explore the city center.
We had originally planned on going outside of the city to visit a nearby monastery called Andechs known for their beer brewed by the monks that live onsite, but due to how far it was from where we were staying, we instead did the next best thing and stopped for lunch at the only restaurant in the city that sells said beer.
Afterwards, we did a split up of the group and we all explored the city on our own terms. Some visited the cathedral in the center of town while others explored the open-air market or other surrounding attractions.
Our day was a little subdued since we had a late night the night before and planned on getting up early the next day (not to mention it rained all day), but we still had a good time and it was nice that we were all able to explore the city to our own satisfaction.
Afterwards, we regrouped and ended up sharing a drink and dinner at Augustiner, the oldest brewery in all of Munich and the only one that still serves its beer out of wooden barrels. The barrels add a slight change of flavor that results in the beer being known by many as the best beer in the city.
September 21, 2017
There were three separate choices for what we could do the next day. Option 1 being the most famous castle in the world and the one in which the Disney World castle was actually modeled after, Neuschwanstein. Option 2 was to visit the Dachau Concentration camp directly outside of Munich. The last option was to stay around Munich and do something else. Since Lauren and I had already been to both Neuschwanstein and Dachau when we visited in high school, we decided to stay in Munich and go back to Oktoberfest. Also, that was the entire reason we wanted to take a trip to Europe in the first place.
The other members of our group wanted to go to the Neuschwanstein and Dachau, so we all ended up splitting up. Since I have been to both other options and there is more to say about them, I wanted to give a quick rundown of both Neuschwanstein and Dachau because I think anybody who goes to Munich should do their best to visit both if time permits.
As I mentioned earlier, picture the famous Disney World castle and you can also picture Neuschwanstein. The castle was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat but was not completed by the time he died in 1886. The castle is almost 2 hours outside of Munich and is very worthwhile if you have enough time to visit it. After a trek up the hill it sits on you are able to go into the castle to see the inside of it and learn a little about the king. You are also able to get a postcard quality picture crossing a bridge nearby to view the castle from its side. I would recommend visiting it as there are not many castles like it anywhere in the world.
Dachau is also very worthwhile to go visit. The concentration camp was the first of its kind opened in Germany at the time and was intended to hold the Nazi party’s political prisoners. Going to that camp or any for that matter is an experience that I think everybody should go see if they get a chance. Seeing some of the buildings in which the prisoners suffer and many died in and the aura of the entire camp is not something that is easily forgotten. In comparing Dachau with Neuschwanstein I would say this one is much more worth it if you only have time to go to one.
So, instead of choosing either of these options, Lauren and I chose to spend most of the day enjoying an Oktoberfest date together. We talked to my mother who was able to see us on the live Oktoberfest camera that is broadcast over the Internet and we, of course, drank even more beer. For lunch, I opted for what I thought was a schnitzel sandwich that was alas, a vegetarian burger. 5/10, would not buy again.
After the other groups finished their tours, they came to meet us at the Oktoberfest and we spent our last few hours at Oktoberfest in the Hofbrauhaus tent, which unsurprisingly, was the rowdiest of them all. The time in our tent was spent doing all the stereotypical Oktoberfest things you would expect and we somehow we all made it home together afterward despite getting off at the wrong train stop.
That day was to be our last in Munich. I had an extraordinary time in the city and at Oktoberfest and I’m so glad to be able to cross Oktoberfest in Munich off my bucket list. Leaving the city was bittersweet, not only because I was leaving the city I would undoubtedly call one of my favorite in the world, but also because it was the last leg of my trip I got to spend with my dad. It’s all starting to settle in now that we will be over here a long time without seeing some of the people we love so much.
Next stop, Salzburg, Austria!
P.S. I would like to send a special shout-out to my liver for being such a bro. Thanks, buddy!