Sunday, September 21, 2008


I had to go to Germany for work this week and coincidently it happened to be the opening day of Oktoberfest. For those of you with an aversion to alcohol, I suggest you not read this post. Somehow, it is all about the beer.....

After a nasty bout with the flu this week (thank you Motown and my apologies to everyone on the British Airways flight from the U.S. who probably caught it from me), I flew to Frankfurt to catch the train to Kaiserslautern. I took this picture in the Frankfurt airport train station because I found the combination of the palm trees, the glass ceiling and the looming construction a little unnerving.

After a couple of days of meetings, it was once again back on the train and this time headed for Munich. With my co-worker as my tour guide we navigated to our delayed train only to have it overflowing with people. We were lucky to find two spots in the bar car and ended up standing for most of the 3 hour trip. It's a good thing there was beer. Yes, this is how we roll.....

The next morning I was up early to put in a ten miler in Englisher Gardens. Unfortunately, there are no photos as I didn't take the camera on my run. I just wanted to mention 1) that not everything I do involves alcohol and 2) Englisher Gardens is a beautiful, huge park set in the city. (Yes, I needed to burn some calories before my carbo loading day) After my run, it was time to hit the underground to get to the festival. On the subway, I was at first confused as to where I needed to go. But, I solved that by using my mantra of 'follow the lederhosen'. Once again, I'm trying to inconspicously take photos of strangers.

Oktoberfest takes place in the middle of a giant square in Munich. I didn't actually get close enough to find out what this huge statue is for but our guess is that this woman is the Goddess of Beer. Also, for those of you going to Oktoberfest, just because you see a line of people standing in line to buy tickets, doesn't mean you should do the same. Before finding the beer tents, my new friends and I ended up in the livestock/county fair/craft show area. Note to self: make sure you know what is on the other side of the gate before forking over 12 euros.

With a little luck, we ended up in the Paulaner bier garten.

Here we are with our first beers. I met these two gentleman on the train that morning. Pat and Mike are high energy physicists from Harvard. That's right. I spent the day hanging out with rocket scientiests. I love smart people! I have to admit, I had a great day and these guys made me laugh out loud several times. Who else looks around for a napkin to draw you a scatterplot distribution when trying to make his point? They also told me this joke -

"A neutron walks into a bar and orders a beer. He says to the bartender, what do I owe you? The bartender says, there is no charge for you."


Our table got quite lively as the beer flowed. We squeezed in between some nice Spainards with funky hats and some not so nice Germans who ignored us the whole time. I think they were personnally annoyed with the Australians and Brits behind us and therefore took it out on the unsuspecting Americans.

One of our neighboring Brits, Ian, kept putting his kilt where it wasn't supposed to go so we decided to have a chat since we were getting so friendly without trying. He was there having a reunion with his groomsmen from his wedding the year before. They had t-shirts made representing all the texts they received last year when trying to find someone inside. For anyone who knows how difficult it is to save seats when thousands of people are trying to sit there, you can recognize the frustration of trying to meet up in a BIG crowd. Apparently these guys never met up....

Something else that was funny (which prompted me to take a picture of his knee) was the reason he gave when asked if his wife was nervous about him being out with the guys at Oktoberfest. He laughed and said, "oh no! My wife told me that no girl is even going to be remotely attracted to the two white sticks that I call legs so she knows it is safe". Okay, so this might have been much funnier after drinking a couple of litres of beer.

Working my way through a litre....

The other beauty of Oktoberfest is the food. You can only last on beer so long. Therefore, we ordered a couple of chickens and enjoyed the best chicken ever! Okay, so it might have been influenced by the beer, location and possible starvation. Whatever.

After the chicken, I decided I needed a hot dog for the fair. This is what they gave me. Yes, that is a hot dog and that is the way they stuck it in the bun. Even the rocket scientist started blushing.

After a few more litres, if you are dressed in lederhosen, apparently you are supposed to start standing on the tables and professing your love for mankind and beer.

We decided it was time to stroll about and find the rest of the Harvard and MIT crew. We toured the carnival grounds and did some excellent people watching.

With the appearance of Jay, it was time to hook up with the rest of the brainiacs. How many high energy physicists does it take to find the Spaten tent? The answer is apparently 3 as the directions we were given were "it's by the bumper cars". I counted no less than 4 bumper car stations in our wanderings around the fair. Nice.

As the evening draws to a close, Mike buys himself a beer drinking hat to remember his day at Oktoberfest. I think he could have bought that hat in Wisconsin actually.

And lastly, I'm still standing (well sitting) after almost 12 hours and several litres at Oktoberfest. I think it was the hot dog that saved me.
And yes, I am thru drinking for a while. I am ready to dry out/detox/get on the wagon/ - pick your phrase. I think my liver deserves a break from the past few Saturdays. With that said, who wants to plan for next year?


Barb said...

we're in for next year!
the Taylors

Lon said...

Wow! I feel like I am right there with you. Great job on the blog! It reminded my of my 1988 Eurotrip to a beirgarden in Frankfurt. We I had a fedora hat and put it on the various drunk patrons I was interacting with throughout the evening and took pictures. Ultimately, the hat became a "Lawn Gnome" of sorts which at one point I tossed off the top of the leaning tower of piza (I have a photo of it in flight). Tons of fun. Your blog brought back all of those memories.

Also -
Glad tucker made it. The pet passport cracked me up. It must be some type of anti-terrorist mechanism to keep trained iranian/hammas hound dogs from infiltrating the free world.