Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Night in Munich

Wilkommen am Deutschland!
We enjoyed a pleasant nonstop Lufthansa flight from Newark to Munich on our spacious Airbus 340.  This plane had a most unusual feature: the bathrooms were on a lower level, down a short flight of stairs much like a split level house.  By noon the next day, we were walking through the Marienplatz, the main square in Munich. 

Our sentiments exactly!

The city is as appealing as ever with such a happy vibe.  Maybe it’s because everyone is busy drinking the incredible Bavarian beers!
After a much needed recuperative nap, our first stop was the Oktoberfest Museum.  Officially, Oktoberfest has ended here; but that does not mean that party time is over in Deutschland!!  

Posters touting Munich's Oktoberfest
The highlight of the museum was an excellent film about the history of beer which goes back 5,000 years! The first beer originated in the Middle East and was made from fermented bread. This “bread beer” continued until the Middle Ages when Europeans started experimenting with beer made from plants that even included the deadly nightshade as one ingredient!  When the Germans discovered hops, beer-making really got hopping (so to speak), and Germans became known as the “brew meisters” of the world. 
The museum itself comprised three floors of tiny rooms exhibiting mostly old photos but also collections of Munich Oktoberfest posters and the signature beer steins created to honor each year’s festival. We never realized what a huge crowd comes to this beer festival – 5 million people attend each year (and only a small percentage of them are foreigners).  We are thinking we have an Oktoberfest in our future!

The famed Hofbrauhaus Oompah Band
By now, the artifacts within the museum had inspired a terrible beer thirst, so we headed straight to the nearby Hofbrauhaus, Munich’s most famous beer hall and Frank’s favorite spot to tip back a few liters of real Bavarian beer.  The cavernous hall is always packed with beer lovers, and the oompah band never quits playing.  It’s touristy, yes, but the wonderful thing is that Germans love it too, and the clientele always includes plenty of old Deutsch partiers in lederhosen rocking to the polkas and drinking songs . 

Partying with the Schwabians
We sat at one of the large wooden tables and were soon joined by three Germans (sans lederhosen) -- Martin, Gerhart and Gerhart’s son Chris -- all from the region of Schwabia. Our fun-loving friend from back home (Steve) is a Schwabian from way back on his family tree, so we figured these guys would be up for a good time, and we were right!

We all bonded immediately and had a raucous night of constantly toasting with our giant beer steins.  The later it got, the crazier the toasts became.   

A toast "to Honey!!"
From left: Gerhart, Martin, and of course Frank
During the course of the evening, the Schwabians heard Frank call Anne “honey.”  They got such a kick out of this expression that they offered up many toasts “to Honey!”  Anne (aka Honey) was feeling no pain, and neither was anyone else.  The Germans never disappoint for energetic music and lively camaraderie.  What a night, and what a way to start our trip! 

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