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Posts Tagged ‘oktoberfest’

One of the things I love most about living in Germany, or specifically in Munich, is that there is almost always a festival going on – or there’s one to look forward to. Of course, there is Oktoberfest, the obvious frontrunner. But many are surprised to learn that there are a variety of other events throughout the year also.

During the holiday season, there is a plethora of Christmas Markets, or Weihnachtsmärkte, that offer handmade goods, yummy treats, and warm spiced wine known as Glühwein – a German holiday specialty. While there are many markets scattered throughout Munich to choose from, the main event to check out is the Tollwood Festival, held at the Theresienwiese (also where Oktoberfest takes place). Large tents are set up throughout the area, some filled with retail and food booths, and others with bars and even a performance platform for live music. Grab a mug of warm Glühwein and stroll through the tents and get ready to be put in the holiday spirit.

Fast forward a few months to Faschingsfest, otherwise known as Karneval. This Mardi Gras celebration of Germany is filled with costume parties, parades, and music. The carnival season traditionally begins on November 11th, but the real party begins a few weeks prior to beginning of lent, where hundreds of costume balls are held throughout the city, showcasing everything from stylishly elegant masquerades to those dressed in rainbow wigs, crazy makeup, and other insane getups. One thing is for certain during this festival: anything and everything goes!

Next on the list is Starkbierfest, which literally means Strong Beer Festival. Conveniently, this three week party frenzy full of good beer and even better people watching begins right at the end of lent. There’s a reason the beer is extra strong this time. Specially brewed for the occasion and served in a Keferloher (1 liter ceramic stein), you won’t need more than a couple Starkbier to be dancing on the benches with the locals and singing along to the modern and traditional German music. Trust me. This celebration is held at multiple beer halls and breweries throughout the city, but the most popular choice for the grandest party of all seems to be at Paulaner “Nockherberg” brewery, where hundreds of people pile in Oktoberfest style, dressed in their tradition Dirndl or Lederhosen ready for a good old fashioned Bierfest.

Just when you thought you’d consumed enough beer to last you until Oktoberfest, along comes Frühlingsfest (Spring Festival). Held at the Theresienwiese, many consider this festival to be a mini Oktoberfest, complete with carnival rides and those all too famous beer tents. While the tents appear to be about 1/2 the size of the Oktoberfest tents (and there are only a handful to choose from compared to the selection of Oktoberfest’s 14 large Halls, and that’s not counting the smaller ones…), delicious beer in 1 liter Maß and traditional munchies are served while a live band plays new hits and traditional favorites. Naturally, most everyone makes their way up on top of the benches after their first or second Maß for a dance party. And don’t forget your Dirndl or Lederhosen! Be prepared to hear more English than German as you are bound to encounter more tourists than locals at this festival. Think of this as a warm-up for Oktoberfest…

But don’t begin your preparations for that world famous beer festival just yet…there’s one more festival to check out before it’s that time of year again. Tollwood Sommerfestival, held at the Olympiapark from the end of June to the end of July, offers everything from performing artists and theater groups, to handicrafts and food, to a music arena displaying a variety of groups, this year ranging from Erykah Badu, to Billy Idol, to Lady Antebellum among many others. You won’t find any crazy Bier halls at this event, but it’s Germany after all, so you can expect to sip on a tasty Deutsche brew while enjoying everything this festival has to offer.

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Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest with David, Kaleena, and our new friends!

Time to play catchup. Let’s start with September, September 17th to be exact, the first day of Oktoberfest. Throughout the 17-day festival, I consumed way too much Festbier (the tasty brew that’s only served at Oktoberfest) than my liver should be able to handle, while donning my traditional dirndl and befriending the equally intoxicated Germans at my table. Needless to say, I miraculously came out alive by the end of it all with some priceless memories in tow.

I also began my first Deutsch language course. I knew going into it that German was not the easiest language to pick up, but I didn’t expect it to be as hard as it was. Everything from the spelling, to the pronunciation, to the grammar, oh goodness, the grammar, the words that are spelled the same but mean different things depending on the context and the pronunciation. Basically, German equaled one big fat headache for the first few weeks. But then, like magic, everything suddenly fit into place.

More Oktoberfest...

My German still sucks, of course, but at least I now have a better understanding of the structure of the language and usually can comprehend what people are saying; forming a correct sentence in response is still another story. Now that I’ve formally broken up with the idea that I could actually be fluent by the end of the year, my goal is to be able to comfortably hold a conversation without needing to immediately cry “Langsam bitte!” (“Slow please!”). Luckily, the kids I work with are ages 2 and 5, and while the 5 year old frequently corrects my German, I can, for the most part, comfortably communicate with them in their mother tongue.

It’s now been six months since I moved to Munich – and it took long enough, but I can finally say that I’m starting to feel at home here. These negative degree temperatures are currently turning me into a hermit, though, and has me seeking out every opportunity to hide under a blanket or to drink something hot and frothy, while anxiously waiting for Germany to defrost.

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Has it really been over a month since I stepped on that plane and waved auf wiedersehen

The View from My Favorite Patio at the Marbella House

to my life in Eugene? As I stare off into the distance, admiring the breathtaking view of palm trees, tropical flowers, and the Mediterranean here in Spain, I ponder everything that’s changed these past four weeks. I’ve said goodbye to my friends and family, immersed myself in a new culture, embraced a new language, and started a new job. I have been adapting to a long distance relationship, and to calling an entirely new and different place home.

I remember the weeks leading up to this transition – not wanting to admit it, but I began to question my decision to move. I allowed my fear to tell me I was making the wrong decision, that I wasn’t ready to leave everything that was familiar, behind.

But I’m so incredibly grateful that I didn’t let that fear get in the way of one of the most

The Harbor at Night - Marbella, Spain

incredible experiences I have ever had the opportunity to pursue. In these past four short weeks, not only have I settled into Munich, I have visited Memmingen with my host family, Berlin to see David, and currently, Marbella, Spain to stay at Claudia’s parent’s beautiful vacation home.

The Marbella Vacation Home

The Marbella Vacation Home

one of the outdoor patios

And “beautiful” is an understatement when describing this home. I mean, I have never seen a house so gorgeous, let alone been able to stay there as a guest. Colorful flowers and graceful palm trees border a view that extends deep into the Mediterranean Sea, revealing glimpses of Africa in the distance on a sparkling, clear day. But if one is too lazy to make his or her way down to the beach, why not take a swim in the home’s large pool that hangs over the Mediterranean, offering a view that leads you to believe you are in the crystal waters of the Sea. If the sun is too hot, hang out in the relaxing shade of one of the outdoor patios or courtyards (my favorite one overlooks the pool and the Mediterranean). Don’t even get me started on the interior, what with the gorgeous entry way offering a balcony that surrounds the room, allowing those on the second floor to peer below, or my large bedroom that encompasses

Entryway

Entryway

an area larger than my living room back home, not including my private balcony and bathroom. Our time here in Spain has allowed for all of us to relax together: for the kids to play and to feel more comfortable with me around, and for me to continue to get to know Claudia and Sven, as well as Claudia’s parents who are also here for part of our stay. A day

Through the streets of Old Town, Marbella

trip to Seville is coming up on the agenda, as well as lovely dinners down by the harbor and strolls through Old Town and along the beach. While I do love Germany, Spain has been a refreshing and welcome change, what with the sunshine and warm breeze that surrounds my body as I relax with a favorite book in hand.

Upon our return to Munich, I begin

A Spanish Sunset

language school and assume my duties as an Au Pair. Up to this point, I have been treated more as part of the family than as an employee, which has allowed me to adjust and feel comfortable with my surroundings before beginning my new job. Thus, I am mindfully enjoying this last week of relaxation, warmth, and sunshine – but I am equally excited to finally begin the routine that I came here to do. Also, Oktoberfest begins the week after our return, which I must admit isn’t too shabby of a welcome home and an introduction back into the real world…

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