Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Munich Mania

I went to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany for the weekend.  Writing the words is as surreal as the trip itself.  Last Sunday, while in NY at my parent's house, I did laundry.  I then got back to Seattle, removed my bridesmaid dress, added my dirndl and I was basically ready to go.  I worked for two days and then left on a 7 pm flight Tuesday night.  On my arrival into Heathrow, I thought I would pick up a water with the 5 pounds I had on me to discover I didn't have my wallet.  Insert panic moment here.  I went over to British Airways to ask if they could check on the plane to see if my wallet had dropped out of my purse and they asked me to come back in a 1/2 hour.  This is when I evaluated the situation.  I had a check book, 60 dollars, and my passport.  My rising anxiety caused me to, after 25 minutes call my mommy to say, "I've run into a bit of a snag."  Then I hung up, walked over to the BA lady, and she told me they found my wallet, and in its own little zip lock bag, was a chap stick.  Oh thank heavens! You found my chap stick! Disaster averted and I was off to Munich. 

When I got to my hotel, I immediately went back out to find my cousin Billy and his wife.  I took the U, but when I walked up to ground level, I couldn't seem to find the marketplace that they were in.  I walked down a couple block in each direction, but being late at night and by myself, I decided to yell uncle.  The text I sent said, "I'm lost.  I'm standing by the really cool looking old building."  They mocked me, but they also knew exactly where I was because they found me immediately standing near the Glockenspiel. 

We decided to meet at 9:30 on Thursday morning at one of the hotels. Oh, I should back up.  Kathi told me that the thing to do is to wear a dirndl.  So, I ordered one on Amazon.  When I arrived, I saw that Kathi was correct, everyone was wearing dirndls and lederhosen only, the dresses were to their ankles or just below their knees and were relatively conservative in the chest area.  The dress I had screamed American, as it was a sexy costume one would wear on Halloween.  Let's cut back to me wearing this dress that emphasized my chest and barely covered my behind as I walked at 9 am by myself on my way to meet my family.  If you were wondering what motivatess a person to start drinking in the morning, now you know. 

Sean and Stacey literally arrived to the hotel at 9:15, dropped off their suitcases, and we were off to Oktoberfest.  In our company was not only Billy and his wife, but also my German cousins, Julia and Martin.  When we arrived, the place was empty so we grabbed some coffee.

Stacey: I don't want to hold everyone up.
Me: It's okay, I brought an activity!

The activity being presents to open - which is one of the very best of the activities.  We also read through a helpful document:

Then we headed to the Hofbräu tent where we had reservations.  Immediately my American fam saw the benefits of me inviting translators with us.  Before we even sat down (I think it was around 10:45 at this point?) there were very drunk people standing up and chugging liters of beer.  There was one guy that Stacey was convinced looked like he was from the movie Road Trip (he was later thrown out of the tent with by a woman slapping him upside the head.) 

Also, across from us was a very unattractive sight that my sister in law did not think was something one should have to look at in the morning.

As soon as we were served our first beer I heard my brother exclaim, “I’m so happy!"  Someone in our party ordered red wine, which they had, but the waitress said, in no uncertain terms, that it was "very bad."  Oh! And Julia ordered non-alcoholic beer. NICE, work.  Ironically, Sean also made the claim that, if you could mass produce him there would be peace in the world forever. Which is only ironic because there was definitely an altercation later in the evening - but now we know how quickly police respond in Munich which is nice.  (Maybe I should make sure you all know that there wasn't a single fight that actually occurred all weekend, but I’m still not going into the details.) Oh, and I definitely was giving Martin a hard time about his secret wedding to Julia, so he eventually pulled out Julia's passport with her new last name.  I stand corrected.  :) We also tried to write a post card every hour to track our progress (deterioration?)

We headed up to a brewery after Oktoberfest. Stacey and I tried to follow a sign to find the bathrooms, only to find ourselves in a basement parking lot that smelled like a bathroom.  We had some food, and then as we were departing, Kathi wished Julia "A successful delivery of a baby with a small head circumference." 

Friday we went to the Neuschwanstein Castle.  We met at Starbucks first, which was awesome.  When we got on the first train, we had to split up a bit.  I was sitting with Kathi when she said, "I was hoping to sit with the others.  You already know my stories."  It's so true.  She got her wish, however, when we got on the next train, that would be approximately a 80 min ride, and we all stood together.  We gave mental points to anyone who was able to step on all of our feet as they passed by.   The tour guide gave us a whole spiel about the royal family.  When she walked away Kathi turned to me and said, " He was a crazy homosexual who spent all his money building castles."  Why didn't she just say that?  Kathi was also embarrassed by how old the first train was that we went on.  However, when we got off the train, we saw Sean inspecting the undercarriage.  When asked why, he said, "This was just the smoothest ride - I can't even see the wheels - is this traveling on air?"

The castle was built on top of a steep hill that took 30 minutes to walk up.  I heard one older gentlemen towards the top of the hill exclaim, "Why would you build a castle up on a hill like this?"  Agreed, sure, it’s a gorgeous site, but the exercise was uncalled for.   On our way back from the Castle, we actually got seats together and everyone other than Kathi and I slept.  As soon as we sat down, Kathi turned to me and said, "I wish I was more excited about getting a seat."  Me too.  When we got back to Munich, Kathi put her serious tour guide hat on, and brought us to a local neighborhood for dinner.  She was working overtime trying to translate and figure out what everyone wanted.   Basically, she was a rock star.  She answered everyone's questions about Germany, the people, the culture, the politics - and being the brilliant girl she is, was able to answer every inquiry.  (Apparently, Munich only has one murder per year.  I wonder how they decide who to unlucky person is.) When we got the appetizers...

Billy's wife: How do we get plates?
Me: We ask Kathi and it magically happens.

Dinner was awesome, the company was even better, and before you knew it, we were headed back to our hotels.  Kathi had plans to hang out with a friend on Saturday, and it was very obvious that we were not happy to see her go - but I'm sure she enjoyed the break.  :)

I thought we did a pretty good job on our own on Saturday.  We got up, made it back to the Glockenspiel, where we had breakfast across the street so we could see what was happening.  Then we made it around the immediate area to all of the major sites.  There was even a moment when someone asked for directions, and the German told us to go right, when I knew we had to go left - and we were able to avoid getting lost.  I might have gotten a little cocky, when arrived at one site and I said, "See! We don't need Kathi!" and Stacey immediately barked back, "You shut your face.  I love Kathi."  Fair enough.

Around noon, two new characters entered this tale, Pete (Sean's fraternity brother) and his wife, Marina.  They came into Munich for the DAY, making our three day trip look almost normal.  Billy and his wife left to see one of the palaces, and the rest of us headed to a park outside for a snack and beverages.  We told Pete a little bit about what happened on Thursday night.  He told Sean that he had sprained his pinky, but if he needed help in a fight he was still able to kick and bite.  So helpful.  He also asked for advice about his imaginary Ostrich, and told us some other delightful stories.  One was about a couple friends who went on vacation to scuba dive.  They were all in their suits etc, when two of them decided to play a joke on the third by making advances underwater.  When they came up to the surface, the two instigators of trouble, went over to the third and started making jokes, when the object of their revelry said, "I decided not to go down actually."  Whoops! On our way back to the hotel we actually saw a genuine German Shepard (maybe it's just Shepard) in Germany.

At around 3:30 we started heading over to Oktoberfest.  We were talking about how the incident on Thursday was caused by someone offering us a cigarette, so Pete told Sean, oh so helpfully, "If someone offers me a cigarette, you beat them up, okay?" On our way over, I saw this kid sitting on top of a car in traffic.

We had another reservation in the Hofbräu tent, but for whatever reason, we kept getting questioned about if we were supposed to sit there.  Pete looked at Sean and said, "If one more person asks me if we belong here you punch them, okay?" Finally, Marina took the reservation paper off of our table to avoid additional questions and pretended to eat it.  I don't know why I thought that was hilarious, but I really did.  She also left broke off a piece of pretzel and left the rest on the table (people did ask me to take pictures of a Bavarian Pretzels):

Many toasts were made, two I particularly enjoyed from Pete were:

"To academic probation, which only Sean and I know."

"To the O'Brien Clan, seldom right, but never in doubt."

I also drunk dialed my mother and Uncle Bill, luckily, Uncle Bill couldn't hear me.  We also sang and danced on the tables.  We were able to sing because the songs were in English, including: Hey Baby (I wanna know), Grease Lightening, New York, New York, Country road and oh yes, this is what my note looked like at 9pm on Saturday, "Knok koixck oin heavens."  Billy told me that the steins equaled three American beers.  I don't know how we aren't dead because we all had at least 6. 

Saturday night, I was VERY nervous going to sleep knowing that I was the only one responsible for getting me up in the morning for the airport... but I made it just fine.  Early in fact, so I had time to look at all of the other people in airport and wonder why they weren't also hung over (though I am pretty sure a couple of them were.)  I also had bought a cookie the night before that I definitely could not bring home, but I did take a picture.  What was I thinking?

I got home around 6 PM, and stayed up until 8 before announcing that I was going to bed.  Lucas had just finished telling me that his French homework was the hardest thing he had ever had to do.  If men could give birth, that would be less painful, than his assignment.  Therefore, when I responded to this saying, "Good night!" he told me I needed to stick around for moral support.  I gave him ten minutes, (I'm a giver), before I was useless to everyone, and headed to bed.  My last thought was, "I cannot believe I just went to Munich for the weekend." 

When I got into work yesterday, and I was on my way up in the elevator, a stranger said to me, "Do you think there are Monday's in heaven?"  Absolutely not, stranger friend. 

(More pictures to follow!)

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