Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Barcelona to Innsbruck

We got back to Barcelona on the 17th and I immediately went to the hospital. I didn’t receive much, other than a $85 Euro bill. Everything I was told was pretty obvious and I ended up not using my prescription because the first time I took the pills I couldn’t hold them down and was left with a haunting, disgusting taste in my mouth for hours. The doctors and everyone else kept saying I would get better quickly but I didn’t really buy it – I mean, they didn’t feel the way I did.

But I did get better quickly, once I actually started getting better. There were two to three days in Barcelona where I didn’t eat anything and just felt terrible, and then I managed to get some food down and within 48 hours I was functioning pretty well. I snagged a flight to Zurich and met Stefan there. Nate had gone to Mumbai for work and Reid was working on a farm in Spain. Stefan and I still had designs on Oktoberfest.

We spent one evening in Zurich, just walking around and eating dinner. Zurich was very plush. It has been voted the city with the highest quality of life in the world a couple times, and I saw nothing to dispute that.

We awoke early on the morning of the 22nd and got on a train to Munich. After a quick stop in an internet café to confirm lodging for the evening, we headed over to Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest is a gigantic festival that takes place every year in Munich at the beginning of the fall. The most prominent features of Oktoberfest, at least from my perspective, are beer, meat, lederhosen and dirndl. There are also amusement park rides and constant singing of German anthems.

It sounds like you couldn’t possibly go wrong with these key ingredients, but somehow it did. The biggest problem was that it was ridiculously crowded. We made a mistake going opening day, though we kind of had to cause of Stefan’s schedule. The outside was a dumfoundingly large festival area, with hordes of people trying to move from station to station and lots of stands selling all sorts of sausage creations. There were many enormous tents, each sponsored by a different Munich brewery. The goal seemed to be to penetrate a tent, and then find an opening at a table. This was the only way to get the beer.

This proved to be quite difficult for us. We spent a long time just getting into a tent, lots of walking, waiting, and jostling. When we finally did get in, it was almost impossible to find a seat. I can’t stress enough how crowded it was everywhere. This scale might supply some comparison:

Clusterfuck Rankings

1. September in Patsch (to be described later)
2. A WNBA playoff game
3. The Island from Lost
4. The DMV
5. The Marrakech Express
6. The waitlist on Party Poker when sefat53 was playing $25-50 NL
7. Fairview High School passing period
8. WSOP main event, day one
9. Opening day of Oktoberfest

10. Beijing Summer Olympics, 2008

It was all made more difficult by the fact that Germans speak German, I speak no German, and Stefan speaks a little. Most people can speak a decent amount of English, but Oktoberfest is a very patriotic festival and it didn’t seem hanging out with Americans was real high on the agenda of most of the Germans. We wandered around trying to get a seat for about an hour, watching the anthems and beer-swilling and dirndl with the frustration of sobriety.

Finally these older German guys let us sit down with them. The only problem was that only one of them spoke English, and barely. Most of these guys, who were part of some sort of civil defense team, had never been to Munich before. Stefan hobbled through some German with this guy while I sat back, just happy to have a beer in my hand and happier to be able to drink it.

The beers were gigantic and Oktoberfest beer is a little stiffer than the normal brew, so just one provided a buzz. We decided to take off after just one, got some currywurst, then hopped a train to Augsburg.

Augsburg is a suburb of Munich, an upper-middle class city of around 100,000, and the only place we could find lodging during the mayhem of Oktoberfest. Stefan had found someone on hospitalityclub who was willing to host us for a night, a girl about our age. After a welcoming beer or two, a couple of her friends came over. Everyone was cool. Germans in general seem to be a very prosperous and fun-loving sort. In fact, Germany seems like a fabulous place to live. Maybe it was just the sample size but most Germans seemed to eat well, drink well, have good jobs, drive Mercedes Benzs, and have a lot of friends. The population was quite attractive, too. Basically, Germany seemed to be a damn good place to live if you were a German.

Stefan and I decided to burn a little candle at both ends and went out to a club with them. I had a really good time. The highlight was when the DJ played Nada Surf’s Blankest Year – I thought of you, Jeremy and Kevin.

The next morning (afternoon) we ate a really nice breakfast and then went to the train station and parted ways. Stefan went to Poland to stay with his girlfriend, and I took a train to Innsbruck, Austria. We had blitzkrieged through Germany and I was tired, but the sight of the wildly soaring Alps kept me awake on the train.


Blogger Spencetron said...

Sorry to hear about Munich, but here is a quote from my brother Charlie who just got back:
It was a long drive, about 8 hours or so both ways, but it was more than worth it. Most incredible time of my life. I don't know how else to describe it. For those of you who haven't been, picture an amusement park (with roller coasters and carnival shit and everything) fused with 100,000 people and an inexhaustible flow of beer. There are about 15 large tents (indoor beer gardens) where a live band plays music and everyone sings and dances along "Ein prostchen, ein prostchen! Gemutlichkeit!" They chant this after just about every song, and you must prost (cheers) with everyone around you and chug. Each tent can hold I would say 1 - 2,000 people, all of whom are completely sloshed. It can be difficult to get into the tents and also find a seat at a table, but once you succeed, ceaseless fun ensues. Waitresses in dirndls (girls look really hot in these by the way) serve you liters, yes liters, of delicious german beer.

Also, baseball playoffs are unbelievable!

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel like I'm reading some Hemingway Shit.


1:45 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Heartwarming. That's definitely the best reference I've ever received in your blog. I'm going to see them at a sold out show at Schubas (about the size of the 400 Bar) later this month. I'll tell you how it goes.

6:47 PM  

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