First, in classic David style, a tangent --- we've got a new kitten, Sophie. She's really cute, but over the past few weeks, I've confirmed that I'm still not a cat person. Yeah, really not. She's violent...I don't like it.
Oktoberfest has been a trip many months in the making. Sarah and I planned our stay back this summer in Berkeley, and sadly it was originally supposed to include Alex and Christina as well, but they were both stranded in France when it came time to actually be in Germany :(
Anyway, staying in tents on the field of a horse stadium in a tent city that is constructed just for Oktoberfest, and which was mentioned prominently on a number of official Oktoberfest websites, seemed like an adventurous idea, one that would make for great stories and photos, and would be not so terrible. And it was only "10 minutes from the heart of the Beer Heaven" so... it couldn't be that bad.
It was closer to 45 minutes away from the Beer Heaven. It was a 10 minute walk through fields next to the railroad tracks to get to the far-flung suburban S-bahn station to which we were closest, if that's beer heaven, but I doubt it. It was also COLD cold cold there, and we had to buy sleeping bags for 25€ to survive the night. And there were rowdy New Zealanders who were upsettingly mean (to say the least), outside our tent till 4am. And a guy a few tents away who snored louddddllyyyy (and was the object of the New Zealander's rage).
At least that's in the past now as I write this... Anyway, we had a fun dinner the first night, going to Augustinerhaus in the city center, which is a HUGE bierhalle or whatever (beer hall) that is inexpressibly enormous. It is this cavernous "restaurant" that must have about 2000 seats, winding through all these enormous rooms that go forever looking for a table. I got some creamy mushroom thing with a bread dumpling, and bretzls (? pretzels) that we shared that came with the most delicious spicy mustard and sweet ...something, and Sarah had a fried fish dish. The beer was in fact really really good, and was my favorite of the trip. Oktoberfestbier is actually definitely a little different. Yum.
Anyway, the food the rest of the trip was a lesson in the fact that Germans REALLY do eat meat and potatoes, and more meat and potatoes, and then creamy fatty stuff added sometimes. It's not my ideal cuisine. But I must speak of the CHICKEN at Spatenhaus. Ok, we'll get there, first I have to talk about...Oktoberfest itself.
So the next day we go to the Oktoberfest itself, and end up stuck, completely immobile (and feeling claustrophobic) in an enormous crowd watching the opening parade, which was not exciting haha. After what felt like an eternity, with Sarah almost fainting and me being on the edge of a panic attack in that crowd, we got to Spatenhaus, one of the enormous beer halls. After working REALLY hard, we got a frigid outside table, and after waiting 20 minutes for a waiter to come, we finally got our biersteins after a long time waiting.
We enjoyed our enormous biers and brought pretzels and cheesy bread to the table, and amused ourselves for about 5 hours with these guys from Los Angeles, some of whom spoke Spanish, and decided to try that with the table of Italians behind us. They understood, and we became one massive table by the end, with the 50-something year old Italian woman ending up kissing "Kobe" from our table (he was not Kobe Bryant, but he was black so that was good enough for the Italians?) in front of her husband. Mmm, it was interesting, but everyone was having fun haha.
And a bit expensive. €8,25 for a bierstein, which is a little over $12... so I did not get drunk at Oktoberfest haha, and Sarah and I decided that we would get our money's worth by at least keeping the biersteins. It's beautiful! :) But yes, we ate the most delicious chicken I've ever had in my life, at the Spatenhaus. It was the most tender, delicious chicken....ever. Sarah and I obliterated it, picking off every last bit.
Ok, that's about it. The train rides were also pretty, because Austria is really scenic, and I met this lady on the train ride there who lives on Lake Como, and told me to go visit some time and she could pick me up at the station and take me to the "best pizza on Lake Como." And her mother (who was very old) talked with me about how horrible all the recent changes in Italy have been, with cities becoming unsafe, etc etc, haha.
Ok, so this is my entry about Oktoberfest written about 2 weeks after the fact, haha. Oktoberfest was interesting... an experience with ups and downs, as I've been telling those of you with whom I've actually talked about it.