Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ventuno at Oktoberfest!

I can definitively say that there is no better way to celebrate turning 21 than at Oktoberfest in Munich. Not only was the weekend one of the best of my life, but Munich is one of my new favorite cities. The weekend was the epitome of spontaneous decisions and ended up being the perfect combination of sightseeing and festivities.

Hippodrom tent: first stop of the day

We left Florence relatively late Thursday night and due to some complications did not check into our hostel until about 9 AM Friday morning. But, everything worked out, and we navigated the U-Bahn to make it to Oktoberfest around 10 or 10:30 in the morning. It was an immediate blur of lederhosen, bright colors, and Bavarian cheerfulness. As one of the tour guides explained on the bus, imagine a state fair, only 20 times bigger and centered around beer.

Schottenhammel: our favorite tent
Saturday we decided to do a little sightseeing. We walked around Marienplatz, which is filled with beautiful architecture, and ventured to the Englischer Garten. This is a huge, incredibly green park that's just overflowing with contented people, as well as beer gardens. The two may be connected. We rented a paddle boat for half an hour and paddled around the lake in the beautiful sunshine. We couldn't have asked for better weather for the weekend (aside from the freezing mornings). We also tracked down the spot in the river with just the right current for surfers -- one of the coolest things I've seen. I had read about this place over the summer and was so excited to see it in real life.

So peaceful
Paddle boating!
Beer garden that seats up to 7,000 people with inexplicable but pretty Chinese pagoda  in the middle
Munich cool.
We returned to Oktoberfest around 4:45 that afternoon and spent the rest of that night battling the massively increased crowds (understandable since it was the last weekend of the festival) and having a fantastic time. Sunday we came back once again to buy souvenirs (I came away with some pretzel shaped earrings and a boot!). Altogether, the weekend was a mass of accents, meeting people, singing, steins, and falling in love with beautiful Germany.

Crowds trying to get into Lowenbrau

I love Oktoberfest!
When I returned on Monday, it was officially my 21st birthday! My roommates immediately took me to our favorite bar for a birthday drink, regardless of the fact that it was 2 AM and we still had all our luggage after 9 hours on a bus. That night we went to dinner on the Arno River and then out dancing. Altogether, even though 21 doesn't have the same significance here as in America, I couldn't ask for a better way to celebrate my birthday than in 2 of the most beautiful countries I've ever been to.

21 at Amadeus
Waiting for our table with free champagne :)
Out in Florence

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