Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Unforgivable Blogging Behaviour and Lederhosen

Yes, I know. Shame, shame, shame on me. Not to worry, plenty of self flagellation has occurred and you, my loyal (and not so loyal) readers, have been avenged. 6 weeks of silence? Such behaviour is unforgivable in the blog world and I am duly chastised.

In my defence (cue the excuses, please), I've been very busy. Mainly, I have been feeling quite sorry for myself, drinking lots of tea and wondering how one throat can cause so much pain and for so long. I think I have a permanent impression of my body worn into the couch. The tea industry, both caffeinated and non, has, however, been booming. Nothing like cold season to boost a lagging economy.

I have also had the great pleasure of foreign company. My very good friend of many, many years – so many, we wore biker shorts and danced to New Kids on the Block together – the first time – flew all the way from the US to London just to visit us. Although, I think the various high street retailers also appreciated her visit.

Before I get to that, though, there’s Oktoberfest, or Weisn to those in the know and we are now in the know. We flew to Munich at the end of September with the express purpose of indulging in several of our favourite things: the beautiful city of Munich, giant pretzels, sausages and, of course, beer.
We visited Munich during the world trip of 2007 and loved everything about the city. Initially, I hadn’t been so keen on going to Germany. I thought it was too popular and wouldn’t be exciting enough. In searching for that “real” traveller experience, I was sure we weren’t going to find it in Germany.  I was wrong (again). It’s a fantastic country! We met loads of friendly people, ate great food, saw beautiful and exciting cities, and learned a lot.
Interesting fact of the day: You can purchase a day travel card in Munich that affords free travel in all of Bavaria. That includes Salzburg. I wonder how the Austrians feel about their city being co-opted by a German transport network.
After that trip we decided that, one way or another, we would be back for Oktoberfest. This year was the year. We booked everything a year in advance and then waited like kids waiting for Christmas. Twelve months, one transatlantic move and one Easy Jet flight later, we unfolded ourselves from the tiny seats and were ready for the festival to beat all festivals.
Everything was just as we had remembered. German trains still ran perfectly on time, Munich was still a wonderful blend of modern city and historic buildings and pedestrians still waited until they got the green light before crossing the street. Well, it was almost the same. It has to be said that there was an awful lot of lederhosen.

Welcome to Oktoberfest!
We had expected Oktoberfest to be a real tourist affair with very few Germans attending, but when we arrived to the fairgrounds on Thursday afternoon, we were definitely in the minority. Almost all the men were in lederhosen and the women in dirndls, that’s the traditional dress. We found a seat in the Hoffbrauhaus tent where you could tell the tourists by their jeans, their chants of “USA! USA!” and the fact that they were standing up on the benches to chug litres of beer to the cheers of the entire tent. It was 2pm.
That hour was enough to convince us that traditional garb would be essential to our Weisn experience. Off we trooped to a store that sells authentic clothing and was packed with people from every country except Germany. One hour and a rather large ATM withdrawal later we emerged with a bag of clothes that established us as “real” festival goers.
My other half had a lovely pair of leather shorts with suspenders and an embroidered flap on the front, a green checked cotton shirt, a pair of high, thick socks and a green cap with a feather in it. He decided against the traditional shoes as he reckoned he’d never wear them again. The lederhosen (that’s the shorts) seem of excellent quality, which is great because I foresee him getting a lot of wear out of them over the coming year. The overall effect was actually quite dashing, even without the shoes, and markedly less like Peter Pan than you might be envisioning.
I ended up with a purple checked dress (a drindl), the fluffiest white shirt I’ve ever owned and a deep purple apron. I’ll have to see how it goes with my pumps, but I’m thinking it might pass for business casual. I didn’t get shoes either. I suspect it was mainly because husband dearest can’t imagine a fate worse than shoe shopping with me, as opposed to me never having occasion to wear a pair of plain black shoes again. Unfortunately, while his dark green hiking shoes looked alright my white and pink running shoes didn’t really fit with the traditional Bavarian image I was otherwise sporting. Of course, I was very comfortable and they were great for that 10 minute walk from the hotel to Oktoberfest, but our feet definitely feature in a couple of German’s holiday photos. Look, honey, those people spent all that money on leather shorts and fluffy shirts and then wore sneakers! Hahaha! Naturally, I’m not quoting, but if you imagine that in German, you get the idea.
I’ll leave it at that for today, but, rest assured, I am back and will have more exciting descriptions of Oktoberfest fun for you. Now you’ll have to excuse me, I’m falling way behind on feeling sorry for myself. There must be a blanket and a mug of tea around here somewhere.

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