Munich Springfest: PROST!

Springfest 2012 in Munich, Germany

Springfest, modeled after the famous Oktoberfest, is not just a festival of drinking beer into oblivion. It’s a giant, culturally-themed fair with rides, foods and German traditions.

This attraction is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen in my life. The children are put into giant balls and then sent afloat to struggle like hamsters who can neither gain any momentum nor maintain any stability.

Groups of attendees in elaborate costumes would spontaneously spring into traditional music and dances of the old German culture.

I was so impressed to see even young adults embracing the cultural traditions. They clearly planned with large groups of friends to coordinate choreographed dances and matching costumes.

The theme decorations were so cute!

You could get your schnitzels and bratwursts at every few stands, including a half-meter one!

And there were cutely decorated sweets all around as well.

And, of course, BEER. Beer served in these giant steins. This is the Radlermass–the most refreshing beer I’ve ever tasted. It apparently involves lemonade, which wasn’t distinguishably tasteable, but certainly added a little sweetness.

The waiters serving beers in the tents were kept VERY busy. I wonder how many giant barrels of Augustiner were consumed ๐Ÿ˜ฎ …What was even more amazing was seeing the waitresses carry up to ten filled steins at a time!

This is what the Augustiner tent looked like during the day–pretty family-friendly.

But from about 7-11pm (when it closed), the Augustiner tent evolved into “the routy tent.” When the band started playing, everyone ascended right up to stand on the benches of the table and remain up there for the remainder of the night singing, dancing, cheersing and drinking.

After the first night, I woke up with a swollen hand from holding my heavy stein all night ๐Ÿ˜ฎ PROST! (“Cheers!”)

To me, the most awesome aspect of this tent and the college-age Springfest experience is how innocently jolly and cultural it was. Yes, it was crazy in there–beer spilling all over the place, everyone being loud and routy, people jumping up and down on the benches, sometimes someone falling–but in a way that I don’t experience in American culture. Tables were shared among strangers who became friends, most the people were dressed in the traditional costumes, people were chanting along with ye olde historical drinking songs and German tunes, and the dancing was not distasteful the way it would be in a club. It was an incredibly unique experience that I will always remember. And as our German companions told us: “This is nothing compared to Oktoberfest!” …I can’t even imagine.

At 11pm, the fair shut down and everyone flooded out of the tents. This is unfortunately when my belongings got stolen ๐Ÿ˜ฆ but Springfest was overall too great to be spoiled.

My weekend in Munchen was not just about festing, though. My friends and I did lots of exploring through the city both on foot and with a bike tour!

We were slightly nervous about biking through the city in a giant group, but we managed!

Munich is full of beautiful architecture ๐Ÿ˜€

Hofbrรคuhaus Brewery

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St. Cajetan’s Church

St. Cajetan’s Church

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We spent quite a bit of time in the English Garden — a large and beautiful park.

The English Garden holds the Chinesischer Turm, the second largest beer garden in the world (where our bike tour guide of course had us stop for a stein at before continuing on our tour…)

There was a large, grassy area for lounging and playing sports, but it came with two major surprises: 1) Nude tanning. When we first approached the area, we realized that a lot of the sunbathers were naked. My friends and I chose to lounge at a spot near the stream that didn’t seem to have any naked people. After laying on my back a bit, I flipped around to read my book and was shocked to see an old, naked man sitting only a few meters in front of my with his junk hanging out. Not cool. 2) The stream went throughout the entire park and moved with a lot of velocity. Every now and then, we’d see people in the stream quickly float past us, carried with the force of the water. It looked fun but crazy!

This stream also had an area with waves for surfers, tucked away in the woods. Again, one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen….

Our weekend in Munich for Springfest is one of the best times I’ve ever had in my life….I hope I can go back for Oktoberfest someday!

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Hallo, Berlin! (Spring Break: Part II)

Spring Break in Northern Europe

  • Part I: Ahoy, Prague!
  • Part II: Hallo, Berlin!
  • Part III: Hey, Amsterdam!
  • Part IV: Bonjour, Paris & Versailles!

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Welcome to BEARlin! ๐Ÿ˜€ …We saw these silly bears all over the city.

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This was actually my first impression of Germany…spotted in the LADIES’ restroom on our way to Berlin.

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We arrived in Berlin on a rather gloomy evening, which made the city feel so dark and creepy that it was almost surreal. It actually reminded me of a rainy day in NYC though, except much more deserted and eerie.

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Berlin was the only city where we stayed in a true hostel–a space for travelers to communally share a temporary living space with. Our room was shared among 16 girls, set up as a little labyrinth of bunk beds. The community shower wasn’t particularly delightful, but it was a good experience to have as someone traveling through Europe.

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Our hostel had an AWESOME reception space though, which was also just a public bar.

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Cheers! This hostel reception space was a great place to mingle with other students traveling on this Northern Europe Loops trip, and with other travelers in general.

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Lubzer is the best beer I tried on this trip — and it was cheap on draft in Germany!

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Maps are indeed necessary when traveling. And my navigation skills truly elevated from city to city! Practice makes perfect ๐Ÿ˜‰

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We took the Metro in both Berlin in Paris. The European public transportation is GREAT–at least in these cities. Clean, frequent, organized and very accessible.

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The East Side Gallery

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The East Side Gallery

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The East Side Gallery

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The East Side Gallery

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Oh hai

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WWII history surrounded us everywhere. At one point, we were even standing where Hitler killed himself. Cue goosebumps.

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The only Nazism-style building that remains.

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Berlin Wall

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Checkpoint Charlie

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This is one of my favorite things we saw on our tour through WWII history. It’s an underground monument outside Humboldt University, where the great book burning took place. The monument is a library of empty shelves built underground that is inaccessible, and only viewable through a small transparent piece of ceiling walked upon on the street above. It represents the absence of those books that were destroyed.

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On a lighter note, Berlin ended up being really fun despite the melancholy moments of dark history! And speaking of making history, this is possibly the most hilarious picture ever taken of my friends and me.

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I started “The Great Cartwheel Race,” which attracted a large audience of onlookers, and a group of Italian tourists also outside the site who decided to partake.

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“CARTWHEELS IN EVERY COUNTRY!!!”