Cheers to Munich’s fun Oktoberfest!
Who’d have believed that a senior citizen who doesn’t like beer and hates crowds could come back from Munich a total convert to the city’s annual Oktoberfest?
I have to confess, dear reader, that elderly dame was me. And I’m as shocked as you are.
From a gal who enjoys good wine in the company of close friends, I appear to have morphed into an all-singing all-dancing jolly beer drinker. Someone who climbs on tables, clunks giant beer steins with gusto and belts out naughty lyrics to songs like Living Next Door to Alice.
In mitigation, I was in a party of like-minded journalists, but even so I’m harassing family and friends to get a group together to go again next year.
Because not only is the Oktoberfest the best fun you can have with your clothes on, but Munich is a breath-taking city with stunning boulevards, museums and concert halls to appeal to every possible taste . . . that’s if you can drag yourself away from all the entertainment on offer at the Theresien Wiesn (meadow) where the 16-day extravaganza is held.
There’s even the state-of-the-art BMW headquarters (if you’re that way inclined) which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
But back to the bierfest. There are 14 ‘tents’ - huge double-storey constructions capable of seating more than 100,000 thirsty visitors – providing non-stop music, vast platters of food and a veritable tsunami of specially-brewed beer from the city’s six major breweries.
And yes, there really are German Fräuleins who can deliver six brimming steins in each fist to your table.
Places inside go like hot cakes and you’d be well advised to enquire now if you’d like to book for next year. You can exchange your tickets for their face value in food and liquid refreshment, after which steins (containing one litre) cost about 10 Euros.
To someone who’s become accustomed to seeing punch-ups outside Luton pubs it was an absolute joy to be part of such a huge amiable crowd. There were plenty of locals in lederhosen and dirndl skirts and even an occasional outbreak of Scots in kilts. It was like one big love-in, with everyone intent on enjoying themselves, swaying to the beat of countless oompah bands and singing along enthusiastically.
There are also more than 200 attractions and side-shows, from old-fashioned merry-go-rounds to the Teufelsrad or Devil’s Wheel. But a word of warning: don’t stand below at the end of the evening
You can buy yourself a traditional feathered hat or indulge in Bavarian specialities like sausages, spicy skewered fish and gingerbread hearts.
And only a couple of hours away by coach or train is a different world completely – the clean mountain air of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the site of the 1936 Olympics, the twin towns full of charming old buildings with colourfully painted facades.
Take a 10 minute cable car trip to Zugspitze, the top of Germany. The views extend from the German and Austrian Alps to Italy and Switzerland. In winter you can even book into the Iglu-Dorf, the world’s coolest mountain resort. There are eight ski-schools in the area where beginners can get professional instruction and the more experienced can fine-tune their technique.
In spring and summer there are numerous beautiful walks, particularly in and around the Partnach gorge.
We crammed a city and mountain break into three action-packed days and I can’t wait to try them both again.
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Weather for Luton
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 9 C
Wind Speed: 29 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 6 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North