Friday afternoon I drove from Warwick down to London-Stansted airport, parked my rental car in the lot (not making the mistake of returning it again), got to the terminal and made it to Frankfurt-Hahn. My friend Jon is training for his new job in Germany right now, so he picked me up and together we drove to Katy's apartment about an hour and a half away. Unfortunately I forgot the GPS that work has lent me so we had to navigate the old fashioned way: with the map that came with the car. Katy's apartment is huge... like ridiculously big for one person. It's 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, with a huge living room and even huger patio. I wish I had gotten some pictures, but we basically got dinner right away (doner kebap, yum) and then went to bed in anticipation of a very early start on Saturday.
We decided to leave by 6:30 (ended up being more like 7) so we could theoretically get into downtown Munich by noon (its a 4 hour drive) since you have to get a table in a tent to get served and it can be difficult to get in later in the day. Well it ended up taking us more like 7 hours to get down there because traffic was absolutely terrible. We did some interesting exploring trying to get around a traffic jam in Karlsruhe. Apparently there was a bridge out, so the 3 lanes of traffic going each way were being directed through 1 lane that was alternating directions. Sounds like the worst possible way to deal with that... so much for German efficiency. Eventually we did find a way around the traffic using Katy and Keith's (Katy's friend from the air force who was riding with us) phones. Fast forward through getting to the hotel, and taking a train downtown...
Yeah... there were a few people on the train.
When we got outside, we found ourselves in what appeared to be the middle of a state fair, looked something like this...
From there we just kind of wandered for a bit trying to find somewhere we could get some beer, which looked like it was going to be tough. As we were walking past the Haufbrau tent (really its a wide open building but we'll call it a tent) there was a huge crowd of people out front being held about 50 yards from the doors by a taped off buffer zone. Right when as we walked by the bouncers lifted the tape to let some of the people through. It turned into a mad rush of people crowding past the line and they lowered it right in front of us, but in the scrum of people that were sneaking under we managed to make it in. This is the first thing I saw after walking in...
I had to buy one. I munched on it as we wandered around the tent trying to find somewhere to sit to get some beer. It was so packed it seemed a bit hopeless, but we pressed into the crowd and found a corner of a table in the standing area that was good enough to get a waitress to come over to us. We immediately ordered a round and half a chicken. It was all delicious.
Hard to get an idea of the scale, but this tent was HUGE
Keith and I working on the first round
The best of Germany in one frame
I don't know...
The bandstand. They played a song called "Ein Prosit" about every 10 minutes to remind people to drink (as if we needed reminding). I wish I had gotten a video of it.
Next round, and our neighbors
Then I bought a silly hat from a friendly Canadian.
And then I went to the ATM. I asked a guy if he was in line for the ATM and he thought I was asking for a cigarette, so I took one to be courteous and then one my way back in I got kicked out because theres no smoking inside, even though I pretty much dropped it right away. Thankfully, Keith saw me get kicked out, so they came out and got me (and were even nice enough to bring the beers with) so we finished them, and then went to find another tent and ended up at a table outside the Paulaner tent with some crazy Russians. We kept drinking, and having a good time...
...and thats all I remember.
How appropriate that this was the last picture I took...
Actually I lied, I remember being back in the hotel room, stealing a comforter off the bed and crashing on the floor. How I got there... I wouldn't find out until Sunday morning.
So Sunday morning comes, and you would expect that I would have quite a hangover after at least 5 liters of beer and maybe some Jagermeister. In fact I felt surprisingly good. No headache, just a little bit queasy but for the most part good. I'm sure it's partly because of the quality of German beer, but mostly because I got it all out of my system between the table outside the Paulaner tent and the train back to the hotel. I'm not sure I should go into much more detail than that, but I was equal parts embarrassed and laughing my ass off listening to everyone piecing together how the night ended. Needless to say, I owe the air force guys a big thank you for basically carrying me back to the hotel and making sure I didn't get kicked off the train. So thanks Keith, Dane and Rob (though I doubt they'll ever see this) I owe you each a 6 pack, and maybe a pair of pants (sorry I was such a mess!) To be fair, I don't drink very much these days so my tolerance is lower than I expected and I didn't have much to eat all day. I know, no excuses, drink like a champion (responsibly).
Anyway, after figuring out what happened to me the night before, I cleaned up my shoes and took a shower and then we checked out and hit the road. Jon and I drove separately this time since he had to drop me at the airport and then go back to Attendorn and it was going to be a squeeze for time to get me there before my flight so Katy and Keith rode with the other air force guys who came down a bit later than us on Saturday.
It was a long, scenic drive, so I took some pictures.
A village up in the mountains. Beautiful.
Ridiculously narrow lanes through construction. This is normal... apparently.
The most beautiful road sign in the entire world... No speed limit :-D
Cool bridge under construction
Crossing the Rhine
We went through wine country too, lots of vineyards, but it was about impossible to get a good picture of one while flying down the road at 200 km/hr (thats as fast and Jon's company car would go). This is about as good as I could do.
...and that about all I have time for since I have to drive up to Manchester tomorrow morning by 9 AM and its a 3 hour drive.