Oktoberfest? Road Trip!

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My Bucket List is volumes long.  My family (and probably a couple of doctors) might say I have ADHD, but I like to call my inability to sit still pure excitement for life.  Among things such as skydiving, running a marathon, seeing the Colosseum and the Eiffel Tower (both the later I am crossing off during my semester abroad) is going to the real Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.

A huge castle on a hill we passed on our way through Northern Italy.

Not only was I able to attend the 200th anniversary of “The Weisn” as they call it in Munich, but I was able to do it with my younger sister Jaclyn and a dozen great friends.  We flew from Rome to Venice and my friend picked us up in a BMW (that’s right, a Beamer) he rented for the weekend to drive from Venice through Nothern Italy, through Austria and finally into Munich; a total of five hours and one hell of a road trip.

A beautiful view from the hill of a small Austrian town.

I am lucky enough to have traveled to Colorado more than a dozen times, and every time I’ve visited, the Rocky Mountains always seemed to blow me away.  Now, the Dolomite Mountains that run through Italy might be comparable to the Rockies, but how do you compare the Rockies to the Alps?  Jaclyn and I were also under the impression that driving on the Autobahn would be this wild and crazy experience, but instead we sat in traffic, so we put good ol’ Lady Garmin (as I like to call the navigation) to the test, and let her take us on a detour through back roads in the hills of these small Austrian towns.

When you study abroad, your life is suddenly like a movie.  I could never have dreamed of seeing such amazing views, while riding in a Beamer, on the way to Oktoberfest.  We pulled over several times to stop for pictures and to frolic in the fields (really, we hoped and skipped around like maniacs).

My sister Jaclyn and I outside the entrance of Oktoberfest.

Next up in our Oktoberfest adventure was the arrival to our four-star hotel in this quiet little neighborhood in Munich, just a few metro stops away from where Oktoberfest was taking place.  Hotel Am Moosfeld was beautiful, and we met some really great people (a ton of Italians) there as well.  Breakfast was included in our stay, so we woke up each morning and ate like royalty before heading out for the festivities.

Piling out of the metro along with thousands of people, my sister and I had no idea that Oktoberfest is essentially an international carnival.  Sure, we thought there’d be a ride or two and maybe some cool German funnel-cake-like-thing, but we never imagined the number of rides and different food and drink and souvenir stands and beer tents and just the massiveness of Oktoberfest.  We were speechless, so we did what any Oktoberfest-er would do, and we made our way to a beer tent for a stein of German beer.

About 6 million people attend Oktoberfest over the three weekends it takes place.

It’s not as easy getting into a beer tent and getting a beer as one would think, but we figured it out rather quickly.  And unless everyone at Oktoberfest from around the world also has ADHD, everyone there seemed to share the same excitement for life as I, and I would say that was my favorite aspect of the whole event.  We met people from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Italy, the UK, Australia and the United States.  Here I am an American at Oktoberfest in Germany, trying to use what little Italian I know, ending up speaking English to people from all over the world.  It was overwhelming how many people spoke English, and how many foreigners love practicing it with Americans.

Sunday was spent exploring Munich, an amazingly beautiful city.

We spent the second half of the day on Friday and the entire day Saturday at Oktoberfest, so that by Sunday morning we forced ourselves out of bed early enough for our last breakfast at our luxurious hotel and in time to spend the entire day walking around Munich.  There is something surreal about traveling, especially in foreign countries.  In talking with my friends about how fortunate we are to have the ability to have weekends like the one at Oktoberfest, I think my sister said it best when she said, “I am so young and I feel as if it almost isn’t fair; some people live their entire lives and never get to see and do things like this.”

My sister Jaclyn in a field with the Alps behind her in a small town in Austria.

I enjoyed every minute of walking around Munich and getting to explore another European city other than Rome.  And I’ll admit, among the many volumes of my Bucket List, going to Oktoberfest was pretty high on the list.  We kept asking each other, “How do you explain just how amazing this weekend has been so that someone actually comprehends how amazing it has truly been?”  The pictures don’t really do it justice, and such words don’t exist in my vocabulary, but I’d go so far as to say this past weekend was one of the best weekends of my life.  Does that help?

Jaclyn and I feel lucky as sisters to be able to share this study abroad experience.

Oktoberfest, another item on Sarah’s Bucket List… Check!

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