Germany: Oktoberfest and More!

Traveler: Kat Calvitti

When:  October 2014

Places visited:  Munich, Oberau, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Frankfurt

Overall Experience:  Everyone must go to Oktoberfest at least once in their lifetime!  Enjoy lots of beer (obviously), singalongs, dancing, carnival rides and most importantly, meeting new friends to share the experience with!  When you can no longer party like a rockstar, take a drive out to see the beautiful Bavarian Alps for some r&r!

Disclaimer:  I lost my phone for a few days at the beginning of the trip, so check out my Instagram for pictures of the first couple days.  Unfortunately, when I got my phone back (thank you, Canadians!) I didn’t know how to turn off the Find My iPhone app so my phone was erased and I lost all of my pictures L

Logistics: $2000-4000 depending on flight, length of stay, and activities.  I flew United from Newark, NJ (EWR) to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) because I waited until the week before I left to book my flight.  EWR to FRA was the only reasonably priced, ($950) non-stop flight I could get (it worked out well for me to see friends/family the day before/after travel)!  I took the train from Frankfurt to Munich, which was about 3 hours and cost around $70 each way.  We booked a hotel for 3 nights in Munich in advance and booked the rest of our hotel stays along the way.

Getting around:  The rail system is great!  As stated previously, I took the train from Frankfurt to Munich and took the local public transit train around Munich (from my hotel to Oktoberfest, Marienplatz, etc).  The train system is easy to navigate and most people can speak English in the cities (not so much in the country) and are excited to practice if they’re not fluent!  We also rented a car (about $400) to drive from Munich to the Bavarian Alps—navigating was easy since we paid extra for GPS!  We also hitched a ride from strangers a few times and survived to tell about it!

Tips:  BOOK EVERYTHING IN ADVANCE IF YOU ARE GOING TO OKTOBERFEST!!  If you’re going to Munich for Oktoberfest be sure to book a hotel in advance.  The hotels we stayed at weren’t in ideal locations, but were conveniently located near train stations.  If you want to have dinner in one of the tents at Oktoberfest, be sure to make a reservation well in advance!  If you plan on renting a car, be sure to do so in advance!  You get the idea, right??  The first rental company we went to didn’t have any cars available and the second company had one car, which was a stick shift.  Be prepared to drive stick because that may be the only option!  Driving was quite the adventure since I only “learned” how to drive stick shift a handful of times (pretty sure the rental company didn’t think I would bring the car back in one piece) and my friend never learned!  My driving was similar to Zoolander… I couldn’t turn left and stalled on nearly every left turn!

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Enter Oktoberfest here!

Munich

Hotels: Round 1: We stayed at Econtel Hotel Munchen, which was conveniently located within walking distance of the Neauaubing station along the S8.  The rate was around $225/night for a basic room (no frills. Continental breakfast was included; however, the only time I saw breakfast was when I was strolling (errrrr stumbling) in around 5am or drinking beers in the lobby with new friends til 5am.  Round 2:  We stayed at the Munich Marriott (about $350/night), which was in a good area and a quick train ride to Oktoberfest.

Activities:

Oktoberfest!!   I didn’t realize how large Oktoberfest is—there are so many beer tents, beer gardens and carnival rides!

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    Beer Garden

    Beer Tents/Beer Gardens- Check out as many of the tents as you can! You don’t need a reservation to go inside the tents; however, you do need a reservation to be seated/served.  We drank mostly in the beer gardens (FYI- you will only get served if you are seated at a table); however, one night we met a lovely group of older men who invited us to their reservation with them!  We had a blast eating, drinking, singing, and dancing on the table inside the tent, then parted ways and went on the carnival rides a bit drunk (totally safe)!  The weekends are extremely busy and crowded so be prepared to wait in lines just to get into the beer gardens.  It’s worth the wait—you’ll have so much fun singing, dancing and prost-ing (cheers-ing)!  Beware of the bathroom lines—they are LONG!  A liter of beer was around $10.

  • Carnival Rides: There were so many rides that I went on, from spinning rides, to rides that go upside down, to the giant swings and the toboggan!  The prices for the rides vary. The swings are the tallest I’ve ever seen and against my better judgement I went on them at the beginning of the night.  I could have used a few drinks before that experience!  They were terrifying!  The toboggan ride starts out with you jumping onto a moving incline walkway—I fell immediately and was pushed to the top!  It was so fun to try and even more fun to watch others!  Oktoberfest shuts down around 11pm so be sure to leave some extra time towards the end of the night to go on rides (or else you’ll have to make them a priority the following day, hence my sober swing experience)!

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    Spaetzle and meat

  • Food: There are plenty of snacks to buy from vendors during Oktoberfest!  Giant pretzels, brats, etc.  Make a reservation in advance if you want to have a full dinner at one of the tents.  Tip:  Be sure to drink water and eat food throughout the day/night!

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    Toboggan

Sightseeing:

We went for dinner/drinks around Marienplatz, the city center square, on our first night in Munich.  The city center is beautiful with plenty of bars/restaurants to choose from.  After dinner we heard music coming from a nearby bar, followed the music and made friends with some locals… including the Santa Claus of Munich!

 

Check out the English Garden and take a long stroll through the park to clear your mind after a wild night at Oktoberfest!  The park is beautiful and peaceful, plus you’ll burn off some of the beer and brat calories!

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English Garden

I also recommend going to Hofbrauhaus, especially if you’re not in Munich during Oktoberfest!

Oberau

After a few wild nights in Munich, we rented a car and drove about an hour to Oberau, in the Bavarian countryside.  We found a cute little inn, Hotel Forsthaus, which had a vacancy for about $100/night.  The town was quiet and quaint—just what we needed!  We had a delicious dinner a couple doors down from the hotel and went to bed early.

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Oberau

To do:  The next morning we drove about an hour to Neuschwanstein Castle, which was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.  We opted out of going inside the castle because there was a two-hour wait (buy a ticket in advance if you want to go inside).  Instead, we took a walk across the Marienbrucke (the bridge over the Pollat Gorge) and hiked along the trail which provided amazing views of the castle!  We even made a new friend along the way and made plans to meet him in Munich for one last night at Oktoberfest!  The Hohenschwangau Castle is also nearby and may be worth checking out!  When you’ve seen enough of the castles, browse around the little shops in town for souvenirs!

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View of Neuschwanstein Castle from the gorge

 

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Looking down into the gorge from Marienbrucke

Garmisch-Partenkirchen

After a couple low key nights in Oberau, we drove 15 minutes down the road to Garmisch-Partenkirchen for a  lively nightlife.  We found a vacancy at Staudachers Bauernhaus, which was more or less a hostel, but had the amazing charm of an old barn house!  It’s located just a short walk away from the hotel and you can easily walk to bars/restaurants.

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Staudachers Bauernhaus

 

To Do:  The locals told us about waterfalls in nearby Farchant, so we drove about 25 minutes to hike Kuhfluchtwasserfalle!  Since the locals told us about the falls and gave us directions, I’m not entirely sure that we parked in an actual parking lot.  We got out of the car and felt as though we were trespassing on someone’s farm because we were surrounded by cattle.  We finally came upon a trail and hiked up and around to see the beautiful falls!  We didn’t have a trail map and were nervous about getting lost so we turned around after a couple hours to ensure we made it back to the car by sunset.  Tip: Get a trail map!

If you’re visiting in the winter months and enjoy winter sports, be sure to hit the mountain for some skiing or snowboarding.   The 1936 Winter Olympics host resort is situated around Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, which is near Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

 

Frankfurt

I didn’t spend much time exploring Frankfurt due to limited time; however, the city has a lot to offer and has a different feel than Munich.  While having a drink at the Frankfurt train station we booked a night at the Savoy Hotel, located just a few minutes from the station, for about $75.  We made our way to an Irish pub around the corner that was showing NFL games and were highly entertained by the bar staff J  It was a lovely way to spend my last night in Germany… until next time!

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Irish Pub humor

Irish Pub Staff Humor

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