Oktoberfest Opening Procession (Einzug der Wiesnwirte)

Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP) from 2014: Everyone knows Oktoberfest: the biggest beer party in the world. But do you know that the opening procession is for the workers? Horse-drawn beer wagons adorned with flowers and hops vines, plus all the brewery workers, beer tent wait staff and anyone serving up the suds in any way get to parade down the streets of Munich to lead the crowds to the official opening of the grandest beer party you've ever seen!

Gäubodenvolksfest – Germany’s 2nd Largest Beer Fest

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Just when I thought I knew what to expect around here, my husband came home with an invitation to the Gäubodenvolksfest in the town of Straubing. Because of his job in IT, a vendor gave tickets to clients and he ended up with two. It was a peachy deal – we had a hotel room in nearby Plattling, cushy round-trip charter bus from our hotel, reserved tables at the fest and all the food and beer we could consume.Regardless of my prior ignorance of the event, the fest is a big deal. It was begun in 1812 by Bavaria’s King Max Joseph I as an annual fair for the people living near the Danube. Today it has a big trade show, six major beer tents, more than 120 carnival rides, numerous food and drink stands, music and about 1.3 million visitors during its 10-day span. By comparison, Oktoberfest has 14 major beer tents, has over six million visitors and lasts 15 days.We drove the hour and a half to our hotel (Zum Grünen Baum) in a town called Plattling, which lies outside Straubing where the fest was located. It’s a beautiful, small, family-run hotel with friendly staff that speaks English and a cafe on the ground floor. I highly recommend it.Kerstin, a rep from TechData, the hosting company, met us and invited us to another hotel down the street where the party had already started! We arrived a little while later to a crowded terrace and lots of friendly people in Tracht, which means Lederhosen for the men and Dirndl for the women. We were dressed up, but not in Tracht. That is being remedied, however, for the next fest!Presently all 67 of us were herded onto a double-decker luxury coach. We knew it would be a beer-centric night when someone mounted the stairs carrying a huge jug of beer, a sleeve of plastic cups and a mischievous grin:

Well, that jug didn’t last long, but we all managed to maintain during the hour drive to Straubing. During the drive, they handed out what looked like little garters that we were to write our names or initials on. I wasn’t sure what that was about. I would find out later.

As with anything in Germany, even with a ride you have to walk quite a distance. We disembarked about a half-mile from the fest grounds. We could see the giant Ferris wheel as we approached:

Our tent was the Krönner, a huge structure that holds almost 4,000 people inside with about 1,500 seats in the outdoor area. They served Irlbacher beer, a kind I’d never had before. Local brewers make batches of beer specifically for the fest, of course. Irlbacher Festbier was very good!
It’s so fortunate that we had reserved tables in the loft area because I had a great balcony to do my photos from. Besides, the tent floor was already getting full:

Soon our waitress appeared. She might not have been cheerful, but she was efficient!

As soon as the beer arrived, we discovered what the small garter thingies were for: read more

Old School Beer Education in Bad Staffelstein, Germany

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Teaching English here in Germany affords me a lot of information about the local dialect and traditions that tourists wouldn’t normally discover. And that’s why I’m here.

Here’s a good example. Two of the groups I’ve taught consisted of IT team managers at Deutsche Telekom, the German equivalent of AT&T or Verizon. I came to know them a couple of years ago and met with them almost every week on Thursday at their office building. We all grew to be friends.In the course of teaching them English, I was privileged to learn about their families, hobbies, projects and opinions. And last June they invited me and my husband for a “short walk” to a well-known local landmark, Staffelberg. I included quote marks in the previous sentence because a German’s idea of a short walk is vastly different from an American’s idea of one. However, they took it easy on us and we had a grand time.I made a slideshow out of some of the photos I took that day. Peep it:

Excursion to Staffelberg Germany with ESL Group from Karren Tolliver on Vimeo.

The first song in the slideshow is called the Frankenlied, or the Franconian Anthem, which sings the praises of the glorious local land. The second song is called Es Gibt Kein Bier auf Hawaii, or “There is No Beer in Hawaii,” in which the singer says his fiance wants to go to Hawaii for her honeymoon and he doesn’t want to go because there is no (German) beer there. So that’s why they are not married yet, after 12 years of engagement! One of the lines in the chorus is “Hula hula doesn’t make your thirst go away.” They taught me about these songs at dinner after our walk. read more

Flap Alert! – The Anatomy of Lederhosen

What's the big deal with those embroidered shorts they wear in Germany? Here's the scoop, including lots of photos from the crowds headed toward Oktoberfest in Munich. History and the endless variations are included!