We arrived in Munich on a drizzly Friday morning, it was the morning before the opening day celebrating the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest. The word today has just one meaning in the hearts and minds of so many people worldwide, and that meaning is beer. However, arriving one day early we were blessed to have a day of exploration and a chance to see the city before we only saw the inside of a beer tent.
Bright and early we all piled into the bus once again to head into the city center, tired and cold but ready to explore a new city. We were met in Marienplatz, the main square of Munich by our sarcastic and eager tour guide, Tristan, who led us on foot back to the bike shop.
We spent the day in a kind of slow wandering through the city making our best attempts not to get lost in the Oktoberfest crowds or hit by the angry German motorists. Tristan spun stories of the history of Munich and it’s importance in Hitler’s reign in the second world war. Then we were led into the enormous and beautifully green Englisher Garten. An immense garden which we casually rode through just to admire the fast-flowing Eisbach river and have a beer in the biggest beer garden in Munich.
As we sat around the tables at the Chinese Tower, I laughed as everyone was eagerly enjoying their first stein of Oktoberfest. The beers were as big as most of our heads, but we showed no fear when it was time to recollect our blue and pink bikes all lined against a tree and head off, if a bit wobbly, back into town. There were a few minor scraps and bruises along the way as Tristan, tried to be equally responsible and good-humored, clearly enjoying our inability to ride a bike after just one beer. Cuts and scraps were mending and we made one last stop to watch the awe-inspiring river surfers defy gravity and surf a man-made river wave before plunging into the shallow river beyond.
Back on our bikes we made our single-file way through the city and even in the midst of honking horns and running red lights we laughed and pedaled our way back to Frankie’s. It was time for another beer, so we rewarded ourselves for our cultural experience with another experience all it’s own in the Hofbrauhaus.
As I (sadly) finish up my final days in Florence, I’ve been reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned and the memories I’ve