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175th Annual München Oktoberfest

No trip to southern Germany in late September would be complete without making a stop at the München Oktoberfest. In 2008, the event took place from September 19th to October 4th.

We got to München around 8:00 AM on Friday. It was raining. The skies were grey and the only blue skies I had seen were at 10,000 feet. As we descended down, on our flight path into München International Airport, as far as the eye could see, were rain clouds. My wife made the comment to me as we were waiting in line for customs that it was raining when she left and it was raining when she got back. "Do you think it ever stopped?"

Knowing that it rained a lot in Germany in the fall, we each packed an umbrella. At the airport, after going through customs, we searched for the train to take us to downtown München. The train route and time of departure/arrival signs were easy to read and it did not take long before we were onboard and heading for the center of the city.

Finding our hotel proved to be more of a challenge. We got off at the right departure stop, since we investigated the train map thoroughly before leaving the states. We went up the stairs and into the rain and looked at our street map we had hastily drawn.

We went by the street, where our hotel was located, two times before it dawned on us that the street was going diagonally from the main street and we expected it be at right angles. "There!! Look, there's the sign!" After checking in at the hotel we traveled around München for the rest of the day, waiting for 5:00 PM (1700). We had a fun time and went through many shops, took lots of pictures and just hung out.

At 5:00, there was no doubt about where we were going. Everyone else was going there too. When we got off the train, we were one of the last people getting off and no one was getting onboard. The train was empty. We were carried along with the crowd and held on to each other's hand to keep from being separated. We headed for the fairgrounds. Actually, they were really large fields with permanent structures that were reused each year.

In doing our pre-trip research about the München Oktoberfest I discovered that Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became King Ludwig I, was going to be married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on October 12th, 1810. The citizens of Munich and the surrounding communities in Bavaria were invited to attend the wedding and activities to be held on the fields in front of the city gates. The fields have been named Theresienwiese (translated as Theresa's fields) in honor of the Crown Princess ever since, although the München locals have since abbreviated the name of the fields to the "Wiesn".

To mark the end of the royal wedding activities and a festival for the whole of Bavaria, the Royal Family held horse races. A decision was made to repeat the horse races in the subsequent years and this annual horse race was the start of the tradition of the Oktoberfest. The horse races are no longer held today.

As we passed by street vendors on the way to the fields, we saw lots of street vendors selling food and Oktoberfest trinkets. We went into a beer tent, mainly to get out of the rain and found ourselves in the middle of a celebration. We sat down and each of us ordered a liter of beer for 7.50 Euro per liter. The beer was delicious and the food was exceptional. I had bratwurst and my wife had duck, that was moist and juicy and falling away from the bone. We both had red cabbage salad and kraut.

The music and the band just added to the fun of the night and we left with a full stomach and a smile on our faces. I was glad to be taking the train back to the hotel.

If you are ever in Germany in late September, you must get to the München Oktoberfest. It is one trip you will remember for a lifetime.

Until next time, let me know what is on your mind, and how you are doing, O.K.? You can send me your questions or comments on my bio page. My next article will be out shortly.

Jim Fortune - the BellaOnline Budget Travel Guy

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