Guten Tag from Germany!
This is our second stop in Germany as a part of our Odyssey, and this time we visited the southern half of the nation. Our month was characterized by Bavarian architecture, spending time with wonderful friends, and a great party at Oktoberfest. We did so much during our visit and loved every minute of it.
We started by arriving in Nuremberg. This was our base for several exciting activities and served as our first taste of Bavarian architecture. Since we visited the northern part of the country earlier this year, we thought we had a feeling for what Germany was like, but we had an entirely different experience within Bavaria. The painted buildings with wooden detailing made each day feel like waking around a storybook set bursting to life.
The first of our Nuremberg activities was renting a car and taking it out on the road; but not just any road – The Autobahn. Stretches of Germany’s highway system have been set up with no speed limit, and we took full advantage of that. When we were not maxing out the speedometer, we enjoyed rolling through the hillsides with the windows down and singing to the radio. The car also served to help us visit two key stops in the surrounding region.
One stop was at the home of some of our family, or at least what used to be their home, back in the 80’s. It has gotten a fresh coat of paint since then and what were ankle-high plants have turned into one-story dividers. For us to get to see the local neighborhood and develop a better understanding of the stories we had heard was a joy.
The second stop we used the car for was to visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This is one of the cities on the Romantic Road in Bavaria. This quaint town was perfect for grabbing a bite and promenading around within the old walls. It was beautiful and made you appreciate how much personality a town can have. We loved it and might have to return one day to do the whole Romantic Road, especially if every stop is like this.
The last, but crucial, activity we prioritized during our time in Nuremberg was visiting a Trachten. These are traditional shops that sell, among other things, lederhosen and dirndls. Mr. Wanderer and I found ourselves in need of some shopping. So, before we passed on to our next city, we made sure to buy the essentials of our wardrobe for the next big activity we had planned.
What would our excursions be without friends though, and Munich was no exception. When we arrived in the city we caught up, dressed to the nines (in our new clothes), with some dear friends of ours for Oktoberfest. This two-plus week endeavor is a marathon, not a sprint, for locals. Some of whom will attend every single day. Not quite so ambitious ourselves, we planned just two trips to the tents.
For our first visit, we were at a reserved table. This meant that we had a scheduled arrival time and were admitted to the upper floor of the tent where food and festivities were waiting for us. A dear friend from high school invited us to share in her family’s traditions and we got to learn from her all about the do’s, don’ts, and best parts of Oktoberfest. She helped us learn the important drinking songs and explained which parts of Oktoberfest were emblematic of greater German “fest” culture. We spent the evening getting to catch up on life, singing, dancing, and truly living as our most relaxed Oktoberfest selves.
We caught up with a different couple of dear friends the next day. They traveled to Germany just to meet us and so we prepared for round two. This time, without a pre-scheduled table, we had to arrive early. By 10 am on a Saturday, we were already struggling to lock down a permanent table solution. Our party instead made it a day of hopping around and witnessing as many different tents as we could get into. Each tent is sponsored by a different beer company at the festival, and so they serve different beers inside as well as have their own unique decorations. One had colored ribbons, while another had a whole sky painted on the inside. Some have live bands others DJs to keep the energy up all day and night.
For our Day Two, we started in one tent and shared with our new friends the only unit of measurement you can order beer in – Maß (approx 1 Liter). That is it. Any servers walking by will only ask you how many your table needs, there are no lightweights here. After relearning the important songs and enjoying our first full drink, we left the warm inside of the tent in search of giant pretzels and fresh air. By noon there were already some participants too far gone. Thankfully, this movement allowed us to slip into the beer garden of our second tent. Here we parked ourselves for hours and, more importantly, made friends with our neighbors. A group of friends traveling together, a little rough for the wear of a four-day Oktoberfest binge; but, they still had enough energy to enjoy some drinking games with us.
Sorry to leave our buds, but ready for more food we ventured out again in search of sausages and chimney cakes. Thoroughly thrilled with the day we were having, we decided to top it off with a third tent inclusive of a great deal of singing and tomfoolery to end the night. Having partied from sun-up to well past sun-down we then retired, satisfied with our thorough experience of every aspect of Oktoberfest. We awoke early the next morning and went out in search of carbs, which we consumed while looking out over the Glockenspiel for the perfect end to our Munich adventures.
Moving on from Munich, our friends traveled with us into the Black Forest to a town called Frieberg. This served as our home base for several day trips. For starters, we used our first day there to visit the spa town of Baden-Baden for a little rest and recovery on our bodies (Especially post-Oktoberfest). We enjoyed saunas, cold plunges, and a salt room, which we followed up by lounging poolside all afternoon. Our bodies appreciated the rest and love. As a bonus the town itself was adorable.
We also made a day trip to visit Lake Titisee. Here we took the walking path around the lake and got to get a little closer to the Black Forest, actually walking through its trees and even dining on Black Forest cake by the lakeside. Quieter than the bigger city of Munich, Frieberg was a pleasant place to catch up with our friends and enjoy each other’s company at a more casual pace. We got to try all of the German food we were looking for and take in so many of the surrounding sights.
We were sad to say goodbye to our friends after this when Mr. Wanderer and I moved on. We rode a train to the last city on our itinerary, Frankfurt. After having run all over the countryside, via cars and trains, as well as having done two days of Oktoberfest, and spent quality time with friends - by the time we arrived in Frankfurt we were ready to take it slow. We took in the city, experiencing the old and the new built-up side by side. We ate even more food and in general, enjoyed a quiet end to our time in Southern Germany.
We adored our time here and appreciated the opportunity to take in so much of the landscape. Our bags are packed now and we are heading to a nation home to the lowest point of elevation on Earth. Any guesses where we are off to next?