Toby was going to Oktoberfest, and suggested that I go and meet him there.
After a bit of umming and ahhing, and stalling, I finally got around to looking for some flights, and found some good deals. With no more excuses, I arranged two weeks off work, and wrote to Tanja to see about visiting her after I was done in Munich.
My flights might have been moderately priced, but they weren't necessarily the most convenient. I arrived in Berlin at 9:30pm, but my connection to Munich wasn't until 7am the next day. No matter, that gave me a night to see some of Berlin! I stashed my bags and found a bar with some live music. A good set, and oh my god, beer is so cheap! Found some bullet marks on some old walls, which was neat. Got hit on by street hookers, which was an experience my life had somehow so far been lacking. Had a grand old time, walking amongst a vast array of grand old buildings. Big, glorious, monuments of stone. Eventually though, it was back to the train station for a snooze on the platform, then as much sleep as I could get on a one hour flight to Munich.
Which was grey, damp, and pretty unfun looking. I had a place lined up for the first night, Wombat's Hostel, and they actually managed to swing me in for the next two nights as well, which was really nice. A really good hostel too, well recommended.
Met up with Toby again!
We wandered off into town to have a look at some of the city sights, particularly the Glockenspiel on the Marienplatz, the city hall for Munich. It was quite a sight. Thousands of tourists packing the square for one of it's two daily shows, then this horribly out of tune, wonky old bit of machinery hitting things for a while. It was surely a feat of engineeering at the time, but it goes for nearly 15min, and really wasn't worth the effort. The building itself however was lovely. A beautiful inner courtyard, and lovely spiral staircases in stone, gargoyles, the works.
After some food, it was time to go and check out this Oktoberfest thing. We headed down around 8pm.
There's no real preparation for this. It's like every stereotype and fantasy of Germans, beer, and beer wenches all come to life, and magnified by a thousand.
We had a great time. Spent a bunch of money, had to readjust to a cash world, after the economic bliss of the plastic world in iceland. No pictures though. A giant tent full of raucus germans in lederhosen, beer mugs everywhere and singing and dancing is no place for sightseeing. You're either in or you're out.
After three glorious days of partying and hostel lifestyle, Toby and I were headed our separate ways again. Toby was off to Prague, and I was headed north to Hamburg. But first, we tried to do something besides drink beer all day, so late in the day, we decided to catch the train to Fussen and visit Neuschwanstein, the classic fairytale castle.
Which was a wonderful example of german beaurocracy, with lines, numbers, schedules, and a guided tour. But still, very pretty, and we got to see some nice countryside on the two hour journey out there. Arriving back in Munich at 10pm with no place to stay was a bit of bad move on my part though. Toby had a train out at 11, but I had to improvise! (Riding the trains all night and ending up in Hamburg midday the next day)
For anyone with even a passing interest in beer, Oktoberfest is truly worthwhile, and not nearly as touristy as I'd expected. It's still chock full of germans, night after night.