I’ve always wanted to travel. Always. Even as a kid, I’d look at pictures in magazines and books and think about how I wanted to be anywhere but Pasadena, Texas (home). Now as an adult, I love Texas and especially Houston, but I still long to travel. This trip marked my first excursion into Europe, which was pretty exciting for me. Brandon (my husband) and I bonded over a love of craft beer when we first met and decided that we would one day make it out to Oktoberfest in Munich. While Oktoberfest isn’t really a craft beer related event, it is a major beer occasion that stretches back over 200 hundred years. It is an annual celebration of King Ludwig I and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen’s marriage that was basically a party so good, that the city decided to celebrate/party every year.
My biggest tip is to book your hotel room out as soon as possible to avoid price hikes. We reserved our room right after the festival the privious year and got a deal on a place within walking distance of the festival. Also, if you plan on taking a large group of 8-10 people, reserving a table with the tent of your choice is highly recommended. Put your name on the list early and don’t fall for scalper tickets. They are 5 times the price or more and the tent could still turn you away if they realize you didn’t book with them. That being said, you can still have an experience of a lifetime without table reservations, if you’re flexible.
With 6 people in our group, we decided to arrive earlier in the day and go on a weekday to make sure we could sit together. For larger groups, it’s best to arrive before 1pm (earlier if on the weekend) if you feel like you have to sit together. If not, you can still find places here and there through out the tent and over time, as people at your table leave, you can ask to pull people from your group to your table. Don’t be afraid to ask to sit with people, everyone was incredibly friendly and you don’t want to miss out on the experience of being in the tent. We decided to go with the Hacker tent as it provided a party vibe without the barely legal drinking crowd. Overall Oktoberfest was a phenomenal experience and we definitely plan on going back in a couple of years with more friends.
While Oktoberfest was a highlight, there were so many fun things to do around Munich that I highly encourage everyone to try. We were able to drive out and see King Ludwig II’s Linderhof Palace and Castle Neuschwanstein in a quick road trip with stunning views. Everyone we encountered was incredibly kind and helpful, so don’t feel shy about the language barrier.
We also had a chance to take a Mike’s Bike Tour of the city and it was well worth the money and time. We saw so many charming areas within the city that we probably wouldn’t have taken the time to see otherwise and would have missed out. Side note: the English Garden with beer garden in the center was probably my favorite stop on our tour, if you can’t do the tour, at least check out the English Garden. Our tour guide was entertaining and an all-around nice guy who was able to answer all our questions (high praise from our group of history nerds).
If farmer’s markets are your jam, I would also suggest spending an afternoon in the Viktualienmarkt. The smells from the booths are sensational and you can find a large assortment of foods, cheeses, wines, etc. for you to sample and snack on, along with various other goods.
Not far off from the market is the famous Hofbrauhaus, which was unimaginably packed this time of year. The building itself is huge, but a popular destination for travelers. I would suggest stopping by for a drink, but eating at either Spatenhaus or Augustiner Bierhalle for some fantastic Bavarian food. Side note: I seriously feel that German food is underrated and deserves more credit.
For the second part of our trip, we took a train up to Berlin to soak in some history and delicious food. While our time there was not as long as Munich, Berlin did not disappoint. To start, being from Texas, I know a good burger when I see one and we had the most flavor filled, mouthwatering burger I’ve had outside of Texas. We also sampled some spectacular Turkish and Japanese food. I had read that Berlin is a foodie’s playground and that is so true.
Aside from the food, Berlin is full of gorgeous architecture and history. We were able to see the Berlin Wall Museum, the East Side Gallery, and of course the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe that was remarkable and wish we could have seen more.
My last note on Berlin is on the insane nightlife. One of our favorite nights of the entire trip was spent in a multiple room nightclub with a pool, fire breathing dragon and some killer music that threw me back into my heavy eyeliner/angst filled high school days. Ahhhhh nostalgia. We had such a great time, that we didn’t even notice how late it was. Before we knew it, 4a.m. rolled around and the party was still going strong on a THURSDAY NIGHT. We begrudgingly went back to our hotel in hopes of not sleeping our next day away. But seriously, while this type of nightclub might not be up your alley, you should know that Berlin is known for its night life and there is something for everyone. We also found some notable bars that gave off a hint of an NYC vibe which was perfect for our group.
My first trip to Europe has definitely stirred my wanderlust and I’m grateful to have been able to share it with family and friends. So much so, we are already planning a couple of trips for next year. I honestly never really thought I would get to this point of my life where I could easily(ish) take this kind of trip. Neither of my parents have been fortunate enough to travel overseas and I’ve always kind of felt that I was holding on to something that was maybe not meant for me, which was wrong. A little planning and saving pennies can go a long way and now I’m hooked.