Germany & Sweden

I’d say we arrived in Munich upbeat and raring to go, admittedly it was more half asleep and desperate for our beds. Nonetheless, having joined forces with our gang of merry man and women we soldiered on to hit the town after our delayed flights landed us 5 hrs late.

Munich centre itself is stunning with large formidable stone buildings standing strong as the backdrop to colorful painted interiors depicting stories of days gone by. Once there it was straight into bona fide German cuisine and beer. Oktoberfest was in full swing and coming by a table was not easy but it was worth it. I had a delight of pork and coleslaw – sounds simple but I quickly learnt simple is both comforting and tasty in Germany.

Our first day was off to visit King Ludwig’s never quite completed, Neuschwanstein castle, the one Disney is reported to have based his castle on. Since it was a fair trek away we needed a hire car and duly got one. We all piled in outside our hotel and with the intent of kindly winding me up, Man burnt some rubber and peeled off at speed from the front of the hotel, straight down a one way street, which luckily was highlighted rather quickly by a fellow passenger. Frustratingly as he went to reverse the few short meters back in order to make the necessary correct turn a BMW made the same error and stopped directly behind us. We were at a stalemate, confused as to what the occupants intent could be. Then they flipped down their visor. POLIZEI. Out hopped two police officers who looked alarmingly like a teenage version of Starsky and Hutch. Man had to step out for a conversation with Starsky whilst Hutch straightened his moustache, threw out some blue steel and kept a keen eye on the rest of us. A few minutes later having realized most of the car were Canadian and therefore clearly good people we were on our way again.

We drove through picture perfect countryside dotted with postcard worthy villages of wooden framed, well kept houses. We stopped for breakfast at a perfectly placed and most agreeable country hotel where we discovered at the expense of a little mess that not all eggs in Germany are served ready boiled. Shortly later and hassle free, save for a little North American concern about the narrow nature of European roads and subsequent white knuckle moments, we were at our destination ready for our day at Neuschwanstein and Hohenswangau, which was the smaller, original family pad.

Interestingly whilst the Disney styled delight gets millions of visitors per year, it slightly older yet smaller relative Hohenswangau gets less than 350,000. If you visit I strongly suggest, for the sakes of a couple of extra hours at most, you visit both.

King Ludwig nearly bankrupted his country building his Neuschwanstein fairytale castle. Surprisingly or not, it never got completed, he only managed about 6 days living in it at all before he was seemingly taken to a sanitarium and mysteriously turned up dead shortly after.

Now I don’t agree with bankrupting a country for your personal Grand Designs, or indeed bankrupting yourself for such a thing as it happens but I do admire his vision. Certainly if I had the money I would build my own fairytale dwelling with grotto’s and enchanted woods and he took his fairytale vision and really delivered on it. So much as he actually managed to complete. His bedroom beyond the naked renaissance minstrels of the woods had stars painted on the ceiling with small holes cut into them through which candlelight would shine!

The lady of the house actually spent more time in the area than the King. She loved to hike and a bridge was built for her across a striking valley in the mountains to ease access between the houses and across the terrain. The Marien Bridge is still there today and is breaktaking in both in its views and its seemingly delicate placement over an astonishing gorge.

Day two was our turn to experience first hand the joys of Oktoberfest with our very own table in the Lowenbrau tent. Of course first things first we needed appropriate attire so first stop of the day was the Lederhosen and Dirndl store.

‘The Dirndl must be tight though’ the lady in the store insisted, thankfully I managed to persuade her that whilst tight was good breathing was more essential and one size up would meet both our requirements. Quite literally zipped up tight we were ready for the off. We unexpectedly hopped into an Uber with a fellow hirer of clothing a lovely Manchester chap called Stuart who was at the fest with work – if you ever read this Stuart – ‘Hi and thank you again’.

I had never realized that the Oktoberfest site is based around permanent beer houses! It’s like a fair ground yet better, in fact there was a fair ground too which we made use of later to fly high into the sky and observe Munich illuminated at night through the eyes of a drunken fool.

The mechanically fierce lion heading up the front of our beer tent roared aloud and flashed his disconcertingly insane multicolored eyes and it was time to go in. There’s not too much I can re-gale in detail from this point as German beer comes in very large glasses.

Nonetheless I can confirm we met some chirpy English chaps from Laandan taan. We thought they were very obtusely partaking of cocaine up the nostrils at their table, only to discover it was some strange white snuff stuff being sold openly by the beer house, and then we all had a good laugh together.

I purchased a chicken hat for Man because he wanted it and then allegedly I sold it to a German man later. We met lots of different people Canadians from Montreal, Swedish people, German people of course, English people, a Scotsman who I’m sad to say is the only person not to have represented well, displaying a unique form of anger that caused us to run and hide within the mass crowds. A couple of ladies from Detroit who had actual words to the Chicken Song as played by the chicken hat – feel free to ask if interested.

We had a very uneventful day post Oktoberfest for reasons you can probably guess. The sole highlight came when we finally ventured out for our evening meal. We went to the Ratskeller, old city hall, and ate at one of the deceptively large restaurants in the basement. It was exquisite. Steak, onions, green beens and potato salad. Sounds basic, to some it may sound awful, but the flavors in the salad and the gravy were perfect and they really hit the spot.

And on that note I think it’s time for a break before we get to the next phase of the bobs!

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