Friday morning we checked out of our hotel in Prague and headed for the train station. This was the beginning of our day long journey to Salzburg.
First we had to catch a train to the southern Czech city of České Budějovice where we had to then catch a train to the Austrian city of Linz. From Linz we caught our train to Salzburg. Once arriving in Salzburg all we needed to do was get to the bed & breakfast we had booked. Easy huh? Yeah, no. We knew we had to catch a bus up into the hills outside the city, but weren’t sure which direction the bus needed to be headed. We decided to just jump on the next bus that came along and see where it headed. Upon doing this we shortly got an unintentional tour of downtown Salzburg. Yes, we were headed in the wrong direction. We hopped off the bus and waited for the next one heading in the opposite direction. This turned out to be the right one and we finally got dropped off where we wanted.
Then we had a short hike up a large hill to where we finally found our lodging, which was equipped with the latest decor (from the 90’s).
The next morning we woke up early to get a fast train into Munich. The train ride was nice and we got complimentary juice and chocolates. Coming into Munich for the first day of Oktoberfest was not as crazy as I thought it’d be. The Munich train station was definitely buzzing with people pouring in for the festival but it wasn’t overbearing.
We were planning on meeting our friend John at his hotel, which was not far from the train station, but on our way there we ran into the first parade of Oktoberfest which inhibited us from getting there. The parade was neat to watch but it started getting very warm out in Munich. We decided to step back from the parade so we could get out of the sun and just wait for it to end. As we retreated from the parade crowd we just so happened to run into John. He was on his way to his hotel and got caught up by the parade as well. When the parade finished we accompanied John to his hotel where he dropped his luggage off and then it was on to the festival!
I think the best way to describe Oktoberfest is as a large carnival, complete with thrill rides, shows, fun houses and food, but also with huge beer tents all around with the majority of the attendees dressed up for the occasion.
The three of us walked into the first beer tent we saw and got in no problem, however finding a place to sit was another story. The place was packed and it looked like the only way to get a spot was to wait for someone to leave, and of course everyone who didn’t have a seat was doing this. Rather than wait around like vultures for the next available seat, we decided to keep moving. We grabbed some quick food and went in search of beer. It was surprising how difficult it was to get a beer at Oktoberfest. We found a small restaurant which we were finally able to squeeze into where we ordered three beers. It was cooking like an oven in the little restaurant booth so once we finished our beers we paid and got out. I kept seeing people walking around with bottles of beer but it turns out they just purchased those at a market before they came to the festival (smart). We thought that was a good idea and decided to walk to a market but on our walk we came across a beer garden right on the outskirts of the festival. We decided to try our luck there. It looked nice and shady with lots of tables and not as crowded. After waiting in a short line we were all enjoying large steins of German beer in a nice spot in the shade.
It wasn’t long before the friendly gay men from Chicago, the hammered soccer (or drinking) team from Tuscany, and us three Californians were all hanging out and cheersing large steins with one another. I’m not going to lie, that little beer garden was Oktoberfest’s saving grace for me.
The time finally came to where we had to make our way back to Salzburg for the night and John walked us to the train station. I had one more beer on the train for good measure while Sayaka slept most of the ride back to Salzburg.
Getting back to the bed and breakfast was a lot easier this time because we realized we could just take a commuter train to a stop that drops us off closer than the bus did. This was nice after a long day of beer drinking.