In 2015, Andrew and I took a 10-day trip to Europe, with stops in Munich, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Venice and Salzburg.
We arrived in Munich on Andrew’s 30th birthday. On the flight over, we experienced the marked differences between American airlines and European ones as our short flight from New York to DC only offered us a “water service” while our Lufthansa flight to Munich served free wine all night. Our arrival in Germany began with a battle between Andrew and our GPS—he lost that round, but we still managed to get to our Munich hotel, where we took a jet-lag-induced nap. Waking refreshed, we headed to Augustiner Bierhalle, where we enjoyed our first round of German beers and shared a plate of venison meatballs with spaetzle.
We walked to the Marinplatz, where we saw Munich’s famous clock tower. After a bit more strolling, during which we encountered a vending machine that had every conceivable item one might need, including pickles, condoms and mustard, we stopped at a cocktail bar called Zephyr, where we met two very nice bartenders who made us fancy drinks. Andrew enjoyed a super-spicy cocktail with lime foam, while I sipped on one made from cucumber and gin (the place smells like a juice bar from all the fresh fruit and vegetables), and the generous bartender took the time to write down some of his favorite bars and restaurants in the area even though the bar was packed.
Our second day in Munich, we had breakfast in the Viktualiemarkt, where we ordered simple but delicious sandwiches from a butcher stall. I took one million pictures of all the gorgeous flowers for sale. We then headed to the Paulaner am Nockherberg brewery for the Starkbierfest. Like a smaller version of Ocktobefest, this beer festival celebrates the seasonal brewing of the Salvator strong beer. It’s mostly attended by local Germans, many of whom arrive in traditional dress. The man sitting next to me was a schoolteacher who spoke English and we asked him to order something for us, which resulted in what we think was a giant pork knuckle arriving at our table. It was delicious. We enjoyed food, drinks, and attempts at conversation with our German tablemates, while traditional German bands played and we occasionally all sang along. If you want to experience Octoberfest but can’t make it during that time of year, the Starkbierfest is a great alternative.