Blog, Europe, Germany, Helpful Tips, Photography, Tour and Travel

Destination Oktoberfest | Munich, Germany

2017:  16 September – 3 October

Oktoberfest.  The one word that easily conjures up visions of dirndl and lederhosen-wearing visitors raising up massive steins of frothy beverages and singing to the top of their lungs. This is Oktoberfest, More than six million visitors attend THE world’s largest festival every year loaded with thrilling rides, fantastic fest food and, of course, beer.   If you want to experience the festive party feeling along with the German culture then this is indeed the place to visit.  Even if you’re not much of a crowd person, you should put this on your bucket list and experience the awesome fest at least once.

Oktoberfest, Munich, dirndl
Germany, Oktoberfest

The very first Oktoberfest was held in 1810 to celebrate the October 12th marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to the Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese.  (October 12th also happens to be my birthday, so Oktoberfest was the perfect place for me to celebrate my birthday!)  Every year, the citizens of Munich were invited to join in the festivities which were held over a period of five days on the fields in front of the city gates. Over 40,000 people were in attendance. Today, an average of 6 million of people attend the annual celebration.

Bavaria, parade, lederhosen, festival
Bavaria lederhosen

Did you know horse races were held at the first Oktoberfest?  But by 1819 the horse races had been called off and were replaced by beer carts and the carnival-like atmosphere. Munich leaders decided that Oktoberfest would be held each year, no exceptions! Although Oktoberfest originated as a one-day celebration, it was extended to 16 days (starting in September) of revelry and heavy drinking.

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Beautifully adorned horses in Oktoberfest parade

Believe it or not, in the beginning, beer was not available at Oktoberfest and alcohol could only be purchased and enjoyed outside of the actual venue. Traditional beer halls (called wooden halls) only became popular when the authorities realized it would make sense to open the Oktoberfest venue to vendors.

Today, only six breweries – Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Lowenbrau, Paulaner and Spaten — are allowed to serve beer on the festival grounds.  The beers are made specifically for Oktoberfest and certain parameters must strictly be followed according to Reinheitsgebot such as it should be brewed within the boundaries of Munich and not contain more than 6% alcohol.

Once you are finished toasting with thousands of your newest friends, head on over to Marienplatz in the Munich Altstadt for traditional Bavarian-style craft beer and try one of the beer-infused dishes for dinner.

Average Festival Statistics:
Area: 103.79 acres
Festival halls: seats 100,000 (14 tents)
Visitors: 6.3 million
Beer: approx. 6.4 mln liters (that’s right, million)
Coffee, tea: 222,000 liters
Water, lemonade: 909,765 ½ liters
Chicken: 521,872 units
Pork sausages: 142,253 pairs
Oxen: 112
Calves:  48
travel photographer, bondgirlphotos, Oktoberfest, Germany, Munich, festivals
beer and chicken tickets

The most popular (legal) souvenirs are the collectors’ stone mug, hair bands with flowers, mini beer steins, and pins.  The glass mugs themselves are a hot item.  Security guards recovered approximately 112,000 from would-be souvenir hunters.  Many are not recovered; the Hofbräu tent alone averages 35,000 missing mugs each year and there is a fine for stealing them!

For all the information and full schedule of Oktoberfest events, go online at  It’s recommended to learn at least one German song so you can sing along with your new best friends.  As is every year, there’s a hard competition about which song was the most popular in the beer tents. Apart from the usual hits, it was “Atemlos” by Helene Fischer, “Auf uns” by Andreas Bourani and “Brenna tuats guat” by Hubert von Goisern that made the tents go especially crazy.

Every year, more than 4,000 objects are found.  The Lost and Found office houses jackets, sweaters, passports, wallets, keys, ID cards, mobile phones, bags and rucksacks, cameras, eyeglasses, jewelry, and watches; there have also been some unusual items found, such as wedding-rings, petticoats, a dental prosthesis, a set of cymbals and a transport box for cats.  Missing kids and teenagers are taken care of by the Red Cross or municipal authorities until they are reunited.  During Oktoberfest, the Lost and Found (Wiesn-Fundbüro) service center is set up on the Theresienwiese (entrance line, underground). You can find the service center behind the Schottenhamel-Festzelt.

On Saturday, September 16th, the Schottenhamel tent is the place to be if you want to catch the official opening ceremonies. At noon, the Mayor of Munich will have the honor of tapping the first keg of Oktoberfest beer. Once the barrel has been tapped, all visitors will then be allowed to quench their thirst. It pays to arrive early in order to experience the festivities up close and personal and it’s quite common for visitors to arrive as early as 09.00 am to secure good seats in their favorite tent.  The festival lasts until October 3rd.


Opening hours?
Beer Serving Hours
Opening day 12:00 noon – 11:30 pm.  Last beer serving at 10:30
Weekdays 10:00 am – 11:30 pm
Saturday, Sunday & holiday 09:00 am – 10:30 pm
Daily closing hour 11.30 pm ‘Käfers Wiesnschänke’ and ‘Weinzelt’ open until 1.00 am

The fairgrounds are open on the opening day from 12:00 to 24:00.
On Sundays and Mondays to Thursdays, the carousels run from 10:00 to 23:30.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the fairgrounds are open from 10:00 to 24:00.

Please note that it is not advisable to bring children on weekends; for example, during the weekend, especially in the huts or even at the entrance to the Festwiese, you may be denied access by a baby carriage.

The official family days are on Tuesdays until 7 pm and offer reduced prices at almost all suppliers.

Current Weather (Wetter)


Plan ahead:

Oktoberfest 2018
22 September to 7 October

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Where to go in 2016: Top 16 up-and-coming destinations 

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Blog, Europe, France, Germany, Photography

Introducing Strasbourg | France

We'll always have ParisStrasbourg is the perfect overture to all that is idiosyncratic about Alsace – walking a fine tightrope between France and Germany and between a medieval past and a progressive future, it pulls off its act in inimitable Alsatian style.

Tear your gaze away from that mesmerising Gothic cathedral for just a minute and you’ll be roaming the old town’s twisting alleys lined with crooked half-timbered houses à la Grimm; feasting in the cosiest of winstubs (Alsatian taverns) by the canalside in Petite France; and marvelling at how a city that does Christmas markets and gingerbread so well can also be home to the glittering EU Quarter and France’s second-largest student population. But that’s Strasbourg for you: all the sweeter for its contradictions and cross-cultural quirks.

Read more:

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20 Facts About Turkey You Never Knew

Great facts about Turkey that you probably never knew.  Click on the link below for some interesting, fun facts!

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Blog, Europe, Germany

Das Oktoberfest 2014 | Munich, Germany

#Oktoberfest, #Germany, #Munich, #festival, #swings copyright 2013 + lisa bond photography

Oktoberfest is THE biggest party in the world!

The first Oktoberfest was held in 1810 to celebrate the October 12th marriage of BavarianCrown Prince Ludwig to the Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese.  (October 12th also happens to be my birthday, so Oktoberfest was the perfect place for me to celebrate my birthday!)  Anyway, every year, the citizens of Munich were invited to join in the festivities which were held over a period of five days on the fields in front of the city gates. Over 40,000 people were in attendance. Today, an average of 6 million of people attend the annual celebration.

Did you know horse races were held at the first Oktoberfest?  But by 1819, the horse races had been called off and were replaced by beer carts and the carnival-like atmosphere. Munich leaders decided that Oktoberfest would be held each year, no exceptions!…

View original post 308 more words

bondgirlphotos, Bavaria, festival, Germany, cattle drive, blumen, dirndl, Viescheid
Animals, Blog, Europe, Germany, Photography, Tour and Travel, Wordpress

Party Til the Cows Come Home | Viehscheid | Bavaria, Germany

Viehscheid, the annual gathering of individual well-fed animals being driven down from the summer resort in the mountains into the valley. In the respective localities, the animals are gathered together on the so-called Scheidplatz; the shepherd “part” – that is separating the cattle out of the crowd and where every farmer gets his cattle back.

This unique, traditional experience is not to be missed!  Every year, in the Autumn Days of September, during the early morning hours across the majestic Bavarian Alps, Germany, the ceremonial driving of the cattle from the Alpine pastures into the valley brings families, locals and visitors alike, together. With 160+ functioning alpine homesteads in this area, it’s the largest festival of its kind!  The tradition dates back to the beginning of the early 1900s and continues today to ensure sustainability of the Bavarian grazing lands and the cows’ health and well-being.

The cattle drive in Oberstdorf is still the oldest tradition in the Upper Allgäu and the one at Schöllang is as familiar as ever. This tradition is as much a part of the village as the mountains are, and accordingly, is a fantastic festival in this region to look forward to each year.

More Cowbell! Cows, goats, horses and pigs.  The cattle are fitted with large bells to ward off any evil spirits they might come across on the return journey home, making quite the melody as they slowly and steadily plod their way back to their villages.  Everyone is all eyes on the Leading Beauty Queens from each herd. You’ll know her by the ornate headdress she’s adorned with colorful flowers or blumen.  It’s a sign of a good summer on the Alps when the cows are adorned with flowers and wreaths. This means no serious incidents or injuries occurred.   

After the parade, hundreds of cattle are separated and handed over by the proud, brawny herdsmen to their appropriate owners at the designated meeting point called the ‘Scheidplatz’.

The real party begins When the Cattle Drive is over! Folk fair, music, dancing, and lots of local food.  It’s common for seats at the tables to be filled as early as 10:00 a.m. as the festival has already been underway for a couple of hours.

The annual Cow Bell is presented to the best herdsman once the parade ends. The local oompah brass band entertains everyone in the large tent area where you’ll find brats, pretzels, and of course, beer. The festive atmosphere is something you will not soon likely forget and it is truly a unique experience. Get there early for a good view, then take a seat next to your new friends and … “Party Til the Cows Come Home.”


Almabtriebe and Viehscheid Dates – 2017



penzance, cornwall, england, travel photographer, lisa bond photography
England, Europe, Tour and Travel

Pirates of Penzance | Cornwall, England

#England, #Cornwall, #Penzance, #ships, #holiday, #adventure, travel photographer, lisa bond photography
Penzance, Cornwall

Yes, there is such a reality as a place named Penzance.  It lies on the rocky coastline of Mount’s Bay overlooking the beautiful St. Michael’s Mount. A charming seaside town, here you can stroll along the magnificent promenade and enjoy art galleries, stylish restaurants, local merchants’ shops, cafés and pubs.  Whether traveling by road or rail, Penzance is an ideal place to explore the beautiful area of West Cornwall. The railway, which reaches to North Scotland and West Wales, terminates at Penzance.  Penzance is also the gateway to the Isles of Scilly.

Here you can enjoy many walking and cycling routes along moorland trails and coastal footpaths where bird-watching is a favorite past-time. The area’s surfing venues are some of the best in Europe or if it’s a leisurely swim you prefer, make sure you visit Penzance’s fabulous art-deco Jubilee swimming pool.  Exploding with art and culture, Penzance is home to three world class galleries, The Exchange, Penlee House Gallery and Museum and nearby Newlyn Art Gallery.

#English Channel, #Penzance, #Cornwall, #England, #pirates, #adventure, travel photographer, lisa bond photography
English Channel

Penzance, an ancient seaside market town and popular tourist destination which lies on the southwestern corner of England, stole a little piece of my heart.

                 Take heart, fair days will shine;

                 Take any heart — take mine!

From Act 1 of the Pirates of Penzance, by Sirs William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.

The Capital of Cornwall, named “Pen Sans” in ancient Cornish language, means “Holy Headland” and refers to the sunniest western side of the harbour featuring a friendly and clean seaside promenade.   Here you’ll find historic houses among Georgian and Regency terraces, along with museums, galleries, and pubs, perhaps even a pirate or two.

#Mount St. Michaels, #St. Michaels, #England, #Cornwall, #Penzance
St. Michaels

While in Penzance, a visit to St. Michael’s Mount is a must for it is truly the crown jewel of Cornwall with its stunning panoramic view of Mount’s Bay.   With its picturesque harbour and spectacular, fortressed castle dating back to the 14th Century, the magestic, terraced gardens are the perfect place for a family day out.  You can access the rocky pathway to the Mount on foot across the causeway at low tide, or by short ferry crossing at high tide when the Mount becomes an island surrounded by water.

#England, #Cornwall, #Mount St. Michaels, #holiday, #adventure
Walkway to Mount St. Michaels

As you walk up the main pathway from the harbour to the Castle, you’ll pass the heavily shuttered well where children will listen intently to tales of the Cornish Legend of “Jack the Giant Killer” and how the Mount was built by the giant, ‘Cormoran’.  Legend says the giant, Cormoran, would wade ashore from the island to capture sheep and cows as they grazed in the local fields.  One night, a local boy named Jack rowed out to the island during high tide while the giant slept.  Jack worked all through the night digging a deep pit leading half way up the Mount’s northern side.  By morning when the pit was complete,  Jack stood off to one side and blew his horn so loud he would wake the mighty giant.  As the giant ran down the hillside, the glare of the early morning sun blinded his eyes, causing him to fall head first into the pit.  The locals were so grateful that they gave Jack the title ‘Jack the Giant Killer’ and made up a little local rhyme.

Here’s the valiant Cornishman Who slew the Giant Cormoran.

Eden Project, Biomes, Cornwall, England

While in Cornwall, another must see is the incredibly eco-friendly and charitable Eden Project in St. Austell.  This place is truly amazing with its massive biomes.  The Eden Project works on projects worldwide about environmental, social, and economic regeneration and sustainability.   But more than that, this place is really fun, the food is great, and it’s totally awe-inspiring and you will not be disappointed.  Plan to spend the day (or two) by visiting all of the different biomes.

#pasty, #Cornish, #England, #Cornwall, #meat pasty, travel photographer, lisa bond photography
Cornish Pasty

Of course, any trip to Cornwall wouldn’t be complete if you don’t stop to eat a hot Cornish Pasty at lunchtime, in the traditional manner of course (from end to end while held in the hands).  A Cornish Pasty is a delicious pastry filled with meats and vegetables that are cooked together and the pastry is crimped around the edges.  The pasty is the national dish of Cornwall and is highly regarded.  If you’re a foodie, don’t leave Cornwall without giving this a try! Have you been to Cornwall?  I’d love to hear comments about your visit.

For more information about Penzance visit the links below:

Purely Penzance

Visit Cornwall  #loveCornwall

All About Cornwall

Blog, Europe

Where to go on Spring Break in Europe

Greece, Europe, Spring

Best of Europe: Spring Trips | Fodor’s Travel Guides.


Irish Blessings and Saint Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick's Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig)...
#Saint Patrick’s Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig), #Dublin, #Ireland, #fiddle, #accordion, #Irish

#St. Patrick's Day, #Ireland, #good luck, #Irish, #tradition, #festival

It’s often said that on Saint Patrick’s Day, there are two types of people:  those who are Irish and those who wish they were.

If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, you’re lucky enough.”

Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin – every year on March 17th, Dublin’s inner city experiences a period of unusual calm (when the gardai have closed all streets for traffic) before the storm. The storm being the annual celebrations for Saint Patrick’s Day. With the parade through the city being the unmissable highlight.

Here are some helpful hints for visitors to make the most of this parade:

Do Come Early

Normally the Irish are late risers on days off – not so on St. Patrick’s Day. Dublin’s streets start to fill up around 9 am in anticipation of the parade. Around 11 am all the best places are taken, an hour before the parade starts. So rise and shine. And secure yourself a moderately good place by being in situ no later than 11:30!

Don’t Bring the Car

Unless you really know what you are doing, where you are going to park and which roads thegardai are (not) closing down … going into Dublin by car is sheer lunacy. Take public transport (which will run to a Sunday timetable, just to add some more spice) or walk.

Don’t Bring Valuables

There is a certain correlation between large crowds and petty crime – like pick-pocketing and purse-snatching. Dublin is no exception to this rule. So think about safety before you head into Dublin. Just take what you need, leave those diamond necklaces at home and wear your purse close to your body.

Do Agree on a Rendezvous Point

Around 750,000 people throng the Dublin streets on Paddy’s Day, all of them trying to get somewhere fast once the parade has passed. You’ll be body-surfing a sea of humanity and running the risk of losing contact with the rest of your party. So just make sure everybody knows to regroup “at the Parnell monument at 3 pm” or similar.

Never, Ever Let Children Roam

While you are watching the parade, who is watching your little ones? Er … nobody. So make sure they can’t go astray. In a crowd even a few minutes of separation can become traumatic for both child and (often more so) parent. Avoid the stress, keep an eye on them. Have them sitting on your shoulders if you feel up to it.

Do Familiarize Yourself with the Route

You need to head southwards after the parade? Watch it on a Southside street, from the southern side of the street. You want to see the celebrities arrive and the freshest performers? Head for the first half mile of the route. A bit of planning will pay off – the route is well publicized weeks before March 17th. If you plan to be near the VIP areas, try to be on the same side of the road … or you risk seeing only the backs of performers.

Don’t be Left in the Dark

Remember that the most colourful costumes are actually only full of colour in sunshine (which is rare enough). And when the sun comes out you do not really want to watch the parade in a shadowy gloom … as can happen in some areas of Dublin. Again: look at the route and predict the likely “darkness” along it. Especially if you want to take photos.

Do Bring Your Camera

You’ll want to share your experience, trust me – the cheapest of all disposable cameras can take a few usable snaps in an emergency. Even if most show you in a silly hat asking “Who’s Your Paddy?” On second thoughts … better concentrate on the parade when taking pictures.

Don’t Run Out of Film or Storage (or Power)

Even with some modesty employed you’ll manage to take about 200 pictures of the Dublin parades in no time. Think (roughly) two to three pictures every minute. You’ll start filling up memory cards fast. Expect to shoot more frames than you think. And yes, you’ll also go through camera batteries like a hot knife through butter … bring spares!

Do Join in the Fun – But Don’t Risk Too Much

A Paddy’s Day parade is not about constructive criticism, it is about having fun. Yes, the whole thing is silly and about as “genuinely Irish” as Johnny Cash’s “Forty Shades of Green”. But join in or opt out – there is no compromise.

On the other hand don’t become careless – Paddy’s Day is also about massive alcohol consumption and you’d be wise to keep your wits. And to walk away from potential dangers.

#Greece, #Olympia, #Katakalon, #Olympics, #race track, travel photographer, lisa bond photography
Europe, Greece, Photography, Tour and Travel

Olympia, Olympics and Ouzo | Greece

Have you every been to the Olympics?  Every been to Katakalon, Greece?  This is where the Olympics all began and is not to be missed.

Katakalon, also known as Olympia, is a sanctuary of ancient Greece most well known for being the site of the very first Olympic Games in classical times.  The Olympic Games were held every four years, dating back to 776 BC.  In 394 AD, emperor Theodosius I abolished them as they were then considered reminiscent of paganism. Did you know the first Olympic Games were held in honor of Zeus?

Standing there amidst the ruins it brings your spirit back to the early days of games where remnants of columns still stand today.  You can visually tell by the landmarks which games took place and where.  Of course, I couldn’t resist the chance to be on what was known then as the 600′ foot race, the only athletic event at the first games.  In fact, two of my “boys” got their competitive juices flowing with their very own foot race. How exciting it was to stand in the exact spot of such an important event, then and now!

After an invigorating day on the race track, it was time for a traditional Greek lunch and no trip to Greece would be complete without trying Greece’s signature drink Ouzo.  As my travel companions and I sat down to a delicious meal complete with entertainment provided by local musicians and dancers, we were served Ouzo.  I must say it is one powerful drink, certainly not to be served to children.  Ouzo is customarily served neat – no ice.  I am now the wiser for knowing to add iced water to dilute the strength which causes the liquid to turn a milky, cloudy white.  However, I also turned cloudy as my veins were filled with white fire.  To call Ouzo a Greek “white lightning” is much too simple for this very potent beverage.  With an Anise and licorice-like flavor and is often consumed with savory snacks, especially small salty fish, olives, and feta cheese.

ouzo, Greece, Olympics, travel photography, lisa bond photography
Visitors trying Ouzo for the first time

There is an old Greek saying that “ouzo makes the spirit.”  The Greek spirit or kefi (KEH-fee) can be found in their hearty food, soulful music, and lively conversation.  Sharing a glass of chilled Ouzo with a friend is the perfect companion to all of these things.