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.

travel photographer, bondgirlphotos, Oktoberfest, Octoberfest, Munich, Germany,
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 www.oktoberfest.de.  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

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: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/france/alsace-and-lorraine/strasbourg#ixzz3Yr0Bf3bl

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

www.bavaria.by/almabtrieb-viehscheid-in-bavaria-all-dates

www.berchtesgadener-land.com/kultur/tradition-brauchtum/almsommer/almabtrieb

 

 

Europe, Germany, Photography

The Ten Best Railway Stations in Europe

railway

 Travelling in Europe by train? Before you embark on exploring your chosen city, take a moment to savour its first port of call.

Not only packed with passengers, many European railways stations are steeped in rich history, fine architecture and fun trivia, making them a tourist attraction in their own right. Here are the top ten, as chosen by travellers and the media:

Click here for a gallery of European train station pictures

Denmark: Copenhagen Central Station
Located in the heart of the Danish capital, this third incarnation of the city’s central station was five years in the making and opened in 1911 to royal acclaim – King Christian X invited around 800 VIP guests while thousands of locals lined the streets to see the spectacle. The building was designed in national Romantic style by architect Henrich Wenck. Indeed, romance has blossomed in this railway station for generations, with the grand clock inside the main entrance a favoured meeting spot for first dates. Why not hop off your train and take a more adventurous ride next door – the station neighbours the city’s famous Tivoli Gardens and amusement park.

Belgium: Antwerp Central Station
Listed by US magazine Newsweek at the world’s fourth greatest train station, the building, with its vast iron and glass train-shed, was completed in 1905. A ten-year renovation project to transform the station from terminus to a high-speed through station finished in 2007. The building achieved international celebrity – or possibly notoriety – in 2009 as the backdrop to a staged flash mob event. Around 200 dancers descended on the station to publicise a new Belgian TV talent show. The subsequent video went viral, showcasing the country’s musical talent and finest example of railway architecture.

Belgium: Liège -Guillemins TGV Station
It may have taken 13 years to finish, but when Belgium’s third city overhauled its railway station it did so in style, employing the talents of renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. And he managed to imprint his individual style without disruption to the 36,000 daily passengers that travel through the station. Opened in 2009, the steel, glass and white concrete construction combines nine tracks and five platforms with exhibition space and its signature arch, standing 32 metres high and 160 metres long. With costs to the tune of 312 million euro, the sleek, futuristic hub offers visitors a memorable welcome and now connects Liège to Brussels, Paris, Aachen, Cologne and Frankfurt.

Croatia: Zagreb Central Station
This grandeur of the building is a throwback to the days when Zagreb was a stop on the Orient Express. The largest station in Croatia, spanning a colossal 186.5 metres long, it is situated on King Tomislav Square in the midst of the city. Inaugurated in 1892, the station’s construction was overseen by the rather efficient Hungarian architect Ferenc Pfaff who finished the neoclassical-style building in just two years. Zagreb offers direct services to major European cities such as Vienna, Budapest, Zurich, Munich, Salzburg, Ljubljana, Sarajevo and Belgrade. Spot the high-speed tilting trains at this station, which make domestic travel services convenient and fast.

Spain: Atocha train station, Madrid
A maze of palm trees, exotic plant species and even a turtle pond; it’s not what you would normally expect before you board your train. This was the vision of architect Rafael Moneo who remodelled the station in the late 1980s from the inaugural 1889 building. The major transport hub in the Spanish capital now lies behind a huge iron and glass panel while the original building was transformed into a concourse with shops, cafés, a nightclub and the unusual 4,000 square metre tropical gardens. A memorial in the station commemorates the 191 victims of the 2004 Madrid train bombings – an 11-metre tall tower inscribed with thousands of messages of condolence.

Finland: Central Station, Helsinki
Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen won a competition to design the station that opened in 1919. Clad in local granite, its distinguishing features are the two pairs of imposing statues of figures on either side of the entrance. Known as “the stone men” (Kivimiehet) the figures have become iconic symbols for Finns. A unique feature that fewer people know about is the private waiting lounge exclusively for the use of the President of Finland and official guests. Former President of Finland Kyösti Kallio died at the station in December 1940 after suffering a heart attack. He was returning home to the small town of Nivala after attending farewell ceremonies in the capital for his retirement.

Germany: Leipzig: Leipzig Central Station
This is Europe’s largest railway station when measured by floor area. Covering 83,460 m² there are 24 platforms housed in six iron train sheds hidden behind a 293 metre-long facade. When it opened in 1915 it was mutually owned by Royal Saxon State Railways and the Prussian state railways, complete with two identical dome entrances, one for each company. The building suffered serious bomb damage during World War II when the roof of the concourse collapsed. Following German reunification in 1990, the building underwent extensive refurbishment and now 150,000 passengers travel daily through the station.

France: Gare du Nord, Paris
Situated in the French capital’s 10th arrondissement, the busiest railway station in Europe receives around 190 million travellers per year. The station complex was designed by French architect Jacques Hittorff and built between 1861 and 1864. The Gare du Nord has been used and mentioned in a mixed bag of popular culture, from French films and the book The Da Vinci Code to Hollywood movies including The Bourne Identity, Ocean’s Twelve and the less highbrow Mr Bean’s Holiday. French architect Jacques Ignace Hittorff was handpicked to design the current station complex, which opened for service while still under construction in 1864.

Portugal: Rossio Railway Station, Lisbon
With its prime location in the Portuguese capital’s Rossio Square, a bustling hang out for both locals and tourists, the majestic building could easily be confused for a palace or theatre. Designed by local architect José Luís Monteiro and completed in 1887, its typically Romantic style facade is laced with intricate sculpture, most notably two intertwined horseshoe portals at the entrance. Trains access the station through a 2,600 metre-long tunnel, excavated under the city and considered one of the most important works of Portuguese engineering of the 19th century.

Holland: Central Station, Amsterdam
First opened in 1889, the station was a contentious issue for the city officials before it was even built. Set on the banks of the IJ River – the Amsterdam harbour – many argued its location cut the Dutch capital off from the beauty of its own waterfront. The building rests on three manmade islands supported by over 8,600 wooden pilings. Around 250,000 people pass through the station everyday and the station has been expanded numerous times to cater for the now 1,500 trains that depart and arrive daily. Having undergone recent restoration, the building has now regained much of its original grandeur. Designed by architect PJH. Cuypers, who was also responsible for many of Amsterdam’s neo- Gothic churches, the station was considered a symbol of rejuvenation for the country at the time.

Article sponsored by Eurail Group.

Originally published in The Local (Germany’s News in English)

Europe, Germany

This is Oktoberfest: The Biggest Party in the World!

http://www.bondgirlphotos.com

Have you been to Oktoberfest? Ever wish you could go? Here’s some tips on how to get there and survive the Biggest Party in the World!

http://www.travelfreak.net/eu/germany/oktoberfest-2012/

Europe, Germany, Tour and Travel

Follow the Romantic Road | Germany

Bundesstrasse 17 / Romantic Road Sign near Röm...
Bundesstrasse 17 / Romantic Road Sign near Römerkessel, Landreis Landsberg, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Follow the Romantic Road and follow your heart. On Germany’s most popular scenic drive you will find unspoiled nature, picturesque towns with medieval city walls, half-timbered houses, hidden monasteries, castles, and romantic hotels.

By auto or motor bike, this 261 mile long scenic route makes the journey your reward.

The Romantic Road leads you from the Franconia wine country in the north to the foothills of the majestic Bavarian Alps in the south.  Originally a trade route in the middle ages, it is strongly connected to Germany’s history.

For the foodies, a stop along the way for some mouth-watering schnitzel, brats or beer is a must! No trip would be complete without a visit to Wurzburg, the town northernmost on the Romantic Road. Here you will find beautiful architecture, fabulous restaurants, and a great winery in the famed Franken Wine Growing Region.  The Marianburg Fortress is located on top of a hill that overlooks the city and is located on the very site that the first church in Germany was built in 706 AD. The oldest part of the resdesigned fortress displays a blue dome which is reportedly from the eleventh century. The Residenz offers up the romanticism of the Baroque age and has a large well and garden that both date back to the year 1631.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is picture-perfect – the best preserved medieval town in Germany.  Walk atop the medieval wall that encircles the old city center, or go to the top of the historical Town Hall for a spectacular view of the region.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the place is called ...
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the place is called Plönlein a former marketplace, on the left side the Siebers-gate on the right the Kobolzeller-gate. This is one of the most photographed and painted places in Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Castle Hotel Colmberg: Spend a romantic night you won’t forget in the 1000 year old Castle.

Dinkelsbühl – The Old Town boasts 16 fortified towers, several authentic city gates, and an original ring wall.  At night, you can take a tour through the historical town with the night watchman while he goes on patrol in the illuminated city center.

Augsburg’s 2000 year old past comes to life in the historical city center with its baroque town houses, splendid boulevards, and traditional German restaurants.  Enjoy a genuine medieval candlelight dinner in one of the old vaulted rooms.

Pfaffenwinkel is located in the part of Bavaria (called “Pastor’s Corner”) which is famous for its pilgrimage churches and pristine landscapes.  The Wieskirche (“Church in the Meadow”) in Steingaden is a rococo masterpiece and is on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage sights.

Neuschwanstein – The fairy tale castle we all know and love which inspired Walt Disney is nestled in the Bavarian Alps and encompasses the very notion of romanticism.  You can reach the castle by hiking on foot or taking a lovely horse and carriage ride to the top.

Castle Neuschwanstein at Schwangau, Bavaria, G...
Castle Neuschwanstein at Schwangau, Bavaria, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Romantic Road is the most popular German scenic drive and can get very crowded in the Summer season.

  • Starting Point: Würzburg, 75 miles southeast of Frankfurt
  • End Point: Füssen (Castle Neuschwanstein), 82 miles southwest of Munich