One of the main reasons for going to Europe was not just to eat endless amounts of chocolate in Switzerland, but also to attend Oktoberfest. I have heard so many amazing things from friends who have gone, so I just had to experience it for myself! Below is a recap of my first Day at Oktoberfest – I will write about my second day in another post, there is just too much to write about!
Friday, September 18 – Day 1 Munich:
6 am: Walk to Train station from Hostel
7 am: Catch train from Interlaken to Munich
After waking up at the crack of dawn, the hostel employees were still up drinking.. They tried to convince me to stay another night, or at least for a drink (at 6 am)… I politely declined, as I had a train to catch! So, I was given a roadie and sent on my way. There were 2 connections on the trains, and I was lucky enough to find a couple headed to Munich – we worked together to figure out what trains to get on, although we were still running to catch our connections!
After getting on the final train in Zurich, my train car was smoking because the heater was broken. I initially had planned to get some sleep and read a bit, but I couldn’t stand the smell. So, I decided to switch cars… and I am so glad I did! I ended up on the “party” train and met some awesome new friends. I can’t believe I even tried to be a hermit and sleep the entire way… There was always some sort of excitement to get caught up in!
The Swiss are very, very friendly people. As soon as I sat down, I was given a beer and food. Most didn’t speak English too well, but luckily there was someone from Chicago on the train. Sometimes it is just nice to be able to speak to someone that can understand you!
From 10-1:30 pm, I drank, ate, and made new friends. After arriving at the Munich train station, I walked across the street to my hostel and checked in. I got settled into my room full of bunk beds, and headed out to find my outfit for Oktoberfest! After wandering around Munich and going into a few shops, I finally found my Lederhosen outfit. I opted out of wearing a dress because, well, I hate how they look. I don’t think they are cute… lederhosen, however… shorts with pockets, can’t go wrong with that!
Fast forward to dinner – remember those Ohion’s I met back in France? They were in Munich for Oktoberfest as well, so we met up at Augustiner Keller for dinner. The beer garden was huge, and the basement was even bigger! I highly recommend stopping here for a bite if you are in the area. After 1/2 liter of beer + a belly full of pretzels, sausages, potatoes and eggs, I was ready for bed!
The following morning, we all met back up at 7 am for the first day of Oktoberfest!
We waited in line for over 2 hours at the Schottenhamel tent (most well known for where the first keg is tapped + all politicians/celebrities are at) until finally, we made it to the Beer Garden.
It was FREEZING, and PACKED, but luckily there were heaters over top of the tables. We ordered food, which took forever – pretzels and half chickens – and we sipped on sparkling water while we waited for the festivities to start.
The first keg was tapped, and we finally got our first liter of beer around 12:30 pm – well worth the wait! Everyone was getting a bit impatient – it was hard to wait 5.5 hours for a beer, but all was forgotten once we started drinking.
The tent was packed, and we ended up staying until 3:30 pm – there was no way we were getting into the tent (some people bribed to get in, and the bouncers were not very nice!), so we headed off to the Armbrustschützenzelt tent to see if we could actually get inside (it had amazing reviews based on what I researched beforehand).
Luckily, we were able to get inside AND find a table, all while meeting new German friends. Unfortunately, getting the table meant accidentally chugging an entire liter of beer on my part, so this is where things started to get a bit hazy… but absolutely entertaining. Everyone was so friendly and we ended up having an absolute blast!
Around 7-7:30, I headed back home – catching a cab, because there was no way I could maneuver my way back to the hostel! I had only been drinking beer since noon, so I was hungry – luckily my hostel had a restaurant, and I ended up ordering 3 plates of food… much needed after drinking 4-5 liters of beer! I also made some new Australian friends, and I hung out and ate with them until around 10-11.
Overall, my first day at Oktoberfest was a blast! I met amazing, interesting people and drank lots of GOOD beer! I am not a beer lover, but German beer has converted me. And the food… I thought German food was gross… until I ate my way through Munich. Besides sauerkraut, everything I ate was amazing. Potatoes, pretzels, sausages, cheese…. I could live on that and be a very fat, happy woman. If you are headed to Oktoberfest, make sure you order the half chicken and eat unlimited amounts of pretzels… it makes the experience that much better!
So after an entire day of Oktoberfest, I wasn’t sure if I was up for another day.. However, traveling solo with an open mind means you never know what will happen next… with that being said, stay tuned for Oktoberfest Part 2, as well another post on what I did (besides drink ;)) in Munich!
Has anyone ever been to Oktoberfest in Munich? If so, what tents did you like the most, and what was your favorite part about it? I would love to hear about your experiences!
When I initially planned my Euro trip, I only planned on hitting Switzerland & Germany. Luckily, I heard about some mountain called Mont-Blanc and a cool glass box you could stand in that looked like you were hovering thousands of feet above a snow-covered mountain. I mean, if I am going to travel all the way Europe, I might as well get some cool pictures. Out of all of the places I traveled, I loved Chamonix almost as much as my time in Switzerland. The mountains were gorgeous, and the town was so little and perfect. Below is a recap of where I went and what I did!
7 am: Took city bus to central bus station with Air Bnb Host (He was afraid I was going to get lost again!)
8 am: Grabbed breakfast at Starbucks (really regret this as I should have gone to some local cafe and ate some delicious baked good, but Starbucks has WIFI! I was such a travel newb on day 2.)
8:30 am: Departed Bus Station in Geneva, Switzerland to Chamonix Mont-Blanc (a (ski) resort area near the junction of France, Switzerland and Italy), located at the base of Mont-Blanc. Why Mont-Blanc? Because it is the highest summit in the Swiss Alps, that’s why.
So something happened on the ride to Chamonix that is going to seem pretty craz y – I met not one, not 2, but THREE people from Ohio, who all happened to be staying in Geneva and bought the same exact tour package to Chamonix on this exact same day. Completely unbelievable, but absolutely amazing. I ended up meeting up with them (1 couple on their honeymoon + another traveling for work) in Munich for Oktoberfest the week after and had an absolute BLAST. Below is a picture of us in front of the Alps doing the O-H-I-O sign – one of my favorite pics from the entire trip!
Anyways, upon arrival, we all split ways and made our way up Aiguille du Midi – it is a 3,777 meter tall mountain next to Mont-Blanc, and it took 2 cable cars + 1 elevator ride to get all the way to the top. and it.was.FREEZING.
Luckily I was smart enough to wear 2 long sleeved shirts + a sweatshirt, a scarf, and fleece leggings… even still, I could not feel my body for about half the day. But the view… the VIEW. 100% worth everything. Why is Aiguille du Midi the mountain to go up? Because the terraces on top have a 360° view of all the French, Swiss and Italian Alps, and a lift brings you to the summit terrace at 3,842m, where you will have a clear view of Mont Blanc (source). Also, this is where that cool glass box thing was, and I could not NOT go. I waited almost an hour to take the elevator to the top… and it was worth it. I mean, just LOOK at the view!!
Also – there were several people coming up and down the mountain – you can see them as small dots in the picture below – total Respect for these hikers!
Handstands were necessary, although it was super icy, cold, and hard to breathe that high up. but I managed!
And now for the glass box… It is called “Step into the Void” – a big glass box that hovers over the mountains, making anyone that steps into it look like they are floating 3,800 meters high over the mountain. Since the box is made of glass, you had to put special slippers on, and a very helpful employee would take your pictures.
After all of the excitement, I could barely move I was so frozen and was feeling a bit dizzy from the altitude. So, down the mountain and off to meet back up with the group for lunch at Hotel Gustavia – and it was amazing. A warm Beet Root soup & salad with ribs, au-gratin potatoes, and a fresh salad. Absolutely amazing! I really, really do not like beets, but I have already bought ingredients to try and re-create this soup.. Europe has forever changed my taste buds!
After lunch, the group took a trolley to Montenvers – Mer de Glace to see the “Grotte de glace” (Ice Cave). A quick description from the website: The tour of the “Grotte de glace” (Ice Cave) takes visitors into the very heart of the glacier. Re-sculpted every year, it describes the life of mountain people in the early 19th century.
I took a gondola lift down, then another 400 steps down to the caves. Yes, it took a while to get there, but it was worth it. I basically sprinted down the steps in order to explore and get back to the trolley on time. I was expecting a huge maze in the glacier, but when I finally got inside, it was just a small loop that took about 1 minute to see. However, it was amazing. There were lights in the glacier that turned colors, which made everything look that much cooler. Pictures can’t even begin to describe how awesome it was!
After exploring the cave, I tried to run up the 400+ steps back up… tried. More like running up stairs, then stopping to rest at every level. But, I made it back in time for the trolley to take everyone back to Chamonix. I ended up walking around the town a little bit & taking pictures – I still cannot get over how cute this place was. There was an older couple that had spent a week there and were making their way through France, hiking and visiting wineries. Basically, life goals. Amazing and romantic place to visit – I will be back! I added on to my bucket list to come back and run the 23km race someday… I loved the area THAT much!!
Around 5 pm, we all headed back on the bus to Geneva. I stopped at a local store and bought copious amounts of swiss chocolate for my family before heading back to my Air Bnb… yes, I carried about 10 lbs of chocolate with me through Europe. Totally worth it 😉
After arriving back at my Air Bnb, my hosts cooked me an authentic Italian meal of spaghetti. The absolute perfect way to end the day!
Overall – Chamonix, I love you. I will be back to visit, for a longer period of time, and to run 14+ miles up the mountain 🙂
And BTW – if anyone is visiting the area, I highly recommend taking a tour through Viator – no, I am not getting paid to promote this. I just had such a wonderful experience, and the guide, Neil, was absolutely hilarious. So don’t think buying pre-planned tours is touristy – it takes the stress out of planning every single day of your trip, and you end up meeting some really, really, awesome people who are also traveling!