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Chuck's Oktoberfest & More Trip Report


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Part 1--Oktoberfest: What the Hell Just Happened?

 

I've read about European "fun fairs" on TPR for years, but I've never visited one. So, why not visit the biggest: Oktoberfest!

 

I’ve heard many differing opinions about Munich’s Oktoberfest over the years. They range from “greatest time ever” to “monumental kitsch fest” to “gawd, I wouldn’t go near Munich in September.”

 

And you know what? All those points on that continuum are valid. I can completely understand why some would hate Oktoberfest and steer clear of Bavaria until after October 2. It is a big, crowded, noisy kitsch fest--and that’s OK. That’s the whole idea.

 

So, what is Oktoberfest? To me, it’s a number of things:

 

1. The world’s largest beer festival and traveling fun fair. (It makes any similar gatherings in the States look like school carnivals or church bazaars.)

 

2. Two young, drunken women in matching dirndls (those “beer maid” outfits) walking face first into a tree, then just laughing it off and going on their way (and guys in lederhosen doing the same thing).

 

3. Singleminded people with their eyes on one objective, plowing through the crowd by the shortest possible route, bouncing off other revelers as they go. (Seriously, if you’re bothered by crowds or people touching you, don’t go to Oktoberfest.)

 

4. Huge “tents” where the party starts around 10:30 am and runs late into the night.

 

5. A seizure-inducing field of blinking-flashing-strobing lights and loud mixes of almost every kind of music from techno to country to oom-pah-pah.

 

6. Couples making out (sometimes more) in very public places, random drunks sleeping it off in random corners, police who keep an eye on things but intervene only when absolutely necessary, and the occasional ambulance with its distinctively European siren.

 

7. The amazing hospitality of the Bavarian people.

 

8. The enticing smells of curry wurst, pork-steak sandwiches, and other hot carnival food, tempting you to sample everything.

 

9. The most amazing collection of traveling rides you’ll ever see anywhere, including the excellent Olympia Looping (a coaster that lives up to the hype--and surpasses it) and flat rides that run crazy cycles that can tear holes in the space-time continuum.

 

10. Beer steins and good times.

 

Yes, it’s difficult to sum up Munich’s annual massive party, and it sure helps to have folks with Robb and Elissa's experience to get you through it all. You’ll just have to see for yourselves. Once again, this was another great trip--thanks!

 

Shall we go in?

 

I'm going to post a lot of photos, so I'd appreciate it if readers would hold off on comments until they're all up. I'd like to keep them together on the same page--thanks. These photos were all taken during the four days we were in Munich, too.

 

For now, prost!

 

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The Munich subway map tells you all you need to know.

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Welcome to one of Oktoberfest’s six or seven entrances.

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This is the crowd on the busiest day of the festival, known locally known as “!@#$$!!! Saturday.”

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My first official beer of Oktoberfest--a nice dunkel. This was in a small, crowded biergarten near the Alpina Bahn coaster.

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Anyone seen Caesar since last night? I think we’ve picked up his trail.

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Here’s one of the other entrances to the festival grounds--note the infamous spiral slide (more on that later).

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Here’s Oktoberfest early in the morning. Quite a contrast to “!@#$$!!! Saturday" afternoon.

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There’s even time to go to church, if you want to confess your sins early and beat the rush.

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Do I really need to say its name?

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You’re a braver man than I am, sir.

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“Am I tethered properly?”

“Aw, you’re fine. Don’t worry about it.”

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Fully licensed and legal, I’m sure.

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“Garsh, folks--looks legit to me!”

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Behold the true Lion King!

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There is quite a range of fashion on display at Oktoberfest.

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It’s hard to imagine the size of these beer “tents"--and how quickly they can put them up.

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Need a toilet? Just look for Cupid’s butt in a chamber pot.

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Hmm--not sure if I’m under- or over-dressed for Oktoberfest.

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We did this fun house to kill some time that morning. I slipped and bumped my head in a rotating barrel--and that was before I had a beer that day.

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The revelers are arriving.

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This guy is is hoping to have a very good time.

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This guy either tied one on a bit early or just got off Voodoo Jumper, the crazy flat ride in the background.

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Yay! Olympia Looping is open! Stacey is, er, thrilled? Apprehensive?

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I’m going to lean toward “thrilled.”

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This ride lived up to its reputation--and then some.

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I’m just shocked I didn’t take more photos of it. I guess I was too busy riding.

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“This ride is sill closed. Talk to the bear.”

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I think Bob snapped his neck on the Wilde Maus.

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What’re you guys doing? This ride just killed Bob!

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Two Staceys on Voodoo Jumper. They are at the mercy of the drunken monkey ride ops (look closely and you’ll see them).

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Robb and Albert believe that monkeys make anything better.

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Joe and Jere feel quite safe in the hands of our monkey overlords.

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What? Fire! Stupid monkeys!

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This ride runs one seriously long cycle.

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“Please don’t hurt us, Mr. Voodoo Man!” More to come.

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The Oktoberfestiness continues!

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Drifting Coaster doesn’t look all that crazy in this photo. Do not be deceived! This crazy, swinging coaster is one of the weirdest rides I've ever been on. Although the first drop is a bit painful, I ended up liking it.

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Alpina Bahn is Olympia Looping without loops--and still a lot of fun.

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If you drink enough beer, everyone looks like this.

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This is the best spinning coaster about miners, Christmas, and fire ever.

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This creepy old prospector invites you to enjoy his miners' rave with lasers, strobes, waterfalls, Christmas trees, and fire--plus plenty of spinning.

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You have to admire this guy's sartorial style.

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The Lion King summons us, and we must obey. Robb and Elissa reserved tables in this tent months ago, and it was worth it.

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Yep--that’s one big “tent.”

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Let’s see . . . oompah band, check.

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Polka music, check.

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Guys in funny hats, check.

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Hot women in dirndls with beer steins, check.

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Goofy American tourists, check.

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What? We gotta drink all this? Well, if you say so.

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Just keep it coming.

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Caesar is still thirsty.

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This is either the strangest game of Twister ever or some sort of orgy.

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KT takes on the Devil’s Wheel.

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The wheel wins the first round.

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You don’t have to be drunk to ride the wheel.

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But . . .

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. . . it probably helps.

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Reed and Stacey take a shot.

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But . . .

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. . . when you get right down to it, . . .

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. . . the Devil’s Wheel always wins!

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You stand a slightly better chance of beating the Devil’s Conveyor Belt to the spiral slide.

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Sometimes you need a little assistance . . .

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. . . sometimes a lot. (Derek, quit playing Pokemon Go and watch your step.)

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“So, my old nemesis, we meet again!” Will Joey ever triumph over his archenemy? Stay tuned.

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I'm not a flat-ride guy (spinning tea cups can ruin me for the day), but I thought I should try at least one while at Oktoberfest. I chose Voodoo Jumper.

 

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This is Theme Park Review's video, although you probably already know that.

 

Was this a good choice? Did Joey finally triumph over the Devil's Conveyor Belt? Let's find out.

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Sweet victory for Joey on his second try!

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This slide stuff is harder than it looks.

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“OK, little Pokemon, you’re mine!”

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“At last, I have exorcised my spiral-slide demons!”

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Dignity. Always dignity.

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Caesar has to be around here somewhere.

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Aha! There he is. Looks like he had a very good time last night.

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I don’t think Janice enjoyed this dark ride all that much.

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The facade was the best thing about it.

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I must politely, and with all due respect, say hell no to that enormous stick ride.

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Oktoberfest really comes alive after dark . . .

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. . . but be sure to watch your back.

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Unobstructed Olympia Looping at night.

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Obstructed Olympia Looping at night (this is one great ride--not even my fat head can harm its greatness).

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You will respect the Fuhrer’s hot nuts!

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I think this game is rigged.

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Alpina Bahn wants you to remember it’s here, and that it also has pretty lights. Thank you.

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Crap, even the mostly indoors spinning coaster has great outside lighting.

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“Your souls are mine!”

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And now, a three-level dark ride that requires two photos: Geister . . .

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. . . Palast. I rode this one twice. The first time, all the gags were working, and it was a lot of fun; the second time, not so much (many gags not working).

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“Huh? Whaddaya mean the creepy Hollenblitz miner already got your souls? Damn it!”

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Even demons deal with constipation sometimes.

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Oh no--not falling for that again.

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I decided to try one crazy flat ride while I was there. Hmm--not Parkour.

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What the hell--Voodoo Jumper!

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“I was a human being once. Then I rode Voodoo Jumper.”

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I think this relaxing ride is more my speed.

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It even has its own band. They were paid in schnapps, from what I could tell.

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Yes, this is the best flat ride at Oktoberfest: The Beer Carousel.

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And like the sign says, that’s it--for now. Look for more culture and theme parks in later posts. Feel free to comment.

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Great photos - thanks for sharing, Chuck!

 

I absolutely loved Oktoberfest and I am not one that normally likes large crowds. Everyone (for the most part) behaved themselves and as you mentioned, the people of Bavaria are very friendly and accommodating.

 

We never made reservations for a table, but the two times that we managed to get into a tent and get a place to sit, we were sat with extremely friendly Bavarian families that took us in like we were members of their family - it was awesome!

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This is the last night of Oktoberfest where we drank with a single mother and her son. This was his first Oktoberfest where he could drink...at the age of 16! Believe it or not, this young man handled himself more maturely than a lot of the adults in the beer hall! LOL

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^It does sum up Munich during Oktoberfest pretty well.

 

Was there anything food-wise, that was "different" for you to have, Chuck?

Besides all that....protein, lol. And beer.

 

Great TR of Everything, btw!

 

I think the only somewhat "odd" thing I tried was pork knuckle (essentially, a roasted pig leg). It was OK, but I think I'll stick to schnitzel and beer. I had the best curry wurst ever at Oktoberfest, too.

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^It does sum up Munich during Oktoberfest pretty well.

 

Was there anything food-wise, that was "different" for you to have, Chuck?

Besides all that....protein, lol. And beer.

 

Great TR of Everything, btw!

 

I think the only somewhat "odd" thing I tried was pork knuckle (essentially, a roasted pig leg). It was OK, but I think I'll stick to schnitzel and beer. I had the best curry wurst ever at Oktoberfest, too.

 

Yeah, I tried that too...wasn't it called Schweinhocks or something like that? I stuck to currywurst and schnitzel after that myself!

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For those, like myself, who didn't know....

 

Schweinshaxe is a large pork knuckle roasted till crispy on the outside

and fork tender on the inside. This style is popular in Bavaria.

 

And I myself, am not totally "sold" on Currywurst.

I'm like others I know, who don't like Poutine. Period.

To each their own.

 

And then there's mayonnaise on fries....

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Prost!

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Mayonaise on fries is a must! I personally like it. How could you not like Currywurst? Never met anyone who did not love it,lol.

Love the trip report, just a quick correction. The tents are not quickly build, they start in July constructing them. Taking them down is rather quick though. Same with rides,it is amazing. I walked one day after closing over the grounds and Alpina Bahn(which is massive) was almost gone(besides the station and ground tracks) and that was 12 hours after closing. Just wow.

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^"Quick" is a relative term. It's remarkable how they build what amounts to a small city on the festival grounds each year.

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Is the awesome lighting and music package a standard thing on the octoberfest flat rides? If so, how come we can't get nice things like that over here.

 

Easy to explain, in the US most fair and rides are owned by one company, no need to upgrade, in Germany every ride is individually owned by families, so they have to outdo each other to gain attention, hence, they invest in there rides to make it stand out compared to the ride next door

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For those, like myself, who didn't know....

 

Schweinshaxe is a large pork knuckle roasted till crispy on the outside

and fork tender on the inside. This style is popular in Bavaria.

 

And I myself, am not totally "sold" on Currywurst.

I'm like others I know, who don't like Poutine. Period.

To each their own.

 

And then there's mayonnaise on fries....

 

Welp, I butchered that spelling, although your photo looks a lot yummier than the "hock" that I had at a restaurant not to far from the grounds, Bill. While the "hock" wasn't that great (very fatty and a little too chewy), the kraut there was amazing (as was the beer, of course)!

 

And yes, I LOVED currywurst (huge curry fan here)...and don't even get me going on delicious Belgian-style fries with mayo!

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Part 2--Culture Day

 

While Oktoberfest is “culture,” most of us are more likely to consider museums, historical sites, and scenic vistas under that term. It’s always nice to take a break from coasters, insane flat rides, and funnel cake to appreciate a place’s heritage and natural beauty.

 

And if you can throw in an 8,000-foot-long alpine coaster down the side of a mountain, that’s a plus.

 

So, we set out from Munich with Mike the tour guide to see the Bavarian Alps, ride down the side of one at about 40 km/hour (about 25 miles/hour), and tour Neuschwanstein Castle--the pet project of “Mad” King Ludwig II and Walt Disney’s inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland.

 

The thing about Ludwig is that he wasn’t really insane, nor was he a particularly “bad” person; however, he wasn’t all that interested in governing his country, either. He was more into the arts (particularly theater and music) and architecture. He went deep into debt building Neuschwanstein, and only completed 10 rooms inside the huge castle before his own ministers had him declared insane. He was deposed and forced to leave Neuschwanstein for Berg Castle, where he was later found dead in just a few feet of water in Lake Starnberg. An autopsy found no water in his lungs, so the circumstances of his death remain “mysterious.”

 

But he did leave behind one of Bavaria’s biggest, most beautiful tourist attractions--so I guess there’s that.

 

I happened to sit next to Mike the tour guide at lunch, where I told him about Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s version of King Ludwig ala Curse of DarKastle: a “wicked ruler of a corrupt kingdom” who killed his parents and political opponents and was also a sorcerer and werewolf. His response: “That’s just mean!”

 

Maybe, but I think Ludwig got a better deal at BGW.

 

Let’s hit the road, shall we?

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Welcome to the Bavarian Alps. I imagine you’ve guessed this already, due to the big mountains in this shot.

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Look closely, and you’ll see someone who’s much braver than me.

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I wonder how close he is to that rocky peak.

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How could you miss a huge mountain like that?

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Nice view, but time to go.

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We stopped in this picturesque Bavarian town, which I think was called Garmisch.

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If a bull with two axes ever charges you, I suggest running away.

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A fountain in celebration of beer--why not?

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OK, the guide said there was a bakery down here somewhere.

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Murals like these are common in Bavaria. They often depict religious themes. Here is a representation of the finding of the Blessed Bagel of St. Brot of Glutenberg.

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“Icicle lights have been hung to honor the Blessed Bagel, as you ordered, my liege.”

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“Break out the Sacred Cream Cheese! Both with honey and with chives! And warm up the Righteous Toaster of Antioch!”

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Bad gas? Good thing the toilets are nearby.

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This is Mike, the guide. He said many things. Guides tend to do that.

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It was a very pretty town.

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Wood carving is also a big thing in Bavaria, which makes sense when one has wood.

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Is it necessary to tip a horse waiter if you can't understand what he's saying?

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This is how they stack wood in Bavaria. Mike was quite knowledegable on anything having to do with Bavarian wood--and how to stack it.

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I didn’t take my camera or phone up the chair lift to the alpine coaster, but they did have good on-ride photos. A vending machine dispensed them at the bottom. This was definitely worth it. The ride was fast, fun, and (at times) terrifying.

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I don’t think anyone did the ski jump. More to come.

Edited by cfc
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As I recall, I promised you a castle. Here it comes.

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Welcome to Linderhof Palace, one of “Mad” King Ludwig’s homes. This fountain goes off every half hour, and it was very important that we see it. That’s why our guide spent a lot of time talking in front of a rack of postcards until about four minutes before “spout off.” I barely made it.

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Here’s the palace unblocked by the fountain. Looks like a very nice place.

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“Hey, you guys almost missed the fountain. What? Your guide kept you by the postcard rack while he talked about Ludwig and the palace? Shall I eat him for you?”

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We were all deeply moved by the fountain experience, our lives changed forever.

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The intricately detailed sculpture of a cherry picker shows that Ludwig was a man ahead of his time.

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“A tissue and an air-sick bag for my horse, please!”

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“Ugh! The puking horse is making me hurl, too!”

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But, seriously folks, the Linderhof’s gardens were very pretty.

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Now it’s time for the main event: Neuschwanstein Castle.

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Let’s take a photo of the castle from that bridge! No one ever thinks to do that!

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The view was worth the crowded bridge.

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Yes, Neuschwanstein Castle is quite beautiful . . .

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. . . and not even my big head can spoil it.

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There was a nice view from the other side of the bridge, too.

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When I flew over from Dulles, it felt like July. It was nice to experience some “real” fall weather and color.

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Ludwig spent his childhood in nearby Schwanstein Castle.

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Out with the old Schwanstein and . . .

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. . . in with the Neuschwanstein.

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The castle is above, lunch is below. This is where I had some traditional Bavarian pork knuckle. It was OK, but I prefer a nice schnitzel.

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We found a Smurf village nearby.

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Almost time for our tour. Looks like Ludwig is having some work done--no doubt at great expense.

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Another look at the bridge. I bet no one has ever taken this picture, either.

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You can understand why Walt Disney was inspired by this castle when he built Disneyland.

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But it looks a bit more like DarKastle here.

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No photos were allowed inside. The finished rooms were beautiful; although the throne room had a raised platform for a throne, Ludwig never got a chance to use it.

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Yes, it was a very nice day in the mountains. But we’ll be hitting some parks later. That's all for now.

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Were those pictures taken in the village of Oberammergau? I'm asking because the photo of the alpine coaster mentions Oberammergau and that first grand building looks like Linderhof Palace. That is one of my bucket list places to visit.

Edited by larrygator
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