Starkbierfest and the Autobahn.



Starkbierfest is what it says on the Stein.

I don’t want to start off by saying it was better than Oktoberfest, but it was certainly a contender for second-best beer festival. Remi and I planned to go to the Fest as our last big night together in Munich and all was set for the big day when we began to queue outside Paulaner am Nockherberg in the afternoon. Admittedly there were aspects of it that were better than the frankly overcrowded Wies’n. Firstly, I would just like to say a massive thank you to all the absolute babes that turned up. I have honestly never seen more beautiful women in one place. And that’s coming from someone who’s been to Tequila on a Thursday. But as opposed to Tequila’s remarkably low marriage rates, 80% these gorgeous Bavarian princesses were fit to marry, seeming to walk straight out of a fairytale. But it wouldn’t be a fairytale without a few trolls and a couple of ugly sisters to make up the last fifth.

With the exception of the first day, beer can be ordered from 9am onwards at the Oktoberfest. At the Starkbierfest, however, doors don’t even open until the early afternoon. Most beer at Oktoberfest was around the 5% mark, whereas the “Strong-beer-festival” beer is not really beer, it’s almost a wine, with its alcohol concentration hovering dangerously around the 11% mark, this is because it traditionally is the cooked remains of the Oktoberfestbier. Do the maths. If people started drinking this through the morning, they would be more than twice as drunk as at Oktoberfest, for twice as long. That’s fairly annihilated indeed. Thank God then that doors opened at two in the afternoon. Presumably there is some sort of correlation between how many world wars your country has started and what time you let people start drinking. Now I don’t claim to be Bavaria’s answer to Nostradamus, but I’m guessing that shortly after World War III people will get let in perhaps at 1500hrs. And rightly so.

Bavarian Speaking Cash machine.

The day was great, much singing and drinking and cheering etc. The highlight of which was when I took advantage of a quiet crowd to coerce them into singing “Country Roads by John Denver” managing to get enough people to sing along with me such that the and changed their schedule and decided to join in. Having realised our wallets were empty, we embarked on a mission to get cash. There was only one cash machine and of course charged an extortionate rate, but at least it had a language option of Bavarian German (Boarisch) which made me and David (another colleague) chuckle for probably a bit too long. Shortly after this, David and I agreed that heaven would be some form of Bavarian Beer festival. Think about it, what more could you possibly need? Friendly and approachable people to talk to, gorgeous women dancing around in a tasteful fashion. All the beer you could drink in a lifetime. It would  never get boring. It couldn’t. It wouldn’t even be possible. Having sank four Steins, it was pushing eleven o’clock. And with that in mind, Julia (a rather attractive au pair from New York) and I headed to Jan’s house party which was taking place at Theresienwiese, exactly where Oktoberfest takes place. Myself dressed in Lederhosen and my accomplice dressed in a full dirndl, we looked like we had fallen out of a faulty time-machine, arriving at Oktoberfest at the dead of night but at least we were within six months. Not bad time-travelling. After a few drinks with Jan and co it was home time.

The rest of the weekend was spent recovering from Friday and Saturday nights and preparing for the week ahead.

On the evening of Monday the 11th March I had my first driving lesson on the Autobahn. After a nice spell on the country roads (Landstraße), we drove to the airport and onto the Autobahn back to Munich. This system contrasts with the English driving schools where I believe you aren’t permitted to drive on the motorway with a learner plate, however in Germany this is not only encouraged but it is an obligatory part of learning to drive. No speed limits, rapid overtaking and unmarked police cars equipped with cameras are all part of the fun. You just have to strap in a get ready for the ride. I settled into Richgeschwindigkeit of 130kmph pretty comfortably and I took the BMW One Series up to 160kmh which was a great feeling. Forget fifth gear, I though to myself as I shot straight from fourth into sixth. The lesson went well and I only made a couple of mistakes, mainly entering built up areas at twice the speed allowed. Note to self: decelerate to 50kmph before the yellow signs appear. Some of the signposts were hidden by trees though, in my defence. I do need to make sure I don’t get carried away going from 50-60 kmph even though the difference really is minute.

Unfortunately, we have had to say goodbye to some friends of ours. Philip is going off to start his masters, but also bravely starting a three week trip to Coventry to visit his girlfriend. Lisa is leaving us to go and study in Australia and Rémi is off to join Euan in Wolfsburg at the Automotive Giant that is Volkswagen.

In other news, Sam is preparing for his trip to Munich tomorrow and we are both going to watch the last British team in the Champions League as Arsenal come to the Allianz Arena in a clash against the dominant Bayern Munich. On Friday, the Berlin trip begins along with Barney’s Birthday Bonanza.


Berlin’s Best Burger Bar.


So another week has passed and what does that mean? It means it’s time for another blog post to be etched into the World Wide Web, so that everyone will always be able to experience my Year Abroad for the rest of time. Forgive me for going on a bit in this one, I can only apologise for getting so much done.

Let’s start from the beginning. It’s Friday evening. I left work promptly and headed to Fröttmaning Station: the location of the Allianz Arena. Now it’s time for a fun fact. Not only is the arena Germany’s third biggest football stadium but it also happens to be the largest car park in Europe, providing a total of 9800 spaces. How thrilling.

Munich's biggest football Stadium

The Allianz Arena, Munich.

After a brief chat to Adi who was sat on a train in Magdeburg, I met a colleague of mine, namely Seductive Sascha. We had planned to share the same car-share. This specific car-share (Mitfahrgelegenheit) was organised by a man by the name of Haphazard Harald – a German businessman who tried to convince us that he was made his millions building wind farms around the world, a tale involving properties in the Far East, a Chinese wife and five Germo-Chinese children. Whilst listening to Harald’s eastern adventures, he made us guess at the real estate value of a 75 square metre apartment in Hong Kong, the journey ran smoothly and we made good time. Sascha and I passed the time by exchanging accounts of cross-continental conquests and general antics. We were enjoying ourselves a lot, bursting out into cackles of laughter every five minutes. The girl in front of us (who was trying to crack on with work for her Masters at the University of Leicester) wasn’t too impressed with our numerous heroic encounters and wasn’t afraid to give us the standard passive agressive stare that I am now so used to in Germany. As someone who is generally regarded as rude, I thought I’d fit in perfectly in the Bundesrepublik, and in most cases I rudely go about my daily rude-tine. But that doesn’t stop the Germans trying to out-rude me. Escalators are the worst. Anyway I am beginning to prattle.

“Stille Wasser sind tief” ~Sascha.
(It’s the quiet ones you want to watch out for)

One particular passenger was a cursed, pungent and rotund Bosnian man. If I tell you that his ringtone was “Who let the dogs out” – would you think of me as a judgemental person? Anyway, this man added constant delays to our journey because whenever he was let out of the car, he bought a coffee and a small meal. This happened during all three breaks. Half way through the journey I had to endure a phone conversation with Adam and Euan who were evidently “well on their way”. (I picked up the call and in the background I overheard Adam: “We’re so ringing Marcus – I bet his reaction will be: ‘f*****k off!'” followed by Euan cofirming “I’m ringing him!”). They were in fact sharing vital information with me. Because the matter was sensitive, you would have thought they’d tell me in person. But so sad the news, they felt obliged to share the unfortunate news that our favourite kebab restaurant (Keb’up) had in fact gone Keb’down and was shut, presumably until the end of the Mayan calendar.

Anyway, we did eventually make it to Berlin and I met Adam, Euan and Sam (who had by that stage arrived from Hamburg) in our favourite shisha bar underneath the Fernsehturm (TV Tower). After a few cocktails and a tiny bit of unimpressively weak shisha, we proceeded to head to the station to meet Scouse and Simon (travelling in from Tübingen and Stuttgart together) en route to Nonie’s at Moritzplatz. We had all our stuff with us and compeltely invaded her apartment. Her housemates greeted us and seemed prepared for the onslaught that was about to occur.

Having stowed our supplies at Nonie’s, we were taken for drinks in the infamously “edgy” district of Berlin: Kreuzberg. We went to a bar where apparently all the photographers hang out, and needless to say they probably didn’t appreciate Scouse capturing sleepy images of Adam and Sam like some mad hatter.

We of course knew that it wouldn’t be long until either Sam or Adi fell asleep. But we definitely didn’t expect both to be completely gone! For Adi it was simply a matter of time; after all he isn’t called Alcoholic Adi for nothing. But for Sam it was another night that had perhaps ended too short. A quick summary of Sleepy Sam‘s Adventures this year: he fell asleep at Oktoberfest, fair enough – he had only had a couple of hours kip before getting on the lash. He followed this tradition when he passed out in a club when we visited him in Hamburg and being escorted outside where he proceeded to empty his guts out onto the Reeperbahn. This third voyage then became the chunderous cherry on the alcoholic cake that has earned him the title of Sleepy Sam, his drowsiness now outweighing the gravity of his character. Although he does still somehow manage to look serious when he’s tired. He also managed to outdo Simon in throw-ups per hour, a strong achievement, even for him! So it was hometime and eventually bedtime (after a small lover’s tiff between Sam and Adi, who were sharing a futon in the main room. We were very grateful to be able to crash with Nonie, although we still aren’t totally convinced why she had a fully functioning BOSCH drill lying on her table. A very special thanks does go out to Nonie and flatmates for putting us up and also just generally putting up with us.

However, no matter how hospitable you are, there is always someone who throws it back in your face. Some say he was raised by wolves in a forest just outside Leicester and that he is allergic to cauliflower. ALl we know is he’s called Adam the Alcoholic.

Alcoholic Adi contemplating how long it will take to eat through a mattress.

It is safe to say, that on Saturday we woke up feeling worse for wear. Some of us more than others.

Attractive Adam

Attractive Adam

So we began trying to semi-organise the shower rotor, despite most of us still being battered to a large extent. After Scouse had what is quite probably the longest shower in history, we waited for a disorientated Adi to get his stuff together, before heading out to East Berlin to eat at Burgeramt; which reputedly serves the best burgers in the city. I, personally, opted for the Avacado & Bacon burger with extra cheese and was proud to be the only one to finish the meal. After this I purchased some boots which I felt would better cope with the winter snow.

Couple of Glühweins @ Alexanderplatz.

Couple of Glühweins @ Alexanderplatz.

When the evening drew closer, we decided to head to the huge Christmas Market at Alexanderplatz for a Glühwein or three. It was here that we met one of Simon’s friends and one of Simon’s friend’s friends. When we had enjoyed enough warm wine, we headed a minute or two down the road to the Pilsner Unique Bar (PUB). Each table had its own taps (dangerous) and a prjected image onto a screen showed showed which table had consumed the most beer in a sort of leaderboard format. An interesting quote from Samthe opposite of DIY sticks firmly in the memory, as well as me apparently trying to pay with lenses at the end. It was after this that we attended the standard Berlin bar crawl, although this time we had to be a bit more responsible than the past two years (not that that was hard).

bearpictureWhilst talking about pets, Alcoholic Adi explained which one of our friendship group would make the best pet. “Scouse is like the best pet ever. He’s just so consistent!” ~Adam Shaw.

Two blondes

I tried to stop them but the dragged me down!

We had a laugh with the first and second years of Leeds Uni German Society and a good night was had by all. It was interesting to hear how well they are getting on, and seeing how they are holding the fort for us in Leeds. Some of them were very excited to see us indeed and overall we received a warm welcome (apart from a certain Amy Simcock pretending that she had become so cool that she had forgotten our names). When it comes to Leeds Uni German Society, no-one is really cooler than us. Punkt.

“Who’s the fat f***er?” ~Anon.

Entering the kitchen at 6am and finding this creature writhing around trying with his flimsy arms to gather some rubbish to use as a pillow, only to lift his head up and smack it on the radiator.

Jewish Jason Statham/Jason Bourne. (Only thing that takes away from this dramatic photo is perhaps Simon’s lovely bobbly woolly hat).

Sunday, of course was Derby day. And what does Derby day mean with the die-hard football fans Adi and Simon? It of course meant watching football at a pub. The inner tourist in me felt sick to the core, but I’ve known these scumbags long enough to already know exactly what I’d let myself in for. It was a good session, despite Simon reaching disturblingly orgasmic levels whilst watching his beloved Manchester United – so much so that he started to look like Sonic the Jewish Hedgehog. At one point, steam started to rise from his hair like a Jewish Duracell Bunny with too much voltage. Adam, however, was keeping it cool as usual. Rio Ferdinand took an unfortunate coin to the old eye but later explained on twitter that the colour of his blood further reinforced which colour Manchester is loyal to, which is the footballing equivalent of saying “This is SPARTA!”.

Eventually I made it back in one piece and at 2am I was in bed looking forward to rising on Monday morning. After a good day at work, myself Jean-Remy, Ingo and Esperanza took the U-Bahn home together. What started off as picking up Ingo’s goggles from his, quickly escalated to going for a kebab and then further escalated to a Glühwein and two Feuerzangenbowlen (brandy punches) in the Christmas market at Sendlinger Tor. I was really not equipped for this,  cashwise or energywise,  but you can sleep when you’re dead, right?

“Je suis au marché de noel avec marcus et ingo” ~an SMS I received from battered JR, presumably directed at Juliette.

On Tuesday it was time for lunch with the boys at work. In the evening it was time for a drink with Barney and Ludo (+friends) at the Hofbräuhaus. Fellow Leeds student Ed Gallaway also turned up because he was in town. He happend also to spend his Year Abroad in Munich last year and is now back at Leeds and generally loving life. When telling colleagues about Barney, most of them insist he is Barney Stinson from How I met Your Mother. It is coming up to Barney’s last week in Munich, before he leaves to start two cool new internships in Berlin. A great quote from the night came from Barney himself: “I would love to get so lagered in Prague”. This boy has no limits. He also promised a visit to Leeds for Freshers week 2013, not only that he vowed and I quote: “When I get to Leeds, the first thing I will do is order 100 VK Tropicals”. I am going to hold you to that one Barney.

“Aus Hackepeter wird Kacke später” ~ Thomas Klasmeier aka Prince Charming.

Wednesday evening I spoke to Hugo on the phone after work. He has just settled in at St. Anton and loving life. He was telling me about how some of the girls he works with love to fight in the snow. Apparently it’s called a “snorgy”. I may not have quite understood what he was on about but I’m sure all will become clear when I eventually get the time to visit him. I cooked bolognese for Remi and Robert, disproving the myth that the English can’ cook, although simultaneously proving that we have a limited number of our own actual recipes. Oh well.

On Thursday night there was a sort of Christmas party in the AWA (After Work Activity) Area. Lena and Christina (the AWA girls) cooked us up a feast with the help of Luscious Lisa and various others. Frankfurters, pasta, weird cheesy stuff – it was all there and it was all Bairisch.

“Zis Englishman. ‘e is fucking barbar” ~Remi

Remi started getting nasty about the English (typical rude Frenchman) and described me as a Barbarian, proving not only that the French hold a grudge but also that nothing has changed for a thousand years. I believe, the Romans called the Anglo-Saxons the exact same when they invaded our homeland all those years ago? Although if I am wrong I am happy to be corrected by anyone studying classics. Only from Oxford though. Whilst discussing language Remi did also mention: “In English you are always saying words with ‘h’. What is the use of this ‘h’?”. Not sure what I am getting at here, other than I found what he said fairly hilarious.

Friday came and I had lunch with the Director of Finance which will be great. Also my Personal Tutor from leeds happens to be in Munich so I am going for a Glühwein with her after work. A great day of networking, I think you’ll agree. In the afternoon it was Jean-Remy, Lena’s, and Sisom’s Abschiedsfeier (leaving party). It will be sad to see them go at the end of December but they are all moving on with their studies and internships and I have on doubt that we will stay in contact and see each other in the very near future. The plan for tonight is to kick start the night with a Glühwein with my personal Tutor. That’s right, Mandy herself has graced Munich with her presence and we are heading off for a Glühwein at Marienplatz. We are also really looking forward to the long awaited house party at Niklas’ place! Which will inevitably be followed by a night out somewhere overpriced. The plan for Saturday is a potential solo trip to Nuremberg, to visit a friend of mine and to finally see the world famous Christmas Markets. On Sunday I plan on doing some sport, potentially swimming again.

There is now just over a week until I go back to my second homeland: I am of course referring to the United Queendom. I am really looking forward to being reunited with my friends and family! Also can’t wait to have tea at Buckingham and go for a few beers with Prince Harry. According to the French and Germans, I am one of Harry’s mates. I’ll take that.

To read Adam’s side of the story, click here.

Surprising Serious Sam.

Thanks to the Pope and a couple of thousand years of oppression, a bank holiday was declared on Thursday the 1st  of November. Something about all the saints rising up? Putting our bibles to one side, there was only one thing for it: a city break! Firms will often award their workers with a Brücketag meaning you get the Friday off as well making it a relaxed three-day week followed by a cheeky five nights of weekend.

Captain’s Blog: Stardate 09.11.2012.

If you read last week’s post you’ll know that Hallowe’en wasn’t even celebrated in Munich this year. They genuinely banned it. They essentially had had enough. They could ban it all they want in Bavaria but they couldn’t stop us doing what people of all nationalities do that like to party: simply migrate further North (whether it be from London to Leeds, Juba to Khartoum, or Sana’a to Riyadh – to name but a few examples). Taking advantage of this foolish Catholic generosity, I travelled together with my Jewish friend (Semitic Simon) to join my Protestant brothers in arms in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Our objectives were clear: 1) to surprise Serious Sam by rocking up to his work thus severley reducing the gravity of his personality & 2) to soak up the atmosphere by penetrating the heart of the city’s vibrant nightlife. This would be a four day operation, encompassing over 3000km of sheer voyage. The surprise was made all the more hilarious by the fact that Sam was convinced that Si was arriving on Friday and leaving on Sunday. (What an idiot – he believed us!). Little did he know that not only was I coming from Munich (big news) but also Euan was making the trip from Wolfie as well (also news). Euan’s plan was to arrive on Friday and to leave on Saturday. Obviously that didn’t happen. Due to various persuasive friends he ended up staying Saturday night too.

Wednesday 31st October
Let us start from the beginning. Once again back in the comfort of Prince Charming’s luxury Ford Fiesta we left an empty office at around 1700hrs. We departed Munich in October and arrived in November and it honestly did feel like it had taken us a month to get to the North, even to get out of Bavaria was a task as everyone had the same idea; visiting friends and family. After what is normally an hour long journey to Ingolstadt we ended up taking around three. We passed the time by chatting to our carsharer, a jovial Italian man called Fabio (obviously) from South Tyrol who spoke perfect German but with a strong Italian accent. Having built up a bit of hunger it didn’t take us long to decided it was time for a solemn Burger King before Nuremberg, as we sat there we attempted to digest not only the traffic situation but also the saturated fatty acids we had just gobbled down. After around eleven hours on the road we eventually ended up in Hamburg at around 4am. Having subsequently checked into the Generator Hostel, I proceeded to my chamber of choice, I found Simon, who had arrived a few hours prior to me, asleep at his station and spread-eagled on my bed. Bed Number 7! Too tired to kick up my usual fuss (what would have been the point, anyway?), I clambered reluctantly up to the top bunk where I promtly fell into a deep sleep.

“You sound like you’re from Landungsbrücke”

Thursday 1st November
We awoke bright and early on Thursday morning after only a few pitiful hours of sleep but credits where credit’s due the beds were comfy indeed.  There were some friendly girls in the dorm who we impressed with our plans to surprise Sam at work, we added them to a long list of people who were in on Germany’s best kept secret. Conversation swiftly over, we opted for a continental pastry and were on our way to the Hafen City. After a few minutes of walking our city boy instincts kicked in and we got ourselves day tickets which entitled us to use some of the many transport services on offer. The most useful of which is the U-Bahn. Before we knew it we were en route to Sam’s place of work; only one of the most well-respected advertising agencies in Germany and one of the most successful in Europe. Their modern office looks over the state of the art Hafen City and has a fantastic view even from the ground floor, it is not a stretch to imagine that the panorama gets better and better as you venture further up the building into the suave meeting rooms.  We have to remember that Sam works in advertising and he assures us that some members of the “Creative Team” even come in wearing snap-backs and jeans (for our older readers these are the baseball caps with the flat peak, instead of a curved one and is comparable to the modern flat cap). That all said, Sam did indeed look like he was having a somewhat “Casual Thursday”.

“What are you guys doing here? And how the hell do you know where I work?”

We didn’t travel across Europe’s largest country empty handed, we came bearing gifts of course. And we brought arguably the most flavoursome beer in the world: Augustiner Helles*. Because, you know, we’re good mates like that. The plan was to plonk both bottles on his desk, but this plan went about as far as the reception because we were denied upstairs access. Instead we explained our story to the sectretary. We filled her in on the details, reciting perfectly how I had left Munich in October and arrived in Hamburg in November travelling over 800km in an overwhelming 12hours and cutting Germany right down the middle in order to be here. She then rang Sam, explaining that there was a package that he needed to collect from reception. (In case you don’t follow: There wasn’t really a package…she just said that to trick him into coming down to the reception!) I know, sneaky Germans.

Needless to say he was definitely surprised to the max, although managed to contain his excitement over a coffee in their cosy cafeteria. Myself and Simon then had roughly an hour to kill as Sam unfortunately had to get back behind the wheel of the German economy. We then decided a trip to the Rathaus was in order and we went up in the lift and read about the destruction of Hamburg in WWII. Afterwards we checked out the Miniatur Wunderland which houses a collection of complex train networks and is one of the things you have to do when in Hamburg.

Some people loving it, others also present.

After a leisurely lunch at one of Sam’s trendy local jaunts, myself and Simon got the list of “things we wanted to see in Hamburg” out. In an attempt to ascertain whether there would still be tickets available for the legendary König der Löwen (Lion King), we went to some of the different box offices located along the sea wall just a stroll down from Hafen City. If you then look over the harbour you can see the Theater am Hafen which boasts a huge picture of Mufasa’s mug on it. This spectacular theatre is only accessible by boat and each musical has its own transport vessel, decorated differently according to the production it associates with. Unfortunately, they were sold out for Thursday and the weekend but there were two tickets going for the Friday evening. It was pretty much fully booked because it was half term (or Herbstferien) throughout the Bundesrepublik. We were sort of tempted by the idea until she explained these were balcony seats and costed 120€. EACH. I winced at Simon and he winced back at me after which he grumbled something in Northern which I couldn’t quite make out but which I took to mean: “My dear fellow, I think we shall have to decline”.

The rest of the day was spent taking a bus tour around the town. Where we saw the world’s biggest shoe shop and learnt other interesting facts. Amongst other facts we picked up along the way were that at  Hamburg (2300) boasts double the amount of bridges as Venice (480) AND Amsterdam (600). Pretty cool, eh? Once Sam was done with work we met at one of his favourite Turkish restaurants where we had a typically delicious kebab, we expect no less now, since we are all fully qualified connoisseurs of kebabs. When evening turned to night, we found ourselves in a karaoke bar on the Reeperbahn and ended partying with some lads from Birmingham whose accents made CharChar sound like a sophisticated Southerner. The night was going fairly well until the end when everything just went simply mental. Having perhaps slightly raised the roof al little with my rendition of Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver, I returned to my beer and the audience waited to see if the next act could fill my boots. Then out of nowhere appeared what must have been the landlady, brandishing an armful of plates. During the following Robbie Villiams song she proceeded to smash a plate in time with the beat of the music. As if this wasn’t strange enough, I turned round to find one of the barmaids waving around a bottle of lighter fluid around and proceeding to squeeze copious amounts of it along the length of the bar before promtly setting it alight (taking the song We Are Young perhaps a little bit too literally).

Friday 2nd November
We awoke to the smell of burning and immdeiately we knew zee Germans were up to something. As I peered over the edge of my bed, bleary-eyed and cloudy headed, I noticed the Nurembabes were ferociously preparing breakfast. Unlike any normal people attempting to have a normal breakfast, we remembered they were very German indeed and had of course planned this event weeks ago. We realised they were refering to as a “Sandvich-maschine” which sounds like some form of equipment to torture cheese & ham was actually what civilised English people might call a “toastie maker”. Unsure as to whether we should form some sort of Allied Sandwich Force in order to attempt to liberate said Sandwiches from their certain firey death, we ended up engaging in a quick chat with the perpatrators who turned out to be rather harmless students from Bavaria.

Sam is a lucky man and has a snug apartment just a five minute stroll (or stumble) to the Reeperbahn. As Friday drew close, we were all up for a first proper night out so Sam organised a pre-drinks (which with Hindsight was perhaps a tactical error) and invited Kirstie (perhaps also an error). Whilst in Edeke trying to gather supplies for the messy weekend ahead, a slightly panicky Simon was trying to coordinate Euan’s arrival. “I don’t know what to do!” Having managed to just about calm him down and I explained that I would take care of Sam whilst suggesting that Simon disappear into one of the aisles (prefereably a kosher one) thus continuing his covert coordination. We stocked up on the essentials, careful not to buy anything which could do us any good. With a bag of frozen chicken wings, a crate of beer, a bottle of vodka and some weird pizzas split evenly between us, we found ourselves back at the flat. Half an hour later and we got our first knock on the door, and in walked none other than Euan “Golden” Graham. Man by day, Wolfie by night. Sam was again well and truly surprised and started to convince himself that Adi was on his way, having created an Inception-style alter-ego and visiting a pretend girlfriend in Hong Kong. Needless to say this was wishful thinking, not only was the girlfriend a real one and at the time Adam was indeed almost “Taken” in Paris before catching an Air France flight to the Far East. Some real life guests included Dan who had travelled from where he calls “sweaty Chemnitz” and brought along a friend who now lives in Hamburg. When they knocked on the door, we remembered that they weren’t aware of Euan’s prescence either!  So we arranged for Euan to jump out of a cupboard (which he did actually fit into) as they entered Sam’s room. The evening started off with many many Mexicanas (Vodka, tomato juice and tabasco in a shot for 0.5€ = deal). Some of our members were slightly worse for wear as we joked about doing an Otley Run style outing. Later on in the evening, the combination of surprise, good value vodka, cheap wine and beer took full effect on poor Sam and he was not in a good way. Simon proceeded to evacuate him from the Creeperbahn.

Saturday 3rd November
All fairly hungover we decided to do what any Brits would have done: head straight to the Irish pub. After an unconvincing game of football between Manchester United and Arsenal we knew it was time to head off. I think Man U must’ve won because Simon wasn’t depressed for the rest of the weekend. We decided it would be a good idea to join one of Hamburg’s famous boat tours despite the miserable weather. We refused to let a bit of rain dampen our spirits. We hit the Glühwein relatively hard and Sam ordered an extra shot of Amaretto to really kick the evening off. Euan was trudging around with his bag and contemplating listening to Lonely by Akon on his way back to Wolfsburg (which is a real place by the way – I saw it on a sign). After a few drinks at a pub near the Fischmarkt we had managed to persuade him to stay! Then began Saturday night. Of course we were out on the Reeperbahn once again, although this time drinking fewer Mexicanas. We went to an interesting club which really opened our eyes into the different ways dollar bills could be used. Fanstastic innovation. When we’d had enough of the frankly overpriced drinks we headed over for a last drink in the HSV Fan Quarter located just off Herbertstraße. Simon was proudly grinning and displaying his newly purchased St. Pauli scarf in the HSV fan quarter. (St. Pauli being the rival team in the city). Thankfully we noticed this before we went into one of their famously rowdy bars. Once Sam reminded him where he was, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone take off a scarf quicker in my life.

Sunday 4th November
The weekend in general was made all the more smelly by Sam’s refusal to shower and Euan’s propensity to supply our local atmosphere with a constant stream of farts. Despite the lingering wake of these smelly men,  enjoyment of our weekend increased by approximately 3.4% due to H&M’s current billboard campaign featuring the ludicrously luscious Lana Del Ray. We sometimes found ourselves stopped in amazement at the sheer and jaw-dropping beauty of that sparkling woman. It is safe to say we all have a soft spot for her.

On the one hand it’s an unbelievably sketchy city seething with serpents, riddled with rascals and crawling with creeps, but on the other hand it is full of green spaces and is technically Germany’s most liveable city. Despite it raining every single day without fail, we really enjoyed our time in Hamburg and it was great not only to see another part of Germany but also to catch up with good friends. Hamburg is certainly an interesting city but I have to say I was happy to find myself looking forward to being back home in Munich. Definitely no regrets that I am here in Bayern – I must have settled in now because I really did feel at home as we cruised down the usually stifling Frankfurter Ring late on Sunday night. On behalf of Simon and Euan and myself, I would like to extend a massive thanks to Sam for putting up with us at such short notice and we look forward to our next official group trip to Berlin in December.

Source: Interview with Ben (Bavarian) October 2012.

NB: Sam’s very own account of what exactly occurred during Oktoberfest all the way up until Hamburg.

Weapons of Maß Destruction.

Tuesday 9th October 2012

“I’m in a theme park, and the theme is beer. Where am I?”

A cheeky pose from Angus. (NB Exclusive Olympic Watch).

If you’re bored of hearing about Oktoberfest then turn off now. Trying to describe this weekend is going to be hard. Partly because after the weekend I’ve had, typing itself is a stretch, but also because it was the best weekend of my life…so far. So much happened in so few hours. I’m not really sure what could top it. Bungee-jumping off Mount Everest? Taking an easyRocket to the moon. Going back in time? As we know, all good things must come to an end, eventually. But not before a lot of beer, banter and babes had been enjoyed.

Friday night. Right. Let’s start from the top. Having completed a necessary resupply at LIDL (including enough Nachos to feed the Mexican army), I was anticipating the arrival of my guests. Simon & Scouse would be the first to turn up, travelling from Stuttgart and Tübingen respectively. They arrived at Westpark and without any fuss hopped straight on the U-Bahn and were with me in the early evening. They came bearing gifts! A fantastic retro Stein which is now standing proudly on the mantlepiece. We had a bite to eat and started a Peep Show marathon which would take us later than expected into the night. Our next arrival was the lionhearted Nonie the Nomad, who has recently moved to Berlin to start her Year Abroad. She gets the most points this weekend because of her sheer spontaneity. She had been in Germany less than a week. So why was she so determined to come to Munich? Her reasoning was that she might not get a better excuse to come to Munich’s universally recognised beer festival in the future. You only live abroad once (#yolao) etc. On Thursday night she decided she was coming. I gave her my address, thinking she wouldn’t actually get round to sorting out transport and dirndl etc. How wrong I was. Sure enough she was heading to Munich at 200kmph on Friday evening. Great effort, especially as she knew her predicament. Staying in a room with six lads. Four of whom she had never met. A brave girl to say the least.

Simon, Scouse and Nonie were here. So that was three down, three to go. The cheeky chappies Adam & Euan are a bad influence on each other at the best of times, and with a combination of spite and sheer excitement (what you could call “exspitement“), they defied my warning of “peaking too soon” and of course got mildly merry on the train journey from Magdeburg (their nearest big town). But to be fair they had five changes (don’t get us started on Deutsche Bahn!) so they had a pretty good excuse. Euan sort of gave himself away when I answered his call. As soon as I’d picked up, he simply blurted out “FABIAN. OKTOBERFEST. HAUPTBAHNHOF” with Adam giggling in the background. I rolled my eyes at Si and Scouse – from then on we knew these two tipsy lads – armed to the teeth with Burger King – would be a force to be reckoned with.

Some hours later…

When Adam and Euan finally got in at around 01:30, they were pretty lively and got us all a bit too fired up. Their childishness rubbed off on all of us and before we knew it we were all rolling around on the floor laughing so much we needn’t do a core workout for some time. All the while we were getting updates from Sam who was travelling in from Hamburg. His journey had started off with a minor delay which then turned out to be a more major delay. Because of previous cancellations he was on a particularly crowded train and at some point the driver decided that actually he didn’t want to be a train driver any longer but that in actual fact his calling in life was to be a taxi driver. Unfortunately for Sam, this wasn’t only a change in career path but also a change in his path to Munich. The train stopped at Hanover then went backwards. Then, once it had got back on track, it stopped at every village on the way down to Bavaria, dropping off induviduals whose trains had been cancelled. Sam’s ETA had changed from 01:00 to around 05:30. He held out and eventually somehow made it to mine, despite the uncivilised hour. What was even more impressive was that even though he must have been absolutely shattered the following morning but he was a real trooper and showed no signs of weakness. Well, sort of.

Friends, Germans, Countrymen. From the left: Euan, Scouse, Adam, myself+bananas+radishes, Sam and Simon. Excuse my face – I think I was eating at the time.

Saturday day. Having attempted to cook a full English, we were ready and on our way to the Theresienwiese. Radishes and bananas at the ready. We met everyone at the Schottenhammel tent including Greggers, his housemate and Kirstie, and managed eventually to get into the outside seating area, but not into the tent itself. Had the weather not been perfect, we might have been dissappointed, but as it stood we were more than happy to sip our Steins in the sun.

Cigars and Pretzels. Greggers and Hannah on the right. Everyone looking cool.

So there we sat the entire day. Initially I was worried that – radishes or no radishes – we would all be in a horrific way by the end of the day. As it turned out we paced ourselves really well and throughout the day only sunk around five or six Maß (Steins) each. We made sure we ate throughout the day, popular choices being traditional Bavarian “Hendl” which is a succulent roast chicken. Some “tactical naps” were taken by Sam and Vinnie along the way. And apart from a rather troubling episode involving Adam getting molested by a creepy man called Tobias whilst on the phone to his girlfriend, everyone made it through to the evening without a problem. He seemed to be adopting a “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it approach” which was dangerous to say the least. Needless to say he is on the road to recovery and I’m sure after a few months of intensive counselling and therapy should sort him out. Seriously though, he assures us he is fine.

Enjoying the sun with Miles, Kat, Nonie.


Having stayed around the tent for most of the day, there came a time in the evening when we decided to head off around the park. At around seven or eight we were stumbling around the festival enjoying the weekend to the max and I think we were just genuinely happy to be reunited, even if only for a while. We went on as many roller coasters and dodgems (whilst wearing colour-filtered glasses – try it!) as we could until we realised we were either broke or lost. Going on rides and rollercoasters whilst drunk has got to be one of the most exhilarating things ever, i can definitely recommend it.

“Wir feiern die ganze Nacht” with Vinnie, Angus, Sam, Nonie, Euan and Kirstie. All loving life.

But wait! Where were Scouse and Adam?

Scouse and Adam taking a well deserved break from it all.

Absolutely shattered and with Adam and Scouse nowhere to be seen, and since their phones were either dead or out of credit, we decided there was no option other than to crash out at home. We eventually made it to our respective homes Saturday night which is exactly what we did ready to go straight to bed. Our concerns about the Liverpudlian and the Leicesterian were short lived and  they were home before midnight which was even earlier than predicted.

Sunday. My favourite quote of the weekend came from Euan. Having got out of the shower he delcared: “Marcus. I’m really sorry, but I’ve accidentally turned your bathroom into Bangladesh”. Unfortunately, the weather continued in much the same vein and it was a drizzly day. However, we braved the town and went for a fantastic five-star Schnitzel at the Augustiner Bräu just off Marienplatz. Afterwards it absolutely poured it down but we nipped on the U-Bahn one stop to Hauptbahnhof. We were accompanying Adam, Euan, Simon, Scouse and Nonie to the main train station so they could meet their various connections on time. So after all this who was left? Sam and I, obviously dressed for the second time in Lederhosen. As well as Angus, Miles, Vinnie and Kat who were flying out in the evening. Did they have time to come to the final day of the festival? Of course they did. And inside the Armbrustschützenzelt the atmosphere was unbelievable. We soaked up the last few house of carefree fun and learnt a few Italian drinking songs. My GCSE Italian proving to be almost useless apart from the brilliant phrase “Ci sono molte da fare qui” which can be used little or often in any context, because all it means is “There’s lots to do here”.

As I fell asleep last night my ears were ringing with “Ein Prosit, ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit”. Robbie Williams hits were going round and round in my head. I’m slightly glad it’s over, because another week of Oktoberfest definitely would not have been good, both fiscally or physically. It’s been an amazing couple of weeks and I can’t thank everyone enough for making the effort and braving the journey to Munich and putting up with the accommodation. I am please to report that everyone got home safely. Now to plan our next trip…