Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Strange "health" things

Germany has some health-related things that are new to me!
You can find Sauerkraut juice at the supermarket...evidently it can be used for "cleansing" or a hangover cure.

or while hiking along the other day we ran into a "Kneip". I thought it was a kiddy pool, and I was told that is was not. It's a pool with cold water (I think this one is fed from a stream) where you march around, holding onto the railing in the middle. It is supposed to be good for circulation, which Germans are very concerned about.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Things I saw at the Supermarket

Unlike America where California or Chile is constantly churning out fruit/vegetables, Germany is much more "seasonal produce" oriented. Strawberries are pretty much gone and now it is plum season. I have also seen some other strange things:

Conical Cabbage:

Not sure what this is but I call it the "Fractal Vegetable":

and even Pumpkins! I hear that Halloween is getting bigger over her in Germany.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Things I saw on a bicycle ride

I got a bicycle path map from the Erlangen Tourist office (yes we have a tourist office) and I decided to go on one of the paths. Erlangen is extremely bicycle friendly. As I was riding along the path all of a sudden we need to go up!

This is basically stairs for a bike!

Am I in Germany or the Carribean?

Germany is having an election in a couple of days.

In the U.S., a typical election sign might look like this:

The goals seems to put the names in the largest letters possible so you will see the name and remember it.
In Germany a typical election sign looks like this:
The picture is the biggest thing, and then their name is at the bottom.
They also have their parties on the sign, in the case below, "CSU". I still think that looks like a logo for an energy company or something!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Oktoberfest: Part 2

Oktoberfest Part 1: In which we are in the beer tent

Oktoberfest Part 2: In which we are out of the beer tent
So after some beer and some sausages and another beer and some traditional music, it is time to venture forth and experience the rest of Oktoberfest.

Many people are wearing "tracht", that is, traditional Bavarian costumes. Lederhosen for the men and Dirndl's for the women...but some women wear lederhosen too, and also there are various combinations of things.

I would say half of the crowd was wearing tracht...

I loved the little kids in their lederhosen!

I suspect these horses were in the parade...

On to the rides!

Standard swings...

Same swings...but really high up!

After being a little dizzy from the swings...I skipped this one...

The hubby had gotten an iPhone application that was all about Oktoberfest...what beer tents were open, what the ratings were about, and also what rides there were. We came across a "ride" called "Teufelsrad" (Devil's Ride) that has been around for 100 years, but was rated a "not to be missed." We had to check it out!

There is a spinning circle that people sit on, and the object is to stay on as long as possible. The announcer will call out a group people (Men:18 and older, or girls: 9-13, or little kids) and then people matching the description will run out on to the wheel. The wheel starts spinning and then some people on the outside of the group go flying off into the padded wall. Faster and faster the wheel spins until there is a small group left. Then the giant padded ball on a rope comes and tries to knock people over (or just knock into them, it is hilarious). If that doesn't work, then there are two guys with lassos that try to get the rope under people to try to catch them and pull them off. The audience can stand and watch for as long as they want. It never got old!

Oh no, here comes the ball!

Usually it would end up with one person at the end who the guys were trying to get off the wheel. It is amazing how people can get those ropes off them, duck the ball and still not fly off the wheel. One kid even got on the ball, the guy raised him up, and then put him back on the wheel!

You want to be in the middle of a pack like this, or you will fly off immediately!

We bribed the girls into doing it...unfortunately they didn't move fast and got on the outside of the group and fell off fairly early. I told them I would go on if they did...I was also on the outside of my group but at least made it to the part where the ball started swinging...but managed to avoid getting smacked in the head.

I thought they were pretty cruel to the little kids...They had them wave bye bye with their left hand, then wave bye bye with their right hand, and then they started the wheel up fast and half of them went flying off! And they would still bop the little kids with the giant ball!

The adolescent boys were quite funny...all other groups were sort of every person for themselves...if you can stay on, great! With the boys it became all about pushing the other guys off!

We had a 5:15pm train back and it didn't seem like we had enough time! We didn't go on very many rides (which is good in a sense because they cost 4-6 Euros per person per ride).

Until next year!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ode to Bavaria

Oktoberfest: Part 1

Wikipedia tells us:

"Oktoberfest is a sixteen-day festival held each year in Munich, Germany during late September (and running to early October.) It is one of the most famous events in Germany and the world's largest fair, with some six million people attending every year, and is an important part of Bavarian culture.

The original "Oktoberfest" occurred in Munich, on October 18, 1810: For the commemoration of their marriage, Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen (namesake of the Theresienwiese festival grounds) organized a great horse race.
In the year 1812, the Oktoberfest was cancelled since Bavaria was involved in the Napoleonic war. In 1816, carnival booths appeared. The main prizes were silver, porcelain, and jewellery. In 1819, the founding citizens of Munich assumed responsibility over festival management. It was agreed that the Oktoberfest would be celebrated each and every year without exception. Later, it was lengthened and the date pushed forward, the reason being that the end of September in Bavaria often has very good weather. The high temperature in the first week of Oktoberfest nears 19°C which stimulates the thirst of the visitors. However, today the last week of Oktoberfest is still in October.

To honour the marriage of King Ludwig I and Therese of Bavaria, a parade took place for the first time in 1835. Since 1850, this has become a yearly event and an important component of the Oktoberfest. 8,000 people — mostly from Bavaria — in traditional costumes walk from Maximilian Street, through the centre of Munich, to the Oktoberfest. The march is led by the Münchner Kindl."

Oktoberfest has continued every year with the exceptions of war years. I guess next year will be the 200th anniversary! Wow, we better get train tickets early.

In planning our excursion, we decided Sunday would be a good day...not as many people as a Saturday and there is a parade. We were thinking about going to the parade but the weather forecast at the time shows 30% chance of rain. We decided to skip the parade but try to get into a beer tent instead...while everyone else is watching the parade! To get there early, we decided to take the 8:02am train to Munich (about an hour on the ICE (InterCity Express Train) which goes up to 250km/h (at least on the Nuremberg-Munich run).

Oktoberfest seems to have two parts: Inside the beer tents and Outside the Beer tents. One wants to get inside the beer tents as some point as that is an integral part of the experience. However, many tables are reserved, so one has to strategize to get one of the non-reserve tables. There are 14 beer tents (as permanent as they look, they are only up for Oktoberfest).

The largest "tents" hold up to 8500 inside and 3600 outside. The tent below holds almost 6000 people inside.

This tent holds almost 7,000 inside.

We however went into the Hippodrome, which holds about 3200 inside. Wikipedia says: "One of the smaller tents, it's the first tent that many visitors see at the fest. As well as serving normal Wiesn beer, it has a Sekt (sparkling wine) bar and Maß of Weißbier. Considered one of the trendiest tents, and attracts the occasional celebrity. Traditionally in the evening the Oktoberfest band the Münchner Zwietracht plays all the Oktoberfestclassics."

We got to the "Weisn" (the Oktoberfest area) about 9:30am, and the Hippodrom didn't open until about 10:10am. The hubby got in line while I took the girls around looking at Souveniers and such.
Naturally they have beer steins for sale...

and many beer related hats...

...even teddy bears!..

...And of course the ubiquitous Lebkuchen Hearts...decorated gingerbread hearts attached to a string...You might buy these for your sweetheart.


The Hippodrom workers were diligently trying to get people to sit in the beer garden outside (where they could start buying beers) instead of standing in line (where you can't), but we held firm. So we finally get in and it is about 10:30am or so...a bit early for beer!

We decided to try a "Auszog'ne" pastry as well as a tried and true Apple Strudel.

"Auszog'ne" are "Round fried pastries with an edge and a thin skin. They are round, have a diameter of between 12 and 15 cm and an edge about 3 cm high and wide and are wafer-thin in the middle. The colour of the Auszogne ranges from golden brown at the edge to light in the middle. With their soft edge and their crispy middle, Auszogne have a delicate sweet and greasy flavour.Auszogne are often eaten spread with jam or sprinkled with sugar to accompany coffee. The tradition of baking Auszogne for festivals has been maintained in rural Bavarian regions to this day. "

I think there must be a difference between "crispy middle" and "seems like really stale bread"...but a little vanilla sauce stolen from the apple strudel makes anything edible!

After a while we decided it was late enough for beer and we had some while the band started to play. Here are the beer mugs waiting to be filled:
The Münchner Zwietracht band playing traditional songs...

The Table next to us looks on at the band...

Prost! (Cheers!)