Palmator 2014

Every year, on Palm Sunday, the Prösslbräu Brewery in Adlersberg has a one-day festival called Palmator, a celebration of their dark, strong bock beer of the same name.  On this day each year, the Palmator is first served from the brewery’s kegs.  On an unrelated note, any time I put anything about this brewery into Google Translate, I have to giggle.  Adlersberg is the name of the place where the brewery stands, but it literally translates to Eagle Mountain.  This amuses me greatly.

The first year I was here, I attended Palmator and was blown away by how strong the stuff is- and how delicious.  Last year I skipped it because we weren’t done with our seven months of winter and the temperatures were below freezing.  This year, the weather was perfect.   I went with some friends, and we walked up the hill.  It’s possible to get there without walking up this hill, but where’s the fun in that?

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We had pretty spectacularly nice weather.  This is the view from the top of that same hill.

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They changed the layout since the first year I went to Palmator.  There was much more tent coverage before, whereas now they’ve done away with the tent and left more beer garden style seating out in the open.  This is much nicer, actually, particularly if the weather is rocking like this.

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This is the beer in question-  the Palmator.  It is absolutely delicious, and extremely deadly.  This glass is a Maß, or one full liter of the stuff.  By the end of the glass, I was quite buzzed.  The giant pretzel was soft and fresh and delicious.

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When the tables got full, blankets became the next best way to enjoy the day.  Our group brought blankets because my friends are smart like that.

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Another popular thing is to sit on the wall.  At certain points, the wall is well above my head, but people still clamber up onto it to sit and enjoy their Palmator in the sun.

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Have you ever been to Palmator?  Have you been to any Starkbierfest?

Carnival in Cologne

On Rose Monday, I was in Köln for the Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) Parade. This was part of a slightly larger trip which included Karlsruhe and Stuttgart-  I’ll talk about those in another post, because Cologne during Carnival is more than enough for one post.

First, a brief administrative note-  I took more than 600 pictures, and I whittled them down to around 180 or so that were worth sharing with anyone.  From those, I picked 32 for this post.  If you want to see the ~150 that aren’t in the post, they’re in this gallery over here.

Second, there are a few things to bear in mind while looking through these pictures:

1) The best thing about the Carnival season for a big kid like myself is the costumes.  There were so many costumes-  I noticed a high count of bees, giraffes, and pirates.  The people who wore full body fur suit costumes had the right idea though.  The temperature wasn’t bad, but it was windy. Unless you were standing directly in the sun, it was kind of cold.

2) If I ever go to one of these things again, I totally need a costume with a helmet.  Flying bars of solid chocolate hurt when they hit you in the head.  Even a packet of Haribo gummi bears can be unpleasant if you get beaned right in the forehead.  The candy was being thrown for hours, and after a while I started to shrink back like a kicked puppy any time someone made a throwing motion.  The kids standing on either side of me made out like bandits from all the noggin-bounce candy castoffs, though.

3) These pictures actually span two parades.   When I arrived in Cologne on Sunday afternoon, there was a different parade going.  This parade featured more children, and wasn’t quite as large as the official parade on Monday, but it led to almost a quarter of the more than 600 pictures I finished the weekend with.

On to the pictures!  The first one is an off-duty Superman, looking like a 70s pimp with that furry coat.  I think the guy next to him is wearing a Batman costume, but I can’t be sure.  This costume is particulary daring with the chilly weather.

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Next up, a few Gnomes.  The Gnomes aren’t what I love most about this photo, though.  It’s the walking shower behind them… the curtain, the faucet… I think the shower costume is both creative and hilarious.

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One of the many giraffe costumes I saw.  I can pretty much guarantee that this guy was not nearly as cold as I was.

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This next couples costume won’t make much sense to my American friends without context, but I spotted it right away-  there’s a series of very cute commercials here for Kinder Riegel milk chocolate.  I’ve embedded an example below, so you can see what the costume is all about.

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When it’s time for lunch, you can’t go wrong at a snack bar with thiscast of characters.

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During the first parade, I was particularly amused by this entire family of bears, each equipped with his or her own Honig (honey) pot with which to catch candy thrown from parade floats.

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Another chocolate-inspired group costume.

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There were so many great costumes that I put nine more into an image collage.  The full sized individual shots of each of these are in the gallery linked near the top of this post.

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On Monday morning, the parade started at 10:30, but I found a place closer to the end of the parade route than the start, so the streets actually looked this empty at first.  Also, you can see that the windows on the parade route are often boarded up.  I’m not sure if this is because of drunken revelry or if it’s because of flying chocolate bars, but this is a pretty common sight along the parade route during Carnival.

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The empty streets didn’t last too long though, and before long there was plenty to see.

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There was a lot of NSA/Google/Facebook/Data-Security themed stuff.

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I made these six pictures into a collage because they were all together, and there’s a theme here.  The green wigged, blind-folded people have eyes on their hands to represent the constant watching of data leeches like Facebook.  I think the NSA camera stick holders in the previous picture were also with this group.  Plus the green wigs were conga-lining, which was kind of fun.

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I don’t know what this one was supposed to represent, but I thought it was neat looking.

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I have no earthly idea what the story is with this group.

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The German on this golden knight translates to “Your cellphone, your freedom.”  I’m not entirely sure what they meant by that, but I think it was another one talking about data security.

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There were lots of marching band and drum corps types of groups in various ornate uniforms…

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…and one group playing marching washboards.

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Some of the floats were single-rider deals, like this one.  The head was turning back and forth.

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More marching bands…

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More single-rider floats…

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I think after about six hours of playing the same song, you start to go a little crazy.  Like this guy.

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Once again, I have no clue at all what the deal is with the giant yellow heads that all have soul patches and deerstalker caps.   I bet they’re heavy though.

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There were lots of horses in the parade, but these two had the longest manes of any horse I’ve ever seen.  Usually, parade horses have their manes trimmed very short- not so with these two.

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The Zugordners (parade marshals) were utterly fascinating to watch.  They all had these bright red jackets with the little black hats that were vaguely English Bobby shaped.  I have no idea what they actually did, though, because the parade sort of moved itself along without any special pointing from this guy or his brethren.

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…and on to the floats.  The German on this one reads, “Fun Ghetto.”  Inside the jail is someone drinking, a pair of humping dogs, and other forms of caricatures of fun.

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I’m not sure if this one had a meaning other than just being Carnival-themed.

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This next one might need some parsing from my German friends.  I think the German text is supposed to translate to “Upgrade you will.”  The goat has a rocket strapped to his back.  And Yoda’s wearing a scarf for what I’m pretty sure is a local sports team.   I don’t really get the full meaning.  Any locals care to fill us in?

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This one says “The Death Star, Washington” on the side.   There were a few floats that had anti-American sentiment.  All the NSA spying stuff has really caused some friction between our nations.

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See?

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About an hour after the parade ended, I walked over to the courtyard between the train station and the Cathedral.  There were still an incredible amount of people moving through the city back to the train station.

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I was wondering how the city recovered from something like the Rose Monday parade so quickly, and now I know.   As soon as the parade was done, the cleaning crews came out.  A veritable army of people with brooms gathered the majority of the debris into small piles, and another group came by with giant vehicle-sized vacuums.  That giant white tube is a huge vacuum, sucking up piles of garbage from the street.  I’ve never seen anything like it before, but I think it’s pretty nifty.

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Have you ever been to a Carnival Parade?

Oktoberfest In The Rain

It’s Oktoberfest time!

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest fair, and it runs for sixteen days every year from late September to the first Sunday in October.  (It runs for seventeen or eighteen days on years when the first Sunday in October is the 1st or 2nd of the month, because the 3rd of October is a holiday here, German Unity Day.)  It was started in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of King Ludwig I to Therese

This year’s Oktoberfest started on September 22nd and runs through Sunday October 6th.  In Bavaria, its often referred to simply as die Wiesn.  This refers back to the name Theresienwiese (Theresa’s Meadow),  the fairgrounds in the center of Munich where it takes place.

Many of my bloggy friends in Germany have written about Oktoberfest.    LLMW wrote “Best Bets for enjoying Munich’s Oktoberfest & the Parade” and Alex wrote about how to get a seat at oktoberfest in munich.

Factoids for everyone!

  • Oktoberfest receives more than six million visitors each year.  That’s more than four times the population of Munich itself.
  • In the first week of Wiesn in 2012, more than 3.6 liters of beer were consumed.   This also led to an increase in Bierleichen, or “beer corpses” — a term referring to people who have drunk themselves into a state of unconsciousness .  (I love that there’s a specific word for this.)  According to the Red Cross, most of the Bierleichen were below the age of 30.
  • The price of a Maß (one liter) of beer in 2013 is €9,85.  That’s more than $13 per liter.
  • For beer to be served at Oktoberfest, it must be brewed within the city limits of Munich.  It must also conform to the Reinheitsgebot (the German Beer Purity Law.)

I went to Oktoberfest on a Thursday with Jenny.  The day before, it had been sunny in Munich.  Not so on our chosen day.

This is the Hippodrom tent, one of the first tents seen when you enter Theresienwiese.  It’s very popular with the younger crowds.

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Inside the Hippodrom tent, at around 4pm on a Thursday:

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A percentage of the tables in each tent can be reserved.  Often, companies reserve these tables and food is on standby for these reservations.

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A job I would not want:  Dishwasher at Oktoberfest.  This is one of many racks of beer steins ready to be filled.

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The Hofbräu Festzelt. (Zelt means tent.)

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The Augustiner tent.

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The Löwenbräu (Lion’s Brew!) tent.  The Lion is mechanical-  it lifts the stein and drinks, then roars.  Highly entertaining.

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The Paulaner tent.

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Sekt is champagne.  This was a wine tent.  As a result, it was a bit more mellow than the other tents.

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Theresienwiese is adjacent to the Bavaria Statue.

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As with all festivals in Germany, there are places to buy Lebkuchenherzen (gingerbread hearts) on ribbons.  They’re decorated with various phrases, and it’s traditional to buy one for your significant other.  It’s not uncommon to see people walking down the street wearing these.

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This carriage was pulled by six of the most enormous horses I have ever seen in my life.

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This one had slightly smaller horses.  Still big, though.

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Jenny and I found a table for lunch in the Schottenhamel tent.  The Schottenhamel tent is where everything begins-  on the first day of Oktoberfest, no beer is allowed to be served until noon.  That’s when the mayor of Munich taps the first keg in the Schottenhamel tent, proclaiming, “O’zapft is!” (It’s tapped!)

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Prost!

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Bavarian men always seem to have such jaunty hats.

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Just one of these is heavy.  This woman must have incredible upper body strength.

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Children in Tracht (traditional clothing) are pretty much always adorable.

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I do love the giant pretzels…

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After lunch, we went back outside, to check out the rest of the fest.  There’s a lot of rides.  This is the view as you’re approaching the front of Theresienwiese.  That ride with the airplane on top goes much higher and faster than we expected.

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I’m still trying to figure out why a) this one has American flags all over it, and b) the breakdancer is a Gremlin.

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There are several places to ride bumper cars, which is a great idea after drinking a few liters of beer.

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The ferris wheel at the back seemed like a good idea, because the gondolas are covered.

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These next two pictures were taken from the ferris wheel, during one of the many rain bursts.

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You can just barely make out the white balloon with a red cross in this picture.  That balloon made it easy to find the first aid tent from a distance-  kind of ingenious, in my opinion.

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While most of the locals went with traditional Lederhosen and Dirndls, a few people went with a more modern take on Bavarian garb.  I like to think of the guy on the left as Bavarian Jesus.

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Do you have any fun Oktoberfest stories?

Stadtamhof Weinfest 2013

The weekend before last, there was a Weinfest in Stadtamhof, which is a part of Regensburg right on the other side of the Donau river.  Cliff and Sarah of Das Regensblog invited me to join them, and I accepted even though I’m not much of a wine drinker.

Weinfest is a street festival in Germany, so it looked pretty much like any other street festival in Germany-  lots of people and food stands.  This one also had wine stands, though.

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We were only there about two hours before the weather got fairly ominous.  I liked the look of these clouds, though.

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Despite not being much of a wine drinker, I quite enjoyed this glass of wine.  It was called a Kerner.  Or a Kepler.  Or a Kabler  I kan’t remember, exactly.

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Cliff had this very nice looking red wine.

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The food at Weinfest was delicious.  Sarah got the Flammkuchen that I almost tried, with potato and cheese.  Flammkuchen is kind of like a tiny potato-laden flatbread pizza.

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Do you prefer red wine or white wine?

August Break: Dult Time Again

I’m on an August Break from my regular blogging schedule. Here’s today’s picture.

It’s Dult time again in Regensburg. I previously posted about Dult here.  It’s a twice a year beer festival that happens here in Regensburg, once in May and once around August.    There are rides.

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…and inexplicable American flags.

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Tasty food.

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Beer.

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Friendly beer tent staff.

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Hen parties.  Americans would call these bachelorette parties.  I saw no less than six separate hen parties this weekend.  They’re kind of hard to miss.  Often, they wear matching t-shirts.

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…and this photograph includes my favorite part of Dult. 

No, not the ferris wheel.

No, not the cute girls in Dirndls.

Look to the right… see the Mini-Pfannkuchen stand?

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Yeah.  These.

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In butter and powdered sugar.  So, SO delicious.

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Have you ever had mini-Pfannkuchen?  What’s your favorite part of a beer festival?