Last year I was in Munich for 10 days during Oktoberfest and absolutely loved it. I wanted to come back this year to experience more of Bavaria. When I was in Santiago I reserved an AirBnb across the street from the wiesn (the Oktoberfest fairgrounds) and rented it for 5 weeks.
Bayern (what Germans call Bavaria) drives the auto industry which in a large part drives the German economy. BMW is based in Munich (I visited the BMW museum), Audi is headquartered in Ingolstadt and Mercedes is based in Stuttgart (while technically not within Bavaria is directly adjacent to it). Hundreds of years ago Bavarians were considered sort of country-bumpkins and even thieving knaves within the Nibelungenlied. These days those – people from Munich have adopted the persona of being sort of rich and snobby.
This is not *my* description of Munichers, but instead their own! This year, October 3rd was the German unification holiday – celebrating in 1989 the unification of West and East Germany; a time I was told, ‘East Germany became much richer and west Germany much poorer.’ This gives you some insight into the local perspectives within a country which is still quite internally diverse. And while personally I prefer Munich to Berlin, I am told this is not uncommon and people tend to favor one or the other but not often both.
I rented a car my second weekend in Munich and drove the entirety of the Romantic Road , a scenic rural road connecting 28 towns throughout Bavaria. I stopped often to photograph the landscapes and towns spotting rolling, immaculately-hewn green pastures and hillsides dotted with wind turbines, tree clusters and fields. A truly wonderful trip that afforded imaginations of a more ancient Germany where kings, knights and princesses seemed to have wandered.
I had great fun spending time with my friend Martin who is a local Bavarian who now lives in Munich. He hosted me to his fraternity house and even table during Oktoberfest. But the best part about Martin’s fraternity (besides the stuffed foxes in the library of the fraternity house) is that the initiation ritual involves sword fighting against other fraternities. Needless to say I am figuring out a method by which to submit my application for consideration.
Oktoberfest was great this year but also different from last year, my first year. I was able to sleep more than three hours a night, exercise at a local gym and even use a comfortable public library as my daily work space. A more sustainable Oktoberfest (and less destructive) was on my list of goals and I accomplished it. A silly sort of accomplishment in retrospect.
A single regret I have is that I was unable to explore the Black Forest – a region to the far south west within Germany; but now I have something else to return for.