European trains!!! You have to love them. Today’s little adventure involves the mysterious disappearance of the train I was planning on catching to Verona for my change to Munich. I mean, I made a reservation and there was no mention of there not being a train, I checked in my European train times book, no mention and online again, no mention. So yes, it’s a Sunday and yes, things change but seriously, you’d think at least the bright spark who sold me the ticket would know!
So here I was trying to find out what the hell was going on and all they would say was “doesn’t exist, not today”. Now wait a minute here, I RESERVED my ticket!! So I showed them the evidence and, once again, the same stock response. Well you could at least tell me what on earth I am supposed to do in order to make my connection!!! Just asking around I was eventually told that I needed to catch the Milan train and change at Verona as planned, the only draw back? My train gets in, if on time, just 10 minutes before the one to Munich leaves giving me such huge amounts of time to sort myself out in Verona!!
As things turned out, I made the connection without too much hassle and I have to say that the journey from here is a pretty spectacular one! As the scenery rolled by I couldn’t help but smile as I took it all in. I had been looking forward to the actual travelling part of, um, travelling before I left and was revelling in its delights now.
I managed to locate the hostel pretty quickly from the train station, they certainly weren’t wrong when they said it was just a short walk from the train station! Now this hadn’t been my first choice of a place to stay here but as I passed a couple of hostels n the same road and came across mine, I had to admit that from the outside at least it looked like it could be alright. The hostel itself seemed pretty bog standard and it may be that I am still feeling spoilt after Barcelona but I cant say it looked great, just, well, ok. The common area was pretty deserted and right by the main door and reception so it didn’t surprise me that it lacked an atmosphere. The rooms themselves, clean, tidy, nice bathroom (possible the best so far) and again, pretty deserted.
Dumping my stuff I decided I’d head out and thought I’d ask the staff where was good to go out, good to do etc. This brought with it a rather comical response. Now, in hindsight it could possible be conceived as the most stupid question ever asked. When the girl at reception promptly replied that “apparently there’s some kind of beer festival or something going on” I could have died. I’ll admit that even then it took a few seconds to sink in. After getting my directions and starting the walk, I started adding it all up. Munich and beer festival DID go hand in hand and I did think the price of my room was unusually high, but one thing kept bugging me, it was, well, it was September. Surely Europe’s most famous beer festival would fall in the month by which it was seemingly named!
It doesn’t! It really, truly, doesn’t! So here I was, walking past drunken hoards of people and spying a festival site. Heading, tunnel visioned towards it I spotted the sign. Ladies and Gentlemen, I’ve arrived! It was official, I was there, by chance no less, and what a chance!! How things fall favourably sometimes. As I passed through the Oktoberfest signs a huge, and I mean ear to ear, grin surfaced, and stayed!
So, Oktoberfest and I had collided head on. I honestly believe that the pure coincidence of the whole thing and the unplanned nature of it all made me appreciate it far more than if I had come with the purpose of going. As I wondered into the first beer tent I hit a warm feeling came over me and I was shocked at what was now before me! A huge, tent, filled to the rafters with people. The tables, those oh so famous tables completely full, people up dancing on them, people dancing wherever they were, beer flowing left right and centre and the band providing the entertainment elevated high above everyone!
Now to get myself a stein! The giant litre capacity glasses the beer halls of Munich are famed for. My plans however seemed to be foiled. I had no idea how to get a drink, I asked and was ignored, and I walked around the entire circumference praying I’d find a way only to be denied at every corner! This was mad! Insane! Here I was at the Oktoberfest and I couldn’t even get myself a beer!!! Time to try a different tactic!
And so it was that I left the beer tent to go find out how the hell I get a drink at this thing! My fortunes changed as I found myself another beer tent, less full, less lively for sure but at least I could grab a seat and seats it seems are the key! With beer in hand (they put a head the size of Everest on these things), and a seat, all I needed now was some company. It didn’t take long before I got chatting to a couple of Polish guys. They didn’t speak much English and we tried hard to converse in German, just about holding a basic conversation. Conversation or at least any in depth chat is not really needed here. Clinking of glasses 5 times a minute pretty much does the talking. All you need do is the drinking! And so I did.
They introduced me to a lovely lass, I think she may have been Polish as well but she could at least speak some English and we seemed to be getting on pretty well. Just as things were heading in a promising direction the Polish guys literally dragged me away, and I do mean dragged. It was their opinion that I was getting nowhere and it wasn’t worth perusing. I on the other hand was pretty annoyed. I tried getting back to her but I was pretty much held in my seat. I still believe they were trying to be helpful but as time went on I found tem increasingly annoying!
Eventually managing to escape I ended up outside and got chatting to an Aussie lass, and getting in pretty well too I might add! Unfortunately neither of us had a pen or any other means of taking any info down and just had to let this one go. A couple of the other Aussies that were with her were headed back to their hostel which they though was pretty close to mine so I just ended up following them. After about 10 minutes I had a strange feeling that I was going in totally the wrong direction. Nothing looked familiar and it all just felt wrong. I asked them where they were going and just got “We’re going to Wombats” back in reply. Not having a clue where this place was I made the decision to cut my losses and head off back in the other direction. We said our goodbyes and off I went.
Now, it was a decision made on the evidence I had. I’m not saying it was the best decision I’ve ever made but I had made it none the less. Now totally lost, I figured I’d just follow the crowd. Again, maybe not the smartest move ever and now completely and totally lost in Munich! I eventually stumbled on an S-Bahn station and went down to ask where I needed to go. Apparently I now needed the train. THE TRAIN! Had I gone that far wrong??! I guess I must have!
1 Stop and I arrived back at the HBH Train station where I had arrived earlier in the day. Easy from here surely. Wrong once again Dave. Wrong again! The S-Bahn had pulled into a different part of the station and I couldn’t get myself up to the main train part and out the way I had gone before. Instead I just hit the streets and just tried to find my way from there. Unable to locate my street I just started asking random people. My question, even in my best German, was met with blank looks. Blank look after blank look. 40 minutes of blank looks. Eventually I stumbled on someone that did know. Off now and on the correct road I saw my hostel just down the road! And just next to it? Yep, you guessed it. Wombats! Oh my!