Published: September 3rd 2010August 29th 2010
Ok this was probaby the best idea I have had since arriving in Germany. I went out with a few workmates of mine and through that got invited to the oldest beer festival in Germany. So 3 days later I was in a train at 7am on Saturday morning with Sam (kiwi friend) and Maryanne (French friend). We bought a weekend card, which allows you to travel all around Germany on the slower trains in a group of up to 5 people for a reasonable price.
As Deutshe Bahn is normally anything but reasonably priced I actually didnt feel to bad passing money over for their rip off service, that was until their machine stole 20 Euros from me. Luckily we rang them and gave them the machine number and they promised to return the money. I seriously detest Deutsche Bahn who charge top dollar and offer inferior service at least in comparison to Japan, which is still by far and away the best country I have been to when it comes to rail service and bang for buck.
Anyway enough ranting, for the time being... We stopped over in Nürnberg for an hour, where I had my obligatory
kebab and got yelled at for walking across a red light. Now I know that when in Rome you should do as the Romans do. But seriously sometimes the Germans and their rules are just a bit too much. If there is a red light and you can see 2 kilometers down the road and you can see that nobody is coming - what is wrong with walking across the road?
Well Sam, Maryanne and I got our answer when we were reproached by a group of 18-25 year olds for being bad examples to the children, by not waiting for the light to go green. I have actually been abused many times for running red lights in Germany and I am slowly becoming culturally assimilated. If I see children now for example, I will wait the 10 minutes for no cars to go by and the light to switch to green, I wouldn't want to destroy the poor childs life!
But this time there were no children, it was early on a Saturday morning and it felt like the light had malfunctioned so I am not going to feel like a criminal - not yet anyway...
After the stop over in Nürnberg we were back on our way to Ingolstadt. Ingolstadt, the birth place of the monster from the Frankenstein novel, is also the site or close to the site (Manching) of the reputedly oldest beer festival in Germany. Dating back to Roman times, it started in 100BC as a Roman cattle market. It continues to this day and is celebrated in the horse stables on the last weekend of August.
We arrived there after an exquisite dinner cooked by Antonio a Spanish friend, where we found ourselves in a beer tent with about 3000 people (1 of many tents) dressed in traditional Bavarian attire, i.e Lederhosen and Derndl, dancing on the table and generally having a fantastic time. After 1 or 2 litres of beer I was on my way back home with the firm impression that the Derndl was the best invention in womens clothing ever and a further ingrained conviction that German beer is the best in the world.
Another impressive thing about the Germans is that they know how to drink. English speaking countries could learn from the approach taken to drinking by Germans, they drink, they enjoy doing so
but they rarely get aggressive and go over the top. It makes for much better festivals, mass parties and I seriously doubt that when I go to Octoberfest which will be full of foreigners from countries who dont have a good drinking culture, that I will have as good a time, because of this cultural difference.
While in Ingolstadt me and Sam took a dip in the river Danube, a historically impotant river that is the biggest in the EU and flows through 10 countries. If I ever have the time and means I would quite like to kayak it...
The next morning we were back on the train going back to Leipzig. This time we stopped in Nürnberg for three hours where I had the best Chinese buffett I have ever had. At 6 Euros I was astonished when I got to eat perhaps the best Chinese I have ever had, including from when I was in China. I will be back in Nürnberg again...
Aside from the Chinese buffett Nürnberg was an excellent city to do a couple of hours sightseeing. Another city full of history and great looking buildings, monuments usw.
we stopped over in Chemnitz, a city that does not have a great reputation within Germany itself as a tourist destination - with good reason. We lucked out however and arrived there during the Stadtfest or city festival and got to walk around in a nice environment. We checked out the obligatory Karl Marx statue, Chemnitz was called Karl Marx City when part of the GDR (former East Germany) and then got back on the train to Leipzig.
A great weekend
There are more photos below