Thursday, May 24, 2012

Beer Team Visits Munich

Last Friday we trained to Munich with some friends. These friends enjoy a good German beer and so our goal was to visit some of the best beer gardens and beer halls in Munich. From the photos you’ll see that we were serious about this little adventure. We had team beer drinkers shirts and a well planned agenda. No driving was involved. We started our train trip to Munich in Kaiserslautern with one change in Mannheim. 


Here’s Jeff and Donk on the platform in Mannheim waiting for our high speed train to Munich.

We’re just an hour into the trip but you can see that we’re well into our training program to ensure that we’re ready for what awaits in Munich.

In the lounge car on the ICE 515 to Munich.  Cajun, Killer, me, Jeff, Donk and Harpo.

We made it, we’re in Munich and we’re ready to go.  Killer, Cajun, Jeff, Harpo, Greg (Donk’s son) and Donk.

We’re all checked in to our hotel, the Hotel Isartor, and on our way to the first stop. Group picture in front of Munich’s Isartor. (Isar is the name of a nearby, major river, "tor" is German for gate, so Isartor = Isar Gate.)

One of the most fun beer gardens in Munich is in the Viktualienmarkt, a large market square near the Marienplatz. Greg, Killer, Harpo and Cajun. Everyone liked our shirts.

Just a few blocks and we’re in the Hofbrauhaus for the night. We lucked out and got a table just inside the front door. Harpo, Beth, Cajun, Jeff, me, Killer, Donk and Sue.

We moved up to the third floor (second European floor) of the Hofbrauhaus to their festival hall for beer, food and a nights entertainment. Jeff seems rather happy.

The beer stands alone. This is why we’re here.

Hofbrauhaus festival hall. This is the same room where Hitler and his fledgling party first held their party rallies. Behind and above the stage is a small Hofbrauhaus museum.

Video of traditional German dancers. Nice lederhosen and hats on the men and pretty dirndls on the women.

Now this is interesting. Whips to music.

DAY 2 

Saturday we trained out to Kloster Andechs and it was a beautiful day. Jeff and I with the world’s greatest beer, Kloster Andechs Doppelbock Dunkle. Also, for our friend Snake, notice Jeff holding the beer in his left hand.

Besides good friends, the only thing that makes a Kloster Andechs Doppelbock Dunkle better is an excellent Schwein Hax’n.   Half for me, half for Jeff because they're big.

Jeff says the best urinals in the entire world are at Kloster Andechs because a guy can stand there and look out across the Bavarian countryside. Here’s one of three windows in the toilet.

Here’s the view outside that window.

The heart of the operations.  Well, at least the brewery operations. Inside the Kloster Andechs gasthaus is their very efficient beer serving operations.

Kloster Andechs sits at the top of a big hill. On clear days, like today, you can see the Alps just 40 miles to the south.

We’re back on the train returning to Munich. It’s a 50 minute trip so you’ve got to have your own supplies. Here’s Squint with water and beers.

On the train back, Cajun, Greg, Sue, Killer, Harpo, and I.

Sue, Beth and I went shopping for dirndls and took Greg and Donk for lederhosen. Harpo, Cajun and Killer at a nearby gasthaus beer garden waiting. How convenient, there’s beer there.

Greg and Donk actually stepped up and bought the whole lederhosen getup. Isn’t Greg cute in that pink shirt and the nice scarf accessory?

For the evening meal we had reservations at the Hofbraukeller (not to be confused with the Hofbrauhaus); kind of off the beaten path for most tourists.

Everyone in their new duds. Killer got a new lederhosen too. Cajun bought a Bayern München soccer Jersey (Bayern München was playing Chelsea for the championship of the European Champions League there in Munich that night.  Chelsea won.) and, of course, Greg and Donk. Donk looks like he’s got some menu sticker shock.


Sunday morning breakfast in the Hofbrauhaus.

Breakfast is done and we’re on our way to visit the largest beer gardens in Munich and the world.

We’re at the Hirschgarden, the world’s largest beer garden; seats 8000. Donk, Jeff, Cajun, me, Sue and Killer.

Big beer gardens like this are, for the most part, self-service. At Hirschgarden you pick up your one-liter mug off the shelf on the left and then wash it off with the cold water in the sinks on the right.

Then you proceed here where you give them your mug and they fill it with Augustiner beer, fresh from a just tapped wooden keg. A liter of beer cost 6.30€. Interestingly, that same liter of beer at the Oktoberfest this year will cost 9.80€.

Yeah, they drink a little beer at the beer gardens in Munich. When you’re done with a mug of beer you place it on one of the central collection points and these guys come by and pick them up.

A walk and a tram ride got us to the Augustiner Keller, the third largest beer garden in Munich, seats 5000.

On a warm day it’s nice to have some shade. They we are, you can find us.

At the Augustinerkeller; Sue, Cajun, me, Greg and Donk.

Our next destination was the Chinesicher Turm (Chinese Tower); a rather long tram ride but fun seeing the sights in the city. The Chinesicher Turm is located in the Englisher Garten and is the second largest beer garden in Munich, seating 7000.

The Chinesicher Turm on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Definitely most crowded of all the beer gardens we visited. There's a band playing on the second level of the tower.

At the Chinesicher Turm; Killer, Donk, Jeff, me, Cajun and Greg.

On our way to our final stop of the day we jumped off the train to watch some surfing. At the southern end of the English Garden you’ll usually find people surfing a wave in this manmade river, a tributary of the Isar River. They’ve been doing this since 1972 and until 2010 it was actually illegal.

One more stop, the Paulaner Keller, here’s a tower in the Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr brewery. Regretfully, because of an accidental camera drop that’s the last picture for this trip. I’m sure you can imagine the Paulaner Keller beer garden though; shaded trees, wooden tables, good friends with big beers.


Well, it's probably just as well that there's no pictures of the return train to Kaiserslautern.  Certainly not the kind of trip you'd want to do every weekend but it sure was fun with great friends.  PROST!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Jeff and I drove up to the Mosel last Saturday to visit Cochem. It’s a town of about 5,000 folks and sits on the Mosel River about half way between Bernkastle-Kues, to the south, and Koblenz, to the north. Cochem, as a village, has been around since at least 886 and certainly much earlier as a Roman settlement. The main reason for our hour and a half drive to Cochem was to see their beautiful castle.

We’ve just arrived on the Mosel River. Here’s me with the Cochem Castle in the background.

The Reichsburg Cochem (Imperial Castle of Cochem) was built on the peak of a hill that lies within the Mosel valley. So, although it sits well above the town of Cochem, the rim of the valley is well above the castle. Cochem Castle was first mentioned in ancient documents in 1130.

Cochem Castle with the towns riverfront below.

A closer view of the castle. Cochem Castle, like most castles in this area of Germany, was besieged by the French in 1688 and, for the most part, destroyed. It lay in ruins until 1868 when a private business man from Berlin purchased the castle and reconstructed it in its present form.

Cochem Castle from the towns riverfront. The town of Cochem has owned the castle since 1978.

Walking up to the castle. It was steep!

The town of Cochem viewed from the castle.

The castle keep.

Cochem Castel gate.

Back in the town, half timbered buildings in the Cochem town square.

Cathedral steeple in Cochem.

The walk up to the castle and back down left us needing sustenance. Jeff had a beer, Duh, I had a big ass cappuccino.

Jeff with Cochem Castle in the background. Still jacket weather over here.

Some guy drove up in this cute little car. It’s a Messerschmitt, same guys that built the Me-109 of WW II fame.

Cochem Castle and the town from the east bank of the Mosel.

Last view of the Cochem Castle as we drive south along the east bank of the Mosel River.

A castle ruin above the village of Beilstein.

We stopped in the town of Mesenich which was having a different kind of wine festival with its neighboring village of Senheim. This sign says Weinwanderweg (Wine Walk Way) and that’s exactly what their little festival was, a walk between the villages, through the local vineyards; about half way up the Mosel valley wall.

A sign that advertises the various grapes that are grown by the Mesenich vintners.

There were about 10-12 stops along the walk, this is above Mesenich at the north end of the walk; Senheim lays to the south. This is stop one, a Bitburger vendor. Jeff said this was a definite stop on our way back.

Here I am on one of the benchs overlooking the Mosel. What a wonderful place to just sit and look out over the valley.

The vineyards between Mesenich and Senheim had all sorts of images of well known local vintners and people of notoriety.  This a local, favorite friar of the past.

This little car was what one of the local vintners used to hold his sampling of wines.

Can’t have a German festival without a band. See how steep the vineyard terrain is.

At this second stop the lady there sold a peach schnapps. Here’s Jeff with his peach schnapps and the Mosel valley below.

The band caught up to us at the peach lady. Fun music, pretty setting.

The beautiful Mosel Valley.

Biking is a big deal in Germany and there's no better place to ride than along the Mosel River on a nice spring day.

At the end of our walk we were back to the Bitburger vendor and Jeff’s anticipated amber nectar. Say what?!?!? No beer, just wine?!?!?  Jeff looks quite bewildered.

Back in the car, we’re driving cross country from the Mosel to Kirchheimbolanden and their Maifest (May Festival). The yellow of the rapeseed fields was magnificent.

We’re in Kibo, just another little celebration of the arrival of spring. You can see what a nice day it is.

We saw this sign advertising a Bitburger-Stubbi. We had to find out what that might be.

Here it is, the Bitburger-Stubbi, their short stubby bottle. Lucky Jeff, he finally got his Bit.

Another great day in Germany! It’s finally warming up here so pretty sure there’s a lot more days like this one the way, both weather and festive.