From my journal: September 21, 2009 East Twickenham, England
“Loud vibrating music, off-key singing, packed in like sardines… even dancing on tables!”
This oh-so-not-my-kind-of-adventure started like any other… with Robert playing up the positives. But in this case, I wasn’t convinced there were many. Still, I heard him out. We had experienced this craziness before, so if I agreed again, I’d at least know what I was getting into. What hooked me – what always does – is the mention of the people involved. Getting the chance to hang out with a group of Robert’s German colleagues who I was getting to know from previous trips, was what made me say, “Ja!” Hospitable, engaging and laughter-loving, any time spent with them is fun.
When our flight landed at the Franz Josef Strauss International Airport, we checked into the Munich Marriott City East, then walked to the central train station. Within ten minutes, we popped out at Stiglmaier Platz and spied Daller Tracht directly across the strasse. We wanted to fully participate this year, which meant we needed the right “costumes”.
Though Robert likes to spend money, he’s not one to accompany me to buy anything. Well, technical devices, home goods, or a car…yes, maybe one of those items, but clothes… definitely not. However, this shopping excursion wasn’t bothering him one little bit. He sat outside the Ladies dressing room watching woman after woman, parading dirndl after dirndl. My helper, a thirty-something lady who spoke perfect English, coordinated my traditional Bavarian outfit, a white blouse, dress, apron, a star-like necklace and even a woolen purse with the word Spatzl – Sweetheart– stitched on it. Once assembled, she seemed so pleased, she even clapped her hands. In parting, she said to be aware of how I tied my apron. On the left for single and to the right for taken.
Next on the list – lederhosen! Robert found a pair of light brown deer leather ones that hit above the knee, a long-sleeved white shirt, suspenders that formed an H, leg warmer-like socks and to top it all off, a tirolerhut, that is, a jaunty felt hat complete with feather! All of this trachten for only 350 Euros!
All set to go, our journey from hotel to fairgrounds was to take about 9 minutes via the Ostbahnhof. When we arrived, huge crowds were already lining the platforms, filling trains up fast. Thirty minutes later, we tumbled out at Theresienwiese and hoofed it 10 minutes farther to reach the festivities. Along the way stood stall after stall selling various goods. One booth sold large gingerbread Lebkuchen cookies attached to ribbons to wear around a person’s neck. Last time we were there, Robert chose a cookie that read Zuckerpuppe. The vendor smiled and pointed to me. I said it was ok, as I already had a necklace. She went on to say that the cookie read “sugar doll” and was more appropriate for a woman to wear! So Robert bought one that read: Schutzen – Festzelt Wies’n. We should’ve asked what the phrase meant because translated word for word it says, “protect marquee meadows”!??
In no time, the humongous Hofbrau Festzelt tent hosting 5,460 guests, appeared before us. Ducking inside we were glad we had reserved a table, otherwise we’d be in the hot and sweaty Standing Room Only section we passed. Looking up, I noticed a giant red-faced mailman angel hanging from the ceiling! He was gliding on a cloud that actually spun around!
There were hugs all around when we finally reached Henning, Maren, Stefen, Jeremy, and Richard. Smiling, they complimented us on our festive attire. Unfortunately, two of the wives, Stephanie and Cynthia couldn’t make it, but they sent their best. With five hours before the last song of the night would play, our table cheered Ozapf Is! Literally meaning “It’s tapped”! Or as we say, “Beer is now served!“!