We took the short flight from Manchester to Munich and met up with my friend at the Central Train Station. She lives just south of the city, with direct connections on the S-Bahn (above ground train). The night we arrived happened to be a local festival in her neighborhood. An ABBA cover band was performing under a large tented pavilion. There were rows of picnic style tables filled with large steins of beer. Some people were wearing the traditional Bavarian outfits. I was impressed by the energy of the party; people were dancing and singing along on the tops of the tables. My friend assured me this was normal, and if I thought this was a fun party, just wait until I see the Oktoberfest. I have been now to Munich three times: twice when I lived in Madrid and this last visit. I had gone before to visit my friend in Munich during December to see the famous Christmas markets. I also visited her in the summer several years back when I was traveling through Europe on the Eurorail with my other roommate from Madrid. I suppose my next trip to Munich should be for Oktoberfest. Now that I live in Europe, I have no excuse.
When the ABBA band was taking a break, a local camera crew approached my friend and asked her if we wanted to be featured on their newscast about the party. When she told them I was American, they asked to do a quick interview in English. With cameras rolling, they asked me what I thought about this Bavarian celebration. The host also gave me a hard time for not drinking beer, insisting that I switch my Aperol drink with his stein. To see my interview online, follow the link and click on minute 3:43:
Following my interview and the conclusion of the concert, my friend took us outside to show us a real Bavarian tradition. She lead us to a long maypole laid on its side. Basically, each town in Bavaria has its own blue and white striped maypole. Groups of young people sign up to guard their town's maypole. They have to fill all 24 hours with security as roving gangs (of youngsters) from other towns will try to steal your maypole. If you successfully guard your maypole from intruders, you can put up your pole on May 1 (May Day/Pentecost). As we went in for a closer look, she warned us not to stand too near the pole. The 'guardians' may become suspicious and try to chase us away from the pole. Everyone around us seemed too busy having their post-concert drinks so we daringly got close enough to touch the maypole. Hashtag rebels.
Later in our trip, we went to Konstanz, Germany for a finance conference my husband was attending. Indeed, we saw a maypole there too. I smiled as we passed, feeling a little more knowledgeable about this regional tradition.
|Local Bavarian celebration.|
|Waterloo, the ABBA cover band.|
|English interview for Bavarian TV.|
|Munich city center's Maypole.|
|Close up of the Munich maypole.|