Travel

By Meredith Clinton Bell

Munich, Germany. The beer capital of the world. They drink beer for breakfast, beer for lunch, and—you guessed it—beer for dinner.

While Oktoberfest may be the first thing that comes to mind, Munich and the whole Bavaria area have so much to offer for the adventure seeker, tourist, and beer connoisseur alike, that it’s worth a closer look. Take a trip with me, won’t you?

We begin in the year 1810 at the marriage celebration of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese. Graciously, the public was invited to the festivities and so “Oktoberfest,” along with the budding beer-centered reputation of Munich, was born.

Since then the parties, traditions, and crowds have evolved and increased to become the annual beer festival known as Oktoberfest that now takes place worldwide.

Let’s move from past to present day. Moving right along, our first stop in present day is the super touristy, but must-see location of Neuschwanstein Castle, which is in the Alps southwest of Munich, near the border of Austria.

If you can believe it, it’s more beautiful in person. In fact, the castle of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty is based on this very structure. It was built by “Mad” King Ludwig II who has a fantastical story of his own that’s worth hearing on your visit.

Beer to Try
König Ludwig Weissbier. It’s an award-winning wheat beer still owned and distributed by the Ludwig family…yum. A solid beer, but a little heavy for my personal taste.

As we travel through the Alps, you’ll want to enjoy the scenery as much as possible. In a nearby vacation town, Bad Tölz, you can hike up their “house” mountain and find a plethora of fun activities for the whole family. They have an alpine slide (you haven’t been on an alpine slide until you’ve done it in the Alps), parasailing, and an excellent beer garden overlooking the surrounding mountains (pictured above).

Beer to Try
The local helles. “Helles” means light—but it is by no means a “light” beer in the sense Americans generally think of it—it refers to color only. This type of beer was my fave. It has a refreshing taste without being overpowering.

Oh, and here’s the view you’ll enjoy as you dine and drink from the mountainside:

Not too shabby.

For our last stop, we head right back to the center of Munich. Hofbräuhaus is one of Munich’s oldest beer halls. Its main floor features a traditional setting with wooden picnic tables, a band comprised of lederhosen-laden musicians, and a lively atmosphere supported by the up to 1300 patrons that populate it on any given night.

Beer to Try
Hofbräu Original and Hofbräu Dunkel. Beware (or not), these come in one liter mugs only. Needless to say, this place is quite the party. Luckily, you’ll find pretzel peddlers walking around just itching for a tip.

Thirsty? If you can’t plan a trip to Germany right now—put it on your list. But here in NYC, at the very least, go celebrate Oktoberfest while you still can.

Cheers!

Here are a few options running into October:

Zum Schneider Restaurant & Biergarten (www.zumschneider.com)
Saturday, September 24 – Sunday, October 9
107 Ave C @ East 7th Street

Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden (www.bohemianhall.com)
Saturday, October 1 – Sunday, October 9; All Day
29-19 24th Avenue Astoria

Das Best Oktoberfest (www.dasbestoktoberfest.com/new-york/show-info)
Saturday, October 22nd; 12 pm – 4 pm & 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
La.Venue 608 W. 28th Street @ 11th Ave

Originally published October 2011
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