Monday, October 14, 2013

Oktoberfest Year Two

It’s that time of year again. September and that means Oktoberfest! We still have a hard time getting our minds around the fact that Oktoberfest is mostly in September. The whole thing was moved forward to maximize the good weather. And even so, we had one warm day there and one very cold day. The kids wore layers under and over their trachten (traditional dress). They grew a bit over the year, plus the layers, so it was all of a tight squeeze but we held off on buying new dirndls and lederhosen for one more year!
Oktoberfest started in 1812 years ago as a celebration of Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became Kind Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen’s  wedding. Munich residents were invited to join the celebration held on some open grounds. The place was named “Theresienwiesen” or Therese’s fields. Today locals refer to the Oktoberfest refer to it as the “wies’n” or fields. Last year we were confused by yet another German word. This year, we used it ourselves.
Oktoberfest is definitely all about the beer. The whole thing is kicked off each year with the Munich mayor announcing “O’ zapft is!” or “It’s tapped!” The beer that is. At school, the kids attend an assembly advising them how to stay safe at Oktoberfest, including what to do if the adults you are with are drunk! When we first moved here, Tori came back from drama class saying she had the best teacher ever! She loved that man and he was a great teacher but the first drama assignment; act like you are drunk. It’s just a different culture here.
But  it is also the largest festival in the world with about 6 million visitors each year. And that is the part we like. In the early days, Oktoberfest had horse races and an agricultural show. It has since expanded to a fun fair with roller coasters, bumper cars, ferris wheels and more. Our kids of course gravitate for the really scary rides. Scary in two senses; one, they are high and fast and two, they are temporary, taken up and down just for this event. Anyway, they rode and survived. Mostly. Adam did throw up a few times after one ride but for him it was just a bonus. He’s talked of little else since.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

London calling

When London calls, we answer. Particularly as our good friend/kid’s godmother lives there.  We’re just back from a fun filled weekend, aided intensely by insider tips. We hopped on and off double decker buses, took the tube, ate crisps, visited Harry Potter and watched football. And not soccer football but American football. Shocking but true.  We were there for the first of two NFL games to be played in London this year. It was the Steelers vs. Vikings and we won’t recount the score here as we were there courtesy of a Steelers fan.
There was a bit of a football buzz in the air though perhaps we were looking for it. Adam, who wears a Packers gear most days of the week, and for once he was not the only person doing so. We saw a few Tom Brady jerseys out there, a few Big Ben Jerseys. Some of these NFL clad people were American but most were not. We figured this out as we sidled up to them on the sidewalk and heard them discussing the upcoming NFL “match.” But still they were trying.
The game, held at Wembley Stadium, was so fun. Adam was so into the action and the girls were into waving the Steelers terrible towel, cheering and watching the antics of the crowd. They loved “the wave.” Adam has coerced the girls into his fantasy football league this year. Now after watching an entire game, they get the point thing. They won’t be wearing jerseys anytime soon but still.
After the game, we tried to get down a level so the kids could maybe catch gear that the players threw up into the crowd. Last year, Adam was the recipient of receiver gloves. This was not to be this year. We got lost, ending up outside of the stadium with no way to get back in. We wandered around, trying to find the car that was to drive us home- another helpful insider tip. And then randomly, we stumbled across the players exiting the building and boarding their buses. Adam charged forward, across a little rope barrier and was promptly stopped by a couple security guards. He was a little scared and the guards felt a little bad. They told him he could wait and watch the players walk by. One security guard even gave him a pen. And then things got real exciting.
A very nice guy (Harvard grad, playing on the Vikings practice squad) players stopped by and signed autographs. Then players started trickling over, culminating with Adrian Peterson stopping by! With the guy next to us screaming “MVP!” we snapped a picture of Peterson signing autographs for all three kids. It was pretty hard not notice three little kids, two dressed in Steelers gear and one dressed in Packers gear, jumping with excitement. A Vikings player ribbed Adam for wearing a Packers jersey and he stood there, taking mild abuse and loving it. A short security guard might scare him but definitely not a big bulky offensive lineman.