Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Viva Munchen! {Part II: Dachau}

So, you may recall a post from a few weeks back when I preemptively revealed that we were going to be partaking in Mike’s Bike Tour’s Neuschwanstein Castle tour. We were beyond excited to take a trip out of Central Munich into a remote area. Unfortunately, as fate would have it, a tour group of 34 kids decided they were going to do the tour on the same day, effectively occupying nearly all of the bus’ seats. The few seats that were left over were taken by people who had purchased their tickets the day before, so we were seriously out of luck. We decided, however, that we wanted to do something cultural; the beer tents were accessible, but we had already experienced that madness on Friday. Sarah proposed a visit to nearby Dachau, the site of the first concentration camp.

DachauDachauConcentration CampAlthough visiting a concentration camp wasn’t quite as happy as the castle tour, it was definitely an incredible experience. Consider that we can likely see loads of castles within the UK alone, the fact that we were able to see a Munich-based concentration camp was intense. I had no idea when I arrived, but Dachau was built in the early 1930s and actually served as a model for future camps. The camp and the museum were definitely eye-opening and heart-breaking, but it is something that I truly think would be a benefit to all people to see first hand.

After experiencing Dachau, we explored Olympia Park (the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics) and did a little souvenir shopping. After nabbing a Oktoberfest-inspired eco-tote and das boot (in miniature) I was set for our last night at The Tent. We kept our last night relatively low key, eating in and calming our souls before leaving Sunday morning. We managed to make it back to London in one(ish) piece and found our way around Munich using solely public transportation; definitely a bit of a feat for the neophytic travelers that we are. Note to anyone hitting up M-town: we nabbed a 3 day group pass (good for up to 5 people) for 21 euros, and it covered all of our travel within Munich via tram; such a steal. My overall feel for Munich? Despite the amazing history and some pretty amazing architecture, it’s not a city I would visit again. I think there are some places that are a ‘one time’s enough’ kind of deal and for me, this was one such place. Oktoberfest was amazing and the experience is something that should be had by all, but unless you’re hitting up O-fest, I think there are a number of other cities to better spend some time.

Next stop on the map? Scotland.

Lots of love,

Signature Stamp - Shannon


Viva Munchen! {Part I: Oktoberfest}

Ahhh… back in London after nearly four days of German madness. Due to the fact that we had three(ish) days in Munich, we decided to spend one day at the beer tents, soaking in the debauchery that is Oktoberfest. Let me say this as a preface: even as a non-beer drinker, Oktoberfest is something all people should experience once in their life. We stayed at a place aptly dubbed “The Tent;”  inside of a massive tent (surprise) filled with glorious orange bunk beds. Some people opted for the cheaper alternative: bringing their own tent and sleeping outside.

The TentThe TentAlthough Germany gets a bit cold at night (even with three blankets and insane layers), The Tent was definitely a good choice; I paid a grand total 57 euros for three nights in Munich. I took 200 euros out at the airport, hoping that it would be enough for the four days, and actually left the country yesterday with nearly fifty euros in my wallet!

When we landed in Munich on Thursday night, Sarah & Lois (our Nova Scotian partners in crime/tour guides) led us down to the beer tents to expose us to the madness that would ensue on Friday. By 830P, of course, the scene was a bit calmer — many people had already gone home to pass out (or just walked into the street to pass out) so we managed a pretty good sneak-peek at the tents.

HippodromThe Hippodrom (complete with champagne bar) had been our dream tent. We managed to get inside and see the masses of drunkards enjoying themselves, but ended up hitting up two different tents on Friday due to the crazy line that formed Friday afternoon. I don’t know what my vision of the tents was exactly, but I was beyond amazed at the set up — it was like the biggest, greatest, brightest fair ever! The area was covered in beer tents, food stalls (pretzels, sausage, currywurst, nuts, etc.), and rides!

We spent Friday morning exploring the city centre and checking out some of Munich’s sights and architecture before hitting up the actual tents. We discovered that Munich has an obsession with H&M; we (seriously) saw seven within a quarter of a mile! Bargain shopper heaven, I tell you.

Munich CenterTown Hall{Their town hall was seriously amazing.}

After exploring, we finally felt ready to hit up the tents around 230P. We joined up with our two new Aussie friends that we had met at our hostel and hit up the Spatenbrau tent for some massively huge steins.

With Francesco from Napoli
We ended up finding a table surrounded by some seriously drunken/creepy Italianos and a few sweaty Danes; it was glorious, to say the least. Although getting hit on/harassed by drunkards is foreseeable, there is definitely a line between drunken banter and grossness. Unfortunately, Francesco from Napoli (pictured above) ended up being a super d-bag and developed a minor obsession with Alex’s shoulder/purse/general being. I’m not 100% sure what happened next, but some intense dialogue between said Italianos & our Aussie friends ensued and a mini fight broke out. Fighting is, of course, not desirable at tents of happiness, so we were evicted. The tent cops escorted all of us out of the tents. Francesco decided to make a break for it when we’d barely made it out of the tent; fortunately, one of our Aussie buds happened to be a cop and took him down so quickly it was amazing. It made for some amazing pictures and a truly impressive scene; you can try to piece this madness together:

Crazy Italian ManMark's Amazing Take Down!

Aftermath.Needless to say, we had to leave the area after some questioning.

We ended up hitting up another tent down the way where we witnessed at least three more fights (none nearly as amazing as Mark & Francesco’s). We ended up sharing a table with a group of seventeen year old Germans who proved to be hugely educational. First, they taught us how to toast properly:

To the titties, {raise stein to chest}
to the sack, {lower stein to nether regions}
tac-tac! {cheers!}

Sweet tee & cookie necklace.

Secondly, they taught us not to accept gifts from strangers. Earlier in the night we had been given heart-shaped cookie necklaces (see sweetness above) with German phrases written on them. The lady who gifted them to us prefaced the gifting with the following question: “Do you speak German?” After responding that we did not, in fact, speak German, she gave us said necklaces to adorn ourselves with. One of the kiddos at our table informed us that these cookies could be translated as such:

After sex, we do it again.

Needless to say, we had an all around amazing day at Oktoberfest. It was incredibly eventful from start to finish and we met some of the coolest people ever.

Stay tuned for Part II of our trip — an incredible trip to Dachau & our attempt to hit up the Erotic Messe.

Lots of love,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Off to Munich!


I have just finished packing 4 days of necessities into a 21″ carry-on. I’m really crossing my fingers that my luggage fits into EasyJet’s 50cm x 40 cm x 20 cm restriction… After being here for about a week, I’ve deciding that I suck at converting metrics. (Side note: When the man at the gym was asking my height and weight, he looked at me quizzically when I gave him my response in inches and pounds versus centimeters and “stones”… I was going to do him the favor of converting it, but I don’t even know what a ‘stone’ is. Probably something I should learn at some point.) In any case, I have managed to pack four tops, two extra pairs of pants, a pair of heels, a jacket, pajamas, an umbrella, toiletries, a couple of books and all of my necessary electronics (camera, phone, etc.) and paperwork (passport, bus information, etc.) into this bad boy.

I’m relying on the fact that a Deutsche Bank exists inside of the Munich airport, otherwise I will be Euroless until further notice. Additionally, the transportation from the airport to the actual hostel is another feat we can deal with upon arrival. I feel as though the lack of planning (read: spontaneity) adds to the adventure. If I find that the so-called “spontaneity” is actually a shitfest, I will do better to plan such mundane logistics beforehand.

That being said, I’m off to Oktoberfest tomorrow! I am incredibly excited and will undoubtedly be returning with a load of incredible pictures. I will also not have access to internet/phone service/general technology, so updating my blog and Skyping with the fam is a no-go for nearly four whole days!

I’ll see you guys back here on Sunday!

Lots of love,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Dialed in for Oktoberfest 2009!

So, I booked my roundtrip flight to Munich from London a while back, but I officially have everything in order as of now! Our flight from LGW leaves on the 24th in the morning, and we have booked a bus from Fulham to LGW with EasyBus! We also got EasyBus tickets once we return to take us back to Central London. Gatwick airport is about 70 minutes from Central London, so public transportation was a must! Roundtrip tickets with EasyBus (to and from the airport) were around £13, plus the cost to Tube it from Covent Garden to Fulham (about a 30 minute journey). EasyJet also allows you to check-in for your flight up to 60 days in advance, so I checked in and printed my boarding pass this morning! Now that all of that is paid for and in order, Oktoberfest is sure to be an amazingly fun time!

We’ve been looking into Mike’s Bike Tours, which runs in both Munich and in Amsterdam, for a fun, informational bike tour of Munich. After checking out all of there offerings, we found the most amazing full day tour of Neuschwanstein Castle, which takes a scenic trip through the countryside, a trek through a waterfall and gorge and ultimately a tour of this amazingly gorgeous fairytale castle.


The tour runs full time during Oktoberfest and is a full day tour with pick-up and drop-off in central Munich. The entire tour costs 39 Euros (hostelers with a receipt get a discount; normally it’s around 48 Euros) and includes the journey by bus/train and the bike ride. Considering the half day tour costs 18 Euros and only covers the central part of Munich (still beautiful!), we’re leaning towards the full-day extravaganza to get the most out of our brief stint in Munich. I still can’t believe that I’ll be seeing all of this amazingness first-hand. I’ll keep you guys posted with amazing photos & blogs about everything!

Has anyone done a tour like this before? What did you think?

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Festivals Galore — Mark Your Calendars!

love parade

In line with my anal preparation tactics, I decided to check out what festivals take place throughout the United Kingdom and other neighboring European countries. I definitely think that planning a trip when a festival is taking place is probably the coolest way to get a glimpse into another culture and meet loads of people (locals and tourists, alike!) So, here’s the rundown of some super cool (and some not so much…) festivals I ran across {in order, based on an academic calendar}; mark your calendars:



12 – 13 // The Thames Festival, free admission {art, music, eats & drinks} // London
12 – 27 // Rye Arts Festival, free admission {art} // Rye, England
17 – 29 // Riverfront Jazz Festival, free admission {music} // Greenwich, England


1-4 // Norwich Food Festival, £30 {food} // East Anglia
9 – 18 // Bewdley Festival, admission fee {drama, music & comedy} // Bewdley, England
9 – 18 // Cheltenham Literature Festival, £20  {literature} // Cheltenham, England
17 – 31 // Canterbury Festival, £20 {theatre, dance, film, talks} // Canterbury


13 – 15 // Good Food Show, £18.50 {food} // London
26 – 31 // Bath Christmas Market, free {arts & crafts} // Bath, Englannd
26 – 29 // St. Nicholas Fayre, free admission {gifts, crafts & produce} // York


1 – 24 // Christkindlesmarktfree admission {market, foods} // Nuremburg, Germany 
4 – 9 // Clothes Show Live, £25 {fashion} // Birmingham
5 – 6 // St. Nicholas’ Day, free admission {holiday, food} // Prague, Czech Rep.
29 – 1 Jan // Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, £ per event, {music, dance, celebration} // Edinburgh


1 // New Year’s Day Parade,  free // London


1 – 8 // Sami Winter Fair, free admission {market, reindeer races} // Jokkmokk, Sweden
15 – 20 // Jorvik Viking Festival, £ varies {historical} // Yorkshire
6 – 16 // Venice Carnival, free admission {masks, parades} // Venice, Italy 
11 – 21 // Berlin Int’l Film Festival, £ per event {film} // Berlin, Germany


12 – 17 // St. Patrick’s Day£ per event {drinks & fireworks} // Dublin
19 // Up Helly Aa, free admission {bonfire, historical} // Brae, Scotland


3 // Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race, free admission {sport} // London
28 – 31 // Faire of Seville, free admission {dance, music} // Seville, Spain


1 – 10 // Dorchester Festival {art, music} // Oxfordshire
8 – 17 // Dulwich Festival, some free events {art, dance} // Greater London 
8 – 22 // Newbury Spring Festival, £ per event {music} // Newbury
8 – 24 // Bury St. Edmunds Festival, £4- 50 per show {arts, theatre} // Suffolk
9 – 15 // Loch Shiel Spring Festival, free admission {chamber music} // Scotland
12 – 23 // Cannes Film Festival, free evening screenings {film} // Cannes
12 – 30 // Prague Spring Music Festival, 20% off for students {music} // Prague, Czech Rep.
23 – 25 // Festa Della Sensa, free admission // Venezia, Italy
21 – 24 // Wave Gothic Meeting, £ TBD {markets, gothic bands} // Leipzig, Germany
21 – 29 // Dumfries & Galloway£ per event {arts, theatre} // Scotland


11 – 26 // Grassington Festival, £5 student standby! {film & art} // Skipton
23 – 27 // Glastonbury Festival, £175 for weekend {music & performing arts} // Glastonbury
22 – 15 Jul // Warwick Int’l Festival, £ per show {performing arts} // Warwickshire
26 – 11 Jul // Hebden Bridge Arts, £ per show {music & arts} //Hebden Bridge


1 – 31 // Grec,  £ varies {music, dance, theatre} // Barcelona, Spain
1 – 31 // Epidaurus Festival, €10 – 15 for student {theatre} // Athens, Greece
4 – 31 // Festival of 2 Towns, most events free {music, arts, dance} // South of France
6 – 11 // Llangollen Int’l Music,  £ based on seating {music} // Wales
7 – 29 // Festival d’ Avignon, € varies per show {art} // Avignon, France
15 – 18 // British Open {sport} // St. Andrews, Scotland
18 – 26 // Whitstable Oyster Festival {food} // Canterbury


1 – 8 // Billingham Int’l Folklore Festival, £ per show {dance & music} // NE England
1 – 9 // Interceltic Festival of Lorient, student discounts {cultural} // Lorient, France 
1 – 15 // Lake District Summer Music, £ per event {music} // Lake District
1 – 31 // Love Parade {culture, art, music} // Duisburg, Germany
4 – 8 // Great British Beer Festival, £6 {eats & drinks} // London
6 – 9 // International Balloon Fiesta, £7 // Bristol
28 – 31 // Edinburgh Int’l Festival, £ per event {arts} // Scotland

There are loads more that could theoretically be included, but many didn’t seem fitting for the demographic that’s likely reading this post (college-aged, 20s to 30s). If you’re interested in a book talk or a seniors literature fair, I’m sure you can google it, but I thought it’d be wise to breeze over it.

Anyone know of any other festivals worth mentioning?

Lots of love,
Signature Stamp - Shannon

Outstanding Oktober!

In an effort to put my visa worries aside, I have been planning and reading up on our impending trip to Munich for Oktoberfest 2009! I found this really great site with information on all things Bavarian and all things Oktoberfest! I was looking for a few bits of information, specifically. First, I wanted to find out about the beer tents to see which we would most want to hit up and where we’d have the most fun! So far, the Hippodrom looks the best, but I’m still checking out the others! Also, since we’re going to be in Munich, a city that is consistently rated one of the best places to live in the world, we definitely want to do some major sightseeing! I found awesome information on churches, museums, landmarks, palaces, parks and castles! Since we’re only going to be in Munich for 3 days (24th through the 27th), we have a lot to cram into the short time that we’re there.

I’ve been looking into Mike’s Bike Tours, an awesome bicycle-based sightseeing tour that functions in Munich and in Amsterdam. The regular, half day tours last about four hours with an intro to Munich history and a 45 minute stop in a beergardenfor lunch, supper or a drink. There’s about 2 1/2 hours of real biking time in which they cover about 4 miles, riding from one historical or architectural point of interest to the next. The ride is obviously pretty leisurely, but it’s a good way to get a bit of exercise and fresh air while seeing the major sights (with an English-speaking tour guide!) During the time that we’re there, the tours start at 12:30 and are done by 5P or so. It normally costs about 24 euros for the tour, which includes the bike rental; for those staying at approved hostels (including The Tent, where we’re staying!), the cost goes down to 18 euros! Check out what’s included in the tour, everything from the English Garden to old palaces. Pretty sweet!

I also found a cool Oktoberfest map below:

Oktoberfest Map

 I’m getting excited about being able to see Munich in a couple of months!

Anyone else going to be in Munich during September? Any Munich must-sees?

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Oktoberfest 2009!


It is official! I have booked my plane ticket to Munich for Oktoberfest 2009! I will be going with a  group of new friends during the latter part of September (24-27th) to spend a few days in Germany before heading back to reality for the start of the school year! We’re staying at a cool little place called The Tent, which is literally a tent site to camp out on the cheap (around $10 a night!) Although there are some more sophisticated options, tents are pretty inexpensive and apparently there are loads of people to meet there! Considering everyone under the European sun will be in Munich during September/October, the prices are exorbitant anyway (hello, supply & demand!) so it seems like a good way to save some cash and spend it on more worthwhile items! Also, what does one wear to said event? I’m assuming it’ll still be warm outside in September? Maybe that’s too much of an assumption…

So pumped! Still have to book my flight to London in September.

Looks like I’ll be leaving the States on the 17th. Goodbye, Sunny California.

Also — still looking for a get-rich-quick scheme. If anyone has any ideas, drop me a line <3.