Herbstfest was the perfect introduction for both Wade & I, on what to expect for Oktoberfest! Our first real experience was for a team party in the main beer tent. Wade & I had checked out Herbstfest on our own a couple of days before, but it was only to walk around for a bit and check out the food vendors. This time, we were excited to not stand out from the crowd wearing our regular street clothes but instead, dress in our newly purchased, traditional Bavarian attire! Both the lederhosen and dirndls are extremely tight! For the men, the lederhosen are purchased to be pretty snug as the leather is meant to stretch out over time. It was extremely funny watching Wade walk around for the first time, trying to work in his tight leather shorts, literally wobbling side to side! We had a couple of table’s reserved for the team, however, we were extremely squished and the summer heat was still lingering. Wearing a tight dirndl didn’t help in any way, but at least I wasn't wearing those thick, tight, leather lederhosen!
It was an extremely entertaining experience spending a full evening in the beer tents! The band is a German Oompah (a brass band), who play some traditional, Bavarian music and repeatedly play random, old English songs such as: Angles from Robbie Williams, Sweet Caroline & YMCA which always seemed to be playing every so often, yet no one would ever get sick of it. The entire tent would burst out singing along to every song. There was this one song that would play every 15 minutes called I Salute You where you would have to drink every time it came on. The more people drank, it lead to everyone standing on their narrow benches instead of sitting. It surprised me not seeing many benches tip over, with everyone who was beyond tipsy, standing and dancing on them throughout the tent! After drinking a couple of liter beers, we all headed out into the carnival to ride some of the rides and play some games. It was nice to take a breather from the tent and get some fresh air, however, it quickly made us realize how much we actually all had to drink!
Following Herbstfest, Tyler’s girlfriend Jackie, finally arrived! It had been a month and a half without having any girls around! I briefly met a couple of the German girls, but they didn’t seem to be around too often. One of the other import player is from Toronto and was expecting his fiancé to move out 3 months after we had all arrived! I was so happy to finally have a girl around, especially someone who I was already friends with! Shortly after she arrived, we were already planning our day trip into Munich for Oktoberfest! This time, we didn’t have a table reserved so had to train into town pretty early. We once again wore our Bavarian outfits for round 2! Walking into Oktoberfest for the first time, I was extremely shocked on how large it actually was! It was filled with so many beer tents, this time holding thousands of people! It also didn’t feel like a ‘carnival’ as it did at Herbstfest. Instead, it felt like an amusement park filled with roller coasters, and other large rides I couldn’t believe were set up for only the 2 short weeks it was all going on for!
We found an empty table in one of the beer tents where we all were able to fit. Since it was the afternoon, everyone in the tent was still sitting down. Before the craziness began with everyone standing on their benches, there were a couple of people who would randomly try and attempt to chug their liter of beer as they stood up on their bench amongst the crowd. There were literally thousands of people instantly cheering them on but if they were unable to complete their ‘chug’, the entire tent would boo at them! There was one girl who tried to attempt this and obviously failed and then there was another guy who successfully completed his, however, he tried to do it a second time shortly after and of course failed! I couldn’t even believe anyone would try this because it seems almost impossible – the beers are massive! Plus, the beer itself is much stronger than what we are used to and by downing a liter of beer, I’m sure would make anyone instantly drunk! After spending almost the whole day in the beer tent, we wandered around Oktoberfest with everyone and decided to all ride the roller coaster which was probably the worst idea after a full day of drinking!
Before Oktoberfest ended, Wade and I decided to head back into Munich and have a date night at the festival. We had our experience in the beer tents and this time wanted to just explore all of the grounds and pick up some beer steins as souvenirs. Being that it was one of the last days, it was absolutely insane! I couldn’t believe families were actually bringing their kids – you would think they would easily loose them in the massive crowds but instead, the main lost item during Oktoberfest is clothing! We had a fun night together as we people watched and had many laughs at all that was going on around us! It’s definitely a different experience going there and not drinking! Instead of training into Munich, we drove which ended up being the first time both of us experienced driving on the autobahn. The craziest thing about driving on the autobahn is when you are driving in sections with literally no speed limit! You have every amazing German car you can think of, flying past you, even when you are driving 160 yourself! Its pretty scary when you look to see there is no one coming up in the other lane, but as you are switching lanes, there is literally someone on you, as they high beam you to get out of their way!
Living away from home during a hockey season, you end up missing all of the holidays such as Christmas & Thanksgiving. During these times, it’s always hard being away from our families, so we make a point to carry on our traditions wherever in the world we may be. This usually is celebrated with our friends who are also away from their families and who end up becoming our family away from home during the hockey season. My first thanksgiving away from home was with Wade in Springfield during his first season in the AHL. We ended up hosting the dinner as a pot luck and invited the entire team over and their significant others! We must have had over 20 people that year! Living away from North America, we realized many traditions we have, don’t even exist over here - such as Thanksgiving! Luckily, buying a turkey in Rosenheim isn’t hard at all and even better, we had a great hook up getting one! One of the guys on the team has a family business, running at a local butcher shop. He arranged a day for all of us imports to come meet him and his dad and their shop for a full tour! It was very interesting going into all of the rooms and seeing how they process all of the meats and sausages. It also almost made me think I may be able to become a vegetarian after seeing all of the rows and rows of cows and pigs, all skinned and hanging in the large refrigerators!
After our tour, we ordered our turkey and bought a ton of different types of meat from the shop. Our turkey was going to arrive the day we were planning our dinner and as a thank you, we were inviting his son, who plays with Wade, to experience his first Thanksgiving dinner with us! The morning we had planned our dinner, we got a call from the butcher saying his supplier messed up on the order and didn’t receive the turkey on his truck. We said that was totally fine and we could always get something else instead. He instantly refused and said he had already made the call and a fresh turkey was being shipping in from Munich for us and would be delivered to our house. He insisted it was ok and everything had already been finalized. So sure enough, about an hour later, we got a knock at our door with the largest turkey being delivered to our door step, with two massive turkey breasts included! Once his son had arrived for dinner, we asked how much we owed for the turkey and he said it was their treat! Lucky for him, he had an amazing first Thanksgiving dinner, trying so many different dishes he had never tried before which of course included my homemade perogi recipe I always use from my Baba!
Being that we were celebrating Thanksgiving with a mix of Americans and Canadians, we decided to plan the dinner in between the two holidays. It was perfect timing because it was right around the time where the other girl, Katie from Toronto had finally arrived into Rosenheim! It was great way for us to all get to know her and everyone else better! When you celebrate a holiday with other people from around the world, you experience different traditions and even amazing unique dishes! We had an amazing night with our ‘new family’, laughing the night away as we played Heads Up. We are so lucky to have quickly gained such a close group of friends who we truly are enjoying our time with in Germany!