Biergarten bonanza is maßive fun

In celebration of the extra long summer we’ve been having, 11 of us took to the trains for a bit of excitement and a lot of culture this weekend. I pieced together some of the most highly rated biergartens from Larry Hawthorne’s “The Biergartens of Munich” book and the itinerary was set. 

Although the weather has been unseasonably hot for the past few weeks, it drizzled for a good portion of the day but we didn’t let it dampen our spirits. (We even picked up a 12th reveler, Dustin, one of two Munich bffs Molly and I met in Cinque Terre last spring.)

In all, we visited five biergartens around the city, taking every mode of public transportation except a log-flume ferry, and sampled the sweet nectar of Munich at every stop.

Somewhere along the way Emily found a four-leaf clover, Thomas rediscovered his childhood home, and Tad stumbled into a fresh patch of catnip, which led to a 40-minute tear of acrobatics, flexibility and endurance trials, and ended in what might just become a new sport.

That night we snuggled up sleepover style in two, six-bed hostel rooms and counted German sheep, which are extra sultry. 

The trip was a great introduction to Munich’s neighborhoods and good practice hoisting maß biers for Oktoberfest, which is right around the corner. (Thanks for the biergarten photos, Jenna!)

The next day we woke up early and took the train back to a little town near our house, Schlicht, which was celebrating its Kirwa.

Without going into too much detail, Kirwa is a spring to summertime celebration where young, unmarried men & women (ages 16-25) dress in traditional garb and dance around a decorated tree. Beer is involved.

Towns choose the date based on their patron saint, though I’m sure the roots of this tradition are much deeper.

Basically, the guys get drunk, drive around on a tractor towing a decorated flatbed trailer and make several stops to pick up the ladies. Molly and I met at our co-worker Franz’s house (two of his kids were participants), which was one of the stops before the fest.

Everyone was in good form by the time the tractor arrived and the group launched into several songs before making a few more laps around the town.

A few of the guys at the party kept telling me I looked like a certain King Ludwig from Bavaria and even provided proof, but I just figured they had had a few too many.


Mountains Apart: An Alpine Adventure

In a rare buddymollys moment, Jeremy and I spent the weekend apart. While he stayed in Weiden to sharpen his domestic skills (he baked muffins) and take his first ever guitar lesson, I hopped in a van offering free candy and headed for a weekend hike in the Alps.

Six of us embarked on this grand adventure with our guide Todd “Tad” Trivisonno at the helm. You may remember Tad from such blogs as this one, that one, the WAQ one, the funny Christmas one, the scary swan one, the New Year's one, the one where he tried to kill me and one that rhymed. Oh and this one. This one too. 

We began at 5 a.m. and drove 5 hours to the Berchtesgaden National Park to hike in the Bavarian Alps, skirting the Austrian border.

The weather was sunny and beautiful, which is very suspicious for Germany this time of year - but no complaints.

We took a gondola ride up to the mittelstation, bypassing the first 3 kilometers of the trail and started our hike at 600 meters above sea level – in this case, the Königssee (which literally translates to King's Lake).

After a few miles uphill, our route changed from a wide, well-groomed trail to a single track rocky path, but not before passing numerous cows.

This one violated me. I can honestly say it was the first time I’ve ever been licked by a cow. 

Mountains created the backdrop as we sauntered across rolling green hills much like the Von Trapp family.

Our group was moving and grooving at a good pace, so not too many stops were taken, although the last hour and steep incline of the gravel path was a bit taxing.

We hoofed the total 9 kilometers in 4.5 hours and ended at the Gotzenalm hut, located 1,685 meters up (that’s about 5528.21522 feet, approximately), conquering about a 1,000-meter elevation change the first day.


We bunked closely, as you can see, with numerous other hikers and rewarded ourselves with a hearty dinner and dark beer. 


 I was asleep by 8:30 p.m. 


We awoke to the sound of mooing cows and the ringing bells draped around their necks (note: cows wake up about 6 a.m.) and began our descent down the mountain.


The 6-km trip down took about 2 hours, where we stripped down to our underwear and jump in the cold yet refreshing lake.


Somehow the drive home only took about 3 hours, although Todd swears he was going the speed limit, or lack thereof, the whole time – bless you, autobahn. Perhaps it was because we were in a tightly compacted van with 6 very stinky hikers – the desire to get home was great.


Overall, it was a fantastic experience and another adventure has been placed neatly under my belt. 


The hike was sponsored in part by reconstituted Snickers bars.


Boning up on Czech history

As Jeremy mentioned in the previous blog, our road-trip through the Czech Republic did not disappoint. We soaked up some culture and visited one of the most bizarre places we’ve ever seen – the Sedlec Ossuary.

An ossuary is a receptacle for the bones of the dead, in this case a small church located in the town of Kunta Hora, about an hour from Prague.

Head to toe, top to bottom, this church is strategically decorated in the remains of more than 40,000 Bohemians. Chandeliers, wall hangings, pyramids, in the laps of angels and other Christian relics, around light fixtures and outlining the alter - all bones.

Bones. Everywhere.
Skulls. Spines. Sternum. Sacrum. Everywhere.
So the story goes, in 1278 an abbot of Sedlec named Henry went on a mission to the Holy Land and brought back a handful of earth from Golgotha (the site of Jesus' crucifixion) which he sprinkled over the grounds of the monastery. This created a desire by the wealthy to be buried there.

The plagues of the 14th century enlarged the cemetery on the grounds. The bones were later erected during a remodeling job (Gothic was so last century, they wanted a more Baroque style) in the early 1700s.

The design and current display dates back to 1870 and is the arrangement of a famous Czech wood-carver named František Rint. His name is displayed – in bones of course – on the wall of the church.

Nightmares be damned, this is definitely a place to see - no bones about it. 


Czech please!

Part II of the buddymollys summer roadtrip series.

As our publisher’s three-week hiatus quickly approached near the end of July, we figured the best plan was not to have one. So we rolled the dice and started scanning for last-minute deals a la last year’s Thanksgiving in Turkey

Spain’s Costa del Sol? The Canary Islands? Malta? We were all over the place and we hadn’t even left the living room.

However, nothing seemed to fit and we soon discovered that the German concept of last-minute travel is planning a vacation only a month in advance.

So, with the clock ticking the day after we got back from Paris, we threw together a laid-back, five-day roadtrip through the Czech Republic, including Passau (Germany), České Budějovice, Český Krumlov and Prague.

After a short overnight in Passau, which sits at the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers (where it’s always time to get Ilz) we crossed the border into the Czech Republic. 

We discovered very quickly that in addition to making delicious Bohemian fare, the Czechs know their way around a brewery. Our second stop, České Budějovice, is home to the original Budweiser. Some accounts said a disgruntled employee brought the recipe to Anheiser Busch, others suggested Busch tried to buy the rights to the town’s name (which it declined) … and in the end you have two distinct beers that share the same name.

 We couldn’t get enough of Budweiser’s dark lager (and could only find the lighter version in stores) so we made a special trip to the brewery on the way out of town to get a case for the road.

While most of our trip centered on city exploration, another highlight was a quick paddle down the Vltava River, which snakes its way through the quaint, very walkable Český Krumlov. The paddle included a few manmade chutes (some rafters took the plunge, literally) and a riverside tiki mojito bar. (A longer river trip just might be on the agenda next summer).

A few days later we made our way north to Prague (with a brief, bone-chilling stop at a church in Kutná Hora). Though it was probably our fifth trip there, Prague continues to surprise and impress us in novel ways each time. We wandered through new neighborhoods and practiced our “prosíms” and děkuju (please and thank you).

In the end, despite our lack of foresight, the trip turned out better than we could have planned.