Another issue that confounds some tourists is figuring out which tables get what kind of service in beer gardens. I remember sitting at a table for 45 minutes one time, only to discover I was sitting in the self-service area!
There are three types of beer garden service: I'll call them "Full Service" (you get beer and food from a server), "Mini Service" (you get only beer from a kellner/kellnerin and buy your own food at "schmankerl" stands), and "Self-Service" (you get up and get everything yourself). Many smaller beer gardens are one type exclusively. The clues to look for are stands serving food and/or beer to customers. If you don't see any "schmankerl" stands, it's probably full service. If that doesn't work, sit down and observe what the other guests are doing: e.g. if they're getting up empty-handed and coming back with beer, you do the same.
On the other hand, many larger beer gardens have a combination of service. If you see an area marked "SB" or "Selbstbedienung," this is the self-service zone. If all of the tables in an area are covered with tablecloths, then these tables are full service.
One final note: some beer gardens allow patrons to bring their own food, as long as they buy beer. Some don't. When in doubt, observe the regular customers and see what they do to figure out what's acceptable.
OK, so now you found a beer hall or beer garden. Where do you sit? In general, it's open seating at large common tables. If a table's empty, it's usually OK to sit down. If there are open seats at an occupied table, ask the occupants if the empty chair(s) is/ are free (e.g. "Entschuldigung, sind Diese zwei Plätze noch frei?") Don't speak German? (or can't fake it like me?;) Be creative with a combination of simple English, gestures, and smiles. You'll generally be tolerated, if not welcomed.
Exceptions to the above: The most common exception to the common seating protocol is the "stammtisch." Tables with this marking (usually marked by a sign on the table or hanging above it) are reserved for "Stammgäste," or regular guests. Even most regular guests don't get to sit at these tables -- only those who are specifically invited. Most establishments have at least one stammtisch -- some (such as the Hofbräuhaus or the Augustiner Keller) have several.
...Bavarians might treat you more friendly when you say:
- "Gruess Gott" (when enetring a store)
- "Wiederschaun" (when you leave it)
- "Mahlzeit" (when you meet colleagues during lunchtime)
- "A Guadn" (when you start your meal)
- "Prost" (when you drink a beer)
- when you don't wear a grey tourist hat with a blue and white ribbon around it ;-)
- when you can deal with their a little bit grumpy humour
All state owned museums in Munich can be entered free on Sunday! This includes the “alte Pinakothek” and the “neue Pinakothek”, the “Pinakothek of modern art”. You can save a lot of entrance fees. If you are an art love you might take a whole Sunday for each, if you just want to get a first impression to come back later and see certain exhibitions in details then you can scroll two (or even three) in one day. I like the “alte Pinakothek” (get the audio guide! – each painting there has its own interesting story) and also the “Pinakothek of modern art”, which has a small but great section on architecture of famous buildings and construction principles. All the “Pinakotheken” have caffees and museum stores. Further “Sunday-free” museums include the "Bavarian national Museum", the "Munich City Museum", the "Glypothek" and others. Not included in the free offer are privately owned museums like the “Lehnbachhaus” .
For the “Pinakotheken” exit the U2 or bus 53 at Königsplatz. Then follow the signs. By car you might find parking in the area around, but this might take some time. For detailed driving directions see www.stadtplan.de.
In all Munich beer gardens it is allowed to bring your own food. You will see many families coming to the beer gardens for lunch or in the evening, bringing huge baskets full of bread,cheeses, saussages, salads and spreads, pickeled cucumbers and fruits. You will have to by something to drink and then can enjoy a nice picnic under large shadowy trees. So maybe buy some food in local stores and just add a “Helles” beer or some fried chicken or grilled pork from the beer garden.
On the 1st saturday of Oktoberfest, exactely at 12.00 noon the Lordmayor of Munich will tap the very 1st vat of beer by hand and will announce the opening of Oktoberfest with the words "O'ZAPFT IS" ( the vat is tapped)
none of the beer-tents is allowed to sell a single glass of beer, before this very first vat will be tapped correctely - and sometimes, especially for a newly elected Lordmayor it needed several attempts and maybe even some help and tricks in order to get the vat tapped....
Lots of TV-stations will watch this ceremony and make sure the new Lordmayor gets nervous eventually and I saw it once that he had to hit the vat 16 times before he could announce the opening of the fest...
Traditionally the Oktoberfest will start with a small parade of horse-drawn carriages leaving from Sonnenstrasse (close to Karlsplatz/Stachus), parading through Schwantaler Strasse to Theresienwiese.
In this parade you will see the Lordmayor of Munich and all the "inn-keepers" of the beer-tents on Oktoberfest, sitting on top of horse-drawn beer-carriages.
This parade is especially nice and interesting for people who are interested in horsecarriages, drawn by 6 or sometimes even 8 horses, just like in the old times, when all of the beer had to be transported that way and only the strongest horses were able to do it !
Lots of people will gather a long time before 11.00a.m. on the 1st saturday in order to get a good place to watch the parade, even though the total distance of the parade is not much more than maybe 800 meters.
When the last carriage had passed by, the audience will also follow the carriages and walk to Theresienwiese that way.
"Stammtisch" is an expression you will see in many restaurats, mostly it is the biggest table at the stove.
"Stammtisch" is the table where certain groups of local people meet on a regular basis, in some cases they even spend the whole day there, drinking, eating and talking with their friends...
NEVER sit down at such a table, waiters and local people may react rather rude !
In hotel Mader we have a great sentence written above the Stammtisch :
Bei mia z'haus bin i nia z'haus !
Aber im Wirtshaus bin i wia z'haus !
( it sounds best, when you understand the local dialect and a translation might be :
In my home I am never at home, but in the inn I feel like at home)
My favourite thing in Munich was the picnics we had in the beergardens. As Munich is kinda on the pricey side we could have never afforded to order everything we ate from the beergardens but we brought our own food. You are allowed to do so in most beergardens. Some people even bring table cloths and everything. We only brought cooked chickens and Pretzels and raddish, cheese etc etc.
Obviously you are not allowed to bring your own beer though ;)
Maypoles are a Bavarian tradition, although their origin is debated and is possibly French. Anyways, every year a tree is planted in the center of towns and villages and young men climb up to prove how big their . . . courage is. Well, that's the tradition, but I'm pretty sure this one in the center of the Viktualienmarkt stays up on a permanent basis. It's painted in the traditional blue and white colors the represent Bavaria (you'll see the flag all over town).
Probably the most local food you can try in Munich is a traditional Weißwurst. It's a white sausage that you eat for breakfast and that is served with a tasty sweet mustard. You only eat the inside of the sausage not the peel. Now how do you eat this thing? You can either peel it or do it the "a bit disgusting way" and suck it. I chose the peeling version of course. You just cut the length of the sausage and then use your knife, your fork, your fingers or your whole body to get the filling out. It works after a while and it saves you the embarrasment to sit there sucking a sausage ;)
In "Ochsenbraterei" you may watch a whole ox beeing roasted on a huge spear...
Not far from the counter where you may buy a roll with roasted meat of the ox for 4,50 Euros.
When you click on my picture, you may read that Rudi was already the 46th ox , having been roasted during that Oktoberfest and these 11 Zentner are about 550 Kg.
All of these oxen grew up at the same farm in the outskirts of Munich in Ismaning.
They had a happy life, were feeded only with the best food, had a great meadow to fool around...
...untill Oktoberfest ;-)
Well Rudi, THAT was it ...
...you tasted really great !!
One of Munich’s icons, apart from the famous ones like Frauenkirche and Rathaus of course, is Münchner Kindl, the one in my photo. It decorates buildings, beer coasters, beer mugs, an abundance of souvenir things, can be seen public transportation vehicles and many more. It is also part of the coat of arms of Munich however it seems that this is not widely known.
Originally the kindl is a monk, dressed in a black coat with yellow (or gold) stripes, who holds a book in one hand and the other hand raised for the oath. According to the official sources, the monk represents the monastery of Tegernsee, which is said to be the place where “original” Munich was built. And München, the town name, is said to have derived from Mönch, the German name for monk. Over the years, the monk was somehow transformed to a kid, hence the name Kindl (German for little kid). The Italian name for Munich is Monaco, Italian for monk. As far as I know it is the only language where the name still refers to Munich’s roots.
© Ingrid D., September 2010.
"Auf geht's beim Schichtl" is an expression, you might hear sometimes in Bavaria. It means "Lets go now, lets start..."
THIS is where the expression comes from :
"Schichtl" is an old traditional "illusion-theatre" shown on Oktoberfest since more than 100 years. A few years ago the gentleman in front with the lederhosn took over Schichtl and since then it is MY favorite place to go and watch mainly ( I have to admit it ) the show that is made in order to get people into the tent.
I also saw the show several times, but somehow the pre-show is the best, and you certainly should not miss it, even if you do not know enough German ( and Bavarian ) to understand the great jokes and humor.
INSIDE they will use their gouillotine with one of the customers, and it really looks frightening ( but so far everybody survived it )
Outside they say : For just 3 € we take off the whole head of a person, for the same amount you may not even get a haircut at other places...
There are also a "butterfly dancer", Miss piggy and magicians...
The traditional "Trachten-Umzug" will start in the morning of the 1st sunday and in a long parade it will go across Munich.
Thousands of participants in their traditional costumes from all over Germany and even abroad, traditional brass-bands, horse-carriages, cows, sheep and other animals are sometimes also participating in the parade, starting somewhere behind the "Staatskanzlei" and finally walking down Prinzregentenstrasse, walking through Sonnenstrasse and finally Schwantalerstrasse to Theresienwiese.
NO entrance-fee to be paid to watch the parade, just go there and search for an empty spot along any of the streets.