I hate beer. I’m not ashamed.
I don’t fear the fallout from this statement. I don’t like wine either. I know, right? I can’t stand the taste or even the smell. It’s just never appealed to me.
Even as a non-drinker, beer-related festivities are impossible to avoid.
Germany is referred to as “Land of Beers,” and it lives up to its name. I lived there for six years while my husband was stationed in Giebelstadt. His favorite bar in Wurzburg was Haus Von 150 Beiren or the House of 150 Beers. 150 varieties of beer available, either on tap on in the bottle, and a “tasting challenge” to try all 150. I’m fairly certain that at some point, my husband and his friends succeeded in completing the challenge.
The first Oktoberfest was held in Munich, Bayern (Bavaria) in 1810, as a celebration of the royal wedding between Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. For more than 200 years, it has been celebrated! More than six million people from all over the world gather and drink seven million liters of beer each year at Oktoberfest. While we were in Germany, everyone was sure to do their part to immerse themselves in the German culture during Oktoberfest.
Imagine Oktoberfest for a non-drinker; sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else turn bottoms up.
Ha! Oktoberfest is a feast for all senses. No beer? No problem. How about fresh sauerkraut, bratwurst, pretzel or schnitzel? Don your prettiest dirndl or Sunday best lederhosen and cut a rug to the bouncy polka. There is something for everyone at Oktoberfest.
Some interesting things you learn about Oktoberfest when you are busy immersing yourself in German culture. Oktoberfest is actually held in September, not October. All the beer served is brewed in Munich since the celebration is actually Bavarian.
Another activity I enjoyed while in Germany was Volksmarching.
We discovered it accidentally, but it became an obsession! One evening, while walking around our village, we came across a large group of people in a beer tent. We asked them what was going on and our obsession began.
A Volksmarch is a non-competitive organized walk. The course was always different and took us through villages, countryside, mountains, and cities. Everyone would meet at the start site to sign in, meet old friends and make new ones. Usually, there would be a tent with beer and good food, and often there would be a local band. As you walk and enjoy the scenery and fresh air you get rewarded along the way. There are always MORE BEER TENTS! Bratwurst, water, and snack stops, and more opportunities to socialize. A little fun bonus of the marches was a souvenir gift that you earned at the end of the march, usually a vase, a beer stein, or a figurine of some sort.
Once we started doing this you could find us out marching every weekend.
We started off doing the marches as a couple, but by the time we ended the tour in Germany, we had a nice group of friends that had joined us. These walks are some of the fondest memories I have of my time in Europe, times I miss greatly.
I have participated in a few marches here in the United States that weren’t quite as magical and wonderful as the memories I have from that more simple time, but I still hold a place in my heart for them. My eyes light up whenever I see an announcement for a volksmarch somewhere near me. I would love to see this become a popular Alaskan activity. It’s such a great way to meet people and increase tourism to smaller towns and areas off the beaten path.
Editors Note: Apparently, there is quite an active Volkssport group in Alaska. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out their events here: http://clubs.ava.org/gen3/data/clubevents_results.asp?club=AVA-0886