So, another week down and I’m trying to think of stuff to write for this blog, but I didn’t actually do much, so this will be very brief.
On Tuesday I went back to the Michaelis-Kirchweih in Fürth with some of the “cool” teachers, which wasn’t that exciting since I had already visited on Saturday, but I did get to try two new Franconian delicacies: Federweißer and Rotbier.
Federweißer is an unfiltered, young white wine, which is sickly sweet, looks like slightly cloudy grape juice and barely tastes alcoholic. Rotbier (lit. “red beer”) is an amber lager and Middle Franconian brew which seems to be associated with Nuremberg. It’s a rich, full-bodied malt-focused beer without the heavy alcohol hit of a Bockbier but lighter in colour and less robust than a dunkles Lager. There’s a brewery in Nuremberg famous for Rotbier that I will certainly need to check out in the future.
Wednesday was Tag der deutschen Einheit, a national public holiday celebrating the reunification of West and East Germany, and most shops were closed on this day.
Most of my classes this week were devoted to talking about Australia; all my students get unbelievably excited whenever I talk about Australian animals, so this is something I’ll try to drag out. In one class, I spent half the lesson showing YouTube videos of Australian animals attacking people.
Seeing as I intended to visit Wiesn (Oktoberfest) on Saturday, on Friday afternoon my super-awesome housemate, Annette, helped me go Tracht shopping. Tracht refers to the traditional garments worn in German-speaking countries which are now associated with folk festivals, such as Dirndl & Lederhosen. I initially only wanted to buy a Karohemd (“plaid shirt”) but was curious enough to try on a pair of Lederhose and, aided with Annette’s specialist knowledge of Old Bavarian culture, I ended up buying them but didn’t go as far as buying the traditional socks or shoes. Anyway, real Lederhose are meant to fit quite tightly since the leather loosens with wear, so I spent much of the afternoon getting used to wearing them because they are incredibly uncomfortable when brand new, especially when sitting, which is unfortunate as many activities one does when wearing Lederhosen are done whilst sitting.
I got up bright and early Saturday morning and rode my bike to the bus station in my Tracht which got some of the old Germs sniggering. Wiesn itself was crowded and touristy and I’ve never seen so many people in one place. When some of my fellow English assistants finally arrived after midday, we were lucky enough to get a table outside of tent Schottenhamel within 10 minutes and we each ordered a Maß of the Märzen served at this particular tent. A Maß is a one-litre, normally glass, mug of beer, which many English speakers call a “stein”, often arousing the ire of Germans and Germanistik students. Märzen, or Festbier, is the beer traditionally brewed for folk festivals and is normally more alcoholic, slightly amber and far less bitter than a regular lager; therefore, it is highly quaffable and highly effective.
There were some Franconians from Ansbach sitting next to us who had been drinking since 8am and had at least 5 litres of Märzen each; they engaged us in some banter and were shocked that we could all speak German. They were friendly enough; I bonded with them over our mutual preference for Franconian beer. Unfortunately, one of them got increasingly touchy with one of the girls, to the extent that she had to move seats to escape his unwanted caresses.
When Germans get really drunk, they almost start behaving like sober Australians. Yet, I didn’t see any of the sort of mob violence that you would see on a typical night out in any Australian city, only a bit of vomiting and passing out. Speaking of Australians, a group of Aussies sat down next to us at some point, which was nice until one of them started speaking sport at me and I remembered one of the reasons why I left.
Later in the day, some of the other English assistants joined us and after 3 litres of beer I was at my limit, especially seeing I didn’t eat very much at all that day , but luckily ended up making it home. It was certainly a worthwhile experience and I will definitely return next year but during a weekday when it’s less busy.
My hangover on Sunday was not too severe, and I was functional enough to catch up with one of the younger “cool” teachers for coffee and was amazed to find out that she had watched all of the brilliant Australian TV series Please Like Me.
Annette also invited me and one of my fellow assistants to a small folk festival (Ehenfelder Kirwa) near her home town in 2 weeks, where we will get to see some really traditional Bavarian practices, such as carp fishing. Right now it’s Monday night and my housemates and I are going to be eating pizza made from Knödelteig (“potato dough”) together. Also, the Frankfurter Buchmesse (the most important and famous book fair in the world) starts this week and I’m highly considering going on the weekend, otherwise I could even go to Cannstatter Wasen, a Swabian folk festival, near my previous second-home in Germany, Stuttgart. We will see.