June 8, 2014: Bergkirchweih > Oktoberfest

More highlights from my stay in Germany:

 

My good friend Tom’s birthday was on June 2nd and so we decided to celebrate it the weekend before.  If you know Tom at all you know he is not a fan of the usual 20 something birthday scene involving a ton of alcohol and dancing in a club or bar.  Instead we decided to take a bike trip from Erlangen to Bamberg, which is more than double the distance to Forchheim.  I think to total for our trip there was something like 51 miles.  Anyway, we started off decently early around 10:30 and cycled along the canal.  We took it kind of easy and stopped fairly often for water, snacks, pictures, and the occasional swallowed bug.  The weather was absolutely perfect and the sky was blue with these nice fluffy clouds watching over us most of the trip.  For those of you who don’t know anything about this part of Franconia, the landscape is pretty awesome to cycle through.  The trip goes through the Frankische Schweiz, which are these low rolling hills covered in trees and greenery, with wide flat valleys of various fields and a patchwork of wild flowers on either side of the canal.  From about Forchheim on the trip seemed never ending.  It was nice and I have no complaints other than my legs and bum were really starting to feel the burn.  But in the company of good friends one tends to forget these things.  At one point we stopped cycling long enough to watch a rowing race in which we then proceeded to cycle along side (which was pretty neat).  We also met an older group of bikers (most with silvery white hair) who helped us along our journey.  I don’t think I could have asked for a nicer cycling trip to be honest.

 

By the canal

By the canal

 

Pictures near Forchheim

Pictures near Forchheim

 

bambergbike12

The rowing race

 

Once in Bamberg we found the brewery which sells this smoked beer special to the town and had lunch there.  And oh what a feast we had.  There is nothing like eating nice food and drink after such a long bike ride.  We even chatted with some of the people we were sharing a table with, who were all rather surprised that we were from different countries (France, Scotland, US, Poland, and Spain).  Then we walked around for a bit and managed to find some ice cream before heading back.  The plan was originally to cycle back the way we came and hopefully making it in under three hours this time.  And considering how long we had ridden and how loudly my legs were aching at this point, Donald and I decided to head back via train while the others cycled back, debating when we likely overtook the others.

 

Lunch in Bamberg

Lunch in Bamberg

 

We continued the birthday celebration that Monday and Tuesday by going to an Indian buffet nearby and feasting on some lemon meringue pie.  Some Game of Thrones was involved as well.  And later on that Tuesday we went out to celebrate another friend’s birthday at the student bar in Erlangen.  I managed to meet some more American people here as well and we just chatted and sat around until the old lady in me decided I should go home and get some well deserved sleep.  Celebrating birthdays is, after all, hard work.

 

Another important event to note this week was the opening of the Erlangen beer festival, Bergkirchweih.  Now there are a couple of very important reasons why I like this festival much more than I liked Oktoberfest.  The main reason is that the atmosphere is so much nicer at the Bergkirchweih.  The beer gardens are on top of the small hill overlooking Erlangen, surrounded by trees and nature.  The tents are quite close to one another, with the seating stretching up the hill.  And it just feels more cozy and authentic overall to be honest.  Someone told me that Oktoberfest is where to tourists go and the Bergkirchweih is where the Germans go.  I’m not sure how true that is, but it makes at least a bit of sense to me.  It also wasn’t completely impossible to find a place to sit as opposed to Oktoberfest, where you have to arrive early and drink the entire day so you can sit comfortably in a tent.  And just in case you were wondering, yes I have managed to go to the Bergkirchweih several times since I am so close to it.  It is really nice to be able to ride my bike to and from the fest instead of sitting on top of a luggage rack in a train crowded with drunk people trying to untie my shoe laces for 2 hours.

 

Overlooking one of the booths

Overlooking one of the booths

 

Enjoying a liter on opening night

Enjoying a liter on opening night

 

I also took another bike trip with my good friend Ela from Erlangen to Nuremberg.  Considering how far our last bike trip was, we thought this one would be a piece of cake.  And for the most part it was.  The only issue was that it was incredibly hot (in the upper 80s to lower  90s) and the sun was blazing down on us.  It felt a bit like Alabama, minus the extreme humidity.  And the scenery was just not as nice as it was on our Bamberg trip.  This is mostly due to the fact that we followed the road instead of finding another route.  Once in Nuremberg we parked our bikes and found some ice cream.  Then we made our way over to the river and ate our fare in the shade of a nice big tree.  We walked around for a bit and then eventually decided to beat the heat by sitting in a cafe near the castle.  While sipping on some black currant juice we lazily chatted and people watched before finally calling it an afternoon and heading back home.  The ride back was pretty uneventful with the exception of my near death experience as a driver parked halfway in the bike lane decided to open his door right as I went by him, coming less than an inch from hitting me.  The weather was also a bit cooler and shadier as we rode back, and mostly downhill as well.  And to top off such a nice weekend we decided to beat the heat on Sunday by going to the swimming pool next to my dorm the next evening.

 

And since this post is already getting a bit long, I think I am going to make a new post for Tübingen and all of the fun I had there with my fellow American and German exchange students.

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