Our buddy Axel picked us up from the train station and showed up the 10 cent tour of Osnabruk. We got to his house, dropped out packages.
I was thinking that we were going to need a nap, but Axel, sensing our energy level instead offered us a beer.
Now, before I launch into how the rest of the Germany trip was, and before you judge me, I have to set out some rules of Germany.
- You do not drink tap water. Not in a restaurant, not at home. It's considered cheap and most places won't give you the option. You buy bottles of water.
- Beer is cheaper than water. Yes, water is roughly $3.50 a bottle whereas beer is closer to $3 and you get a bottle deposit of about $.50 if you return the bottle to the vendor.
- Germans drink beer with lunch, dinner, and before bed. Doesn't matter if it's Monday and they are working, that's just how the culture is. BUT, saying that, it seems they do not drink to get a buzz like many American's or the Irish did.
- Beer is served usually by the liter in Germany. To put that in perspective, it's roughly 2.5 standard bottles of American beer.
Axel's balcony overlooked all of his town. We could see the local cathedral, the town square, the mountains in the distance, and all the green trees. The weather was perfect. Really, this encouraged beer drinking.
It also happened to be Osnabruk's May Fest. Every May, the town celebrates spring time with 9 days of drinking, eating, and music in the town square. It's a huge deal. Axel told us that 650,000 people came to May Fest in Osnabruk this year.
What happened over the next several hours is a blurry alternating beer, sausage, music, meet someone new, beer, sausage, shots, meet someone new pattern. We met about 12 of Axel's best friends, briefly were lost in Germany without any of our German friends, went to a packed German night club, ended up at some biker bar, and then ate my new favorite food, Doner, at 3 am.
We messed up bad.
The next morning we had to wake up semi-early so that we could drive to Dortmund to see a football (soccer) match. We all hated life. It was a bad hangover that lasted until the ball dropped.
And we found ourselves in a sold out 86,500 standing room only stadium. Sal and I were right next to what's called the Yellow Wall where the biggest fans of the team sing songs the entire 90 minutes, waved flags, shout names in unison. It's indescribable how loud and huge that place was. It was like something out of Harry Potter. Sal and I sat 10 rows back. The image below is from our seats.
We spent our last day in Osnabruk going to Axel's families horse farm. The place was gorgeous. It was one of the few times I thought, "Yeah, maybe I could live on a farm instead of in a city."
Food and Drink
It was as early as the first night in May Fest that I knew I was about to have some incredible food. We were eating sausages from street vendors and they were better than anything I've had in America.
The Donar, which is basically a gyro served in pita bread with either Tzatziki or a curry sauce is one of my favorite new foods. This stuff was only $3 and you could get it anywhere.
Obviously the Germans love their lagers, pilsners, and weizens. All of the beer was just unbelievably good. I understand now why Axel made fun of American beer when he was over here.
But, the cream of the crop was when we went to Rampendahl.
This small brew pub opened in 1430 in Osnabruk and has been making beer since. The best Weizen I have ever had in my entire life was served of course in a liter mug, for about $3. And the food... half the menu was traditional Bavarian (southern Germany) and the other half newer German food. I ordered a pork knuckle, which I've never had before, and the thing was the size of my head and served on a pillow of saurkraut. Just everything about this meal was unbelievable.
Leaving Osnabruk to go to Berlin
The train strike also ended on Sunday, which was a relief as we were about to get on a train Monday to go to Berlin.
This train ride was much more relaxing. 4 hours across Germany, train was only 1/3 full. Sal was able to nap and I read in peace.