October 3, 2011
A group of the paddlers from the Sickline competition organized to meet in Munich at the “HB” tent, for a night out at the biggest party on earth. They keep the party simple here. Serve beer, and only one kind of beer in each tent. We drank HB beer, since we were in the HB tent. They had people walking around selling some food as well but I only noticed the pretzel guy once. We not only agreed to meet at the HB tent in the early afternoon, but were more specific than that, meet at Marianne Seather’s tables. Marianne has two tables in the tent, each one can hold about 20 people. Her job is simply to keep the 40 people (plus the standing room only crowd) in beer from about 9am-11pm. Each beer is 1 liter and comes in a massive, thick mug and must weigh 5 pounds total. Marianne can carry 12 of them at one time, a very impressive feat. We didn’t call her in advance, so when we got there, there was not any room at the table for us. A little coaxing and we got squeezed in slowly and as people got up to go to the bathroom we took over the tables. The first 5 minutes we sat down. Then they band started playing and you didn’t want to sit down after that! “prost!” and beer flying everywhere, glass breaking, and it was a standing event very quickly. The band sung songs in German, English, and more. Singing was part of the fun, and making up the words was just fine.
Dane, Rafa, Nick, and I got there by driving from Oetz, Austria towards Munich. We figured there was no way to get a hotel in Munich during this event, so about 60 Kilometers outside of Munich we found a small town (Seeshaupt) along a beautiful lake. We checked to see if they had a train station there, (they did), and then found a Pension over an Italian restaurant. The owner was very much an Italian and was super funny as we tried to check in. After we got out rooms, we planned our excursion. Wallet? No Wallet? Nick, Rafa, and I decided on no wallet, but Dane took his. We each brought 100 Euros for beer and food (about $140- each beer is 10 euro and 1 liter- 4 beers is a gallon, so 100 should be enough). I brought my iPhone, Dane brought his GoPro, and Rafa brought his iPhone. I also brought my special red-neck hair hat since I didn’t invest in Lederhosen (about $200) and that was clearly the outfit of choice. The Dandle (not sure if that is how you spell it- the outfit the girls wear) is one great invention. Designed by a man, for a woman, I am sure. I need to get Kristine one of those!
We bought our train tickets (actually the train station guy helped us as we couldn’t figure it out) and jumped on the 3:00 train. Switched at the Tutzin, and made it to the Mainstation where we got on the subway. The trains were packed- uh, that isn’t the right word. We saw what looked like the impossible train to get on, as it looked like the doors couldn’t possibly close, and we squeezed on anyhow. One lady was shaking her finger at us, like, don’t try it boys, but it all worked out as I pushed hard with my arm on the ceiling to get in enough for the door to shut. Upon leaving that train we entered into massive chaos. We shuffled forward until we were simply landlocked and the lines weren’t moving anywhere. The HB tent was here somewhere, but at the rate we were going, it would be at least an hour to walk 100 yards. We found a moving line and drafted it. It was pretty cool, a single line of people moving forwards through the crowd and we got in that jet stream on the tail end and it got us up past the traffic jam. Inside the tent would be impossible to just find our table. 7,000 people are in that tent, or more and it is not easy to walk around. Luckily we bumped into a kayaker who pointed us in the right direction to our tables. Whew- we are here! OK, now where is Marianne, and how long to get beer?! She came right around, and I ordered 10 beers at once- my 100 Euros. I figured I couldn’t lose my 100 Euros if I went ahead and spent it all up front. Good thinking, I guess, as writing this spurred my memory and I hadn’t seen my driver’s license yet…. Yes, it is gone! I just checked. I brought it, in case I ended up face down outside somewhere and I figured we should bring identification. I am glad that was all I brought! I still have my passport, which will get my home. Anyhow, back to Octoberfest party, beer tent HB. Marianne brought the 10 beers and banged them down on the table hard. I paid her the 100 Euros and off she went. The party was now officially started for those of us who just arrived. Mike, Sam, Anton, Jamie, Martina, Dane, Rafa, Nick, and I had our beers, were signing our first songs, and standing around in amazement at the spectacle. Singularity. Agendas were simple, show up, drink beer, party with your friends. Everyone is drinking exactly the same thing, standing at the same tables, listening to the same music, and having a great time. Jacabus, the German slalom racer, now turned cop in Munich, was there and was going to organize a handcuffed, cop car ride for me, and maybe Dane, Nick, and Rafa if they wanted. A staged fight, police brutality, and then a cop car ride, (all on goPro, of course) was the plan. Seemed like a great idea to me, but somewhere in between, Rachel cutting her hand, and me looking for glass in it, and using my beer to clean it off, and then Dane cutting his hand, and then having a nice kiss from Louise, on camera, of course, and finally decided we needed to go ride some carnival rides, the police action disappeared. We went outside, and it was clear at that point that both Rafa and Dane were over the top. How could we tell? We were denied entry into the first ride by security as Dane and Rafa stumbled up to the gate. New plan, I would buy the tickets, Nick and Motse (sp) would keep Dane and Rafa under control in the background, and then we walk in quickly. Our first ride was a roller coaster and it was super fun. I recorded the whole thing and didn’t lose my phone, which was harder than I thought, especially switching hands mid-loop, etc.. Nick got thrown into a water fountain as he was trying to get his head wet to cool off, and his legs where dangling. It was too hard to resist not lifting his legs up and dropping him in.
After a while we figured it was time to head back, as we had already missed the 2nd to last train, and there was only one more train that rolled out of main-station at 11:30pm. We got on the subway and made it there by 10:30 and had a Burger King double cheeseburger , milkshake, and fries. Yummy!
The train took us to Tutzin and it arrived at 12:05. It was totally full so Nick and I stood up most of the time to let some girls sit. One girl sat next to Rafa, but tried to stay clear of him. He was passed out on the seat, but not enough to miss the opportunity to try to put his head on this girl’s shoulder. He wasn’t having it and pushed him over and sat on the edge of her seat. Dane was waking up and falling asleep, and claiming he was fine, he hadn’t had too much to drink. Finally, we arrived at the trainstation, and had our fingers crossed that we didn’t miss the last train. We ran around to what we thought was the right train to Seeshaupt and jumped on. Rafa dropped his phone on the tracks trying to get on the train. It was just sitting there on the tracks, but there was no way to get it while this train was there. We were looking at it like, “bummer” and didn’t get off the train. Rafa jumped off as the doors were closing and said, “I am getting my phone”. We rolled away and I checked with the train guy a second time, “Seeshaubt?” and he said, “no”. Wrong train. We got off and jumped back on a train to Tutzin again where we left Rafa. He was’t there and there were no more trains that night at that station. We found a taxi and got a ride for the last 15 kilometers to Seeshaubt. Rafa was sleeping in the car, and the nice guy “Albert” we met on the way in, was on that last train and pointed Rafa in the right direction.
A massive party, every year, in Munich, Germany, called Octoberfest. 7 million liters of beer have been served already this year for this event, at this fairground. 7,000,000! I have never heard of a bigger party, nor one that is built around one simple concept, get together and drink beer and have fun with your friends. There was quite a “who’s who” of kayakers at the table last night. I will forget many of their names off the top of my head but it goes something like this:
Anton Meuler, Steve Fisher, Sam Sutton, Jamie Sutton, Mike Dawson, Rush Sturges, Vavria (Czech world cup slalom champion), two German World Champions in slalom, Matsi, Dane, Nick, Rafa, Martina Wegman, Louise (from New Zealand), Jared, and the list goes on. Sorry I can’t remember the European slalom guys names well enough to spell them! We all made it home safe and sound in our group- hope the same is true with the others going in different directions.
Next stop for me is Sort, Spain- leaving tomorrow AM from Munich to Barcelona, where Lluis will pick me up. Dane, Nick, and Rafa fly home to North America.
I will be home in one more week- next Sunday. The day I fly in, my home will already be full of my dealers and distributors who are coming for the Dealer/Distributor summit on Monday/Tuesday. On Tuesday night the folks coming for the whitewater symposium will begin arriving. It is Wednesday-Friday. Saturday I fly to Mexico. Maybe I should go back to bed and get some sleep…nah… I will be fine- the sun is up and we have one more day here in Germany…. What to do?
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