A birthday like no other!
9 October 2012
Ciao a tutti!
Sorry about the long wait – I was feeling a bit under the weather last week and didn’t do anything too special! But other than that these past few weeks have been great; now that I’ve been here for over a month, I’m starting to feel much more comfortable with my surroundings and I feel like I’m really getting to know the city of Florence, It’s such a wonderful feeling!
So this past weekend was my birthday, and I am so happy that I was able to spend it abroad! Luckily enough, it just happened to land on the last weekend of Oktoberfest in Germany, so for me it was a no-brainer where I would go! My friends and I decided to take the leap and go camping at a popular campground for young people called Stoke Travel. The campground had such a laid back atmosphere and the Aussies that ran it were so friendly, and we met so many other students who were traveling from all over! It may have been cold up there, but the experience was totally worth it!
On Friday soon after we arrived in Germany, a few friends and I decided to take a bike tour of Munich before heading out to the festival, and what a crazy experience that was! Navigating the crowded streets while trying to remember how to ride a bike was certainly no easy task, but once we got the hang of it, it was such an adrenaline rush! Munich turned out to be quite different from my expectations – going into the tour I thought that we would be seeing lots of historic sites built centuries ago, but what I found was that about 80% of the city had been destroyed during the wars, and just about everything was modern! We did, however get to see Marien Square, The English Gardens, and the largest greenhouse in Germany – and not to mention we got to have lunch at the 2nd largest beer garden in the world!
After our bike tour, we decided to finally head over to the festival. It was like nothing I could have imagined – rides everywhere, tons of German food and of course, beer tents everywhere! After walking around in awe for a while, we decided to take a ride on the sky-high swings, which provided the most beautiful view of the entire city!
Saturday was our big day, and my birthday! We got up bright and early and headed to the festival in order to secure our spot in the famous beer tents, which, luckily, we did! Now you might be thinking that the sole purpose of going to Oktoberfest is to drink until you pass out, but for us, that wasn’t quite it. We had the times of our lives singing drinking songs, meeting people from all over the world, and simply taking in the experience of this age-old tradition! To our surprise, almost everybody was dressed up in traditional German dirndles and lederhosen; it was truly a sight to see! As a soon-to-be broke study abroad student, I didn’t quite have the funds to buy an outfit, but I did, however, buy this awesome hat!
After a whole day of indulging in German culture, the sun went down and the lights went on. The whole festival lit up and it truly became a ‘Disney World for adults’. This called for a ride on the famed ferris wheel, which gave us the most amazing view of the entire festival from above!
With Sunday came lots of rain and a very humbling experience. We went to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp, which held up to 32,000 Nazi prisoners at one time, though it was only built for 6,000. As I walked around the grounds in the pouring rain cold, wet, and hungry, I couldn’t help but to think that in that moment, I had no right to feel the way I did, because the thousands of people who lived and died in that camp had it far, far worse than I did for that simple hour and a half of my life. It’s impossible to describe the overwhelming feeling that I experienced when I visited the camp, but I feel honored to have had the opportunity to see it.
After a long and eventful weekend, we were finally headed back to Florence, and though I had the most amazing birthday I could ever ask for, I am always excited to return to this amazing city that I am able to call my home. Now that midterms are coming up (WHAT?!) it’s time to hit the books, but not without some fun in between Up next week: pasta workshop, chocolate factory tour, and a day trip to Parma for balsamic, parmagiano, and prosciutto tastings!
Until next time!
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