The Calm Before The Storm: Zwei Bier Bitte!


Instead of “Where’s Waldo?” today it’s “Where’s Gallivance-o?” It’s a few days until Europe’s biggest party begins, and we’re sitting at a picnic table, under a leafy canopy of chestnut trees.

The keys to this kingdom? Just say, “Zwei bier und zwei bratwürste bitte.” And if you want to be properly dressed for the party it means leather pants for the herren, and low-cut bodices for the damen. Bow-chicka-wow-wow! If you guessed Munich – ding, ding, ding – you’re correct.

Oktoberfest Poster

Traditional Outfits

We’ve spent lots of time in Germany, and lived in Berlin, but we haven’t been to Munich (München to the folks here), and mid-September is the perfect time to visit. The weather more than agrees with a couple of I’m-over-the-heat Southerners; the summer tourist hordes are back where they need to be, and it’s the calm before the Oktoberfest storm.

Beer Garden

Munich has beautiful cathedrals, palaces, and museums galore to tantalize architecture, history, and art buffs. Allied bombers weren’t kind to these icons, but you’d never know it today. The city is the financial, political, and cultural capital of southern Germany – the corporate HQ of Bay-Em-Vay (BMW), and they have river surfing (gnarly!).

All of these assets ensure that for visitors, there’s something for everyone. It’s a big city with lots to do … and we’ll have Zwei Bier bitte.

Happy Trails,


We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

57 thoughts

    1. Thanks Rajiv, for the comment and for dropping by the blog. We made a last-minute decision to visit Munich, and as you can imagine, there’s no lodging to be had anywhere. So we will miss it as well, but honestly, we like Munich on the calm side. ~James

    1. Sue, I’m doing my best to keep up, but after being here a few days, I can see that compared to the locals I’m a sissy. I guess my party-animal days are over if it means knockin’ back multiple 1L mugs like the Müncheners. But that’s not to say I haven’t had a few. Germans take their beer seriously, and it’s all tasty. ~James

    1. You’re right Laura. Munich is busy now, so I can imagine how crowded it is for Oktoberfest. Our last minute plans means that we have to boogie before it starts. As you can imagine, there isn’t a hotel room to be had anywhere close to Munich (and if you could fine a room, prices are doubled). But no matter, the beer garden is relatively calm, and our beers and bratwurst taste just as nice with Terri humming an oompah song in the background. ~James

  1. ok – so jealous – wish i was there – and I do not say that to everyone. but thanks for letting me join in with you through this post – a joy of blogging I guess. but your photos and words – mmm and mmmm.

    Zwei Bier bitte

    1. Thanks so much Yvette. Connecting with readers like you and giving glimpses of new places is lots of fun for us. And as I’ve said before, blogging makes me a more observant traveler. Knowing that I could be blogging about anything that I see (listening to the Muse of course), makes me focus more and pay attention. It really does enhance the travel experience. ~James

    1. Definitely see Munich. Even though it’s a large city, it’s relaxed and we haven’t seen any of those big-city hassles that are prevalent elsewhere. It has tons of large parks and green spaces, interesting architecture and museums, and then there’s the beer. If you can only stop in two places, Munich and Berlin are the places. ~James

  2. I enjoyed Munich last year much more than I thought I would. Something always going on and such an abundance of unusual people and sights…The English Garden and surfboarding was especially interesting. Have a great October!!!

    1. I agree Suzanne. Munich has been on our list for years, and we’ve been close many times, but the timing never was right. We saw the surfers in The English Garden and they were fabulous. What an unusual sight on a river. Don’t be surprised if you see a post on this very topic. ~James

  3. Danke, Gallivance-o!

    Bier und “brats” – das sind wunderbare!

    Did you by any chance get out west of the city to see the Nymphenburg Palace? I found it both beautiful and fascinating. However, as a “summer” residence, it doesn’t have heat, of course, so when we went over the Christkindlmarkt holidays, we could see our breath- inside the palace!

    Great city to go exploring (Olympic Park is noteworthy).

    Thanks for the treasure hunt today! We saw as whole new side of you. .. Bow-chicka-wow-wow? 😉

    1. We must have similar tastes Jonelle, because we saw the Nymphenburg Palace, and Olympic Park. We particularly liked the Magdalenenklause at NP. Did you see this building? It was deliberately designed as a ruin. What a concept – first of its kind that I’ve seen. And while at Olympic Park, I couldn’t resist stopping to drool at BMW World; Mini-Coopers, Beamers, and Rolls Royces – something to fit all pockets. It wasn’t one of Terri’s favorites, but she powered through. And when in Rome – young bucks in lederhosen and buxom barmaids – how can I think anything but Bow-chicka-wow-wow! ~James

    1. By “try the beer”, if you mean stopping for beer and lunch at the Viktualienmarkt beer garden three days in a row, the answer is yes. And just so you don’t think we’re stuck in a rut, we had three different beers and three different sausages … bliss. ~James

  4. Ha, ha, where’s Gallivance-o? Wonderful, vibrant pictures, but the ones of the pretty Madchen clothing with the 23″ waists have just convinced me that I should stay away from Bier and Brats for a while. Prost!

    1. Susan, that’s why they don’t put nutrition labels on beer steins or sausage buns. A steady diet won’t work, but from time to time, it’s bliss. And BTW, in the past few days I’ve seen a few fräulein in their traditional outfits, and all of them don’t have 23″ waists -but they’re beautiful nonetheless. Zum Wohl! ~James

  5. I am SOOOOoooo envious! Let’s see: Oktoberfest begins in two days. I have just enough time to book a ticket and fly over there. Will you guys hold a place for me?

    1. Tom, you’re in the US epicenter for wonderful micro-brews, so no worries on the beer. But, I’m a little worried on the bratwurst side. Those health conscious Portlandians might be reluctant to stuff a sausage casing with enough artery-clogging essentials to make good brat. How far is it to Idaho? ~James

    1. I love a comment that sends me to the Google translate app. No we aren’t at the Hofbrauhaus, wir sind auf dem Viktualienmarkt Biergarten. No oompah but the beer and brats are tasty, the weather is perfect, and the people watching is un-paralleled. Another day and these khakis are outta here, and I’m being fitted for lederhosen. ~James

    1. 80/72 76/56
      One of the things that we’re enjoying most Joanne, is the weather. In addition to visiting some new places, from the get-go this trip has also been about a cool weather break. On the island in Georgia the temps are 80/72 and today in Munich it’s 76/56. This may seem like a small difference, but to southerners who’re over the heat, it’s makes for nearly perfect temps …. well and enjoying the beer garden. ~James

      1. Im guessing the really big difference is the lack of humidity right now in Munich. I’m not a fan of humidity which is why this time of year is soooo nice 🙂

    1. Now wait LuAnn. You’re in Colorado, the home of legal weed, and you envy a little German beer-drinking fest? All I can recommend is to stick with a good Colorado micro-brew and stay away from Coors. The two men who started the company may have been German immigrants, but they forgot their German roots when it came to beer. Hoist one for us on that side of the Atlantic, and enjoy the weekend. ~James

      1. No Coors for me. Give me a microbrew any day! And of course I can find good beer here but to be in Germany having a pint, now that’s special! Have a great weekend you two.

  6. I’m trying so hard not to be envious and depressed! All I’ve seen since my return to the UK last Saturday is grey skies, fog and mizzle. Ah, well- back to the photo albums!
    Enjoy! 🙂

    1. Paying the dues for all the nice weather in Portugal Jo? It hasn’t been rain-free in Germany, but it has been nice. At least nice enough to spend a little quality beer garden time. ~James

    1. As you know Curt, there are only tall ones in Munich. I like a couple of beers, but these 1L steins would bring anyone to their knees. Terri and found a beer garden that serves .5L and they feature a new beer each day. This makes for good beer and ensures that I won’t stumble home. ~James

      1. Kolsch is a must and bratwurst. The cathedral is worth a visit but it’s very crowded and don’t miss the love locks on Hohenzollernbrucke. I’m slowly writing up my visit so you may get a preview on my blog if you have time.

    1. We lived in Berlin for a few months Dawn, and after being in Munich, we think it would be a great place to settle for a few months as well. It has less of a big-city feel than Berlin, and seems more relaxed. There’s also a youthful vibe in Munich that we didn’t feel in Berlin. ~James

  7. Great photos — those colors are wonderfully vibrant. And I liked your bow-chicka-wow-wow comment about the low-cut dirndl bodices 🙂

  8. Did you two sport a Dirndl and a pair of Lederhosen to celebrate Oktoberfest and blend in with the locals? 🙂 Your post brings back fun memories from my times enjoying all of the festivities in Munich. Happy travels!

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