Friday, July 22, 2011


So, a few weeks ago, I went biking in Austria, where I had the pleasure to meet some of my classmate Isabella's cool German friends. One of Isabella's friends, Hannah, invited me to come to an annual festival in her city of Munich called Kocherlball.

Kocherlball, the way it was explained to me, was what the servants in Munich used to do to have fun. They wanted to have a summer ball like the rich people they served, but they couldn't do it in the evening because that's when they had to work. Instead, maids, cooks and other servants would get up early in the morning and eat, drink and dance. Today, people in the region come and recreate this, some dressing up like servants, others in traditional Bavarian dirndl and leiderhosen. Being a proud owner of leiderhosen, and loving the Kocherlball trifecta of eating, drinking and dancing, I had to go!

I took a leisurely series of trains from Bratislava to Munich on Saturday, arriving around 6pm. I'm very proud of myself for making all the train changes and mastering the public transportation systems of both Vienna and Munich sans-smartphone, no problem. I love the future, but I think I would have survived the 20th century no problem.

Isabella (who had driven in from Geneva) and Hannah were enjoying chocolates and the evening sky while sitting on Hannah's balcony when I met up with them. We put on our evening best (you'd be surprised how many people actually wear leiderhosen on a regular basis in Munich - they're not just for Oktoberfest!), and walked to a biergarten in the city center.

Our evening at the beer garden (it's called Augustiner Brau, for anyone interested in visiting Munich) already made my trip worth it. We sat out in a giant wooded area with lots of picnic tables, ordered some Augustiners and tried some of Munich's tastier dishes, which included lots of chicken and other tasty meat things. The atmosphere was amazing - the trees overhead added to the cool calm ambience of the warm Bavarina night. And of course, I got to wear leiderhosen.

The next morning, we woke up at 4:30am and took the subway to the English Garden in Munich. We joined a growing group of revelers walking down the grassy paths of the park toward the Chinese tower, where the ball is held every year. Although the event isn't as large as Oktoberfest (it isn't ever advertised or anything), there were still a few thousand people there apparently, almost all Germans.

We met up with some of Hannah's friends who had gotten up even earlier and had gotten a table, and we ordered some breakfast pastries and sausages. Dancing soon commenced, with some people on the main stage teaching us the steps. We danced Bavarian variations on the polka, the waltz and the quadrille. As my luck would have it, Isabella was raised in Austria, so she had all this dancing stuff in her blood. She also happened to be the one who taught us all how to dance in preparaton for the Viennese ball earlier this year, so we had a great time dancing in the crowded area next to the stage.

The whole event began to wind down at 10:00am, so after walking through the park a bit more, Hannah, Isabella and I put down for a nap at her apartment. I woke up at 4:00pm and it was raining, so I kind of missed the train on exploring Munich a bit more. Luckily, I didn't miss my actual train and I arrived back in Bratislava late Sunday night.