Day 13: Free Day

We had many different ideas for our free day. A large portion of the students wanted to take a train to Salzburg, Austria and spend the day there, others wanted to spend another day in Munich, and others wanted to just stay in Augsburg and explore the city a little more. However, a couple of the German students recommended that we go to a big festival with them in Erlangen. They said that they could get us lederhosen and that we would fit right in, so we said why not and decided to go. We met them around 3 in Augsburg and changed into our lederhosen, which were actually quite comfortable and stylish. We then drove two and a half hours to Erlangen, part of which was on the autobahn. Everyone on the autobahn was going anywhere from 150 to 200 km/h, which really didn’t seem that fast even though we were going about 125 mph. The German students told us that it is actually dangerous to go slower because everyone is going so fast.

After a ride that seemed to take forever, we finally arrived at the festival and saw a sea of people in lederhosen and dirndl moving towards a mountain covered with huge trees and terraces. We followed the crowd and soon we were walking up pathways covered with vendors selling all kinds of Bavarian food spanning from 24-inch bratwursts to pretzels bigger than my head. All of the pathways had huge trees on either side that canopied over the path and provided shade. All of the paths were also leading up the mountain and to terraces built in to the side of the mountain that acted as sitting and eating areas for each of the breweries. All of the different breweries had caves in the side of the mountain where they kept all of the kegs for their beer. You would simply walk up to the entrance of the cave, ask for a liter, and they would give you their own customized mug and beer. There was also tons of entertainment from live bands, street performers, carnival games, and amusement park rides.

The festival was truly a once in a lifetime experience and it is something I will never forget. The camaraderie and sense of tradition present among everyone there was palpable and made the festival that much more special. Luckily we just barely caught the  last train ride back to Augsburg and made it back in time. The day was nothing short of amazing and it was the perfect way to end an incredible trip.

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