Oktoberfest ist Wunderbar … as Always!

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Howdy sports fans. Well, I guess this really isn’t a sports-related post, as my season is sort of over for 2007, but there are sports and games involved. That is, if you consider drinking beer and schnapps a sport! Yup, Jody and I returned to our October tradition of heading to Oktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo. In the past 7 years, I’ve been there 5 times, and Jody has been there 4 times. Each year, a different crew of us head down to Alix’s parents place, where we sleep in the basement, have a delicious Turkey dinner on Saturday, and of course head to the local sights and Festhallen for some Bavarian treats. Although there’s not a whole lot to tell you about the weekend (you sorta have to be there to understand it), I’ll still give you a little sense of the fun. Also, you can head over to Flickr to check out some pictures from the weekend. On with the tale.

To get things kicked off on our end, I actually ended up buying a new camera on Thursday night. Well, technically, I didn’t have to buy a whole camera. Our last one was under an extended warranty, and since it had crapped out for the third time, Henry’s wasted no time in giving us a new one. Well, we actually didn’t take the replacement, but rather a store credit for any other camera we might want. This was good, since I’d actually planned to replace the Canon before I head to New Zealand. So what did I replace it with? Let’s just use some key words. Shockproof. Waterproof (yes, totally, I can swim with it in a pool). Dustproof. Freezeproof. Sound intriguing? Well, it truly is. If you want to learn more about the Olympus 790SW, click on the link. So with the new camera in tow, we were ready to head off on the long journey to K-W.

Heading down in our car was five of us. Alix, Matt, Rob, Jody and I. Jody was nice enough to agree to drive the whole way down so that the boys could sit in the back and get up to no good. In fact, it was a full-on geekfest on the drive. Rob had his new Tom-Tom GPS unit. I had my computer, and we also had two MP3 players, which were connected to the stereo in the car. We had way too much fun. We made pretty good time, and got to Al’s place by around midnight. Instead of spending the whole night imbibing like in the old days, we pretty much just had a beer each and then turned in for the night. We wanted to be fresh for Saturday. We try to squeeze in a fair bit of stuff in that short day, and it always goes pretty late into the night.

We got up Saturday, and it took us till around 10am before we were finally all showered and ready to go. The standard days activities goes something like this. The first stop on the trip was a car wash, which is where Vince (Al’s brother) started his first job just a couple days ago. He already looked disillusioned with the work. Can’t say I blame him. He tried to pull a prank with us by stopping us in the middle of the car wash, but let us through to the end eventually. Funny guy!

After the car wash, we headed to Hans House downtown to pick up our tickets for that evenings’ festhallen. We learned there that Rob’s ticket was actually at the venue, since he had ordered it separate from us. That added an extra stop in the day. After getting the tickets, strolling around the downtown area and picking up some cash, we headed over to the St. James farmers market. This is where we get all our yummy brunch food. I made a beeline for Perogies , then also had some Samosas and a pretzel. There’s also the obligatory meat stop, to get meat sticks and a steak for Rob, and then the candy stall. I even managed to pick up a sweet $12 pair of boot cut jeans to go with my cowboy boots. We also met up with Dave at market.

From the market, we made our way to the Huether for some tasty beer samplers. This place is a micro-brew with tasty beers. The kind waitress wanted to give us food, but we insisted we were only in it for the beer. Luckily, it didn’t disappoint. After sampling the wares, we popped in next door to get some boxes of the stuff to go. Then, Al, Rob and Dave went to Bingemanns to pick up Rob’s ticket, while Matt, Jody and I went to the LCBO to pick up some goodies to go with supper before heading back to Silver Aspen Haus . When we got there, we found a full house. Andy, Irene-Ann, Stella and Claire had arrived, as well as some relatives for the big bird. Yup, as usual, Roger had slaved away to prepare an awesome 25lb. turkey! It did not disappoint.

Of course, the meal had to end, and we had to make our way to the main event. A night of drinking, dancing and gambling at Bingemann Hall. Before heading over there though, we sort of forced ourselves to make it through a little bottle of Alpenbitter (great digestive) as well as a big bottle of Cherry Schnapps at the urging of Al’s Uncle Bob. We ordered up two cabs and were eventually whisked away to the hall. It was already quite full, but luckily we didn’t have to wait outside too long. Inside, the usual scene played itself out. We ran into some old friends, gambled at the charity casino, drank tasty beers, ate some Schnitzels, etc., and even danced to some polkas and other more modern tunes. George Kash was also the main event as usual, and did his normal upside-down beer and Jagermeister drinking tricks for us. Per normal, things went well, right until the end of the night.

We had set some alarms this year, in hopes that we wouldn’t be on the last bus home. You see, each year, we seem to be stuck in some sort of zoo trying to get home, with varying degrees of success. In past years, we’ve been stuck in long waits at bus stations, wrong bus transfers heading the wrong way, etc. etc. We were really hoping to avoid those pitfalls this year by taking a slightly earlier bus and getting home early enough to have a couple extra pops in the safety of our own zone. Sadly, that wasn’t to happen again this year. As the night wore on, and the bavarian liquids took hold of us, we decided we could stay a bit later. In the end, we didn’t make it out until the fateful last bus.

As luck would have it, this was in fact our worst performance ever at trying to get home. We first tried to bribe a limo driver to drive us home, with no success. However, we did learn that for the low price of $250 next year, he’ll cart a group of 10 of us both to and from whatever festhallen we’d like. Not a terrible deal overall, but he wasn’t about to ditch his paying fare for us this year. So, we finally made it onto the free city bus, and all the way to the bus transfer station. From there, it took us a long time to find out that there wasn’t going to be another bus for a very long time, even though we’d already been there for about 45minutes. The group of us decided we’d try our luck at walking and catching cabs home.

After what seemed like an eternity (especially because Rob kept telling me he was hungry every minute or so), we finally managed to snag two cabs, and load everyone up to drive us the rest of the way to Als . After we got there, I pretty much went straight to bed, although my pictures would indicate that I snapped a few shots before finally turning in. All in all, it was another great night, but once again, we’ve sworn that we are never going to go to Bingemanns Marshall hall again. Especially not if we have to take those cursed buses home at the end of the night. So the plan for next year is to book tickets very early for Concordia or another hall, and maybe even book a limo or some other forms of rides in advance.

The next day, we slowly got up and had some light breakfast, in anticipation of the long drive home. Matt was feeling under the weather for quite some time, but did manage to make it back with Jody, Alix and I. However, before I could go anywhere, I got it into my head that I had to have tacos. So with Tom-Tom in tow, Rob, Dave and I made it to the nearest Taco Bell. It felt like our own mini ‘Harold and Kumar go to White Castle’. At one point, Rob informed me that this was the greatest idea I’ve ever had in my entire life. However, after a little while of eating our food, we also both felt it might not have been the best idea, given the sour cream and runny cheese. Oh well, live and learn. It wasn’t much worse than my traditional post-Oktoberfest KFC!

The drive home was pretty uneventful, and we made it back to Ottawa around 6:30, and spent the rest of the night lazing around. If you ever get the chance, you should check out all the Oktoberfest festivities in Kitchener-Waterloo. There’s something for everyone, and it definitely makes a great break from the everyday grind around here ;-). That’s it for now, see you all next time after my weekend in Tremblant.

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