We went to Oktoberfest! Almost.

In Venice I made a quick dinner of gnocchi with a creamy mushroom and bacon sauce and a communal starter of cheese with caramelized walnuts. I had no idea who was working on site there and was thrilled to find out that both Laura’s and Stevie were there. That night was a pretty quiet one in the bar and after a skype chat I went to bed.


I didn’t mention, we went to Verona!

The day in Venice is always a pretty quiet one for me. The passengers go in to the islands which are about 15 mins away and I just stay at camp to potter and get what I need done. In the morning I went shopping after breakfast and then went with the girls to the new shopping mall across the road for some fun shopping and lunch. Normally its also a chance for me to go swimming but as I had thought this trip was going to be cold, I hadn’t brought any swimmers!

That night was Alex’s chicken paprikosh for dinner and one of the new guys said that he ‘hoped he would throw up tonight so he could taste that dinner again’ one of the strangest compliments I’ve ever had.
We had a traffic light party that night where passengers wear red, green or yellow depending on their relationship status. Subtle hey?
The drive to Vienna the next day was pretty uneventful. Beautiful mountains and scenery makes it a really pretty drive at least. And we wanted it to be uneventful because we had an aim for that night. If we could run everything as fast and smoothly as possibly we might have time to go to Prater Park (an amusement park) after dinner. So after we set up camp I stayed back to do dinner and the next days lunch whilst they all went for the driving tour. We managed to make good time and were heading to Prater park at 9pm. We all kind of stuck together at the park, starting off at a ride that is chairs on chains that swing around and then are lifted really high. Like really really high. I’m not much of a rides person and this one gives me enough adrenalin but the next one was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. It was a big arm that swung in a total circle, holding us upside down for way too long at the top. Erin and I were screaming ‘make it stop!’ and ‘put us down!’. Passengers were yelling ‘I can taste your dinner Gemma!’ and ‘you are the worst trip leader for doing this to us Erin!’ and I felt my stomach churning. I was shaken after it so we slowed down for the next ride and we went on the go carts. I won that race but apparently I was a bit rough on some of the passengers, may have rammed one….
We slept in the luggage lockers of the coach that night, we couldn’t quite get the doors right and so locked ourselves in and called Zsolt in the morning to let us out. It was pretty cold but breakfast burritos made it a bit better. I went in with everyone for the drop off into the city and after Erin, Zsolt and I went to the Metro to go shopping. It was a fun shopping center and Erin even managed to get at Dirndl to wear in Munich. It had a terrible payment system though…. I feel like I’ve seen enough shopping centers to have an opinion on this!
Tasting at the Schnapps museum

At camp it was a casual day of cleaning and packing and general stuff like accounts and clothes washing until it was time to pick up our pax. We took them straight to the Schnapps museum where they got to learn about distillation and the history of schnapps in Austria as well as try a whole lot of different flavors and types of schnapps.

We took them back to the campsite to get dressed up for the night and then back in to the city. 4 of our passengers were going to ‘Sounds of Vienna’ a classical concert in a beautiful building, the Kursalon. The rest of us went to a restaurant to eat ribs. It turned in to a dangerous night of riddles being shared up and down the table that got tempers high at some points. Erin and I shared a plate of ribs and it was goooood.

Yesterday was our drive to Munich. We stopped at Mathausan and the passengers were quite moved by it. Zsolt, Erin and I sat up on a rise looking over the town of Mathausan and over to the alps and talked about things like communism. At some point during a trip I will always find myself having a deep conversation about communism. Every time I learn something new. At the campsite in Munich we were very excited to see all the people there working for Oktoberfest. A whole lot of drivers, cooks, management and ground crew were there and I had to drag myself away to get ready into my Dirndl. We were certainly not the only people in Munich dressed up and of course once we got to the Hofbrauhause there were heaps of people in costume. We had more riddles, tried lifting as many steins as we could (3 was my record) and ate pretzels and many different meats as we could. It was a loud, warm night. Back at camp we had more chats with all the crew before sleeping in a tent. This morning the crew at the camp were excited for their first day of Oktoberfest which was good because we were getting to the tired point of the trip and needed some of their oomph!

Lets talk communism
Erin and I in Munich
Billy the Kid, master of the riddles
We got in to the campsite at 2:30 which is just ridiculously early and so the passengers had heaps of time to get ready before we headed in to the city. Most had upgraded to cabins as well which was nice. We catch the tram and the train in to the city from the campsite which takes us around half an hour. In the main square I had time to get a Trdlenik and a cider for the walk and the weather was lovely for us for the whole of the walking tour. We had had a little stress about where the restaurant was that we were using tonight. Erin had been once before and I hadn’t ever been. It took us a while to find it on google maps back at the camp and we had memorised the directions but it was still a relief to get there and find that we were right. It is a new restaurant that Topdeck is using this year called Pivo & Basilico and I was very impressed with the food. A soup for starter that was thick and rich (Vegetable soup), main was chicken stuffed with cheese and spinach and wrapped in bacon with melt in your mouth potato wedges and vegetables and finally ice cream and berry coulis for dessert. We were so full afterwards that my table decided to try out the digestive spirits menu. Erin and Nicola tried a herbal one that smelt much to like Jaeger for my taste, I had a plum spirit that tasted like it could light fires and I bought an Absinthe for Vincent and the waiter brought it with sugar and lit it and all. Vincent has been buying us all shots at all the bars we go to and people are trying to get him back by randomly surprising him with Absinthe anywhere they can.
On the Charles Bridge
By about 8pm we were finished with dinner and wandered back across the Charles bridge to a bar called Propaganda. It is decked out with old communist posters and decorations and you sit on pommel horses and the drink of the night was a Moscow mule. Vegetables in a drink makes it healthy right?
The next bar we went to is called Double Trouble and has a good little dance floor so was just the place to get warmed up for the 5 story nightclub. Here we ran in to most of the other groups in town. When we left to walk to the club the heavens opened on us and we had to shelter in doorways from the downpour. Luckily it didn’t last long and we made it to the club not too drenched. The 5 story nightclub is something of a legend in Prague. Everyone has heard of it as the biggest club in Europe, and it is fun but its not as good as you might want. Each level has a different theme. Radio hits, Dance, Oldies, R’n’B and Hip Hop and the ice bar. I have spent most of my time here on the Oldies and R’n’B floors and they are fun. We weren’t out ridiculously late before people got hungry and most of us were across the road at the kebab shop and in a taxi home by 1.30.
The group on the Charles Bridge
The next morning we had a late breakfast at 9 which was scrambled eggs and sausage surprise (Sausages cut up, tinned tomatoes, tinned mushrooms and baked beans- season). I left some snacks out for them for the rest of the day and cleaned up before hopping back in to bed for another 4 hours. Our beds were comfy and the wifi reached to our rooms so it was difficult to see why we should leave. There was a fair/market thing on at the camp, I think it was something for a charity. There were stalls selling crafts, you could join in on kids art and there was music playing loudly and a trapeze set-up that I never saw used. There was also a little Vespa show going on in a corner! Unfortunately it started to rain and it got packed down but it was pretty cool. We 3 went for dinner at the restaurant up the back and it was cheap and delicious! I had a mushroom risotto and the others had goulash. Some of our boys joined us as well having come back when the weather had turned. After dinner Zsolt and I went for a long walk around the lake near the campsite that I had never realised was there before. It was good to stretch my legs after a lazy day and we had good chats in the silence of the dark woods surrounding the lake.
Walking by the lake
Our next drive was to Berlin. We stopped at lunchtime at Dresden. It was solidly raining and the walking tour was very short – in relation to our passengers complaints. We took them to Curry24 for a chili eating contest. It sells 7 levels of curry wurst with number 7 rating at 1.000.000 on the official scoville scale. We had 4 boys participating in the challenge, they had to finish a number 7 and the bread roll it came with first. Rob smashed the competition out of the water and with eyes watering raised his hands in triumph. Everyone else had a much lower number on the scale for a more pleasurable lunch (I had a 2 and it was just enough spice for me) then they voted to keep on driving rather than have free time in the city because the rain was still coming down.
Curry wurst
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