Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bilbao and Oktoberfest

Last week I finally ventured outside of San Sebastián!  Although I missed my lovely city the entire time.  By some power of God, my roommates and I managed to catch an 8 am bus to Bilbao last Wednesday.  Bilbao is a city about an hour away from San Sebastián and about twice the size.  It's much more industrial but has an old part with just as much charm as the old part here in San Sebastián.  After waking up at 7 am the only thing that would satisfy us upon our arrival at Bilbao was a complete spanish breakfast. In Spain they don't really do waffles or omelets, and definitely not bagels.  A traditional spanish breakfast consists of bread in some form and coffee.  Thus, a plate of napolitanas, a.k.a. pure bliss manifested in pastry form and café con leche satisfied our hunger. After a meal like that we were ready to take on Bilbao!

And by take on Bilbao, I really mean take on Bilbao.  Our main reason for visiting the city was to see the Guggenheim museum, however, we found it necessary to walk the length of the city twice, visit three other museums and one church.  Our tourist stops included the Museo de Arqueología for an introduction to Basque archeology, Museo Vasco for more on Basque history, el Museo de Bellas Artes for the Balenciaga design exhibit.  Balenciaga is considered to be the Picasso of fashion as far as Spain is concerned. And we concluded our museum tour with the Guggenheim.  Shown to the left, the Guggenheim in Bilbao is an exhibit itself.  The museum follows suit of the other Guggenheim museums across the world with its groundbreaking architecture designed by Frank Gehry. We were floored by the exhibits inside as well.  In one day, we had a very comprehensive Bilbao experience, and needless to say, we slept the entire bus ride home.

Oktoberfest was epic.  I wish I had more time to explore Munich over the weekend, but the time spent in the tents was more than worth the trip.  Shown above are the famous liter beers that are sold inside the tents at Oktoberfest.  Originally, Germany had a Reinheitsgebot, or ``purity order´´ that the only ingredients that could legally be used in the production of beer were water, barley, hops, and yeast. That order was repealed in 1987.  These beers contain 11% alcohol and sell for 8.50 euros.  But unless you have exact change, say goodbye to your 10, 20 or 50 euro bill.  Oktoberfest is like a giant carnival for adults.  There are rides, games, a ton of food and souvenir vendors, and several giant tents where the beer is sold.    My friends and I arrived at the tents at 7 am, waited for two and a half hours to be let in, and began the festivities at 10 am sharp.

By 11:30 it was time to explore the food options on the premises.  When most people think of German cuisine they think of beer and sausage.  And to be honest, I saw a lot of that this weekend. But in truth, there is much more to German food than beer and brats.   Alongside shnitzel and knödel, one of the most famous german dishes is spätzle. Spätzle is considered to be a noodle, although it is closer to a dumpling.  It´s probably easiest to compare spätzle to italian gnocchi. I know I wasn´t the only one craving a plate of cheesy spätzle this weekend. 

Among the traditional german foods at Oktoberfest, there were pretzels, donuts, bratwurst, several variations on the bread roll, caramel dipped apples, toffee covered nuts, and much more.  My lovely friend Steph is at right modeling the massive size of the pretzels sold in the tents.  To be honest, the pretzels were not quite as soft as the ones found on New York City street corners but with a little mustard they were still delicious!  Carnival food was by far the dominant form of nourishment and we barely ate anything that wasn't beige, but it was definitely a fun weekend!

No comments:

Post a Comment