Where to Drink in Copenhagen

While we were in Copenhagen, the International Bartender’s Association was hosting the World Cocktail Championship in the city. This competition brings together bartenders from around the world to show off their skills and enjoy the bar scene. While we have a long way to go before we even think of competing in the competition, we did explore some of the best Copenhagen has to offer.

Continue reading “Where to Drink in Copenhagen”

What to do in Copenhagen

What to do in Copenhagen

Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark is one of the most visited cities in Europe. Its famed canals, landmarks, and communities all add to its appeal, nurturing a growing tourist population of around four million. From outside, its easy to see why the world loves it so given its rich artistic upbringing. Once surrounded by its colorful danish architecture, it’ll be hard to see any reason to leave.

What to expect

Currancy

Although Denmark is part of the European Union, it uses the Danish Krona instead of the euro. One krona is around 7 euro and 6 dollars. As with Iceland and other Scandinavian countries, Denmark is pricy.

A meal in Copenhagen, of course depending on the style of restaurant, will cost about 20 dollars, kebabs ran around seven dollars. Beers start around five dollars, but craft beers will run closer to eight.

Lodging is similarly priced, with hostels starting from 25 dollars per night, and Airbnbs around 100 per night for a private apartment.

Museums and attractions are reasonably priced, starting at around three dollars and going as high as 30 dollars.

Getting around

Central Copenhagen is another city that is easily walkable for those who are able. There is a metro and a bus system, though stops are generally fewer in number than in typical European cities. That being said, a 24 hour pass for all public transportation can be purchased for around 20 dollars.

If you’re after even more benefits, the Copenhagen Card (available in varying hourly increments) provides free access to all city transportation, as well as free admission to nearly 80 of the city’s most famous museums and attractions.

What to see in Copenhagen

Christiania.jpgFreetown Christiania

An autonomous community situated within Copenhagen, Freetown Christiania  is famous for its laid back and liberal social and economic policies. The area decriminalized marijuana in the 1980s, and has been battling legal issues with the government of Denmark ever since. Today, the community welcomes all adventurous enough to wander through. The community often holds events in its centric Nemoland venue, just west of the more infamously known green light district, Pusher Street.

Nyhavn

If you’ve googled “Copenhagen”, you’ve seen the brightly colored houses of Nyhavn. Home to one of the first homes of famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, the canal centric district is a bustling tourist area, home to local restaurants, house boats, and related shops. The area itself can be walked through and around in a few hours and is a must visit.

Little Mermaidlittle mermaid

The statue has become an international symbol of Copenhagen, and is one of the most well known statues in the world.This famed landmark located in the northeastern part of the city is worth a see either via canal tour or on foot. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, try visiting in the early morning, as the day will draw bigger crowds. It is a small statue, with not much around it, so adjust your expectations accordingly.

Copenhagen Street Food | Entry: Free

An amalgamation of some of Copenhagen’s top chefs Copenhagen Street Food is located smorreboardin the heart of the city on Paper Island, a bustling converted warehouse building now outfitted with food trucks of varying cuisines. A meal here will, depending on where you choose to go, starts at around 10 dollars.

The vendors range from Mexican to Indian to Korean to traditional Danish, each eagerly offering free samples of their most popular items to help you decide. In addition to the food, there is beer, wine, cocktails and dessert. We tried a few different stands, but fell in love with the pulled duck burger from Duck It.

Canal Tour | Cost: 40-80 DKK

This is one of the times that doing the cliche “tourist” activity is worth it. Canal tours of different lengths and prices, offered by a handful of companies, begin out of the famous Nyhavn area and start at 6 dollars per person. For the price, it is absolutely worth it, as it takes you through the canals to all of Copenhagen’s most famous sites—from the Little Mermaid, to the Royal Danish Library, to the home of Hans Christian Andersen—in a little under an hour with historical insight. If you don’t have much time in Copenhagen, use this tour to see the city.

Round Tower | Entry: 25 DKK

If you’re in search of one of the best cheap, aerial views of the city, head to the Round Tower. Now a repurposed astronomical observatory, the tower was built by Christian IV in the 17th century.

Church of Our Savior | Entry: 35 DKK

Just north of Christiania, this church is famous for its spiraling, gilded tower. Similar to the Round Tower in terms of the view, this ascent provides an interesting insight into the history of Copenhagen, and another incredible (albeit windy) view of the city from the top.


Questions or comments? Let us know in the comments or contact us directly!

What to see in Prague

What to see in Prague

Prague is a city with something for everyone. Budget friendly beer, family friendly museums, and a skyline for everyone. Whether you have a few days or a few weeks, there is always something to do in the world renowned Czech capital. We visited this city coming off our Oktoberfest high, and were exhausted. Prague rejuvenated us and stimulated our senses. The smell of warm street food fills your nose in the center square and every crevasse of every building is decorative and visually interesting.

Continue reading “What to see in Prague”

Where to Drink in Prague

Where to Drink in Prague

The one thing we heard over and over again about Prague is that it’s THE place for cheap beer. Pilsner is king in Prague. Walk into most small bars or restaurants and grab one for 1-2 euros. We took advantage of the cheap beer, and of the vibrant cocktail scene. The overarching theme of the cocktails we found is creativity, drawn from the creativity and vibrance of the city. Unique, seemingly contrasting ingredients are paired flawlessly together and poured into unexpected and unique glassware. A night out in Prague stimulates the palate, and the imagination.

Continue reading “Where to Drink in Prague”

A Beginner’s Guide to Oktoberfest

A Beginner’s Guide to Oktoberfest

We knew Oktoberfest was a must-do during our months abroad, but we didn’t know much about how the fest worked, the best way to approach it, or even what to wear. As rookies, were lucky enough to spend four days in a row at the festival, and we were even luckier to have learned the ins and outs from some helpful veterans. Oktoberfest is rooted in history. The first festival was held as a wedding celebration in the 19th century for King Ludwig I. Held on the grounds of Thereseienweisse, Oktoberfest was such a success that it became an annual occurrence. Because of the historical aspect, locals refer to the festival as “Weisn” rather than Oktoberfest. The festival now brings together people from all of the world with at least one common interest: beer. The atmosphere is vibrant and the air is full of laughter and the smell of pretzels. We met people who have been attending for years, and we discovered the draw of the festival for ourselves. Here are our best tips and tricks regarding the jubilant Bavarian celebration that has become the world’s best beer festival:

How Weisn Works

Every year, give-or-take exact dates, Oktoberfest begins in mid-September and ends during the first week of October. Everyday in between, it is free to get into the festival. Once inside, you see lines of souvenir and food stands, carnival rides, and, of course, beer tents. It’s like an enormous fair, full of people both in and out of traditional Bavarian costume. All of the souvenirs, food, and rides come at a price on the festival grounds, but they are easily accessible for all. However, if you want to enjoy the fruits of the brewers’ labor, you must be seated at a table in a beer tent. Here is where it can get confusing for beginners (like us).

Beer Tent Procedure

There are 14 large tents and countless more small tents. Among the large tents are familiar names, such as Augustiner and Hofbraü. Inside all of the tents–large and small–are tables, which can be reserved for sessions (morning, afternoon, evening) during each day. Usually, entry into the beer tents is allowed, provided that the tent is not at capacity. However, on some of the busier nights–such as Friday or Saturday nights–tents may require wristbands proving a reservation. Even though, a vast majority of the time, at least one of the many tents in the festival will let you in without a table reservation, you still must have a spot at a table to order a beer from a server. During the earlier sessions of the day, it is easy to find a table–and therefore, a beer–but as the day goes on, the tables fill up. The later it gets and the busier the day, the harder it is to find a spot.

Reservations

Reservations for nearly all of the tents open in February, and usually, communication happens via email or fax with the organizers of a given tent. Each tent differs on how their reservation system works. All of the tents have sessions for which you can reserve tables–usually morning, afternoon, and evening. Morning sessions are roughly 11 a.m. to about 3:30 p.m. Afternoon sessions are roughly 4 p.m. to about 7 p.m. Evening sessions, then, are roughly 7 p.m. until close, which is usually 11:30 p.m. Again, these sessions depend on the tent and, sometimes, the day.

We were lucky enough to get spots at a table that a friend had reserved for the afternoon

Oktoberfest voucher
50 euro gets you a 50 euro voucher to spend on food and drinks at the table.

session in one of the smaller tents–Goldener Hahn. In the case of this tent, our reservation began at 3:30 p.m. and ended at 5:30 p.m. This is an unusually short reservation in terms of the length of a given session. To get it, our friend had to put a 400 euro deposit on the table. From there, the organizers reserved that table for him, and closer to the reservation date, mailed him eight 50 euro vouchers to spend at the table. Meaning, the reservation didn’t cost anything, it was just a matter of paying in advance. He had seven spots to sell at his table–three of which, he kindly gave to us without a mark up in price.

Since a reservation doesn’t cost anything and guarantees you a spot at a table (and therefore a beer), it seems like the way to go. Here’s the catch: reservations can be nearly impossible to get as a first-time attendee. If you are able to get a reservation, it’s also almost certain that your first will be a morning session. Evening–and even afternoon–reservations are given to guests who have a history of reservations, who have been attending for years. We met one man, who gave us a seat at his table, who said he’d been trying to get a reservation for three years. This year was his first reservation, and it was a morning session.

We found a way to attend the festival all four days we were in Munich, with only two reservations. Below are our suggestions on how to go about it.

Best Ways to Navigate the Fest

The entirety of tables are reserved for–at least–the later sessions almost everyday during the fest. If you are a beginner, chances are you aren’t one of those table reservations. However, it’s still very possible to attend! Here are our tips for making your Oktoberfest trip successful:

Don’t buy marked-up vouchers

When we were looking into finding three reserved spots at a table, we found troves of people who were selling vouchers for their table online. These are often marked up–extremely marked up. Our advice is to steer clear of these offers. There are plenty of other ways to enjoy Oktoberfest without breaking your budget.

Find connections wherever possible

Connections are important everywhere in life, and Oktoberfest is no different. Luckily, Madeline has a friend from her time at Free State Brewery who has attended Weisn for the last nine years. He was kind enough to put her in touch with friends of his who had made table reservations and still had open seats. Our first night at this table made us five new friends who were also very willing to help us find spots for the rest of our days at Oktoberfest. Those friends had other friends who also extended their kindness. Like a snowball effect, we ended up finding a great group full of people who were always willing to give us a spot if it was available. Even if you don’t have a reserved spot the first night, you are likely to find people this way, also.

Be outgoing
Beer and pretzels
Big beers call for big pretzels, best shared with friends. (Teanna for scale).

Oktoberfest is full of amazing people. Beer is flowing, and folks are very kind. Even in tents that seem packed full, most guests are happy to welcome people to their table. The best part is that this ends up being a wonderful way to meet other Oktoberfest goers. Do not be afraid to approach a table to ask if they’d mind sharing! Our third night, we headed to the fest sans reservation. Once we got inside the Käfer tent–a rather large one with a huge outside biergarten–we scoped out an area that could squeeze three. We sat at a table with two others, ordered a beer from a server, and then she told us that table needed to be free for a reservation coming up. She was more than happy to consolidate and put us at another table where we met a great trio from Australia and Germany. We ended up chatting (and drinking, of course) with them for most of the night.

Ask a server

Our server in the Käfer tent was very accommodating in finding us another table once we had to leave ours. In the same sense, if you’re having a difficult time finding a place in a busy tent, servers are generally happy to point you to open spots at tables in their sections. After all, the more people they serve, the more tips they make. Be aware, however, that they are likely very busy, so you need to ask politely and at an opportune time (not when their hands are full, when they’re taking an order, etc.).

Find the right tent

We downloaded the Oktoberfest app for the times we went to the fest without a table reservation. Living in the digital age has its perks, and this is one. The app told us at what capacity each tent was–whether it was 55% full or almost at 100%. This meant we knew which tents to try to enter, and which tents to avoid.

Some tents that are more accommodating to guests without reservations. On our last day, we had a morning reservation that ended at 4 p.m. in the Hofbraü tent. This tent is known for its standing area that is so nicely nicknamed “The Pigpen”. Once our reservation ended, we headed down to The Pigpen and were able to easily find a spot to continue the festivities.

Go early (and pace yourself)

If you go to Weisn early, you’re almost guaranteed to be able to enter most tents and find a spot. An added bonus of this is that once a tent starts filling up and getting more difficult to enter, you’re already inside, so you don’t have to worry about tent entry. Also, as the day goes, you’re likely to make friends and find spots at a table or two.

Oktoberfest food 2
Tents have filling and delicious food options like 1/2 a roast duck and potato dumplings, for around 10-13 euro.

However, going early has its disadvantages, as well. The earlier you go and the longer you stay, the more expensive the outing can be. So, if you’re on a strict budget, this can prove difficult. Also, if you’re planning to try to stay until the more bustling afternoon and night sessions, there’s the obvious intoxication factor. Morning sessions are inherently less exciting, so it’s easy to fill the time with drinking, and drinking, and drinking… It’s never good to be the one who’s in bad shape by the end of it all. Keep your pacing in mind if you decide to use the early entrance strategy. The best advice we got was to keep eating, so we could keep drinking. All of the tents have delicious protein and carb heavy food options to soak up the beer.

Other Oktoberfest Tips

Accommodation recommendations

Finding lodging during Weisn can get extremely pricey, so we recommend booking early.  Of all of our stays, Munich was  the most expensive, and we booked seven months in advance. The option for an Airbnb was out of the question because of price, so we opted for an 8 bed hostel here, and it was still expensive. If you’re on a strict budget or you’re late to book, camping is an option. The camping is located right near the festival grounds, and it’s the cheapest option. It’s also the biggest party spot, with people out celebrating well past tent closure. If you’re on a budget and ready to party this is a great option for 1-2 nights. Keep in mind it’s late September/early October and the temperature is starting to drop. Most nights, the weather was cold and rainy, which would make for an unpleasant tent experience. I find it hard to put into words how much of a difference a dry bed and pillow make after four liters of beer.

What to wear

You don’t need to wear traditional dress to have a great time at Weisn. We didn’t, and it turned out to be a great thing. We were informed that, in fact, Bevarians prefer tourists wear their normal clothing rather than costume-like lederhosen or dirndls. So, if you’re on a budget, skip the traditional dress. If you’re determined to wear lederhosen or a dirndl, find a shop that sells more traditional Oktoberfest dress, but know it can cost you around 100 euro. If you go later in the festival like we did, many shops start marking down prices, making a great outfit more budget friendly.


Have you been to Oktoberfest? Know a good deal on a dirndl for next year? Let us know in the comments below or contact us directly!

 

Is a Eurail pass worth it?

When I began telling friends and family about my trip to Europe, I received conflicting advice. The older members of my circle told me to take the train, and the younger members told me that budget airlines were the way to go. There’s always been something more romantic to me about gazing out the windows of a train than of a plane, so I wanted a taste. After looking into the costs of train travel, and the most cost effective way seemed to be with a Eurail pass.

Continue reading “Is a Eurail pass worth it?”