Monday, September 22, 2014


I got to cross an item off my bucket list this weekend when I attended the opening day of Oktoberfest in Munich.  After driving down Friday night, we had a hearty German meal, followed by some pretzels and schnapps shots in the hotel room.  On Saturday morning, we started off nice and early - leaving the hotel around 815 in the morning.

We got the fairgrounds and the beer tents around 9 in the morning so that we could get a table for the noon tapping of the kegs.  This is what we NINE in the morning...three hours before they could serve beer.

Over 2,000 people already packed into the beer tent.  We had to settle for two tables outside in the beer garden.  Normally, I'd be happy to be outside, but the weather forecast called for scattered rain all day.  And rain it did.  We passed the hours by chatting and playing some iphone games.  After seeing all the experienced Oktoberfest goers playing cards, I found a deck at one of the gift shops.  We passed the time by playing the game "bullshit."  It wasn't until later that we discovered the German deck we were playing with only contained cards 6 and above.  None of us had actually realized this while playing.  This is while we were sober.

During our three hour wait, it rained off and on and we bought umbrellas and ponchos to stay moderately dry.  At noon, cannons announced the start of the fest and the began serving beer...and we waited.  It took us an additional 45 minutes or so to finally get our first beer.

The beer was delicious.  Served in a glorious Maß, which is German for "measure", which means that they measure beer in liters. Round one went down fairly quickly and we had lunch with round two.  The sun came out and the beer garden cheered.  It really was spectacular and made the wait worthwhile. 


That's 7 full liters of beer!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Rehearsal BBQ

One of the early dilemmas Sara and I faced when planning the wedding was the rehearsal dinner.  Our wedding party consisted solely of immediate family and we didn't want to limit the night to just those in the wedding.  Protocol dictates that all out-of-town guests (or at least all out-of-town family) are invited to the rehearsal dinner.  Given that over 80% of our guests were from out-of-town, this just seemed to exclude a few friends.  So, we decided to do something a bit different and we had a low-key "Welcome BBQ*" at the house my family rented for the week.

*I am using the word "BBQ" to mean grilling burgers and sausages.  I know this offends many southerners who have a more specific definition of what BBQ means.  Sorry.

Other than renting the house with its awesome yard, renting a few tables and chairs and making a rough mental sketch of the menu I was planning, I hadn't really done much in the way of planning for the BBQ.  I am now pretty confident that Sara thought I was planning the details with my family and my family thought I was planning the details with Sara.  Whoops.  We bought most of the food on Wednesday and Thursday and set up the house for the event on Friday.  Despite the on-the-fly planning and a few short tempers during the week, we pulled it all off.

Friday afternoon was brutally hot and humid - the high temperature was in the 90s.  A few hearty guests who walked the mile (uphill) from the metro arrived drenched.  Ice melted almost instantly.  The margaritas disappeared quicker than we could make them.  A special thanks to my cousin Dave and brother-in-law Paul who manned the grills in the high heat.  Despite the heat, the BBQ was exactly what Sara and I had hoped for.  We got a chance to talk to friends and family in a more relaxed atmosphere than the wedding reception would allow.  Ask anyone who has gotten married how quickly the time flies at the wedding reception.  We were so grateful to have an extra three hours on Friday night to chat with friends and family.

I especially loved meeting some of Sara's high school and college friends.  I had heard stories about these girls for the last two years, but had not met many of them.  We had also invited a number of these girls' parents who had all watched Sara growing up.  I loved seeing the pride and love in their eyes when they talked about Sara.  It was fascinating putting faces to names that did not at all match the mental image I had had in my head.  There were brunettes who turned out to be blonde; people were taller or shorter than I had imagined; accents galore.  It's like when they cast an actor for the film of the book you loved - they don't look like what you imagined, but it soon becomes impossible to remember what you had imagined to begin with.

After most of the guests had departed, Sara and I stole a few minutes together to exchange some small presents and letters we had written each other.  In the chaos of the whole week, it was really nice to have a few minutes together with just the two of us.  Several married couples had told us to take this time together and I am really glad that we did.  After Sara left, a few of my cousins and two of my high school buddies were still hanging around.  We cleaned up a bit (Sam and Kris both worked for my father as teenagers, so they knew how to clean up after a party) and chatted for a while.  I don't think the three of us had hung out together since Kris's wedding almost five years ago.  As it has always been with those two, you couldn't tell that time had passed.

The rental house for the week

Belize crew