My "Down Under" gal friend and sometime contributor, Tash Marti, has penned an inviting tale for beer lovers. But not just casual beer lovers. This is a once-in-a-lifetime, never-forget sojourn to Die Faderland for some SERIOUS Oktoberfest beer time. Then continue your beer journey to other European hotbeds of hops—like Praha (that's Prague for those of you in Keansburg). My only regret in posting Tash's well-done piece is that I cannot avail myself of the opportunity this year—though it has always been a dream of mine. Still, if you consider yourself among the Big Dogs, contact the good folks at http://www.thirstyswagman.com/ and let them know you want to run with them. Tell Tash The PubScout sent you. And that she's a hottie!
PS: Clicking on that Big Dog link above will take you to a very freaky YouTube video that unnerves me so much, I think I'll get a beer right now.
Tash Marti's column:
Take a moment to think about your life as it is…Are you sick of waking up to the sound of your alarm clock buzzing in your ear? Tired of waiting in morning traffic, or sitting on cramped public transport? With such merciless and routine schedules, it's hard not to gradually double, or even triple our daily caffeine intake (and alcohol intake on weekends for that matter).
Now imagine… waking up after a night of drinking schnapps and beer with 24 mates, at a pub so cozy you could have happily slept in it. Stepping out onto the wooden balcony of your traditional Austrian lodge, you stare into the scenic beauty that is the vast Austrian Alps, and take in a gulp of air that is more crisp than the nachos you ate in front of the TV last night. Today is going to be one heck of a day – and that's just the start of one day, on your wild 12 night pub crawl itinerary!
Introducing…Thirsty Swagman! The world's first tour operating company to offer international pub crawls that will have you toasting, guzzling, dancing and just all-out partying til you drop. The Euro Hard'n'Fast tour comprises of 12 nights, 3 countries, 5 record party destinations, your thirsty crew of 24, and a 100% hardness guarantee!
If you're ever lucky enough to join the thirsty crew on this legendary pub crawl, you'll start your epic journey in the blissful chaos of the Oktoberfest beer tents…
Destination one: Oktoberfest, Munich. Stepping into the beer tents is like stepping straight onto cloud nine. Each brewery sets up their tent with a different theme, giving each tent a unique spread of elaborate colours and decorations to drink under. It's almost romantic…that is, until you look across the tent to see a crowd of around 10,000 merrily but truly bombed drinkers. Among the waves of people, you'll see almost all them raise their steins in synchrony when the traditional German Brass band plays "Ein Prosit", a simple melody that literally translates to "a toast".
It's a completely unforgettable site, watching travellers and locals alike, rock out in traditional German attire, all spilling their steins to toasts of "Ein Prosit" and slightly tone-deaf sing-a-longs to traditional Bavarian music (which I'm almost positive no-one actually knows the words to).
After two days of beer, bratwursts and Bavarian music, the tour arrives at an unlikely second destination. Maria Alm; a tiny town, holding a population of just 2000, a seemingly colossal change after drinking in tents that held 5 times that – each.
Nestled at the foot of the Austrian Alps, the entire spectacle is just eye-boggling. The town is so culture-rich that it's normal to still wear those funny outfits we wore at Oktoberfest for a laugh. The landscape is speckled with rustic village dwellings, including a centuries-old, pilgrimage church right next to our hotel lodge, which thankfully, has the highest church tower (249 feet) in the entire Salzburg province, a convenient land-mark for finding your way home after a big night.
Don't be surprised if your days in this mind-blowing town are spent at a privately owned chalet nested 4,000 feet up the mountain side, worth about $8 million. Here, the thirsty crew bonds over food, beer and breathtaking panoramic views of the whole town and its domineering surrounding Alps. It all seems dreamy, but be prepared when nightfall hits – this town will have you in for a wild ride of Schnapps, AC/DC, and drink servings of Redbull Vodka's by the metre (wooden racks of 10 drinks at a time - which I'm not too sure should be legal).
Then comes Prague… The infamous and very impressive city, world-renowned as the Czech Republic's party capital. With upmarket clubs, rock bars, mazes of underground Czech bars and discos 3, 4, and even 5 storeys tall, you'll be hard pressed to find something you don't like in this city. One bar, called the Beer Factory, even lets you be your own bartender, with four beer taps and a liter-counter on every table. Europeans sure can drink, and the large plasma TVs on the walls of this pub proves it. The TVs rank each table from hardest to softest using a bar graph - so you may want to make sure your stamina is up to scratch if you're going to drink your country proud.
The international pub crawl sensation then takes you to beer heaven; Bamberg - home to nine large breweries, along with 300 other breweries in the region, officially giving this old town the largest amount of beer-consumption per capita in the world. You haven't lived until you've tried Bamberg's famous Schlenkerla Rauchbier, a dark ale that strangely resembles the taste of smoked pork. It's a tad rough around the edges, but people flock from around the globe to get a taste.
When you reach the last destination you'll think you've seen it all…but this is one of those true stories where they've saved the best for last. Located on the flowing banks of the River Rhine, lies Dusseldorf, home to the Altstadt district, an old town square consisting of a cluster of more than 360 bars and clubs. Now brace yourself people, and take the time to comprehend the mere concept of such a place. That's a pub for (almost) every single day of the year.
After 3 years in operation, the tour company has managed to tailor each crawl to offer a unique and authentic beer-culture experience for all thirsty travellers, without the hustle and bustle of early wake-ups or any of that boring sight-seeing.
Too good to be true? Check it out for yourself: www.ThirstySwagman.com