The past two weeks, I headed to two completely different spring festivals: Frühlingfest in Munich, Germany and Feria de Abril in Sevilla, Spain. Both are completely unique in their nature, but both offered a different insight into their culture and a new experience for me. Let’s get started

First, I headed to Munich for the Frühlingfest, “the little sister of Oktoberfest”. I initially wanted to go to Oktoberfest because it’s a huge attraction; however, after seeing the fairgrounds myself and hearing about my friend’s experiences, I personally am pretty glad that I didn’t because it was still massive! I arrived in the evening and took the train from the airport to Munich. Side note – I have to say that Munich’s public transport is INCREDIBLE which says a lot since Madrid’s is amazing as well. Anyways, once I got checked into my single room in my hostel (also a first for me), I went out to explore. At the time I really wanted to buy a dirndl and was told that they’re sold for relatively cheap in tents outside of the grounds. However, once I figured out where the grounds were and walked around the whole thing, I realized soon that there weren’t any tents and I would have to go to a shop. I went back towards the city center to check the main streets for shops, but by the time I got there, everything was closed and it was only 8pm on a Saturday! I then decided to walk back to the hostel to figure out a place for dinner and decided on Augustiner Bräustuben, a brewery of the famous Augustiner beer. The food and beer was amazing (for the whole trip really) and definitely hit the spot and I was put at a table with a German family that didn’t know any English. Talk about authentic! I then headed back to the hostel and decided on going to bed early so that I could wake up recharged and ready to go for the next day.

It was a beautiful day and I decided to go look again for dirndl but unfortunately realized that everything (and I mean everything besides restaurants and bars, of course) was closed and the following day was Labor Day for them, so there was no chance of me getting a dirndl. However, realizing that I went alone, I figured it was probably best to just be casual and enjoy the festival for what it was. I also got to see the Glockenspiel and the Marienplatz square which would have been nice if there wasn’t a ton of construction, but I enjoyed it for what it was. I started my day heading to the fairgrounds for beer…and some food (hey, I just passed by first Master’s with the highest grade, so let me celebrate for a day!). I went to both of the major beer tents, the Hippodrom and the Festhalle Bavaria. It was early in the day so most of the tables were open in the Hippodrom but reserved for the evening time. I had a quick beer there and then went to the Festhalle for dinner and that was much more filled up than the other (and less expensive). While I was at an initially empty table, I soon found myself surrounded by Germans eating schnitzel and spaetzle and drinking Augustiner beer (again). I then made friends with a “true Bavarian” who offered to show me around, take me to the “motherland” aka Hofbrauhaus Munich as well as some other main attractions. We started at Hofbrauhaus which I didn’t realize was a huge tourist attraction, but it was still nice to drink some real Hofbrauhaus Dunkel with a native! We then went to see the English Garden which was beautiful and the Eisbach Wave which is a man-made current in the small creek where people can come and surf and others can watch. It was really cool to see in person! Afterwards, we said good-bye at the hostel and I decided to hang out at the hostel for a little bit. Then, after some snacks and time passed by, I decided to go back and check out the rides which were just bizarre, crazy and pretty unsafe and my back is still paying for it! Eventually, I just decided to call it a day and head back to the hostel.

For the next day, I was fortunate to be able to do everything I wanted to the first full day because the following day it was cold and rainy and just miserable. I decided to take it easy and relax in my room, catch up on things and go out for dinner and a quick walk around when the weather wasn’t so terrible. It was nice to have a relaxing day since the day before was so crazy. Overall, it was a nice trip, and I would do it again with friends. However, I found that going alone is difficult since most people go with friends and aren’t always as keen to opening up their group to others. Regardless, I had a great time!

 

The following week, I headed to Sevilla with my roommate and her two friends from home and I was really looking forward to this trip. One of my goals before the trip was to by a “traje sevilla,” or a more or less a flamenco dress, to bring back home and shoot with. So, a few hours before I had to go to the airport to catch my quick flight to Sevilla, I went to a store in Madrid and went shopping. I ended up finding a beautiful red dress with white polka dots that fit comfortably and would make any woman look incredible. I felt like a princess and was ready for the feria! I arrived later in the day and met everyone at our AirBnb which was in a wonderful location. We went out for the evening for Mexican food and then headed to the “feria” grounds. The grounds were beautiful and adorned with lights and paper lanterns. There are little stands all right next to one other called “casetas” and are decorated like little living rooms and each caseta was dedicated to a different community or business. Most women were dressed in the traditional sevillana dress while men were dressed in business casual wear. Horses were pulling carriages around the grounds and in each caseta you could heard different kinds of flamenco music and see everyone dancing traditional dances. We headed to a public caseta since the private ones are pretty exclusive and we had a drink and watched the world pass by for a few hours. It was so nice and relaxed and overall just a good time. We eventually caught a cab back to the airbnb and went to bed for the evening.

The next day was my day to wear my new dress and I felt like an Andalusian princess! We walked to the Plaza de Espana to take photos and it was as beautiful as I remembered it. We watched flamenco street performers, bought some hand fans and Rose went to buy her own traje at one of the stands. After heading for some lunch and gelato, we went towards the Cathedral de Sevilla which is the largest Gothic-style cathedral in the world and is where Christopher Columbus’s tomb is. As we were leaving, Rose and I were stopped by some tourists for photos which we obliged to (of course). We went back for a quick siesta after being in the hot sun all day and then we went back out for a flamenco show at the flamenco museum. The show was beautiful like the one I saw when I first arrived in Madrid and afterwards we went to an Italian restaurant for dinner and to the top of a hotel for roof-top bar drinks. We also got to see a bit of the fireworks over the cathedral and this was the mark of the end of the feria for Sevilla, but we still had one more day there!

The next day we had a quick smoothie and lunch and then returned to the Plaza de Espana again. After one of her friends left, we went on the boats that can be rowed around the plaza. It definitely wasn’t as easy as it looked, and Rose’s friend Emily and I had to each take an oar and work together to row the boat. After another siesta (trust me, all of these siestas were necessary because of the intense heat), we got glammed up and went out for dinner at the same restaurant and drinks at a cocktail bar near by. It was a shorter night since I had a flight in the morning, but it was definitely one of my most favorite trips in Spain (but still not as much as Granada with Alex).

Sevilla was absolutely magical! The people are so friendly and welcoming, the food was incredible and views and weather were unbeatable. I could come back in a heartbeat!

The two trips were both different and unique but taught me a lot about the importance of travel with friends in my life. Although traveling solo is a possibility and for short durations it is nice, having friends to share experiences with enhances it so much more. Having a great balance between being open to meeting new people and making new friends and having memories to share with your new friends is perfect for me, and I’ll definitely keep this as my goal from now on.
-Stephanie in Spain