I tried to escape the Oktoberfest. I failed.

15 October 2021

I tried to escape the Oktoberfest. I failed. read by author Brenda Arnold

For the second time, the Oktoberfest has been canceled due to corona. But Munich refuses to skip the occasion and is celebrating in restaurants anyway. And Berlin, which knows no greater joy than poking fun at Bavaria, is nevertheless full of Lederhosen and Dirndl-sporting Oktoberfest fans.

Any self-respecting Dirndl, the corset-style traditional dress, is very tight-fitting. Mine is no exception. But since there is no Oktoberfest this year, it is no matter that I’ve gained a few corona kilos. After all, I’ve got a whole year to shed them.

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Grave Thoughts Indeed – Part 4 – The Oktoberfest

26 May 2021

 (Click here for parts 1, 2 and 3)

Grave Thoughts Indeed — Oktoberfest. Read by Brenda Arnold

Munich is known first and foremost for its annual Volksfest that attracts six million visitors from around the world, a number that makes you question its “folksiness” – but whatever. Tracing its roots takes you back to – where else? – the Alter Südfriedhof (the old cemetery in Munich). Many of the institutions associated with this sprawling, brawling two-week party took shape under the leadership of men buried right here.

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Grave Thoughts Indeed – Part 3 – Royal rollicking and frolicking

The Alter Südfriedhof dates to the 14th century, but most of its graves tell the tale of Munich’s movers and shakers from the 1800s, a time when the city’s population doubled. More people meant more buildings, streets and institutions. But this was also an era that saw one of Munich’s most famous scandals involving its king, one which left traces here in this cemetery.

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How war shaped the Alter Südfriedhof

Grave Thoughts Indeed – Part 2

Small German towns have monuments to the dead of the two world wars, sometimes combined into one, with all the names of the locals who died. The Alter Südfriedhof has no such monuments or graves. But war left its impact nonetheless, beginning with one that came centuries before.

Grave Thoughts Indeed – How War Shaped the Alter Südfriedhof, read by Brenda Arnold

World Wars – the prequel

Long before the twentieth century, another conflict raged across Europe so deadly that it too is sometimes referred to as a “world war”: The Thirty Years’ War.

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Grave Thoughts Indeed

To take a stroll through the Alter Südfriedhof cemetery in Munich is to revisit its history. Pestilence and death, war, aristocratic scandals – even the Oktoberfest are all written into the epitaphs of people who shaped the city. It feels like the who’s who of Bavaria are all buried in this one spot (though by no means all of them are). In this four-part series – yes, four – I will reveal some of the most intriguing stories behind the stones. The history of the cemetery, as you will see, reflects the history of both the city and society at large.

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From Munich to Philadelphia with love

14 December 2020

One of my best friends in the U.S. has a son in Philadelphia. After it became clear that Philly voters were going to tip Pennsylvania for Biden, his son texted him these two words: “You’re welcome.”

His father knew precisely what his son was referring to, a reflection of how intensely Americans experienced this election, one like no other in living memory. Many Americans like me may live abroad, but we experienced it just as vividly from afar.

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Italiano – no problemo for meo

An Italian class had a big surprise in store

30 October 2020

Being a freelancer also means being free to schedule my time. No longer must I squeeze in dentist appointments around meetings, whooshing swiftly past the boss’s office hoping he won’t see me. Now I get to take time off not just for tooth maintenance, but to do frivolous things – like take an Italian class.

This is easy to do in Germany, the land of organizational prowess. They have something here with the unpronounceable name of Volkshochschule, which despite

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Spectators turned spectacle

Corona’s surprising effect on an evening at the theater

21 October 2020

My favorite small theater has reopened after months of lockdown and we are attending a two-woman show called Primacomedy. I return here with mixed feelings. Would it be full? How will they deal with the social distancing inside the theater?

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The Oktoberfest was canceled due to COVID-19

But Munich refuses to take it lying down

1 October 2020

“Rahoo-doray-rahoo-doray, welcome Christmas, Christmastime!”

So sing the Whos in Dr. Seuss’ iconic The Grinch who stole Christmas, in which the evil-hearted Grinch steals all their presents, food and decorations. But the Whos refuse to let their holiday be ruined, forming a circle around the community Christmas tree to sing carols, regardless of the lack of trappings.

Munich is reacting similarly to the cancellation of its two-week long festival that, its name notwithstanding, always kicks off mid-September. In normal years, six million tourists descend upon the city to join the fun, but locals from Munich and

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Hot wine and cold toes

Trying to fake it as a local at the Regensburg Christmas market

Hot Wine and Cold Toes read by the author Brenda Arnold

Who lives in these towns and what do they do for a living, I wonder as I watch the landscape roll by.  I’m on a train headed to Regensburg to visit my friend Michaela and the Christmas market. Two hours of reading time, yay, I think, but can’t keep myself from looking out the window at the never-ending beautiful scenery. Gently rolling hills and pine forests alternate with

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