I have decided that my “tax” for going to the beer hall is to be rained upon.
Since arriving in Salzburg, Austria on Tuesday, I have experienced the hottest day on record, and “stringy” rain. I say “stringy” because I noticed while walking in the rain that it doesn’t fall in droplets – it falls in longer strands. Apparently, Austria is known for this.
I went to Augustiner Bräu twice this week.
Reason #1: Märzenbier
Reason #2: reasonably priced food counters outside the beer hall rooms
Reason #3: the people
There is a wonderful mix of locals and tourists in the beer hall, which is possible because it holds over 1,000 people inside and outside; it’s second in size only to a beer hall in Vienna (Wein), Austria’s capital city. And there are some seriously dedicated people at this particular beer hall. When I walked up yesterday, some people were still sitting at their tables outside in the POURING RAIN (wearing jackets) drinking beer as if nothing was going on.
There is ONLY ONE beer at Augustiner Bräu, Märzenbier, and you can get either 0.5L or 1L. That’s it. When you walk up the stairs, grab a mug, rinse it in the basin with spouts, and pay. Walk three steps to the right, and a man will fill your mug to the line and slam/slide it your direction – he has other people to serve right behind you.
At this point, decide if you want food (you do, see below for proof).
Würst mit kraut und senf + ein Bretzelbrot mit Käse (and my 0.5L Märzenbier)
Finally, find your seat. Many tables are reserved in advance, but if the weather is nice, there are plenty of seats outside. Otherwise, just mosey into each hall until you find a free table.
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to sit at a table with an older Austrian man. We didn’t speak much at first, until I offered him a toast (Prost). Between his English and my German, we were able to have a nice conversation about where I was from and music. As I sit here writing, I am listening to his musical recommendation – J.J. Cale. For most of our time at the table, we just watched the people around us, the laughter, the loud stories, the gestures. It was nice to share a little corner of the beer hall with someone who was content to just observe the surroundings. I didn’t have my notebook with me (thank goodness, it would have gotten soaked in the rain), but I jotted some ideas into my iPhone about what I thought of the experience:
“Well, here I am in a beer hall w/o my notebook because ‘reasons’ and it would have gotten wet anyway. Bother. But all I’m thinking as I sit here is about the experience of being in a physical space, and how that can’t really be repeated. It seems like when we travel, we move from place to place to have ‘our’ experience and then move on. As I’m sitting here, I hope to continue listening to the cultural experiences around me, the realities of the people in the beer hall. It’s nice to listen to their laughter and watch their expressions in relative anonymity. I keep hearing the swells of conversation, and I’m glad I can hear it from my spot in the back corner.
I’m sitting here in solidarity with the guy who shared his table. We shared a toast, and it was my way of saying ‘thanks.’ Perhaps he’s doing what I am, perhaps not. But from where I’m sitting, we’re both observing the candor of the beer hall from our unique perspectives.”
When he finished his beer, he shook my hand and I thanked him. It was a much different experience than Wednesday (more on that later), but I would not have traded it for any other experience. And now I have a new musician to listen to on vinyl when I return to the states!
More photos, stories, and anecdotes from Salzburg once I arrive in Regensburg! And follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with #lookoutmywindow . Bis dann!