Week 30: Lederhosen, Dirndls and Steins (Oktoberfest)

*Disclaimer: Yes, this is coming about three months too late. I’m super behind from all the real-life livin’ I’ve been doing, but I’m committed to catching up. Sorry!*

Ok, so it’s the end of September, and Belgrade is pretty great. The weather is nice, the cafes are bursting with chain-smoking Serbs, and my apartment is still an oasis from which I work most of the time. A couple of cool events happened this week before the main highlight that I’ve been planning for since May: Oktoberfest!

The Tesla Museum

Nikola Tesla is one of the most influential inventors and people, possibly ever, but few have heard of him beyond the context of Tesla motors. He was Thomas Edison’s contemporary, and rival. He invented alternating currents, which I don’t understand but is the way our electrical system still works. (Also how AC/DC gets their name.)

Tesla was also Serbian.

The Tesla Museum in Belgrade is an homage to Nikola Tesla’s life work and legacy. It’s also kind of awesome. After watching a 15-minute video on Tesla’s life and character, we got to see some of his contraptions in action – The Prestige style. One of them was a massive conductor of electricity that lit up fluorescent lights we held in our hands with no wires. I’m pretty sure this is how fluorescent lamps work – through static electricity. KEWL. Another was a ball you could put your hand on that would transmit electricity over the surface of your skin. I did it after much squirming, and it felt surprising but not painful. The hairs on my arm stood on end.

Overall, an hour well-spent learning about one of the most famous Serbs of all time and seeing 19th-century machinery that still provides the basis for how we use electricity today.

The Junction: Belgrade Edition

We have a monthly networking event called The Junction, where we set up a couple of speakers, both local and Remotes, have some drinks and enjoy mingling with the folks whose cities we invade. I was invited to speak at this Junction, focusing on entrepreneurship.

While not an entrepreneur, I’ve had my share of intrapreneruship at Undertone – acting like a start-up or developing new processes, ways of doing business, and even roles within the organization. I talked about how I pitched my new role during Remote Year and built this opportunity for myself. It was a nice reminder of two things: (1) how lucky I am to work somewhere that values employees so highly, and (2) something like Remote Year really can be for anyone if you want it to be.

Grilled Cheese Fundraiser

In true do-gooder fashion, we proved that you can really make anything into a fundraiser. This month, we had a great time making grilled cheese sandwiches (classic and gourmet), and turning it into a competition to raise funds for Refugee Aid Serbia, an organization that many of us got involved with in Belgrade.

I didn’t compete, but I had a great time judging sandwiches and hanging out with Remotes and locals alike.

Oktoberfest (a.k.a. Drinking my Body Weight in Beer)

A few of us started talking about going to Oktoberfest really early on, because there were arrangements to be made, tents to be rented, etc. Kelly and I decided to go in May and booked tickets sitting in our café workspace in La Paz. We didn’t know what to expect, aside from having a nearby Airbnb and not having any tent plans with the rest of the Remotes that were going…

We arrived in Munich to our beautiful Airbnb shared with the adorable family that lives there (such cute little boys!) and almost immediately headed to Oktoberfest. The number of people was pretty overwhelming, as were the tents. They are huge! I think I was expecting tailgating-style tents and a really casual environment. I was shocked by how never-ending the tents were. They were also impeccably decorated, had live music/performers, and were packed with people singing (badly) in German. We got beers (a full liter, which was heavy to hold and hard to avoid splashing all over myself and the floor), hung out for a while, enjoyed the festivities, and left right before closing time.

The next day, we were committed to going full-force: we bought Dirndl’s, the women’s version of Lederhosen, a traditional Bavarian outfit, got to Oktoberfest during the day, and proceeded to eat all the Bavarian sausages and drink all the beer. We checked out several tents, each with its own vibe: young and rowdy, older and upscale, basic, super nice. We made friends with people from all over, sang (even worse) in German, shouted Prost! about a hundred times, and had the best time ever.

Our last day in Munich, we explored the city a bit, marveling at the Rathaus (town hall), seeing the main square, and visiting Hofbrauhaus, one of the oldest restaurants in Munich, dating back to the 16th century.

We made it back to Oktoberfest for an afternoon and evening of fun with the other Remotes that were there, laughed, played games, and said “This is who I am now” every chance we could.

Oktoberfest was a great experience that I’d recommend going to at least once. But, be prepared to feel pretty awful for a couple of days after many a stein of beer and carb- and meat-loading for 48 hours straight…



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