From Wednesday evening until Monday afternoon I was once again in Passau. It was a brilliant long weekend. I got to meet up with a few old friends and ran into a few acquaintances in the streets and while out. I stayed in Sophia's tiny student apartment, but we managed OK. The Maibaumkraxeln went ahead on Sunday and it was a perfect day for it - perhaps even a little too warm and sunny, even, as I am now sporting a visibly red face and arms.

I recommend to anyone who wants to experience some real Bavarian/Austrian traditions that they should go along to the Maibaumkraxeln one year. I don't know where else in Germany or Austria this goes on - it may only be this one city, actually. The fastest person took just under 8 seconds to climb the 15 meter high pole (the pole's still higher, but decorated on top), which means he broke the world record.

In smaller villages in Germany and Austria, it's traditional for the people of one village to try to steal the Maibaum of the neighbouring village, and if successfully stolen, it costs one crate of beer per meter to buy the pole back. It's also a common tactic to leave a crate of beer by the pole the night before, so the guardians-of-the-pole get drunk and fall asleep on the job, at which point the pole is easy-pickings.

The downside of going back to Passau is that Den Haag once again feels foreign and a bit depressing. Hrmph! Photos soon!

— by Robert Thomson, created 22nd May, 2007, last modified 18th Jun, 2009 | Tags: World