Slideshow: Souvenir Travel Clothes That Don’t Translate Back Home

We’ve all done it. Caught up in the excitement of a great trip, we find ourselves “going local,” and buying an article (or wardrobe) of indigenous clothing to show our love for a place. Sometimes, as with vintage aloha shirts, pretty kurtas, handcrafted leather sandals or Latin American peasant blouses, these looks play well back home. At their worst, however, they make the wearer resemble a clown, costume party-refugee or garden variety idiot.

I understand the urge to wear groovy clothes that scream, “I’m a world traveler!” But more often, bad sartorial choices are the result of too many margaritas, too much pakalolo or the shopping frenzy that results from visiting foreign craft fairs and artisan markets. God knows, I could stock a Goodwill with past purchases. But, like cornrows on white girls, male sarongs or anything from Hilo Hattie, most wearable souvenirs are better off left in their place of origin.

View the slideshow for a selection of frequent travel fashion violations.


Video: Call Me Maybe, Says Austria, In Style

In a parody of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” YouTube video, the Austrian Tourism Board is front and center with their rendition. The video was actually filmed in New York City as part of the Austria Dirndl Temptation campaign.

Have no clue what that means? Dirndl is a type of traditional dress worn in Austria based on the historical costume of Alpine peasants. Lederhosen are pants, either short or knee-length. Both are still quite popular today in Austria, and are worn at weddings, festivals and even in daily life in the Lake District, a resort area also called the Salzkammergut.

Since June, a group of Dirndl and Lederhosen ambassadors chosen by the Austria Tourist office have been going on outings all around NYC in traditional costume. As they interact with New Yorkers, they spread the word about Austria.

Like what you see? Follow Austria on a discovery tour of all things Dirndl-related, and if, along the way, you like them on Facebook, you’ll get the chance to win a trip for two to the heart of Dirndl-country along with your own Dirndl and Lederhosen.

Munich, Germany’s 200th Anniversay of Oktoberfest

Ten thousand people, all enjoying liter mugs flowing with fresh Paulaner beer, swayed and clapped, hooted and hollered and joined together to sing that traditional German song, “Sweet Home Alabama.” The lively Oom Pa Pa band churned it out in a way that Lynyrd Skynyrd would appreciate. Packed to the rafters, I spied an empty seat and grabbed it. Ah, now seated, I ordered a beer (there is only one kind – Oktoberfest) and watched the action.

Munich’s Oktoberfest is celebrating its 200th Anniversary as throngs keep piling into the Munich’s Theresienwiese, or festival grounds. Originally a wedding celebration for Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese, nearly 7.5 million people will visit the sixteen-day festival this year. Of the crowds, about 50% are locals, from Munich and Bavaria, but the rest come from elsewhere around Germany, Europe, the UK, USA and beyond. “This is something special,” said Thomas Klug, a Munich local, sitting with a few friends. “Oh yes, I come every year.” Klug will ride his bicycle home after his third liter and plans on being at work at 7:30 the next morning.

I wouldn’t bet on it; lots of habitually punctual Germans call in sick during Oktoberfest.

%Gallery-7107%Open from 11 AM to 11 PM, the festival ground is a blast, like a Beer Disneyland (… or “Beers-ny-land”) full of carnival attractions, thrill rides like a fair sized coaster and 13-story drop zone, food stalls, kiddie attraction and other sorts of family fun. The various beer halls line the sides, all representing a Munich brewery. (There are 13.) Everyone has a favorite for various reasons. Some attract a younger crowd, some older and less frenetic, while still others may offer different culinary specialties. Oh yeah, they serve food too! Fresh and hot Hendl or roasted chicken is very popular — and tasty. The service can vary from crisp at the Hacker-Pschorr brewery to very slow at Augustina.

“It’s amazing how good a tuba can sound after a few beers.”

Standing on benches, sometimes for long periods, most of the patrons are friendly and — despite the beer and crowds — it is a very peaceful scene. People come to drink fresh beer and have fun. “It’s amazing how good a tuba can sound after a few beers,” said Tom Carroll visiting from Maryland. He’s right, and in fact this is when the dorky tuba player from the high school marching band finally gets some respect. At a break, the tuba player pulled out a fifteen foot long Alpine horn and played it jauntily. It sounded like an immense trombone. His short-brimmed, country hat sported a fluffy feather in the side, rising about ten inches into the air. The crowd roared, he smiled and bowed slightly after his short performance. He then picked up his beer.

Many women – of all ages wear the traditional dirndl dresses (think Swiss Miss) with frilly white blouses blue or red skirts. Revealing and busty they usually look lovely in these outfits, with the exception of the ugly “Mary Jane” type shoes. Men on the other hand wear lederhosen – brown leather pants with suspenders. The most common type ties off at the knee – supposedly to keep the critters out. There is also a cross-section belt connecting the suspenders in the front that often sports a family crest or city logo. Underneath they wear a two colored checked flannel shirt, most often red and white or blue and white. Some wear vests, usually green, and white or cream colored socks pulled up high. Suede loafers or short work boots complete the ensemble. Small shops as well as large department stores in Munich sell proper Oktoberfest gear running anywhere from $100 – $300 for an entire outfit. (Makes a great Halloween costume back home!) There are also some used clothing stores around town.

Still many Oktoberfest participants wear otherwise normal clothing without a problem. “This is fantastic, there’s nothing like this in England,” said Tony visiting from Ipswich England. Now they are singing “Sweet Caroline,” Ha, time for another beer…

Previously: Arriving at Munich’s Oktoberfest


Bob Ecker is a Napa, California based travel writer/photographer providing worldwide magazines and newspapers with compelling travel, hospitality, wine, culinary, skiing, film and innovative feature content. He is constantly on the go, traveling the world, unearthing new stories and uncorking emerging regions. He is current Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) member and former President of the Bay Area Travel Writers (BATW).

Arriving at Munich’s Oktoberfest 2010

Direct, no muss no fuss and much simpler than flying, I arrived into Munich, the capital of Bavaria, on the evening train from Budapest. It was easy — buy a first class ticket, get on the train a couple of minutes before embarkation, stow your bags, and away we go. I traveled through eastern Hungary, bucolic and somewhat scenic, then the entirety of Austria. The train passed green hamletted hills, little towns, tall steeples, the occasional factory, windmill farms and fleeting glimpses of the Austrian Alps thrown in for postcard measure. I ate from the dining car, bought a beer, read, played games and slept in comfort. After a 7.5 hr. journey, the train reached Bavaria and soon stopped at the Munich Hauptbahnhof or main train station.

I came to Munich primarily to experience Oktoberfest in this, its 200th anniversary. The historic festival originally began as a celebration of the marriage between Crown Prince Ludwig and Therese, Princess of Saxony back in 1810. Parades, games, music and (of course!) beer flowed at the huge wedding party. In 1818, Oktoberfest became an official beer festival and has been going strong ever since. Today approximately 1.5 million people show up to Oktoberfest each year in the capital of Bavaria.

I started out from the hotel, took the U Bahn’ (the efficient subway system) to the Theresienwiese — named after Princess Therese — the Oktoberfest area. Walking two blocks, I encountered a rocking’ carnival. Brilliant lights, screaming rides for kids and adults, food stalls, games of skill (in one you had to kick a soccer ball past a live goalie and hit a bull’s-eye), and everything else you’d expect at first rate amusement park. Thousands enjoyed the fun.

Then I saw the beer gardens…

%Gallery-7103%… which are mainly massive tents sponsored by different breweries. Open from 11 AM to 11 PM, the 13 beer tents can hold around 10,000 people each — all eating, drinking, talking and singing. I chose one, the Pschorr Brewery and walked in. Wow, what a raucous scene. Throngs of happy locals and tourists were enjoying the fresh Pschorr brew sold in big, heavy 1-liter glasses. It was a friendly though pushy crowd with virtually every seat taken. Numerous men were wearing traditional German lederhosen and women in sexy dirndl skirts. Many were not wearing the traditional outfit, which was no problem, but hey, if you can get your hands on the clothes you’ll feel right at home. I was lucky enough to find an empty seat and ordered a beer, a soft pretzel and some hensl — or rotisserie chicken. Typically German, the whole operation runs like clockwork — servers dash back and forth taking orders and returning in minutes. My beer and food quickly arrived (hot and delicious) as I conversed with some locals. “These 16 days are the best in Munich, it’s a time to see and be seen,” said local man Uvo Neigenfind.

A band at the front played all kinds of music inducing the crowd, many standing on benches, to sing along in unison. The tunes included “Sweet Caroline,” Take Me Home,” and a “traditional” old German disco classic, “I Will Survive.” Some thought this was an old German song but, ha, I recognized it immediately.

And the beer kept flowing…


Bob Ecker is a Napa, California based travel writer/photographer providing worldwide magazines and newspapers with compelling travel, hospitality, wine, culinary, skiing, film and innovative feature content. He is constantly on the go, traveling the world, unearthing new stories and uncorking emerging regions. He is current Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) member and former President of the Bay Area Travel Writers (BATW).

How Much Would You Pay for a Pair of Lederhosen?

A new world record has been broken recently — most expensive pair of Lederhosen. A version of the traditional alpine outfit recently sold for 85,000 euros, which is $115,000. Lederhosen, which are traditionally made from the hide of an animal — typically a goat, pig or elk — is strangely enduring fashion trend in the Alps. This particular pair is adorned with 116 diamonds, each set in gold. Doesn’t that seem a bit … I dunno … excessive?

onsidered to be to the Alps what the kilt is to Scotland (according to the Lederhosen entry on Wikipedia), the leather knee-length shorts-and-suspender-combo can be worn while hiking outside, pounding back a few at Oktoberfest, or anywhere else, I suppose. Still, I don’t think I’ll be picking up a pair any time soon — and certainly not at that exorbitant price.

Don’t stop here — Gadling has a ton more Oktoberfest 2007 coverage!