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.


Events Worth Planning A Trip Around In 2013

Have you ever landed in a place to find out you arrived just after the town’s can’t-miss event of the year? Well, hopefully that won’t happen again this year. Gadling bloggers racked their brains to make sure our readers don’t overlook the best parties to be had throughout the world in 2013. Below are more than 60 music festivals, cultural events, pilgrimages and celebrations you should consider adding to your travel calendar this year – trust us, we’ve been there.

Above image: Throughout Asia, Lunar New Year is celebrated with lantern festivals, the most spectacular of which is possibly Pingxi. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]

Kumbh Mela, a 55-day festival in India, is expected to draw more than 100 million people in 2013. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]

January 7–27: Sundance Film Festival (Park City, Utah)
January 10–February 26: Kumbh Mela (Allahabad, India)
January 21: Presidential Inauguration (Washington, DC)
January 26–February 12: Carnival of Venice (Venice, Italy)
January 26–February 13: Battle of the Oranges (Ivrea, Italy)
During Busójárás in Hungary, visitors can expect folk music, masquerading, parades and dancing. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
February 3: Super Bowl XLVII (New Orleans, Louisiana)
February 5–11: Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo, Japan)
February 7–12: Busójárás (Mohács, Hungary)
February 10: Chinese New Year/Tet (Worldwide)
February 9–12: Rio Carnival (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
February 12: Mardi Gras (Worldwide)
February 14: Pingxi Lantern Festival (Taipei, Taiwan)
February 24: Lunar New Year (Worldwide)

Several cities in India and Nepal increase tourist volume during Holi, when people enjoy spring’s vibrant colors. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
March 1-14: Omizutori (Nara, Japan)
March 8–17: South by Southwest (Austin, Texas)
March 20–April 14: Cherry Blossom Festival (Washington, DC)
March 27: Holi (Worldwide, especially India & Nepal)

Many Dutch people wear orange – the national color – and sell their secondhand items in a “free market” during Koninginnendag, a national holiday in the Netherlands. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
April 12–14 & April 19–21: Coachella (Indio, California)
April 11-14: Masters Golf Tournament (Augusta, Georgia)
April 13–15: Songkran Water Festival (Thailand)
April 17–28: TriBeCa Film Festival (New York, New York)
April 25–28: 5Point Film Festival (Carbondale, Colorado)
April 30: Koninginnendag or Queen’s Day (Netherlands)

Up to 50 men work together to carry their church’s patron saint around the main square in Cusco, Peru during Corpus Christi. [Photo credit: Blogger Libby Zay]
May 4: Kentucky Derby (Louisville, Kentucky)
May 15–16: Festival de Cannes (Cannes, France)
May 20: Corpus Christi (Worldwide)
May 23–26: Art Basel (Hong Kong)
May 24–27: Mountainfilm Film Festival (Telluride, Colorado)
May 25-28: Sasquatch Festival (Quincy, Washington)
May 26: Indianapolis 500 (Speedway, Indiana)

2013 marks the 100th anniversary for the Tour de France. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]

June 13–16: Bonnaroo (Manchester, Tennessee)
June 13–16: Art Basel (Basel, Switzerland)
June 14–16: Food & Wine Classic (Aspen, Colorado)
June 21: St. John’s Night (Poznan, Poland)
June 24: Inti Raymi (Cusco, Peru)
June 28–30: Comfest (Columbus, Ohio)
June 29–July 21: Tour de France (France)

The annual observance of Ramadan is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Visit Istanbul, Turkey, at this time and see a festival-like atmosphere when pious Muslims break their fasts with lively iftar feasts at night. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
July 6–14: San Fermin Festival (Pamplona, Spain)
July 9–August 2: Ramadan (Worldwide)
July 12–14: Pitchfork (Chicago, Illinois)
July 17: Gion Festival Parade (Kyoto, Japan)
July 18–21: International Comic Con (San Diego, California)
July 19–22: Artscape (Baltimore, Maryland)
July 24–28: Fete de Bayonne (Bayonne, France)

Festival-goers get their picture taken at a photo booth during Foo Fest, an arts and culture festival held annually in Providence, Rhode Island. [Photo credit: Flickr user AS220]
August 2–4: Lollapalooza (Chicago, Illinois)
August 10: Foo Fest (Providence, Rhode Island)
August 26–September 2: Burning Man (Black Rock Desert, Nevada)
August 31–September 2: Bumbershoot (Seattle, Washington)

More than six million people head to Munich, Germany, for beer-related festivities during the 16-day Oktoberfest. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
September 5–15: Toronto International Film Festival (Toronto, Canada)
September 13–15: Telluride Blues & Brews Festival (Telluride, Colorado)
September 21–October 6: Oktoberfest (Munich, Germany)

Around 750 hot air balloons are launched during the nine-day Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. [Photo credit: Flickr user Randy Pertiet]

October 4–6 & 11–13: Austin City Limits (Austin, Texas)
October 5–13: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
October 10–14: United States Sailboat Show (Annapolis, Maryland)

During Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), family and friends get together to remember loved ones they have lost. Although practiced throughout Mexico, many festivals take place in the United States, such as this festival at La Villita in San Antonio, Texas. [Photo credit: Blogger Libby Zay]
November 1–2: Dia de los Muertos (Worldwide, especially Mexico)
November 3: Diwali (Worldwide)
November 8–10: Fun Fun Fun Fest (Austin, Texas)
November 11: Cologne Carnival (Cologne, Germany)
November 28: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (New York, New York)
TBA: Punkin Chunkin (Long Neck, Delaware)

The colorful holiday of Junkanoo is the most elaborate festivals of the Bahamian islands. [Photo credit: Flickr user MissChatter]
December 2–3: Chichibu Yomatsuri (Chichibu City, Japan)
December 5–8: Art Basel (Miami, Florida)
December 26–January 1: Junkanoo (Bahamas)

So, what did we miss? Let us know what travel-worthy events you’re thinking about journeying to in the coming year in the comments below.

What You Need To Know About Oktoberfest 2012

I love Oktoberfest season. Just as the summer heat disappears, men in lederhosen with feathered hats take to the streets, and I can sample all the Oktoberfest beers that arrive in my favorite beer stores. (This year my favorite is the Otter Creek Oktoberfest, which is brewed with real Vermont maple syrup.) Munich’s Oktoberfest starts on Saturday and in the coming weeks, there will be Oktoberfest celebrations in cities and towns all over the U.S. and wherever there are ethnic German communities around the world.

But none are quite like the original Oktoberfest in Munich, which hosted nearly 7 million visitors last year with nary a Budweiser or Miler Lite in sight. To get a better idea of what the original Oktoberfest in Munich is all about, we talked to Isabella Schopp, from the City of Munich Tourism Bureau.

Why is it called Oktoberfest if it starts in September?

It used to be in October in the first years but as the weather was always very rainy, grey and sometimes there was even snow, some of the Munich caterers decided that the Oktoberfest should already end on the first weekend of October. It has started in September since 1872.

The Oktoberfest celebration in Munich is the most famous one but are there others all over Germany?

Almost every city and village in Germany has its own folk festival with beer tents and fun rides, which takes one to two weeks each year. They are not called “Oktoberfest” but have their own names and cannot be compared to the Oktoberfest, as they are much smaller and less well known.

What are the origins of the celebration in Munich?

The Munich Oktoberfest, the largest folk festival in the world, has its origin in the wedding ceremony of Crown Prince Ludwig – later King Ludwig I. of Bavaria – with Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen in the year 1810.

How has the celebration changed over the years?

The Oktoberfest still remains the traditional Munich funfair with Munich hospitality and Munich beer. There still are many traditional parts like the parades on the first weekend and some nostalgic rides. However, it has also grown a lot. In the meantime there are 14 large festival halls (“beer tents”), many more rides and games (130 altogether) and the number of visitors has grown a lot.

Tell us a bit about the special Oktoberfest beers that are available during the celebration?

Only those breweries that brew within the city limits are allowed to sell their beer at Oktoberfest. There are, at the moment, six different breweries that provide their own Oktoberfest beers. Only Munich beer from the proven traditional Munich breweries – Augustinerbrauerei, Hacker-Pschorrbrauerei, Löwenbrauerei, Paulanerbrauerei, Spatenbrauerei and Staatliches Hofbräuhaus – which satisfy the Munich purity standards of 1487 and the German purity standards of 1906 may be served.

What does a liter of beer cost?

The price of beer in 2012 is €9.10 – €9.50 per liter.

Other than pretzels what other kind of food is traditionally eaten at Oktoberfest?

The beer is best accompanied by Bavarian delicacies such as radishes, obatzda (specially garnished cream cheese), sausages and roast chicken or spicy fish grilled on a skewer. Another Wiesn specialty is the ox roasted on a spit at the Ochsenbraterei. (The Wiesn is the festival area.)

I know it can be difficult to find a room in Munich during Oktoberfest, any advice for travelers who need a place to stay?

It is advisable to reserve rooms as early as possible. Rooms can be booked via München Tourismus: phone +49 89 23396550 or email
There are also some camping sites in and around Munich where visitors with a small budget can stay.

How many people take part in Oktoberfest celebrations in Munich each year?

In 2011, 6.9 million people took part in Oktoberfest celebrations. The number of visitors has risen every year.

Other than drinking beer and oom-pah bands, what else happens during the course of the celebration?

The Oktoberfest is much more than drinking beer.
The festive setting for the opening of the Oktoberfest is the entry of the festival hosts and breweries, which has been the same since 1887. During the ceremonial opening of the fest, the families of the festival arrive in coaches adorned with flowers, along with the bands, waitresses on decorated carriages and magnificent horse drawn carts from the Munich breweries. This procession is led off by the “Münchner Kindl” – Munich’s symbolic figure – on horseback, followed by the festival coach of the Lord Mayor.

The procession of folklore and marksmen groups takes place on the first Sunday of the Oktoberfest. Some 9,000 persons from Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Norway, Poland and Switzerland participate in this seven-kilometer long parade. There are people in historical uniforms, marksmen, folklore groups, local bands and thoroughbred horses. This procession was held for the first time in 1835 on the occasion of the silver wedding anniversary of Ludwig I. and Therese of Bavaria.

A big band open-air concert of all Oktoberfest bands with some 300 musicians takes place on the second Sunday of the festival. For the grand finale of the Oktoberfest on the last Sunday, some 60 marksmen give a farewell salute.

Do locals take off from work to take part in this, or do they show up for work hung over the next morning?

Some locals take off from work to take part in the Oktoberfest but usually locals go to work the next morning, some probably a bit later than usual!

Have there been security issues with people getting too drunk and causing problems in previous years?

The security measures have always been good. But there are always some conflicts between drunken visitors that can be solved quickly by the security people. After some critical reviews of security procedures, the taskforce “Security at the Wiesn,” introduced measures that enabled security at the Wiesn to be steadily increased.

What’s your favorite part about Oktoberfest?

What I like best at the Oktoberfest is the procession of folklore and marksmen groups, which takes place on the first Sunday of the Oktoberfest, as well as the special, happy vibe all over the Oktoberfest grounds, as well as in the beer tents.

[Photos courtesy of The German National Tourist Board]

Bierfest brings the spirit of Oktoberfest to London

While not everyone can find time in their busy schedule to make it over to Germany for Oktoberfest, those in London from October 5-7, 2011, can still experience the spirit of the festival. London will host their annual Bierfest at Old Billingsgate Market, which will be transformed into an authentic-style Oktoberfest celebration with traditional German food, unlimited steins of beer, live music, and servers dressed in costume.

Bitburger will be the official beer supplier for the event, featuring brews such as:

  • Bitgburger Premium Beer, a hoppy beer with a dry-finish that is made in accordance with Germany purity law.
  • Bitburger Drive, an alcohol free, fully-fermented, low calorie beer option.
  • Licher-Weizen (Light Wheat Beer), a refreshing beer brewed out of wheat and “blessed by the sun”
  • Kostritzer Schwarzbier (Black Beer), a barley malt with a mild-hop flavor.

As for food fare, expect options like Bavarian spiced chicken, cold meat & cheese platters, salted pretzels, mini Gherkins, BBQ ribs, and more.

Tickets must be purchased in tables of 10, so get your closest friends together and experience the spirit of Oktoberfest in London.

Oktoberfest bathrooms (and tips for next year)

With so much beer consumed at Munich‘s Oktoberfest, it’s only logical that urination becomes a world-class activity. The bathrooms at the festival run the gamut from: good, fine, okay, crowded, packed and insane (see below) to convivial, non-existent, trees, bushes, lampposts and grass. Don’t be shocked to find many people — usually men — at the Theresienwiese (festival grounds) discharging in public. Oktoberfest is still a wonderful, memorable experience, but we human beings, well… we do have to go, so try not to be surprised.

Although I was sitting with other “specially invited guests” at of the Hacker-Pschorr Brewery on the last night of Oktoberfest, I finally had to head for a much-needed bathroom break. I’d heard about a mysterious “VIP-Pee,” but learned it was reserved for women only. So when the inevitable time came, I boxed my way down a crowded staircase, then out the door and headed for the nearest bathroom.

%Gallery-7107%After turning the corner around the exterior beer garden I encountered a dense, swelling crowd of maleness — guys of all ages and nationalities pushing to enter a small white shack labeled, “WC.” Speaking quasi-German now, “I Hav-en-to-pissen,” I joined a group of about 150 pushing hard to enter the one doorway. I was squished from the each side and back as purposeful masculine energy heaved the group forward. Against this tide, guys were attempting to exit through the one door, looking for a seam and slithering out of the onrushing squirming horde. It reminded me of a fullback attempting a tough draw through a stout defense. Most, but not all, of the guys found the situation funny, and I heard lots of German, English, Danish, Italian, Spanish, French and other languages. Some laughed while others swore with words I could not comprehend. Finally getting in, I went and turned around to get out of this insane WC. Finding some big blockers, I pushed hard against the group and popped out like a kidney stone into the fresh air. Whew, this scene was worse than when I saw Johnny Rotten at the Roseland Ballroom.

By contrast the bathroom inside the Hacker-Pschorr tent was a model of German efficiency as you stood up next to — and facing — fellow urinators standing on the other side of a partition. It was a time for light conversation, a time for reflection and a time to pee. Plus it had an actual exit door – how civilized.

Some insights for next year’s Oktoberfest which runs September 17 – October 3, 2011.

* Visit the beer tents early in the event and early in the day. You stand a much greater chance of walking in and finding a seat than in the evening. Then, you can return to your hotel early, or have dinner elsewhere. Normal, non-crazy times around lunchtime or before 4:00 PM are ideal.

* For evening fun, definitely make reservations for visiting Brewery tents. There is no fee for entrance, and again, walk-ins are welcome, but there are times when every single inch at the Oktoberfest tents are full and you’ll be left outside looking in. My favorite tents were the big Paulaner tent, the Augustina Brewery tent (the oldest brewery in Munich, dating from 1328) and my favorite, the beautiful tent from Hacker-Pschorr. Everyone has their own favorite. Ask around and do some research.

* Remember, tent reservations are free but highly sought after around the world. Use this link for reservation information. The owners of the tents aren’t exactly the breweries themselves, but it matters not for visitors. Sign up as early as possible.

* Try and order a glass of water (wasser) along with each beer. I should have had more water, especially the last night.

* Don’t forget to eat enough. It will help with beer consumption issues.

Until 2011 – Prost!

* Oktoberfest by the numbers
* Arriving at Munich’s Oktoberfest
* Munich, Germany’s 200th Anniversary of Oktoberfest
* Beer logistics at Munich’s Oktoberfest
* Oktoberfest: Lots of food and more than 8 million gallons of beer

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).

[Images: Flickr | Ethan Prater; mahmut; Herr_bert]