Posts Tagged ‘tours’

Oktoberfest - the best festival in the world?

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

by Kara Segedin

One of the largest and best known festivals in the world, Oktoberfest, is nearly upon us.

Topdeck designer Brett shared some of his tips, insights and memories (well, what he could remember) of Munich’s Beerfest.

“I first went in 2006 and then again in 2009,” says Brett.

“The experience was amazing - it was a real party atmosphere.”

The beer tents close around 10-11pm and he says everyone goes back to their campsites or hostels and keeps on partying.

The 16–18 day festival runs from late September with more than 5 million people attending every year and almost 7 million litres of beer is served.

Known as the largest Volksfest (People’s Fair) in the world, Oktoberfest has been held in Munich since 1810.

The festival is right in the heart of the city on a huge ground with rides, food stands and of course, beer.

“The majority of the time is spent in the beer halls because that’s where you get the unique experience,” says Brett.

The Beer Halls at Oktoberfest

There are about a dozen beer tents ranging in size some holding thousands of people.

Only locally brewed, Bavarian beers are allowed to be served at Oktoberfest. Each tent serves one brand of beer, sometimes with variations such as a lager or weissbier.

Brett first visited the Löwenbräu and then the Hofbräu. Hofbräu is possibly the most famous beer hall and is open all year round.

Brett says the best beer he sampled at Oktoberfest was made by a small brewery called Spaten.

“It was just so crisp, it was a really good beer, and it was a much smaller tent and the majority of the patrons were locals and I think that’s where you get the better experience from”

Inside the halls are lined with picnic-type tables with a stage in the centre where bands play music all day long.

“On the hour they’ll play a song to cheers everyone called Prost,” he says.

Brett recommends dressing for all sorts of weather. It can get ridiculous cold outside the tent, but once inside the temperature rises.

The local residents really get behind the event and many Germans (and tourists) get dressed up in traditional outfits.

Brett & a friendly local Bavarian

“The Bavarian women! The outfits! The Dirndl is absolutely incredible. It is one of the sexiest traditional outfits in Europe.”

Like a restaurant, each girl has her own serving section and they come around taking drinks orders.

“You don’t get served unless you are sitting at a table - they are quite strict with that, the beer wenches”

Besides the beer, food is a big thing at Oktoberfest.

A mix of hot meals and snacks, a number of traditional German and Bavarian delicacies are on offer including Würstl (sausages), Brezn (Pretzel), Knödel (potato or bread dumplings), Kasspatzn (cheese noodles), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes) and, of course, Sauerkraut or Blaukraut (red cabbage).

“The chickens are absolutely sensational, it’s a bit expensive, but it’s some of the best chicken I’ve ever had,” says Brett.

Towards the afternoon and early evening local Germans start arriving at the festival from work.

“That’s one of the best things about Oktoberfest,” says Brett. “ It’s not just drinking the beer, but because you’re on communal tables your sitting with, Americans, Germans, French, anyone and everyone, and it’s such a friendly atmosphere, you end up talking to the rest of the table and cheering and dancing around with them.”

“I’ve done a few festivals before and this is the one I’d keep going back to.”


  • The tents open between 9-10am so get there early to get a seat.
  • Try smaller tents and go in the evening to mix with locals.
  • Eat a lot of local food.
  • Wear layers – outside it can get very cold while the tents get warm.
  • Have fun!

Don’t miss out on Oktoberfest 2011! We have a few spaces left so book now

The Madness of The Edinburgh Festival with Diane Spencer

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

by Kara Segedin

Which festival combines a grand military showcase with music, theatre, fireworks, comedy and the bizarre? None other than the Edinburgh Festival!

Made up of 12 different festivals including the Military Tattoo, International Festival and Fringe, Edinburgh is world’s largest cultural event.

During festivities the city’s main street, the Royal Mile, becomes a Mecca for performers as every bar, restaurant and available space is transformed into a venue for arts of all kinds.

On the back of a 4 star review at last year’s Fringe, British (and one time Kiwi) comedian Diane Spencer will be entertaining the crowds with her latest hilarious (and sometimes shocking) offering - All-pervading Madness.

Topdeck sat down with Di to chat about her experiences in Edinburgh…

How many times have you performed at Fringe?

This is my third annual visit in a row - third time’s a charm they say too. This year better pull something special out!

What makes the Edinburgh Festival so unique?

It’s the largest arts festival in the world, in the hilliest place in the world, which means that you get a fair amount of walking in. Though I wonder how disabled access friendly it is. There are lots of steps and I’ve seen some muscular dudes in wheelchairs pushing the “long way” round up slopes.

Anyway (totally distracted) - the city of Edinburgh is also beautiful, historic - there’s the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and because this festival operates at many tiers, you can usually find something to meet your budget. You can splash out and go see loads of famous comedians in big beautiful venues or you can plunder through the free Fringe programme. It’s really unique because it’s so large, there’s something for everyone.

Best Edinburgh Fest experience?

That day I got my first four star review. My Mum sent me the text all in capitals with the word “FANTASTIC!” She was really proud, I was so chuffed. It was lovely - because that’s like an end of year exam, or a job appraisal. You’ve been working so hard all year and then you get examined!

Worst Edinburgh Fest experience?

A couple of boys stole my phone and purse from my bag when I was onstage. It was such a violating feeling. Then to have to go to the police station, cancel all my cards, and it was raining of course. You just have to keep an eye on things.

What have been some of your festival highlights?

I’ve seen so many brilliant performances from a variety of sources - some in the theatre, but once, I was walking up the Royal Mile, it was oddly a quiet time of night, and suddenly the sky exploded in fireworks and I sort of just fell in love with the feeling and stood there on the street just being the happiest person on the planet.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing perform?

I enjoy Asher Treleaven, an Aussie Comic. Also like vintage diva Lili La Scala. The Boy with Tape on his Face has a new show too, and he’s a Kiwi. I’ll definitely catch Carey Marx’s new show - I’ve sort of made it a tradition to see his show each year. Oo, and Nick Helm, he’s always good fun.

Where do you go to get a bite to eat?

For the ultimate steak, but obviously at a price, you have to go to the Scotsman Hotel brasserie. Proper HUGE bit of

cow. In terms of amazing coffee - the Wellington Coffee house on George Street. They also do really nice warm scones with jam and clotted cream.

What are your must-see sights in Edinburgh?

Just by walking around this beautiful city you come across really interesting and wonderful items. I did take a trip into the Edinburgh Dungeons one year - that was gruesome but fun.

Why should people come and see you?

Because I am hilariously funny, silly, rude, naughty and funny AGAIN. Also this year I won an award, the Chortle Best Newcomer 2011, and then this show, which I’m performing at Edinburgh now, was nominated for “Best Comedy (Emerging)” at the Adelaide Fringe Awards. So I’m funny now!

Tell us a joke….

I’ll have to invoice you for that if I do.

If you’d like to get in on the Edinburgh action join us on our Tattoo & Festival trip departing 26 August and get 20% off!

Diane Spencer: All-pervading Madness

Venue: Gilded Balloon

Dates: 3-28 Aug (no show on the 16th)

Time: 5.45pm

Egyptian Adventures

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Guest travel blogger Emma Flynn shares her recent journey to Egypt with Topdeck.

I’ve been so excited about visiting Egypt for a very long time. In fact its been about 11 years or so of dreaming! Finally, At the beginning of May, after three false starts over the past 11 years, I finally realised my dreams and travelled to this amazing country.

We’ve all seen the news reports on Egypt and the revolution. I had followed the news intently, praying everything would settle down so I could travel. It did and at the beginning of April, Topdeck started operating in Egypt again after a 2 month break. I was so happy. I figured that if Topdeck were operating their trips, it was safe to travel again.

We arrived a couple of days before our tour started, and on our first day we ventured out into Cairo by ourselves. It was certainly a culture shock. Jumping into a taxi and out into the Cairo rush hour traffic was an eye opening (or tightly closed!) experience in itself. As we wandered around in the controlled chaos of Cairo, nervousness and apprehension soon melted away as we came across numerous friendly people in the street, and even walked through Tahrir Square (the scene of the January revolution), which was full of people going about their daily lives.

Our next day we were up early (the first of what would become a recurring theme!) to take the Topdeck optional excursion to Alexandria. On arrival we met our passionately Egyptian guide, Jimmy, who showed us the key sites, including the site of the famous lighthouse, the catacombs, and the new library.

Having met our trip leader the night before after returning from Alexandria, the tour began. The Egyptian museum in Cairo gave us our first taste of the ancient civilization. Most of the relics found in King Tutankhamun’s tomb are now here in the museum. It was amazing to see the jewels and possessions of the boy king. Things range from his leather shoes, jewellery, beds, under ware and even and ancient form of contraception so only his royal wife would bare him a child! The other highlight was the mummy room. In my opinion, it was well worth the additional 100 LE just to see 3000 year old people still with hair, teeth, eyelashes and fingernails!

After the museum we headed out to the last remaining wonder of the Ancient world, the Giza pyramids. We were lucky enough to be able to go inside the small pyramid. This experience alone was worth going to Egypt for!

From Cairo we headed south to Aswan to meet our boat to cruise to Luxor.

Egypt wasn’t all about the tombs and temples however. In Aswan we did get to relax by taking a felucca down the Nile, sailing past Elephantine and Kitchener islands on our way to a Nubian Village, including a stop for a dip in the Nile! We didn’t sail straight to the village, but stopped about 20-30 minutes away to climb on to a camel to take us in the rest of the way. Being on the Nile was so peaceful and relaxing, and we got to spend 3 nights aboard a 4-star cruiser. So in between all the sites we could take a dip in the pool on the sun deck, or if we were still feeling energetic, a game of ping pong.

There were a few early mornings… We were up early to visit Abu Simbel, up early to take a hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings, up early to miss the heat of the sun! So many early mornings, but so very worth it!

My favourite day was probably also the busiest day! We visited the Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple, Karnak and Luxor temples. We were very lucky to have visited at a time when there were not many other tourists around. It felt sometimes like we were the only people in the temple. Our Egyptologist for the day was a local called Sam. Sam seemed to have an undying love for the Ancient Egyptians. While most of us melted in the 40 something degree heat, Sam scribbled away on his clip board explaining to us the meaning of the Heiroglyphs we were looking at and drawing us a family tree of the Pharaoh’s, so we knew who’s tombs we were looking at.

Egypt was mind blowing. Never had I been on a holiday where everything was bigger and better than I had imagined. We visited (almost) every major tomb and temple across the country, but for me there were some places that stood out more than others, however the experiences will stay with me forever.

Topdeck Blog - News and Info about travelling in Europe and Africa by Bus

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

We know that you need a lot of useful info before travelling. So, we have created this blog for you. If you are travelling in Europe, Egypt, Morocco or Africa you will find plenty of information and unbelievable offers here.