Oktoberfest and Nature!

September 27, 2011

Hessian Lake

Our guest blogger Tori decided to take us on a ride as she headed out past the city limits for some bears, beer and bratwurst…a perfect idea for a sitcom if I ever did hear one.

This past Saturday, the mister and I decided to get the heck out of the city. So we took a trip by boat to Bear Mountain Park to attend the Oktoberfest celebration that happens every weekend through the end of October. If you’re in NYC – or anywhere nearby – I highly recommend that you go. It was awesome.

We left bright and early from the Circle Line pier (43rd street on the west side) and took a truly beautiful 2.5 hour cruise up the Hudson. If you wish, you can purchase food and beverages on the boat – a few of the passengers made a booze cruise out of it, but it was truly a mixed crowd – couples, families and groups of friends alike.

After the leisurely trip up the river, the boat goes around a little bend and into what feels almost like a small harbor just south of the Bear Mountain Bridge. It’s a gorgeous, calm spot in the bend, surrounded by wooded mountains. Once you leave the boat, you walk up a paved trail up the mountainside. But don’t worry, it’s not that strenuous – it took us about 8 minutes to scale, and an old guy with a rolling walker behind us was also able to do it, albeit much more slowly.

At the summit, all of a sudden BLAM! Oktoberfest! There are craft vendors (nothing too fabulous, except for the pickle guy who sells AWESOME new and sour pickles for $5 a quart). And of course there is beer and German food galore. My husband and I figured out that you can skip the massive food line by visiting the smaller beer, brat and knockwurst truck that’s just outside the pavilion. I recommend the Spaten Oktoberfest beer and knockwurst with sauerkraut. Enjoy them next to the ridiculously placid and breathtaking Hessian Lake (see photo).

Next, head inside the tent. The lines will have likely thinned out and you can get delicious pierogies and other delicacies (we don’t recommend the potato pancakes though – too dense). We also had the pleasure of petting several puppies. (Bonus!) Have another beer or two and you might just find yourself doing a waltz or a yelling “sicket socket!” next to a couple of stine-swilling octogenarians in full Oktoberfest regalia. We did, and it was excellent.

At the end of the three-hours allotted for the ‘fest, head back down the trail with your fellow revelers and get back on the boat for a ride back. We found that the mood on the way back to NYC was a lot more celebratory than the lazy, dreamy ride up – the crew even changed the music from the Sinatra that we’d heard up the river to disco hits.

All in all, you’re away from the city from around 9am to 6pm. You still have a few weeks to check out Oktoberfest. After than, Bear Mountain still has a lot to offer: an ice rink in the winter, the grand re-opening of the Bear Mountain Inn in November, a section of the Appalachian trail, a museum and zoo and what looks like the most amazing pool, nestled in a valley between the trees, in the summer. It’s pretty much my new favorite place.

Tickets for the boat run around $50, although we got them for $25 apiece through LivingSocial.com, so be on the lookout for deals.

Oktoberfest info: http://www.palisadesparksconservancy.org/parks/5/

Circle Line (don’t bother with the $14 picnic lunch): http://www.circleline42.com/new-york-cruises/browse.aspx?type=&productid=218



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