Oktoberfest originally started in 1810 as a wedding celebration for Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I of Bavaria) and his new bride, Princess Therese von Sachsen. The people of Munich decided they had so much fun, they wanted to make it an annual event and Oktoberfest was born.
Well, in 1964 they decided that once a year just wasn't enough, so they would celebrate the arrival of spring with a Spring Festival, the Frühlings Fest. Known as the "Little Sister of Oktoberfest," the Spring Festival is a fraction the size, gets a fraction of the visitors, but has all of the fun of big brother. It usually begins in late April, and runs for two weeks. For 2011 the dates are April 29 to May 15.
Twenty years ago a couple of honeymooners hiking in the Alps along the Italian-Austrian border discovered a body frozen in ice. At first they thought it was the corpse of a mountain climber who had fallen to his death and disappeared, a fairly regular occurrence (and one reason I don't plan to go mountain climbing any time soon). Retrieval crews soon noticed that the man was wearing a fur coat -- wait a minute! Turns out Ötzi, as he is now known, died more than 5000 years ago.
Ötzi is the centerpiece of the South Tyrol Archaeology Museum in Bolzano, Italy, a world-class museum -- worth a detour if you're traveling anywhere through northern Italy. As part of the 20th anniversary celebration the museum has given a make over to the life-like model of Ötzi featured in the exhibit. To me, the new Ötzi looks a lot more realistic, and very reminiscent of some of the farmers I've come across in out of the way corners of the Alps. Check out Ötzi's new look.
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