Oktoberfest was definitely on my “must do” list while living here. I knew I would regret it forever if I didn’t make it there, and I’m very glad to say I did. Oktoberfest surprised me both in a good way and in an “OMG what in the hell did I just see” kinda way.
We made a lot of mistakes in our planning to go. First of all, it was a very spur of the moment decision to go. Stefan and I had had actually planned to go on a week day during the last week of the fest. On Friday night we were at a BBQ for Stefan’s work and some friends said they were going to go on Saturday, so we decided to go ahead and go. At 10 AM Saturday morning we headed to the train station to find out that we had a four hour train ride to Munich putting us there around 2 PM. Our fault for not checking the schedules better, but oh well. We were really wondering if we would have a good time at all because everyone who has been before says to arrive in Munich no later than 10 AM if you want to get a seat in the beer tent. Oops!
So we make it after a 4 hour train journey and walk in to the festival grounds. It. Is. Huge! Our first mission was to get food because we were starving. This is where I had my first OMG moment when I almost got puked on by a barely conscious man. I got out of the way just in time, but I still had to see the contents of his stomach. Yuck! Still we knew we had to eat before drinking, so I decided to eat a schnitzel sandwich. Yum!
After eating we decided to go attempt to get a seat somewhere so that we could drink a beer. You can only drink a beer in either a beer tent (building) or a beer garden attached to a beer tent (outdoor picnic tables kinda). There are 14 large and 21 small beer tents at Oktoberfest and all of them book up at least 6 months in advance. The larger and more popular tents are usually filled 9-12 months in advance, so the chances of us getting into an actual tent were practically impossible.
We decided to try our luck at the Hofbräu Festzelt tent. This is the place to be at Oktoberfest. It is by far the most popular and coveted tent which makes it impossible to get a seat in unless you have a reservation or know someone. Regardless, we decided to try our luck and see if we could at least sit outside in the beer garden. As we were standing in line a bunch of drunk guys cut us. Apparently a beer maid took pity on us who worked in the Hofbräu tent. She started talking to my husband and escorted the four of us in, past security and directly to her table. She actually made people leave the table to seat us. Stefan said it was because he is so good looking and I know he will tell the story about how his good looks got us into the most popular tent at Oktoberfest for the rest of his life.
I’m sure you can imagine how excited we were when this happened. We were prepared to wait in line for several hours to just sit outside of the tent. We never dreamed that we would be inside of the tent. The tent holds around 10,000 people. Hops are suspended from the air, the polka band plays all kinds of pop hits and traditional drinking songs.
We had a really good time inside of the tent. It was so packed and so hot, but a really fun atmosphere. We did have to dodge a few people about to vomit and we did see several people get escorted out for falling asleep, but it was overall a good time.
I’m not a huge fan of German beer, but it was good that day. Probably because it was so hot in that tent and the beer was so cold. It’s easy to see how the liters of beer go down so easily. A liter, called a Maß (mass), is the only size you can get. It’s around 2 pints and it is nearly 7% alcohol, so you really have to watch yourself.
Our waitress quickly brought us beers. Here is our waitress carrying 10 liters of beer. That weighs around 50 lbs! She does this for 12 hours a day for the 16 days of Oktoberfest. Quite impressive!
Sometimes when you are in the tent you’ll see someone (usually a guy) stand up on the table and try to chug an entire Maß without his lips leaving the glass. The crowd goes crazy for this, but if you spill any or stop to breathe you will get booed and food thrown at you. One of my proudest moments of the day was throwing a pretzel at some guy quite a ways away and hitting him in the knee.
You meet a ton of people in the tents. We spoke with a girl from New Zealand who lives in London, I shared a pretzel with some German man (He knew no English. I know like 12 words in German and how to say pretzel is one of them lol), and we met a few people from the US, too. I even had the unfortunate experience of being caught in a serious makeout session between two strangers. It was so crowded that I couldn’t move and the girl grabbed my butt and the guy twirled my hair. Luckily, my friend who I shared a pretzel with, spilled beer on them by accident so that cooled things down quickly. Still, I wonder how many Oktoberfest babies are born each year. Probably a lot.
After a while in the tent we decided to go and get some fresh air. We walked around and looked at the rides and stuff. Oktoberfest is more than just a beer festival. It is actually a giant carnival. We actually saw a bunch of families there hanging out for the day.
One of things that you can buy at Oktoberfest is a gingerbread heart. They are decorated with different sayings. Stefan bought me one that says I love you in German. He then wore it for the rest of the day so I wouldn’t ruin the icing lol.
After getting some air we briefly thought about trying to get into a different tent, but we knew it probably wouldn’t happen. We had already gotten lucky once and it probably wouldn’t happen again. We spent the rest of the day people watching before catching our train back home.
It was a really good day! Personally I like the smaller festivals better because the millions of people in one area can get annoying. I’m glad we went and we couldn’t have dreamed up a better experience for our first time. If we do go back we will have to be better prepared and make sure we wear the traditional clothing!
The sign of good time.