Oktoberfest (Like a Local)
The best thing about having travelled so much is the people I have met along the way.
Every now and again I get the opportunity to then meet up with these wonderful people in their own homes and get a ‘local’ taste of their corner of the world.
Lucky for me one of my good friends is a local in Munich. So I decided to visit her over the most well-known time of the year in her city. Oktoberfest.
Much to everyones surprise Oktoberfest generally doesn’t take to much part in the month of October. Traditionally it starts in the third weekend in September and ends the first sunday of October.
Luckily for me this timed perfectly with the end of a one month 780km walk across Spain and it seemed like the perfect destination to celebrate a month of healthy living with an unhealthy extreme party.
Oktoberfest actually began in 1810 to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The Bavarian royalty invited the citizens of Munich to attend the festivities, held on the fields in front of the city gates and join in with the wedding festivities.
Weddings are known for being a good party excuse but these two definitely take the cake on best wedding parties (especially considering the fact that it is still being celebrated 207 years later).
These days Oktoberfest in Munich is the largest festival in the world, with an international flavor characteristic of the 20th century.
So I flew in on a Sunday morning. Quickly searched the store for a ‘dirndl’ (AKA the beautiful Bavarian dresses that are the only socially acceptable Oktoberfest get-up and reunited with my gorgeous fiend Alissa at the train stop near her home.
Now one thing about Oktoberfest is that it is kind of celebrated at a typically bad-weather time of year. 2016 was no exception.
We quickly ran through the rain to her home and got ready to hit up the festivities.
Alissa approved of my dress (it was very nice – not like the skimpy ‘touristy’ dresses a lot of Australians end up wearing to the festivities).
Our first stop wasn’t the beer tents – it was the home of her friends. For a ‘traditional’ Bavarian beer, pretzel and sausage breakfast. (Alissa had been kind enough to get me a packet of vegan sausages so I didn’t feel left out – I got laughed at a lot but hey at least I wasn’t left out!)
It was the breakfast of champions (or at least drinking champions).
After our bellies were full of nutritious Bavarian treats we were ready to hit the town.
There was something super neat about walking around Munich with a bunch of locals wearing gorgeous traditional outfits. It didn’t feel like we were heading to a giant tourist trap at all. It all felt like a genuine day in Bavaria…
We made it to the festivities and after some thorough security checks we were in.
I did not expect the place to be so big. The venue is a whopping 420 000 square metres and is home to 14 giant beer tents and 20 smaller ones on top of that. It takes two months to setup the festival and one month to disassemble it and it attracts over six million visitors every. Single. Year. Those are some big numbers – talk about some serious wedding party inspiration…
After a month of walking through tiny Spanish villages it was kind of an overwhelming situation but soon I found myself in a beer tent with my German buddies elbowing tourists out of the way to get a good table. Before I knew it I had a litre of beer in my hand and my troubles seemed to quickly fade away.
The beer tents themselves are absolutely stunning. Considering they take two months to assemble I did expect them to be pretty impressive but I did not expect them to be absolutely gorgeous!
The day consisted of drinking, singing, dancing on precarious tables, drinking, watching my German friends yell at strangers, drinking, yelling at strangers myself, laughing at drunk(er) people, drinking, eating the beer tent’s vegan option (yes, that exists), drinking, pretending to know the lyrics and dance moves to all of the German music, drinking etc…
It was all a lot of fun. Maybe too much fun. But considering my German buddies were overlapping me many times in numbers of beers I think my fun levels were acceptable.
I remember at some point I had a disagreement with a tent security guard because he tried to force us to flirt with him in order to get inside which I was not impressed with one bit but managed to yell at him and get him to feel guilty and let us in anyway.
Other than the seedy security guard I encountered many nice people to enjoy the festivities with and actually ended up staying until closing time… Which I was extremely proud of.
We stumbled home and ate hummus (because Alissa had stocked up remembering that it was my all time favourite food).
The nest day I explored Munich with Alissa and a hangover before meeting my English friend Holly for some more Oktoberfest fun.
I was catching a train back to Holland that evening so had no intention of drinking like the day before but it was very nice to explore the festivities through sober eyes. It really is a gorgeous venue (even in torrential down pouring rain).
Holly and I spent a bit of time inside admiring the beer tents in all their drunken glory before heading outside to play in the rain… Because outside of the 100,000 people beer tents is a giant fairground. And I discovered that Holly is a bit of a ride daredevil.
First we hit that giant tower thing that slowly carries you to the top of the world, which would be completely gorgeous and probably the best view of Munich but unfortunately you know at any moment it is going to fling you quickly down to earth so the whole ‘what a beautiful view’ moment is kind of sabotaged…
Holly then decided to be completely crazy and hit up the fair ground rollercoaster which is honestly one of the few ‘fun but scary’ things I absolutely refuse to do.
Temporary fair ground rollercoaster in a thunderstorm? That is the complete realm of daredevils.
Eventually we decided to find our way back to town, first having to navigate through the high maze of Oktoberfest festivities.
The rain had definitely reached a new level of extreme and we ran through the crowds in search of somewhere to have dinner. Holly was absolutely craving soup so we were on a very serious soup-mission.
Eventually we found soup and celebrated the end of a fun day of being tourists.
Oktoberfest was a complete blast both with locals and as a couple of tourists. There is a completely spectacular atmosphere and the effort that goes into the festival and the outfits that are worn there make the entire experience wonderful.
If you can coincide a visit to magnificent Munich with the festival be sure to do so. You will leave with a cool outfit, a sore head, a newfound love for German music and maybe a few blisters from all of the dancing on wobbly tables…
Oh, and some wonderful memories… Depending on just how much beer you consume…