This weekend, I went to Munich for Oktoberfest with some friends. Most Germans I’ve talked to surprisingly seemed to prefer other beer festivals over Oktoberfest, and described Oktoberfest as being too touristy and crowded. Of course I figured it would be touristy and crowded, and after going, I can definitely say it really was majorly touristy and crowded (although no one said you can’t have fun with tourists and crowds!)
One of the most surprising things I discovered about Oktoberfest was how hard it was to actually buy beer! I was picturing everyone to be walking around with pints in their hand (especially since that’s not an unusual thing to see people drinking on morning train rides here!), but actually, beer can only be purchased (and remain) in the beer tents, and you can only be served if you have a place at a table. Since I went with some of my Canadian and British friends who have never been before either, we didn’t bother reserving a tent since we figured there must be tons of places to sit down…
Which was really shocking when we actually went inside one, to discover how crowded they are! There were musicians playing, people dancing, waiters pushing past everyone to bring lucky people who weren’t us their litres of beer, and everyone seemed to be seated somewhere drinking and having a good time. We walked around the whole tent, and after having no luck finding a spot, we ended up standing awkwardly in one of the aisles, until some guy tapped me on the shoulder, and asked if we take naked photos of ourselves on our phones.
Two seconds later, we decided to try a different tent.
Eventually, we managed to find spots in the Augustiner-Brau tent, and they happened to be Munich’s oldest brewery!
Outside the tents, the street was filled with stands that sold either: sausages, souvenirs, or Lebkuchenherzen. The Lebkuchenherzen were my favourites, which were basically gingerbread hearts with a ribbon attached to them so you can wear them like a necklace! The best part is the message written on it, which you can give to your friends, lovers, family, etc. The standard ones say things like:
“Ich liebe dich” (I love you)
“Gruß aus München” (greetings from Munich)
Then there’s some fun ones like “Mein Traummann”
“Du bist mein Superstar” and
(next year when I’m at Oktoberfest in my dirndl, I expect a guy in lederhosen to buy me that one).
At night, the place got pretty wild as finding sober people would be like finding a needle in a haystack! There were also cops around to arrest people, and I saw this one guy handcuffed AND locked up in a yellow box being wheeled away by 5 cops! (Travel advice: don’t mess with German police!)
And if I thought Oktoberfest was crazy, the train ride home was something else all together! While me and my friends travelled to Munich together from Mannheim, going home, we all went our separate ways back to Switzerland and various German cities. When you board a train at 2am after Oktoberfest, and there’s guys in lederhosen passed out by the doorways, you know it’s going to be an interesting train ride…
I had the lovely experience of meeting one man who spent about half an hour telling me excitedly about his heart shaped Smurfs balloon. He looked about 40-something. Then his friends who also happened to be 40-something sang Call Me, Maybe, while the ticket inspector came and fined about 3 people who didn’t have tickets. There was also a young guy who was way too cocky, hit on too many girls, and got off the train at Heidelberg alone.
The man who really loved the Smurfs at one point said to me before passing out, “habt keine Angst, nur Spaß macht” which translates to “have no fear, only fun.” And so I’m passing his words of wisdom onto you guys…
I’ll definitely keep his words in mind when I’m in Amsterdam this weekend! 🙂