September 30-October 3, 2009
I woke up early to head to the Oktoberfest grounds. If you ever head to Munich for this, don’t be worried about finding your way to the grounds. Just follow the guys in lederhosen.
I’m just going to be blunt with you: Oktoberfest is one of the greatest festivals on Earth. I only planned on going for one day, but I ended up there for two. The atmosphere was incredible—the beer, the chicken, the bands, the revelers, the beer, the tough as nail servers, the people from around the world and the pretzels—way too much fun in a 2-day span.
I started out in the Hacker Pschorr tent. The free tables are around the stage in the middle of the tent, so I headed off to find a place to sit. I walked up and down the aisles to find the “best” table—essentially one that looked social enough to have fun at. I knew the moment I saw the guys dressed in pink and dresses, I had found my table. It was a group of Dutch guys from near Eindhoven. They were the only guys I saw in two days that instead of wearing the traditional lederhosen, they opted for the tradition wear for girls—the dirndl. The guys were a sideshow acts of sorts, but they were a lot of fun to drink with. I ended up drinking with them the entire day. A couple friends flew in from Ibiza to meet up with them and we went to a different tent at the end of the night (don’t ask me which one).
The atmosphere was definitely different as the morning went to afternoon and switched to evening. The grounds were a lot more packed and it was a lot harder to find a free table to sit at. The cardinal rule at Oktoberfest is that if you don’t have a table, you don’t get a beer. We got lucky at night when we switched tents because we were in the place for 10 minutes trying to find a table when a whole table up and left and we hopped right up on it. The bands play louder, livelier music and a lot of mainstream stuff in the evening. Of course, every 5 minutes someone is holding up their glass to toast you—”Prost!”
At 10:30 pm the drinking ends and we all ended up going our separate ways. I didn’t want to be too hungover the next day so I thought it a good idea to get some sleep and some water. As I left the grounds, I thought my time drinking there was finished. Damn was I wrong.
I woke up early on Friday so that I could start sightseeing in Munich. There were a few places I really wanted to hit up—Marienplatz, Schloss Nymphenburg, Odeonplatz, etc. I managed to hit all of those except the palace and gardens in a couple of hours. When I contemplated heading to Schloss Nymphenburg I got the urge to head back to Oktoberfest. So I did. Around Noon I walked into the Lowenbrau Tent, found a table with some Aussies and Englishmen. I drank with them until 4 pm when the table became reserved. I said goodbye to those guys and found a spot at a reserved table with a German guy and a few of his employees. I also had 2 Americans that paired up with me in my search join us. We drank, we sang, we drank, we sang, it was effing awesome. The guys had to leave around 9 to head back to wherever in Bavaria they were from and a different group of German guys took their places. Needless to say, that by the time 10:30 hit, I was pretty good to go. I was going to head back to the apartment I was crashing at, but the Germans invited me to join them at a bar somewhere in Munich. I believe it was a Cuban bar called “Buena Vista.” The next day I couldn’t tell you if I had to take the train to get there or if we walked, or what. I just remember getting to the bar, got a beer and talked to the guys. I wanna say around 2:30 I headed back to where I was crashing.
I had spent 2 full days in Munich and to be honest, I can’t really say I got a real feel of the city. I definitely knew I needed to go back when Oktoberfest wasn’t going on so I could get a genuine impression of the city. Remember my friend I met up with in Zurich, Maria? Yeah, she accepted a research position in Munich, so it looks like I have a pretty good excuse to go back.