This weekend we checked another item off our European Bucket List - celebrate my birthday at Oktoberfest! While it wasn't technically my birthday, I'm going to roll with it. A month or so ago, I saw a Groupon for a girls weekend on a party train to Munich for Oktoberfest. Further research revealed that I could book it for myself, and so I did. We boarded the party train at 10:15 on Saturday morning and were off to Munich!
The party train was wild! Ours was the last stop before Munich and you could tell. People had already been celebrating for a few hours and it showed. Our cabin mates had been on since about 7 in the morning, and some had gotten on even earlier. In any case, there was cold beer on tap, wine and sekt for sale, a DJ, and lots and lots of tracht (the collective word for dirndle and lederhosen).
Three hours later, the train pulled in to the Munich Hauptbahnoff and we were on our way to Theresiewiesen! It wasn't too hard to find - the throngs of people headed the same direction were a dead giveaway. A short walk later and we were finally there!
There are a number of big "tents" set up where the celebrating takes place. I use this term kind of loosely. While they are technically tents, temporary in nature with a canvas top, they are a far cry from the typical festival tents. These things are huge! The front faces look pretty darn permanent and are generally pretty elaborate. These tents are privately operated with the support of a brewery (i.e. Paulaner, Haufbrauhaus, etc.). Not only do they serve beer, but they also have a full menu of food available.
Getting into the tents can be difficult if you don't have reservations (which sell out months in advance). Thankfully, reservations usually have a minimum number of people and there are usually people re-selling tickets to their reservation. So, that's how we got in to the Paulaner tent, although finding a seat proved difficult. We finally found a couple seats at a table with some Italians. They spoke some German, but our's is still in the survival stage, so we were pretty much unable to talk with them. No matter, talking is overrated at Oktoberfest and the language of beer and music is universal.
Beer is served in one size only - a maß - which is a liter of beer. Yes, a liter. The glasses are nearly as big as my head (photo evidence proves this). One maß is good, the second is a little harder to finish, more than three and quite often, revelers end up as Bierleicher (beer corpse, colorfully descriptive German term for someone who is drunk). We finally found a seat (quite a feat when there are thousands of people in the ten), and ordered our first mass of beer. We also learned from last weekend that we should probably eat. Aaron ordered a roasted chicken (an Oktoberfest tradition) and I order some wurst. Both were incredibly tasty.
In the middle of the tent is a stage where the band plays. The bands play an interesting mix of songs - everything from the traditional, including Ein Prosit, to the Beatles (everyone was singing along to Hay Jude at one point in the afternoon) to current music. John Denver's Country Roads also made an appearance. It's still find it amazing that everyone knew the words to it (the train even had a party remixed version of it - talk about strange).
Two maß of beer and a dinner later, we decided to head out of the tent and see the rest of Oktoberfest. Not only are there tents, but it's a full festival, complete with rides, roller coasters, and a ferris wheel (which we rode). The sights from the top were awesome! It was still fairly early in the evening, so we walked around a bit and then headed back to the train station to wait for our party train to depart.
Oktoberfest was fun, but not really what were expecting. If we do decide to go again, there are definitely some things that we would do differently. On Wednesday I will be compiling a guide to attending Oktoberfest.
Anyone else attending local versions of Oktoerfest? Now that we own tracht, I told Aaron that we are going to make sure we get our use out of it - both here and back in the US - by attending all the Oktoberfests!!
- Meghan -