A glorified state fair. That’s what it felt like at least. I dunno, maybe our Champlain Valley Fair in Vermont is just superawesome and we’ve been spoiled. But Oktoberfest in Munich felt very much like a fair with games and rides and (German) fair food, with the addition of beer tents.
We did yet another Outdoor Rec trip to get to Munich this year. The bus left at about 3:30am and we arrived at Oktoberfest before 10. In a fit of preparation, I had checked the forecast the night before and weather.com claimed it was going to be sunny with a high of 66. What luck! We dressed accordingly. (“Fools! Mwhahahahaaa!!!” – Weather.com.) It ended up being completely overcast and misty with a high of Cold as Fuck.
The fairgrounds were already full of people milling around, but the crowd was still pretty manageable. We made a beeline for the first souvenir stand we could find and promptly shelled out €50 for sweatshirts so we wouldn’t die. Then we made our way to a Paulaner beer tent. That place was packed to the gills; there was no seating available at any of the tables whatsoever. And if you’re like me, then you wouldn’t know that you can’t get beer except seated and inside a beer tent. I was under the impression that you could still get beer from vendors outside. FALSE.
Realizing that beer was not going to happen in that tent without some serious bodily harm, we went out and found another smaller beer tent that hadn’t opened yet. We stood in line for about 45 minutes until the doors creaked open and the crowd rushed in. It was like that scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the old one) where the candy store opens and everyone starts clawing each other’s eyes out to find that golden ticket.
Since we now knew that we could ONLY get beer while we were in the tent, we decided to make the best of our time there. We each got a liter for €10, and chatted through them with a Canadian couple we met. Then we each got another beer. And about an hour later, we (I) stumbled out of the tent to go on rides. Yes folks, I drank 2 liters of beer in about an hour. It was my only chance to drink that day because we weren’t going to waste any more time in beer tents, so sue me. In our opinion the beer tents were kind of just a pain in the ass.
We went on a few awesome rides and probably would have gone on all of them if we hadn’t blown through so much money so quickly. As we were walking down the road, I felt something fall out of my purse. (It’s a stiff, hand-tooled leather purse from the 70s, and it has the unfortunate habit of flipping upside down if I don’t pick it up carefully.) I snatched up my walled and sunglasses and the papers I had dropped and we went on our way. An hour or so later, I went to look at the time on my phone only to find that it was gone. I assume it was the first thing to fall out, long before I noticed my other possessions jumping ship. What. A. Bummer.
By now so many more people had arrived that the roads were barely visible beneath the seething crowd. Getting anywhere was an exercise in… football? Hockey? Which violent sport to choose…. “You could say it was like a rugby scrum,” Husband says. Yes, yes I could say it was like a rugby scrum. And for me, that was actually good because I was pissed off about my phone and I wanted to hurt people. So I body checked my way through to the lost and found tent, where no phones had been turned in.
Eventually I calmed down and accepted the fact that I’d have to get a new phone. All my best pictures were already on Instagram anyway, right? We went and got fries and a super XL wurstel, which were both pretty delicious and excellent for soaking up beer.
Finally we made our way to the giant statue of Bavaria. She stands on a hill just above the fairgrounds and you can even go inside and climb up to take pictures from her crown. We didn’t bother doing that, because even standing by her feet gives an excellent view of Oktoberfest. It wasn’t much to look at on that nasty, grey day, but that night lent us some lovely photos.
We were back on the bus (and completely sober, I might add) by about 8pm and slept all the way home, getting in at 2am. I walked in the door to find a note from my Friend and Dogsitter Extraordinaire, Federica. Apparently some Italians had found my phone at Oktoberfest and found Federica on my Facebook chat. I assume they reached out to her because her name is strikingly Italian and they didn’t speak much English. Not only were these people Italian, but they live in Treviso. That isn’t even an hour away from Vicenza! Of the hundreds of thousands of people at Oktoberfest, my near-neighbors were the ones to find my phone. It’s a small miracle, but it feels pretty big to me.
Oktoberfest was… an experience. It was both fun and not fun for us. Here’s what we thought of it….
Pros: Yummy beer / yummy German food / fun rides / tacky souvenirs / Dirndls (traditional bavarian dresses with not-enough-cleavage-to-please-Husband-except-in-movies) / Lederhosen (traditional bavarian leather shortpants) / body checking / being able to say you’ve been.
Cons: Expensive / lines for beer tents / public urination / massive crowds / body checking / public urination / no beer outside of tents / public upchucking / expensive / public urination.
Please note that body checking is both a pro and a con. It mostly depends on whether you’re the checker or the checkee.
- Wear the right shoes. Looking cute is not worth hobbling around for half the day (that was me).
- Check weather.com, and then plan for the OPPOSITE. I didn’t bring anything extra because I didn’t want to carry extra shit around all day. I paid dearly.
- Be prepared to see a lot of puke. By the end of the day it’s pretty much everywhere. We even saw a guy walking around with poo all down his legs. Classy.
- Stay till after dark. It was pretty at night.
We were glad that we went, mostly just to say we’ve been (see pros). But we also agreed that we wouldn’t feel the need to go back. If we do, we’ll just go to a theme park and drink beer and go on rides.