A few weeks ago I traveled to Germany for Oktoberfest. I flew into Cologne on Friday morning and from there a group of us drove for several hours to Munich. Our hotel wasn’t anything special, but we were hardly in it except to shower and sleep, and we stayed busy partaking in Oktoberfest activities. The first night in Munich a large group of us had a nice sushi dinner. Even though I was really jet lagged, we went to a bar afterward for a few drinks.
The next morning Kevin and I had plans to explore Munich and do some shopping. We had even discussed taking a train to see a castle. Our plans totally changed though when we met back up with the group and the men started shopping for lederhosen and the women started shopping for dirndls. As soon as we left our hotel and got into the heart of Munich it would have been hard not to get into the spirit as the majority of the people walking around were in the traditional Oktoberfest uniforms. I joked with Kevin that the only way I was going to wear a dirndl was if he bought me a designer one (like the Karl Lagerfeld one that was in the window display below), but dirndls actually are not really cheap, so I had to settle for a regular department store one. It became my uniform of the weekend. I seriously didn’t wear anything else after I bought the gear for Oktoberfest.
We already had a few tables reserved for the group on Sunday at one of the Oktoberfest tents, but everyone was so eager to check everything out that we ended up bribing our way into another tent on Saturday afternoon. I had no idea was to expect and it was amazing! The energy in the air was contagious. Everyone was standing on bench tables singing along to live bands (that actually played a lot of American songs), dancing in place, and of course, drinking copious amounts of beer. I’m not a huge beer drinker, but the beer somehow tasted better in that environment. We ended up hanging out and drinking in the tent for hours. For snacks we kept buying giant soft pretzels to munch on. When I needed a little break from regular beer, I would order a Shandy, which is half beer, half lemonade.
Some quick things I want to make note of about the mead halls–1. The mead halls can hold an absurd amount of people. There had to be like 10,000 people in ours (you can get an idea in the picture below with the blue and white streamers). 2. Oktoberfest festivities took place on a kind of camp ground. It was kind of like a carnival with rides, games, food and sweets, except on a larger scale. 3. Even though people were drinking all day, overall, everyone behaved pretty well for being drunk. I didn’t notice many people getting sick or getting into fights like I think would have happened frequently if thousands of young Americans were drinking all day together. Europeans can handle their alcohol (and tempers). I didn’t notice many accidents either. Obviously a bunch of people drinking and spilling beer while balancing on a bench isn’t the safest thing, but people helped each up if they fell and maintained their cool even if they were fallen on.
On Sunday morning I wasn’t exactly looking forward to drinking all day, but since we already had tables reserved in the meadhall, Kevin and I had to at least check it out. The parade was that morning. It was so crowded I couldn’t even see but it’s nice that so many people take part in the Oktoberfest traditions. Luckily since it was still morning, people weren’t drunk and crazy yet. There were mostly families sitting at the tables eating. I was really nervous to try the food because practically everything on the menu was meat, but I wanted to at least try something so I had a few bites of spaetzle (Germany’s version of mac and cheese), a fried potato ball in flavored broth, and creamy mushroom soup. None of it was that bad tasting. After a few hours of picking at food, a band appeared and got the party started. I was too full to start drinking, so Kevin and I left to relax a bit.
After a little siesta we took the subway to another part of the city for dinner. It was a nice little break from the mass of peoplepartying in the town’s center. Germany is quite pretty. We walked down cobblestone streets and window shopped (window shopping was all we could do since most stores are closed on Sundays) until we got to vegan restaurant we chose,Prinz Myshkin. After a civil dinner, we met back up with the group who were somehow still partying at the tent we had left them at that afternoon. We danced and drank Sunday night until they closed down the tent, and we flew home Monday morning.
Everyone had a BLAST on the trip. Even though I didn’t actually get to see much of Germany, I had so much fun and I’mreally glad I got to experience Oktoberfest. I enjoyed joining in some of the Oktoberfest traditions and trying to be as immersed in the culture as possible. I would definitely like to go back again. Prost!