Oktoberfest in München

So, for the first real “out of the ‘Burg” trip, we decided to go to Munich, for the opening day of Oktoberfest.  20€ bus tickets for a 2.5 hour bus, or 8€ train tickets, who couldn’t resist?

So we started off the day by hurriedly getting into our lederhosen, grabbing a quick semmel for breakfast, and rushing out of the Center to reach our bus by 8:15.  Our bus ride was pretty smooth – mostly other tourists that were visiting Salzburg for the Sound of Music, but who decided to go to Munich for Oktoberfest.  Other than that, there was another group of American students who spent the entirety of the bus ride braiding each others’ hair.

When we first arrived, we got in at 10:30 a.m. and the city was already bustling.  I mean, BUSTLING.  Hundreds of people lined the street, almost all in lederhosen and dirndl, and sirens were wailing by every ~10 seconds.  Oktoberfest, I guess.

(Turns out these sirens weren’t for drunken people getting hurt, but a café near the festival grounds had caught on fire.)

So since we were all tired, cranky, and hungry, we decided to go to a café that was about 10 minutes from the festival grounds.  We got food, coffee, and talked for a while because most of us agreed that drinking at 10:30 in the morning, with 16-18% beer, wasn’t the best idea. After this, we headed to the festival grounds.  I was a little nervous because I expected something bad to happen, but as soon as I saw how big the festival grounds were, I knew nothing bad would happen.

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The entrance to Oktoberfest

Everyone was pretty nice, minus one guy who yelled at me for trying to catch up with my friends when I got lost from them, but I “Entschudigung”ed and kept walking.  Most people didn’t really mind, thankfully.  So when we got into the fairgrounds, the Mayor of Bavaria and the Prime Minister of Bavaria tapped the keg and drank, and it was off.

The first tent we went to was the Armbrustschützen-Festhalle.  We couldn’t find anywhere to sit, but we went in because Kylie had a friend who was at Oktoberfest and was in there and Kylie wanted to meet up, but we didn’t want her to go alone.  After this, Max and Andrés wanted to get drinks but Caitlin, Olivia, Kate, Alexis and I all just wanted to eat, so we went to grab food instead.

This little adventuring period was pretty eventful, to say the least.  The girls got invited on national German TV for a piece on Oktoberfest, but none of them spoke German so they volunteered me to speak.  After explaining to the cameraman that I didn’t speak enough German to be able to do an interview (to his disappointment), we kept walking.  Probably ten seconds later, an EMT group ran by with a stretcher and I overheard someone mentioning something about a guy with a broken shoulder in German, so I guess Oktoberfest was off to a rough start for him.  We quickly came upon a beautiful temple thing (I’m not really sure what it’s called), and we tried to get up but realized it probably was a better idea to check out the rest of the fairgrounds first.

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So with that, we walked around for about thirty to forty minutes.  It was a really good time, with a good group of people, and I really enjoyed it. We saw Löwenbräu (which we couldn’t get a picture inside, but I took a picture because I know my parents have been there):

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Eventually, we caught back up with Max and Andrés.  After a while of looking around at beer halls and trying to get in, we decided it would be best to just explore and go on some of the rides at the festival.

Note: Oktoberfest isn’t all about beer.  It’s basically a big amusement park or fair, with beer as a bonus.

Everyone but Kate and I went on this HUGE swing thing, taller than probably everything else in Munich, and we didn’t go because of our fear of heights.  But apparently the view was amazing!

After that, Max got food and there was some miscommunication about where we’d meet him, but it ended up working out alright when an hour later, we caught back up, and we ended up finding another group of UP Salzburgers to hang out with (Carly, Gaby, and Maya).

We realized that we probably wouldn’t be able to get into a beer tent for a while, so we ended up going to a local Augustinerbräu to get drinks, relax, and then try again later for a beer hall.  This was a lot of fun, and the waiter was very nice because he let us take a reserved table as long as we were out by 5 (which gave us two hours) because that was when the reservation was for.  After that, we headed back to the fairgrounds.

This time was a lot more eventful.  We ran into a very drunk man who was dressed up in a wig and makeup, who was trying to sell condoms.  After joking around with him in German, we decided to leave to keep looking for a beer hall that was open.

Turns out, everything was reserved until 5 or closed because of overcrowding.

But that’s not the end!

We ended up finding a tent, Schottenhamel, that wasn’t allowing anyone in.  However, I heard a German couple mention “die andere Seite” (the other side) so we, along with two middle-aged American guys who were backpacking through Spain (Oregon State graduates as well!), decided to head to the other side and see what was up.  We also met a really cool group of Americans from Illinois, and we talked for a while with them as well, but they didn’t join us in our excursion to the other side.

So here, we ran into a security guard.  He was behind caution tape and wasn’t allowing anyone in, but as soon as he would turn to someone to tell them not to enter, he turned his back to a big group of the other people, so tons of people would sneak through.  I didn’t want to break the rules, so I didn’t sneak through but a bunch of other UP Salzburgers did, so I tried to “diplomatically” talk to him (I explained that I had friends in there, and asked politely if I could get in, but he responded with “Mir scheiß egal” (basically, “I don’t give a shit”), so I just snuck in with another big group of people.

We were told that we’d be served if we had a seat, so Carly asked a nice group of German dudes if she could sit, and they let her, so Carly ordered all of our beers and we just paid her the cash.  Pretty soon after though, a different group of Germans got up so we had a free table to grab.  The Germans were all really nice, as well as the Americans we hung out with, and we ended up sitting next to a group of Mexicans and Argentinians.  After socializing with them and the Americans (as well as Max bonding with one of them over Montana and myself bonding with the Mexicans over Sacramento and California), we got our beers and a nice German lady named Hannah offered to take our picture.

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Thanks, Hannah!

So, from left, there’s Max, American #1 (Paul, I think), Carly, Andres, then across the table is Kate, Alexis, myself, Olivia, and American #2 (don’t know his name, but a very nice man nonetheless), and past us are the Mexicans and Argentinians.  Caitlin, Gaby, and Maya all were using the restroom but they caught up with us a few minutes later.

After a lot of rounds (a LOT of rounds, not with multiple drinks but with the same drinks, just multiple times) of “Prost,” “Cheers,” and “¡Salud!” (which I learned from them!), we drank and, despite the hecticness of it and the fact that I don’t really like beer all that much, it was a really good time with really good people.  The group I was with was full of really interesting, genuinely good people, both the people I travelled with and the people I met there, and it was definitely an experience that I won’t forget.   After this, we caught our bus back to Salzburg, in which most of us slept (drinking or no drinking, the whole thing was very exhausting), and we ended up getting in around 10:45, after which we went to sleep.

Would I go back?  Probably.   It was a really good experience, but I would definitely go earlier so I could get into a tent early rather than having to wait 6 hours to even get seated.  Would I go this year?  Absolutely not.  The beer was 11.50€ per liter, but I don’t even like the taste of beer so there’s that.  Was it fun?  Absolutely.  Whether you drink or not, there’s a lot of fun to be had and it’s definitely something I would recommend going to.  It’s a big festival!  Rides, music, good food, and beer.  An overall good time.

So what did I learn in this experience?

1) Get to the beer halls early.  The group of Americans from Illinois said they got in at 6 am to a tent and didn’t get served until 10, but that it was packed the entire time.

2) Come up with a plan in case we get separated, and then you won’t have to spend an hour looking for your friend.

3) Alcohol or not, the people are (mostly) really nice.  Everyone seems like they’re there just to relax and have some beer, so everyone’s mostly in a good mood.

4) Bring walking shoes and expect to step in horse poop.  Enough said.  Surprisingly though, I didn’t see any vomit!  I did, however, see a guy pick up horse poop (with his hand) and throw it at his friend.  Gross.

So what else is coming up in the next couple of posts?

Well, I’m in Vienna currently, with the rest of my class, and there’s a lot that we’ve already done and a lot to still do, and I’m really proud of the pictures I’ve taken so far.

Next week (the weekend of October 4th) I’m heading to Nuremberg (Nürnberg auf Deutsch) for a solo weekend trip, which will be my first time travelling alone, so that’ll be fun and pretty stressful.  Stay tuned.

We’re heading up to Prague for my birthday weekend, and I’m going to see if I can get a trip in between the 7th and the 19th (the weekend between) because I think that’d be fun.

Anyways, that’s all for now.

Mit viel Liebe (und Bier) aus München,

Cal

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