This Sunday marks the end of Oktoberfest 2012 in Munich. What a sad time for beer drinkers around the world. I’m sure the countdown for 2013’s Oktoberfest will begin Monday morning
once the hangovers have subsided.
Okay, so the title of this is a bit of a misnomer. But here’s the technicality: I never would have gone to Oktoberfest in Munich, had I not been studying abroad.. Ergo, it’s a memory from a portion of my Prague trip. Following me still?
Sigh. Oktoberfest in Munich. Where to begin?
Early on in our trip, a group of people decided they wanted to go to Oktoberfest as a group. In Europe, there are these really great charter buses, one of which is Student Agency, that take you just about anywhere for really, really cheap. Since we were college students living abroad (read: on a budget), we decided the best way to get all 20+ of us in one sleeping arrangement would be to use Stoked Travel to camp. Yes, camping, in Germany, in the middle of September. It rained the entire time. But the rain did nothing to dampen our spirits. No, our campground, as basic as it was, was a freaking blast. They had tarps and pop up tents set up to keep us mostly dry while we weren’t in our sleeping tents. Our tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads were provided with the cost. Breakfast and dinner were provided each night. And, quite possibly the most important piece of information for a college student living abroad: as long as you were in the campsite, all the beer and sangria you could want was free. Free. All of this, round-trip transportation and lodging for three nights for $250. Now, it’s quite possible the guys who set this up rounded up or took a little off the top; but quite frankly, for the ease of not having to plan this trip for 20+ people, I was okay with it.
After arriving in Munich via Student Agency bus, we searched for a metro stop and somehow navigated the metro in Munich to our campground. Some of our group ventured off to the Oktoberfest grounds that night, but the majority of us stayed in the campgrounds to become acquainted with our fellow campers and drink for free. The next morning, we got up ridiculously early and hopped on the first bus scheduled to head down to the Oktoberfest grounds. I made the unfortunate discovery that my ATM card wouldn’t work in Germany. I guess I figured if it worked in the Czech Republic it would work in Germany. Apparently not. Luckily, Mel loaned me some money to cover beer and food purchases for the two days. We meandered into Oktoberfest, which is set up like a giant fair.
After settling on a beer tent to spend the day in, we stood in line until it opened at 9 am. Yes, we got there that early. Hey, we wanted a table because you cannot be served delicious German beer unless you are seated at a table! Also, the tents aren’t “tents” per se. They’re giant halls with two levels, a center stage for polka music, and extremely clean bathrooms inside.
By 9:23 am, one of our friends had “made friends with security” if you catch my drift (read: he was escorted out of the tent with the entire tent applauding security). Another had already been cheered on by the entire tent for winning a beer chugging contest. I’ll leave it up to your imagination as to what other crazy stories we have from that first day. I will say that I highly recommend the pretzels and “Halloween Soup” sold inside the tents. The pretzels are especially delicious when dunked in either your beer or the Halloween Soup.
For two days, we were immersed in Oktoberfest, as celebrated by the German culture. Any other culture or subculture’s version just seems wrong to me now, although Sierra Nevada puts on a much smaller, but decent, version in Chico. Going to Oktoberfest in Munich was an experience I will never forget and one I’ll always brag about. Prost to one day making it back to Oktoberfest!