Oktoberfest dates back to 1810 when it was created to celebrate Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s wedding, complete with a big horse race. It was such a good time that they continued it each year until 1938 when they found a way to make it more fun. No horses, all beer.
Approximately 6 million people attend over 16 days and drink almost 7 million liters of beer. This is no place for teetotalers, or vegetarians, with the carnivorous food of over 100 oxen, 50,000 pork knuckle servings and a half million chicken. I think the smell of chicken will from now on trigger an immediate buzz for me.
There are 14 beer tents, including ONE that serves wine, which my bloated beer belly was thankful for. Each tent is decorated differently and ranges in size holding between 3,000 and 10,000 people.
To get a guaranteed seat in the tent, you have to make a reservation and buy a meal and several drinks, which could end up totaling around $100 each. My German loving friend Sue and I attempted to make reservations several months ago, but everything was full, so book right now if you're interested in going next year.
That said, we lucked into mostly good weather so we were able to sit in the festive, outdoor, reservationless beer gadens.
Being 2 women, we were able to slip into most tables fairly easily, but we learned early, choose wisely as the people there could be your new best friends for the next several hours. We met a lot of very nice people, but with so much beer flowing, it's hard not to be happy. The majority represented were definitely the Germans, but they shed the stoic, exacting image I had of them. Maybe it's all the lederhosen that they wear - without an ounce of irony.
Everyone walked around Oktoberfest, as well as Munich, in this traditional attire. The women wore a very conservative length dress coupled with low cut tops to show the girls off.
The Germans couldn't have been nicer to us.
We were usually offered beer as soon as we sat down with our selected group, and store bought sliced bread on one occasion. We received Germany lessons on food, bien sur pour moi. OK, the German didn't really stick with me.
We saw a lot of brotherly love, and I even got some dating tips for Paris. A couple had been sitting next to us, pretending not to speak English because the guy wanted to eavesdrop, but that didn't last long. The seats usually get shuffled around when someone leaves for a bathroom break, so at one point, I was sitting next to the married man, and I asked if he cared about the other guy who had been relentlessly hitting on his wife across the table. And he said, oh, my wife isn't here. Uh, ok. Then I tried to get in there to understand this anything goes mentality as I've seen it on more than one occasion in Paris. Not sure if that was the best place to learn.
Sue learned that she would contract a horrible disease at age 65 from a palm reading a young kid did with old hands (seriously, they looked like they were from a 90 year old man).
We hung out with French Canadians because I'm always much more fluent in French when I'm in another country...and a few beers in.
Speaking of the beers. They were large. And heavy.
I struggled to carry one, while these rough and tumble German women could carry 10 at a time.
Each beer stein holds nearly 3 bottles, and for 10 euro, I would hope so.
After drinking for a while in the beer garden, we'd usually be able to get into the halls for some dancing. The halls were enormous two story structures that get built before the big event, then torn down without a trace of the debauchery that previously took place.
Each tent has their own band where you could hear oom-pah and yodelers, but mostly you'd be singing along to modern music in English, and in one tent, there was an hommage to Bon Jovi with nothing but.
People dance on the benches all day long, and as the day progresses, they fall all night long. They fall off tables, chairs, you name it. You have to do some defensive dancing so as not to go down with them, which I can proudly say Sue and I never did fall into the sludge.
It's hard to encapsulate the atmosphere, so I've taken video, and you should take another drink before watching.
And if there's any beer left in your house, drink one more, put on "You Can Leave Your Hat On," and imagine this strip tease going down in front of you....or not.
I should probably also mention that there's a giant carnival going on outside and around all of the beer tents where drunk people go to I guess, get rid of their drunkeness quite literally. We did see others exit on stretchers and in hand cuffs.
This picture pretty much sums up how some people get at Oktoberfest. It should be noted that this picture was taken at about 7:30pm.
Am I glad I went, for sure. Will I go back, no need. Been there, done that. On to the next adventure!