Yes the main reason for our visit to the lovely city of Munich was because of a little festival called Oktoberfest. We visited on the final weekend of the festival which fell on the last weekend of September. The Bavarians wisely moved Oktoberfest to the month of September because of its more settled and warmer weather.
From our tent scouting mission we decided upon Schützen-Festzelt because of numerous reasons…1.They serve Löwenbräu which is delicious 2.The tent had a great vibe when we checked it out on the Friday 3.The crowd was a good mixture of young locals and tourists (not too many Australians…) 4.They served wine (which was a requirement for one person in our group). So our decision was made and the group consensus was that we needed to line up early (and I mean 6am early!) to ensure we got a table.
The tricky thing about Oktoberfest is that if you aren’t at a table you will not get served. So it is especially imperative that if you’re visiting in a large group (we were 13) you either A. Be super organised and reserve a table early in the year or B. Get up at the crack of dawn chuck on your outfit and line up!
So there we were trapped outside Oktoberfest (they now completely fence it off) counting down till 9am. Once the gates opened it was absolute madness! We ran as fast as we could (me trying not to lose my shoes and laughing uncontrollably at the madness) to line up yet again at the entrance of Schützen-Festzelt. Unfortunately what we think happened was that other gates were opened before the one we were at as we were already a good few hundred back from the front of the line. Then once the security started letting people into the tent it was another mad dash to try bag a table. It was a crazy, confusing, disorientating time, people were running around jumping up on tables and our group split up in search but no dice!
After a hectic morning, Abbey and I almost got trapped upstairs by ourselves destined to drink alone..the mean German security guards were having no bar of our pleading. Though we did have a great view and the others didn’t seem to care.
Then a stroke of luck we got downstairs, and joined the group who had managed to secure two tables that were reserved from 12.30 – so we made the most of the next three hours!
The atmosphere was amazing, as soon as the band started playing everyone was up on their seats drinking and singing along. All the German’s in the tent knew the words and us Kiwi’s quickly picked it up (or murmured along in tune). There are a few famous Oktoberfest songs which you will hear in every single tent and still have stuck in your head weeks after as they play them on repeat every 20 minutes or so! There were also some classic English songs like Grease Lighting. The whole experience is really something else…from what we remember.
By the time 12.30 rolled around we swiftly got kicked off our reserved tables. Being more than a few steins deep we headed off into the pit to hopefully find some people drunk enough to let us on their tables. A few of us managed to do so and a few others got a bit lost in the mix. With our group dispersed we each have a different tale to tell of the rest of the day but let’s just say most of us were tucked in bed at a very reasonable hour.
Day Two (Sunday) was off to a slow start. After a hearty German buffet breakfast at our Hotel – which I think I forgot to mention was on the doorstep of the festival, literally 200m down the road, we headed off for round two. The weather was a bit grim and drizzly, a stark comparison to the amazing weather we had on our trip so far. We turned up at around midday (a group of five this time) and searched in at least five tents for a table without any luck. Many of the tents were just full but in others some tables had 3 or 4 people and when we asked nicely they just shut us down. I’m sure it would’ve been a different story if we were German speakers.
So feeling a bit sorry for ourselves we settled on a dry spot on an outside table at Schottenhamel. We ordered ourselves some traditional Oktoberfest cuisine (half roast chicken, pork knuckle, roast pork) and our mood soon picked up. The rest of our crew joined us for a few beverages (many were leaving that evening or very early the next day). And then there were five. And we made the very most of it! Our amazingly kind waiter friend even managed to get us inside and onto a German table later in the evening and again we joined in with the dancing and singing.
Monday was pretty much a write-off. With stupidly late departure flights we milled around the festival one last time (the others even managed a stein) before heading into the city for one last meaty meal.
When people asked me how Oktoberfest was my one keyword is”madness”. It definitely exceeded my expectations in a good way. It’s not just about the beer but about making new friends, enjoying the live music, dancing, being amazed by the barmaids, and enjoying some delicious traditional Bavarian cuisine. But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the beer too -prost! 😉