If you think things have been quiet on the blog lately, you’re right. Everything got super busy in the middle of September and then I had to take a short trip to Munich for Oktoberfest and I’m just now catching up.
Yes, you read that right. Oktoberfest in Munich is indeed in September. I don’t make the rules. And yes, I did have to go, because an old friend from my undergraduate days lives in Munich now and he was turning 30. You don’t argue with 30th birthday plans. So, off we went.
If you’ve never been to Oktoberfest and you’re wondering what it’s like, allow me to tell you. Imagine for a moment, if you will, an ultra-stereotypical version of a German Bier Halle. Long bench tables, men in lederhosen, women in dirndls, oompah music, people standing on their seats to sing and to wave enormous steins of beer around. Oktoberfest is a lot like that, but more so.
The event, also known as the Weisn, takes place in Theresienweisse, or “Therese’s meadows”, although the “park” that holds the beer tents has long since been concreted over. It started life as a massive public holiday and party to celebrate the marriage of King Ludwig I to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810. Apparently, it was so much fun that the Bavarians decided to do it every year for the rest of time, and who can blame them?
These days the event is enormous. The 42 hectares hold 14 large beer tents, 20 smaller tents and huge fairground complete with rides, sideshows, shops and food stalls. It is completely over the top and without a plan, you could easily get separated from your friends. Luckily, the birthday boy had organised tickets for us which included a seat in a tent, two biers, snacks, and a meal. We met up, did a bit of wandering around, and then went to our tent. His fiance was even kind enough to loan me a spare dirndl – so I was able to look the part. Kinda.
As I understand it, the tents vary quite a bit. Ours was somewhat touristy, others are more so or less so. The tents all serve bier, in some, it’s easier to get varieties on the standard pilsner than in others. There’s even a wine tent, although it’s not large. Not long after we arrived we were all supplied with a mass of said pilsner, and soon a large platter of snacks arrived. Bavarian food isn’t exactly known for being refined, but they’re smart enough to know that if you’re drinking bier by the litre, you’re going to need some food to soak it up.
Later on (and after a lot more beer*) we exchanged our meal tokens for… meals. The default option was a half roast chicken. I tried a little of someone else’s and I have to admit that it was some of the best roast chicken I’ve tasted: salty, crisp skin, perfect tender meat – delicious. That said, I was drinking a lot of beer and I thought carbs might be a smarter idea than protein, so I opted for what turned out to be a massive and very cheesy portion of mac and cheese instead. No regrets.
The night wore on. We drank, we sang (ompah music alternated with cheesy pop classics), we danced on benches, we drank some more. I went back to the airbnb that night exhausted and decidedly tipsy. Well done, Oktoberfest, you were exactly what I expected you to be and more.
We had a few more days in Munich, which has always been a city I’ve enjoyed spending time in. So we also visited a traditional Bier Halle (i.e. not a tent at the Wiesn), as well as the Munich Residence, and spent a lot of time exploring on foot before eventually it was time to go home, tired, but happy.
*I have alternated between the German and English spelling throughout this post. Sorry. Not fixing it.
8 thoughts on “Oktoberfest!”
Awesome! Wish I was there.
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It was the best!
Great to see you getting fully into the spirit of things with the local dress and all (which suits you!) 🙂 . This sort of thing looks like my ultimate nemesis (it’s basically beer and meat) but for those who like that sort of thing, it looks like it would be a great event. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
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We did have a couple of vegetarians in our group, and they did manage, but I couldn’t honestly recommend it to a person who was a vegetarian, much less one who also doesn’t drink 😛