I’ve gained a couple of insights while living in Europe. Walmart is awesome, hygiene should never be underestimated, and Europeans know how to throw a party. I went to Oktoberfest with hopes and dreams and came back with a newfound respect for my fellow drunkard. My wife and I went to Oktoberfest last year, and I’m sitting here staring at my lederhosen, wondering what this year’s fest will bring. I learned a lot from the first time, here are some things you learn while stumbling through the streets of Munich.
There’s more than one Oktoberfest and it’s bigger than you imagine
Yeah go figure, apparently they’re all over the damn place. The biggest and baddest one is the fest in Munich. We got there the opening weekend, just in time to watch the opening parade. The parade pretty much consists of a bunch of old school drum and brass type marching bands escorting in a bunch of kegs. The streets are lined with people dressed in traditional garb with beer and pretzels. Really, there are pretzels everywhere, when someone pukes, they just throw some pretzel dust on the ground and move on. The parade moves into the huge area where the tents are, a massive crowd follows. We hit the streets and were shoulder to shoulder for the first hour. Every tent was packed by 9am, the Beer Gardens outside were also packed. We roamed around, as much as we could till we found a seat next to some Germans at the Pauliner Garden. These Germans taught me a valuable lesson….
Its a Marathon not a frat party, but everyone acts like it’s a frat party
So every beer you order is a Mass (M-a-funky shaped B), which is a liter of beer which is slightly more alcoholic and much larger than the normal beer you order at your normal watering hole. Side note, nothing is manlier than drinking from a vessel that large. Downing a liter of beer is something to get used to. Ever down a bottle of wine by yourself? Its like that, but beer, and number one is just the warm up. Its really easy to get carried away drinking with the cheers, songs and constant toasts, you’d be surprised how fast you can rip through a liter of beer when you have smiling people sitting around holding up glasses and beating on tables. Every time someone joins the table or leaves the table, you can bet your ass drinking a Mass. When you get your food, you’re getting a mass, big ass pretzel, better wash it down with a Mass. Some old German dude says he can hold the mass out longer than you or you have to buy the next mass… dammit you’re drinking a mass. The old German dude turned out to be a cheating bastard, but he was awesome so we ended up sitting next to him for a couple of hours until they showed us the local attractions…
Its not just tents
There’s a whole carnival outside to entertain the drunken masses. Picture a state fair or the Houston Rodeo (the only real rodeo dammit!). The tents aren’t even really tents, they are gigantic structures covered by fabric and some hardstand walls. Outside each tent is the Beer Garden, like the one I mentioned, outside of those there are beer stands, German finger food stands (Brats, pretzels, and stuff) then there’s the rides. The rides are like a Japanese game shows version of a field sobriety test. One of the forms of entertainment that the Germans were especially proud of was this tent with a weird spinning stage. So it was like a big roulette wheel where they made children of all ages sit on. After the children are safely seated and piled onto this spinning stage… they spin the hell out of this thing. This sends children spinning off into crash pads lining the stage. If the kids don’t spin off on their own, they throw shit at them. They have a giant ball that drops from the ceiling attached to a rope that becomes an impromptu wrecking ball. Like Miley, I’m sure this thing is responsible for brain damage and emotional scaring in children. If the ball doesn’t bash a kid off the stage, they have a stage hand throw a thick hemp rope out to wrap around the children.
Don’t let this tone fool you, I was laughing hysterically the whole time. When they let the adults ride, I took a spin, which was not fun in lederhosen, lots of skin to floor contact gave me some decent rug burns. Plus I was full of beer at this point, so you can only imagine how much I enjoyed spinning around at increasing velocities. On that note…
If you do it, you will be loved, if you don’t you will be judged. Really more people dress up than you think. You can find a place to buy a pair for about 80 Euro, bring a shirt to wear underneath and if you’re super cool buy some socks and shoes. You will not look weird on the way to the festival either, half the town is wearing the stuff anyways. Be prepared for some truths you might not want to know about yourself when you buy these things. I apparently have the legs of a greek god, cause when I tried on my Lederhosen I could not bend over to put on my shoes. When I asked for a pair with bigger legs, the lady looked at me like something was wrong with me and then proceeded to ask if I was sure I was wearing it right. You know those Married With Children episodes where the ladies insist they are a size 6, and Al Bundy makes a rude comment, it was like that but completely opposite. I ended up buying the ones that are shorts, cause if you’re going to be a tourist, you might as well be the best tourist you can be.
You don’t need a reservation
No you don’t need a reservation, and unless you want to sit in the same tent all day long, don’t bother getting one. They fill up about 6 months in advance, you’re better off showing up on an off day (week days or sunday) and being there early. On Sunday we made it into the Spatten tent, which was a pretty awesome experience. Again, we were in the tent before 10 am, and it was a struggle finding a seat. Luckily I spotted a bench at a very international table after a few minutes. We sat down with an Aussie, an english lady, a Bolivian and a German. At this table I learned…
You will love the people you meet
Everybody was everything I wanted them to be. The Aussie dude kept saying some weird Aussie things (skulling beers, necking things, god knows what else), the British chick had some interesting teeth and spoke like the nanny you never wanted, the Bolivian girl was… well she didn’t say much actually, and the German dude was super gay. Even the day before, like I mentioned the old German dude that was awesome, he was apparently a big deal shooting champion until his stroke…. THIS YEAR. The guy had a stroke, and still came out to Oktoberfest to mess with the random American dude that sat at his table. I loved these people… then, out of nowhere…
You will hate the people you meet
I also got to meet a bunch of scum bags in the tent. Mainly a bunch of guys getting completely hammered and embarrassing themselves. Not the loveable, oh he’s had a few too many embarrassing, more like the kind that gets the wait staff to kick you out of the tent embarrassing. This wasn’t a common occurrence, but every hour after 5pm you increase your chances of finding these guys. Most of the reservations kick in during the afternoon, so remember kids, if you don’t have a reservation, have an exit strategy cause the streets get super packed with the turn over around 4-5pm.
On that note, if you are left to your own devices after getting kicked out of a tent, head to one of the brew houses, they have some pretty awesome food, and also serve liter beers. You can also get different kinds of beers there so, score. So there you go, that’s what we learned at Oktoberfest.