It is not what you think, my bad did happen, but it is my bad. Here is the part of the story that I will share.
Hands down, Germany has become one of my favorite places to visit, and my travel Germany bucket list is quite loose. However, visiting Oktoberfest was one list item that I had written in ink. I was simply thankful to my friend who gave me a push that made this MEGastop possible.
Considering that I a zoom around to other galaxies, I wouldn’t say that I am culturally ignorant. I am not suggesting that I am worldly; it’s just that I have a decent grasp on the modern world. Having said that, I had a few of what I call mega duh or “my bad preconceptions” when it came to “THE Oktoberfest in Munich. This MEGastop was one fun travel learning experience that will not be forgotten soon.
So, why did I Oktoberfest in Munich?
- It is the world’s biggest party, duh. I have been to Oktoberfest in several U.S. cities and always dreamt about going to the real deal.
- I like history, this is a historical event that has had it goin on since 1812. 5-7 million people attend. I learned that statistics say that roughly 70% vistors to the Oktoberfest Munich come from Bavaria, 15 % from the rest of Germany and 15% from European countries, the US, Australia and Canada. It is representative of a Bavarian tradition.
- Culture-It is a peaceful event where I can immerse in another culture, dress up, sing songs, eat fantastic food, drink some of the world’s best beer in it’s home. Make new friends and burn off a little steam.
- Any excuse to travel in Bavaria will do.
Although I offer a few tips, it is not a “how to Oktoberfest.” There are a plenty of websites for that subject. Of course, I wish that I had read a few tips before my visit, flying by the seat of my pants just seems to be my middle name. Opening my eyes to a new world is part of the “trip,” it is a big part of why I do travel. My friend got it, after the fest she said it was everything she expected and more. Not so for me, I had a few visions of what it would be like. My Bad.
My Bad #1- Have dirndl will party- Planning is required. Before this experience, I thought that you show up ready to party; drink, dance on the benches, drink. I learned that is actually difficult to secure a table in a tent and even more difficult if you go with more than two people. Lucky for me, my friend found a tour group that was simply perfect for me to enjoy this first time experience. Also lucky for me was that we were able to secure the last four spots in this group of really nice fun people. The planning was all taken care of. Phew! And yes, people do dress up. In fact, most people. I would have felt out of place had I not played dress up.
My Bad#2- The “tents” are not tents as in Ringling Brothers. My vision of a tent was like one that I might see at a big top circus. However, Oktoberfest is more than just a few tents thrown up. The tents are actually made of steel and wood and each tent has it’s own personality. Not surprisingly, it takes months to set these elaborate and well appointed halls. I was lucky to attend in theFisher-Vroni Augustiner-Festhalle It is said that Augustinerbräu is the best Oktoberfest beer. This is a family-friendly tent and said to be a favorite of local attendees. This tent seats 600 people. The tents were decorated to the smallest detail. The temperature was very comfortable and one could move about freely. I loved it! Here are the exterior night photos of a few other tents.
My Bad # 3- the music is not your Grandpa’s oom pah pah-I thought I was going to hear traditional German oom pah music; type that I heard on a.m. radio on Sundays growing up in Wisconsin. I did what any modern girl would do, I went to You tube and thought I familiarized myself with a few songs, but I was ill prepared. Lucky for me, they sang a lot of oldies (Sweet Caroline, Country Roads), AC/DC, Being a current Alabama resident, Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama made me feel at home. I heard many pop drinking songs. One example is Neil Sedaka’s Living Right Next Door To Alice. I will never hear that song the same again. Something about screaming out “Alice, Alice, who the fuck is Alice?” Simply, impossible not to sing along.
My Bad #4Beer- Can I get a Mich Ultra, dark beer,light beer? Just kidding, However, I did not really get that each tent has it’s own specific brew made special for Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest beer is a lager brewed for the fest. It is about 6-7% alcohol in content. Non-alcoholic beer is available. Served in a one-liter mug, you get two vouchers with your tent entry.An extra mug of beer will cost you €10.10 including the service fee tacked on. Served from 200 liter barrels called Stags, it is said that you can taste the difference.
My Bad#5- “…It’s A Free For All…” Show up, mingle and party. The evening was more organized in practice. After arrival, you get seated at your table. Soon after that, you meet your host. Our host was named Mike. Mike brought us beer and the menu. Food is served and the band starts playing. As one can imagine, with a 7% alcohol content, people are up on the benches fairly quickly and into the “prost” mode. Things wrap up by 10:30 and Living Next Door To Alice remains with me forever.
- Try not to be like me and do a bit more reading before you go. Your knowledge may color your experience.
- Visit Munich. It is a wonderful city.
- Bring ‘old” friends and make “new” friends. I do think it is more fun with a group. That was also unexpected for me.
- Eat good food. Although the food is mass-produced, it was of high quality. There are many choices including vegetarian. You will be paying for 2 beers and a chicken with your ticket. This comes in the form of a voucher. You are able to choose your foods and simply pay beyond the voucher fixed price for more food.
- Get dressed up – You will feel left out it adds more excitement to the experience.
- t’s not a cheap bucket list check off. You are able to check out the grounds for free and there are websites dedicated to “how to go on the cheap.”
- If this event is on your bucket list. Be aware that it takes planning. This was my biggest take away.
- I have read it is recommended that one visit the grounds at least a few times over the course of the week. Visit the grounds during the day, walk around and see the tents, vendors and variety of people who attend.
- If you want to dress in Tracht, know that the used tracht that I saw in the second hand stores were pretty high priced. Try to get them before you attend. I bought mine new from e-bay and feel that I was able to get a fantastic buy.
- I have also read do NOT drink the Schnapp’s shots. They will take you home after having your liters. You would expect a certain level of debauchery at the world’s largest party. Don’t be that person in the ambulance.
- Don’t like crowds? 6 million people attend. It is crowded and the streets are rowdy. It is a fair like atmosphere and at night, difficult to move in crowds. Inside the Fisher-VroniAugustiner tent it was significantly less chaotic and more like being at an intimate concert with a seat. Another reason to get a spot in a tent.
- Generally, I don’t like tours. However, this ended up being the perfect way for me to go to my first Oktoberfest. I learned that most spots are secured by locals and then open up to other visitors. Not only was all of the preplanning done, I had a quiet comfortable hotel, expertise at my fingertips and an automatic group of new friends. I highly recommend Harriman Travel. Brett did a fantastic job making everyone comfortable. http://www.harrimantravelbooks.com/Tours_Oktoberfest.html
- The Oktoberfest represents traditions of Bavaria. Not the entire country.
- There are smaller Oktoberfests in a few other cities. I visited a small one in Austria on this stop and there are a few in Germany that really do sound fun.