Published: September 26th 2011September 26th 2011
Ugh. Well so much for updating every week, but hey, eight days is close enough right? Bah. Well anyhoo, I've a fair amount to get too, so let's get right into it!
Have a nice weekend? I hope so. What'd I do? Not much, oh you know. Nothing special just... OKTOBERFEST. Needless to say the world's largest keg party is pretty much the topic for the week.
A little history: Oktoberfest was originally supposed to be a once off festival celebrating the mighty Bayern König Something-Or-Other's marriage to Königin What's-Her-Name, but the locals decided (in a very Bayern way) that the party had been such a grand time they should keep it up. Anyways, visiting Germany this was definitely something a good chunk of us FU-Besters were rather excited about, and I ended up booking a ticket with a bunch of other students from my program. Though this meant getting up at the ungodly hour of 4:30 AM to try and catch a 6:45 train it was worth avoiding the hassle of getting my own way there and back. It was also nice for the company, generally the group was a chill bunch so it made for
some fun times. Living conditions were similarly designed to avoid hassle. Want to try and book a hostel for Oktoberfest? Good luck, most things are booked many months in advance. Fortunately we had a man on the inside.
My initial plan had been to meet Jake Furey-Rosan (Currently teaching English in Austria) at the festival, and in one of those rare instances where a good turn is rewarded with another, we ended up staying at a local's place. Jake had offered Benedikt's friend a place in Washington a few months prior, and Benedikt happily did the same for us, showing us around on Friday night and taking us out at points. In short, he made the trip possible, and also a lot of fun. So that's the setup, a train down, and a hardwood floor to sleep on, so what of the festival itself?
Words can't really do justice to how stupidly large and crazy Oktoberfest can be. On the wide open fields lie Beer halls the Bavarians laughably refer to as "tents". Of course, because I distinctly remember camping in a tent that had a wooden beamed roof, full kitchen, and a hall capable of holding thousands
of very drunk Bavarians. This also isn't something that starts at 5 PM. Don't be silly. When you come here, you're here for the long haul. For future reference, that means showing up at 8AM with a liver ready for a day's worth of solid drinking. After you've sat down and gotten to know your table mates, the first round usually appears. This is something that can only be called a Maas. It's essentially a solid liter of damn fine beer brewed in the area around München, and it only costs a mere ten euro a round.
Nope, that's not a typo. The festival will ream you out of money faster than any place on earth this side of Disneyland. The plus side is that by the time your wallet's empty you're far too drunk to care. Also possibly on the positive side, getting into the halls and finding a seat is damn near impossible anytime after 9AM (seriously) on Saturday, as Jake and I found out, so it's possible you'll end up saving the money anyhow. Apparently pregaming's not something Bavarians do, so they just show up early and stay late. Still, the atmosphere can't be beat. All
A Maß in its natural habitat.
That's what ten euro gets you. Weirdly you don't mind after drinking it
three days I ended up spending some time in the tents drinking or no, and it's a close approximation of hell in many ways. A sea of people all downing their beers shouting over one another while a brass band belts out a tune (and occasionally sings a hypnotic song that compels everyone to drink) in a sweltering interior might not sound like the best thing but it's a grand old time. Of particular interest to some (namely my father) would be the sing along tunes. In one tent the band actually got the audience involved, everyone stood up on their tables and roared along to the song as best they could. The music of choice? "Country Road", by John Denver. I swear I'll never understand this country.
Throw in the clothes of the locals (Liederhosen for the men, and a remarkably entertaining dress for the ladies) and it's like stepping into a different society. All laws are dictated by drinking, and this society's heroes are those who stand on the tables and down their Maas in a single sitting, a feat that is rewarded with cheers if successful but if failed is punished with poorly aimed bits of
Traditional attire (and a stupid hat)
Two folk trying to find a seat, in the more traditional gear for the fest, there was more of this than you'd think
pretzel and Weisswurst.
Still, my own version of passing the time didn't work as perfectly as it could have. On both Friday evening and Saturday Jake and I tried and failed to find a seat. So Friday we settled for sitting outside the Löwenbrau tent (under a lion that would periodically drink), and downed our first two massive steins of beer. Fun fact, drink those quickly and you will get drunk astoundingly fast, it's high alcohol beer as I found out later. Friday turned out to be a load of fun anyhow, we ended up wandering over to an Irish pub for the evening. Saturday was a little bit more of a let down, we had a hard time even getting a beer in the tents, and finally gave up and saw a bit of the city. Still, after a few we determined that the only course left open to us was to do something truly stupid. My train didn't leave until one you see, and we would be damned if we were going to miss this.
So after taking a chill night with Benedikt (we knew we had to get up early again. You know, for the
Stupid hat two
Gandalf called. He wants his hat back.
drinking), we started things up again. This time we took no chances and booked it for the tent we knew would be opening at nine. After finally, finally getting our seats (within two hours it was essentially full. Sunday be damned), we actually got our beers in the hall. Things took a while to kick into gear, so we'd brought my communist cards and played some poker while we drank. Slowly though, and inexplicably we ended up at a table with nine lovely German women and a few men and soon we'd made grand friends with just about everyone. By the third beer it was one of the best times I think I've ever had at a party, and it was only 11:30 AM. About halfway through the fourth it was sadly time to go. Far too soon (according to the girls and Jake), but it made for an incredible time. Ultimately I ended up passing out on the train ride home (Lindsay, a fellow FU-Bester told me I spent three minutes trying to figure out how to get a book out of my bag. It was a classy moment). I was quite sorry to leave this strange country known
ah, good times.
as "Bavaria", though I think my liver might have breathed a sigh of relief as I did though.
Ah well. til next week! I've got to start planning for my upcoming week long break, so stay tuned!