Ah, the Germans love their all-night parties. Love them.
I’ve settled in on my couch, with a glass of Cola Light mit Lemon, my notebook, and a clear mind. That means I am finally ready to document the events of last week at Oktoberfest. So here we go, there are Dirndls and Maß Bier consumption ahead… It gets long, and this post is rated PG-13 for slightly ridiculous behavior and excessive alcohol consumption. If you’re down with that, click away. You have been warned….
Monday would be the logical place to start, so here we go…
For whatever reason, I couldn’t sleep on Sunday night. I ended up going to bed at about 6am, which meant I slept for a whopping one hour before I had to get back up and make my way to the train station. I anticipated a full train at 9am on a Monday, but I certainly did not expect the train to be full of dirndls and lederhosen, and people cracking beers open before they got to their seat. I should be used to it at this point, but my American-ness was going, “Really? IT’S 9AM. ON MONDAY.” But it made for an amusing train ride. I get down to Munich, and make my way to the Ostbahnhof where I would meet my friend Alicia (who came last year), and her co-worker Abby, who were arriving from Greece. (Side note: they spent the whole previous week partying on assorted Greek isles. So the fact that we all survived this is even more amazing.)
We met up around 12pm, and got out to the flat we had rented for the week. Dropped off stuff, went to find a supermarket and get some basics for the week, and then headed down to the center. Our original plan was to stop at the store we bought dirndls at last year, so Abby could try to find something, but when we got there, it no longer existed. Oh well, on to the Fest! We walked around a bit, and then just like last year, ended up in the beer garden of the Löwenbräu tent for our first Maß.
Donkey was the girls buddy they brought along from Greece. He also enjoys Maß biers.
So you might think that Monday afternoon is a good time to go, because you can get into a tent no problem. Right? Wrong. Most of the doors were closed as they were already full. For example, here’s the line at Löwenbräu…
I believe this was mid to late afternoon. Sit outside you fools! At least you get a beer there. Anyway. One friend that we’d met last year then came to join us for a beer before he was heading back to Prague. He suggested we go meet with some other friends who were in the Spaten tent. So off we went.
Inside Spaten was where things started to get ridiculous. We sat down to order a beer (as you must), and about two minutes later I was injured. How? Well, the people on the table behind us were dancing on their benches (as you must), and the girl directly behind me was wearing high heels. And decided she’d rather step on my back then the bench. So I was gouged by her heel. First injury of the week, check. I had a pretty awesome black and blue upside-down triangle on my lower back for the last week. Fun!
I decided then that standing might be a better choice, so we just hung at the end of the table talking to the motley crew of crazy people we had been introduced to. Few minutes later, a very attractive blonde gentleman (I used the term ‘gentleman’ loosely), makes his way down the table and tries to start dancing with me. He comes down off the table and continues the dance party. I’ve had maybe 1.5 beers at this point, and am not quite prepared for this. But he’s cute, so we go with it. He then tells me I have to kiss him, soooo… sure why not. (PG-13). We’ve been in this tent for like, 20 minutes. It was absurd.
We chat a little bit; he’s Canadian (danger!) and a photographer (cool), so we discuss the merits of different cameras. He continues “dancing” with me, and then asks me to go for a walk in the park. Apparently at Oktoberfest, this is a thinly veiled request to go get some action. That’s not happening. Sorry, buddy. I’ll make out with you in front of a hundred strangers after five minutes, but I’m staying in the tent. He then says, “You get five minutes with me, make it count.” What. A. Charmer. He says he’s going outside. Have fun buddy. You were cute, but nein danke.
So we hang out in Spaten for a while, and our friend from last year has to go get his train. So where to next? For this next part, you need a little background…
Since I moved to Nürnberg, I have been frequenting one establishment in the city center. It’s easy to find. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. At said establishment, there is a certain gentlemen who has been flirting with me shamelessly. Henceforth, he shall be referred to as IM. We went on a date the previous week, and he was at Oktoberfest that day with a crew from work. So we said we would try to meet up.
Cut back to ‘Fest. They were at the Augustiner tent. Problem is, there is more than one of them. And this was several Maß later. So we were running around, and I was diving into these tents, to see if it was the right one or not. At one point, I’m 95% sure that I left the girls outside and dodged a stretcher to get into one tent. It was the wrong one, but I got directions from a very confused security guard.
We get to Augustiner, find their crew, and more beers arrive. At their table, IM was sitting calmly, one guy was sleeping on the table, and one was dancing on top. I think the others were outside smoking. Despite the fact that they got there late in the day they were in good shape. They don’t mess around. The girls were tired, so they left before the tent closed (I think). I decided to stay with the crew and IM. The tent was closing, but they said, “hey, let’s go to this bar in the center!” Sure, why not? On the way out of fest, someone got the bright idea to go on one of the carnival rides. I don’t know who paid, all I remember is dropping my purse on a bench on the ride (smart), and climbing on. No one came and checked our safety harnesses, which is awesome, as this ride GOES UPSIDE DOWN. I feel that I should get some sort of award for not losing my cookies on this thing. For real. Look at it. With day and night view…
I thought we were going to die. Seriously.
After the ride o’ death, we joined the parade of dirndls and lederhosen to the U-Bahn and made our way to the center. We went to a bar near the Frauenkirche and then completely lost the last few guys we were with. I heard later that some of them apparently made their way to trains and back to Nürnberg… God knows how. Also the ride had done a number on one of them and he had some issues walking after that. Whoops. But we stayed at this bar and engaged in a completely inappropriate level of PDA for… oh several hours. In the bar, outside the bar, in the street, looking for a taxi, in the taxi, all the way back to our flat. The taxi driver got lost, IM tried to argue the bill because the guy didn’t know where he was going, and so on. Got home, I fell asleep in about three seconds and didn’t move until the next morning when IM woke me up because he was leaving.
So that was Monday. THERE ARE FOUR MORE DAYS. Ridic.
Got up that morning and would have paid a million dollars for someone to deliver me an IV of Coke Light. It was rough. But we had places to go and things to do. Dirndls were the order of the day, so we headed to a second-hand shop that had been recommended to me. It’s a bit outside the center, but we found our way. Unfortunately the selection was not so great, and the girls didn’t see anything they were interested in. So back to the center we went. Conveniently there are little stands set up right inside the Hauptbahnhof that sell them as well. That leads to pictures like this one….
Yep, you can try one on over your clothes right there! I personally like the look on the Deutschbahn guy’s face. But Abby wasn’t settled on anything, so we continued on our way.
We made our way from the Hauptbahnhof towards Marienplatz and stopped pretty much at every store with dirndls or lederhosen in the window. Last year we had gotten lucky and found a store that had some cheap options. This year there was no such luck. Directly across from the train station was a shop that had a few that were only 20 Euro, but without blouse or apron and very, very ugly. Alicia decided that she wasn’t going to get one this year, but would just wear mine from last year, but Abby still wanted one. So in and out of stores we went, and she finally found something satisfactory. We headed back to the flat, changed, and headed down to the fest.
We were shooting for inside, so we decided to try the Hofbrauhaus tent, which has some “standing tables” in the middle of the tent. Never again. NEVER AGAIN. I thought we would never get out of that clusterfuck. It was a hot, sweaty, ass to elbows situation and there was no way we could edge into a table.
Finally we got a spot at a table that was reserved for a company party, but some guys let us grab a seat so at least we could get a beer. That whole “you have to be sitting somewhere to get a beer” rule is a pain in the ass sometimes. But we got a spot, and sat there for a bit before a table across the aisle opened up, and we snagged that. Here’s some shots from the Hofbrau tent…
Wait for it….
Here we are. All cute and dirndled up. Good times. So we hung out in the Hofbrauhaus tent all night. The only problem was that we had perhaps the worst waitress in history at this table. Getting a beer was like a challenge from a reality show. Or, a math problem.
Q: “If you order a beer from your waitress, but she disappears for 45 minutes at a time, so you order beers from 3 other waitresses that are passing by, how long will it take you to get a beer?”
A: Too damn long.
I was still rough from the previous night, so beer was the only thing keeping me going. I didn’t say it was logical, but that’s how it works. At one point, we were joined at our table by this charming fellow.
In between falling asleep at the end of our table and knocking empty Maß glasses to the floor, he said he was American, and asked me how I could “stand all the idiots.” Buddy, at this point, you probably don’t want to be pointing too many fingers. Some people just can’t handle Oktoberfest.
Eventually closing time rolled around, and somehow we ended up chatting with some German gents at the table next to us. They were going to one of the After-Wiesn parties at a club, and invited us to join them. Sure, why not? So we walked to the Wiesnclub, and stood outside waiting for their friend who was in VIP inside to come out and get us in. And stood, and stood, and stood. There was quite a long line, and we weren’t really into the idea of paying to get in normally, so we decided to roll on home. We started walking, and one of the guys came running after us because his friend had finally come out. So in we went. We got to be fancy and VIP and everything. I was all about standing on the balcony being comfortable and not-crowded while watching the masses below. And I’ll totally admit it: The shallow part of me very much enjoyed hanging out on the balcony while boys below implored me to come dance with them. It doesn’t happen that often, I’ll enjoy it while I can! Plus, from this vantage point I also had a front row seat for an impromptu concert when one of the bartenders below me got up to sing “You Shook Me All Night Long.” Those Germans love their traditional music. Let me tell you.
The others had gone down to dance, and I just hung out upstairs for so long that we all thought we’d lost each other. Turns out that they were just in a spot on the dance floor that I couldn’t see because there was a DJ booth in the way. I went down, found them right away, and we continued the dance party for…. a long time. Never thought I’d be in a dirndl in a club in Germany, dancing like a complete spaz with a guy in lederhosen, vest and knee socks. But it happened. And my Sprachduo friend was correct… those suspenders are useful for pulling boys around. Good times.
We left the club very late and straggled across town. We knew there was a night bus that went near our flat, but we had no idea where the thing picked up. So we got some pizza, and a taxi instead. Second night in a row with a taxi, second night in a row home around 4am, and with an almost full beer in my purse. How? I don’t know. Some of us are just gifted.
Wednesday. God help us all.
We decided to take a day trip one day this week, and Wednesday ended up being the chosen day. A few ideas were tossed around, but eventually we decided to go out to the famous ‘Disney castle,’ aka, Neuschwanstein. I’d been out there twice already this year, both with ex-Freund’s family, and my family, but both times we drove. This time we took the train to Füssen, and from there you grab a short bus to the village with the castles.
The train ride through the country was absolutely beautiful. Rolling green fields with brown cows, farm houses and the mountains in the background. I would recommend this ride… especially if you have as great of a day as we did.
As I said, I’ve been to the castles twice this year, so I opted out of the tour, and the girls decided to only do one of the two castles. They were going to do the Neuschwanstein tour, but had a few hours before their time, so we popped into some of the shops, and climbed up to the Hohenschwangau castle to get some pictures and see the gardens.
Here’s Hohenschwangau from below…
And Hohenschwangau with Neuschwanstein from the gardens…
Can you spot Donkey?
So we walked around a bit, took the back way down (which wasn’t open the last times I was there), and were treated to a bit of a forest walk and this great view of the Alpsee.
The water looked fantastic. The shallow area was so clear and blue-green, and I really wanted to go stick my feet in. But we had things to do. We got in line to get the bus up to Marienbrücke where you get that postcard view of Neuschwanstein. The bridge was chock full of tourists so it was a “elbow on, picture, get out” situation.
That’s the money shot.
After the bridge, we ran down the hill because we thought we were a bit late and I didn’t want the girls to miss their tour time. We got there in plenty of time, but better safe than 12 Euros wasted. I left the girls and headed down to a bench below the castle to enjoy a Radler, a pretzel, some quiet time, and these awesome views….
The train ride home was a bit longer and we had a stop for 30 minutes in some random town, so that wasn’t great. But we got some pretty good jokes out of it. Not to mention having some seriously colorful characters on our train. And by colorful characters, I mean people who actually gave me a headache when I looked at them. (Granted, it didn’t take much to give me a headache on this day, but this was extreme.) Look at this. Look at it.
Ok, it’s a little dark. But that is a sequined back pack. There was also an aggressively patterned shirt, jacket, and pants that had a star sewn over the crotch that appeared/disappeared as she walked. I couldn’t even look at it, it hurt my head that much. Agh. But we got back to our flat, made some pasta for dinner, watched the news and tried to turn in early. There were two more days of fest ahead of us.
Thursday. The day I finally found Jesus.
Last year we wanted to do a free tour of Munich, but got up too late and missed it. Today we decided to take another crack at it. We got rolling and headed down to the city center. There’s a tour company called Sandemans New Europe Tours and they operate in a lot of the bigger cities. I’d seen their tours in Prague (and snuck a listen a few times), but have never gone on them before. They operate some paid tours as well (in Munich they have a Third Reich tour, a Dachau tour, they go to Neuschwanstein and there’s a pub crawl-type tour), but we were shooting for the free stuff. Our guide was an American named Curt (with a C), and he was pretty fantastic. Funny, informative, all that good stuff. The tour lasts 3 hours with a short break in the middle, and takes you around most of the main sites in the center of Munich. Here’s the Rathaus/Glockenspiel, the fest hall from the Hofbrauhaus, and some street performers…
Check it out if you’re there but please wear appropriate footwear. Alicia was at this point reduced to wearing her awesome toe shoes because she had wicked blisters from everything else.
After the tour, we headed back to make some French toast for dinner, and to strap ourselves back into the dirndls for Fest. We wandered around a bit before deciding to head back into the Hofbrauhaus tent. We got a table with some German guys who happened to be from Nürnberg… any guesses on how long until I run into one of them? One of them kept trying to talk to me in German, and when he found out that I could speak some, he informed me that “Tonight, we speak German!” Whatever you say calve-warmer-sock man. And PS, I can understand that your friends are talking about our chests. Some words are easy. We hung out there for awhile, but on a trip to/from the bathroom, the girls found their target market: that’s right, Australians. Oh dear.
Thankfully they came back to retrieve me, and then we joined the Aussies at one of the standing tables. Again thankfully, it was a standing table on the edge of the area and we didn’t have to go back into the sweaty armpit cesspool of death like we experienced on Tuesday. We hung out there for awhile and chatted with our new friends. And one of them looked exactly like Jesus. EXACTLY. I am very angry I didn’t get a picture of him. In talking I learned that he had the same name as my ex-Freund, and after verifying that fact with 3 forms of identification, I told him I was just going to call him Jesus anyway. So no worries. We spent the rest of the night with the Aussie crew until the tent closed. We spilled out into the street where people got separated, but made plans to meet them the following day. Abby had her heart set on getting into the Hacker-Pschorr tent, and one of them promised he would have a table there tomorrow. Boys.
We decided that we didn’t want to take the taxi route again, so we wanted to get home early. We headed back to the station, stopping once again for the world’s greatest pizza on the way. At pizza, we somehow found ourselves sitting next to Scotsmen in kilts who were quite chatty. Only at Oktoberfest can you have this kind of day. I tell ya. It’s like Halloween except the costumes are more authentic.
Finally, on the U-Bahn home, we were treated to this…
Here’s the lesson children: If you’re going to be sick on the U-Bahn, it’s ok as long as you dress it up with a rose.
Our original plan was to get up early so we could get a table at Hacker-Pschorr and just stay there all damn day. Or at least long enough for stealing a Maß glass (side note: apparently it’s a 40 Euro fine to do that. Don’t. Or, don’t get caught). But due to the afore-mentioned promise from the Aussie, we decided we didn’t need to go so early. We got down there in the afternoon, and did some wandering and shopping around for those last minute souvenirs. I finally got my money shot….
The holy trinity of awesome. 1) Wizard Hat, 2) Lederhosen, 3) Inexplicable calf-warmer socks.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my love for gnomes. I might have to reconsider after seeing this picture painted on one of the carnival games…
Creepiest. Gnome. Ever. Agh.
Let’s make up for it with some people having fun. How many dirndls and lederhosen can you count??
After some wandering about it was, of course, beer time. It was a beautiful day so we figured a beer garden spot would be great. Friday afternoon proved a bit tricky though. We finally snagged a spot at Spaten, and only had to climb (literally) over Italians to get to it.
We also were greeted by a very drunk Australian guy (sensing a theme here?), who was sitting right behind us. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of him, but here’s what he was wearing: a yellow plastic hat (similar to a fisherman), and EXTREMELY SHORT yellow plastic lederhosen with no shirt. The lederhosen had a very helpful identification tag attached to them, giving his name and where he was staying. A good idea considering what followed. I think he was insulted by a young German lady telling him that his tattoos were really bad so he moved away from us. This was positive, because a bit later, he stood up on the table, yanked his nutsack out of his lederhosen and was singing and dancing. If he had stayed where he was, that would have happened on top of my head. Thankfully, it was a table over. Hats off to you, bluntly honest German teenager!
At any rate. Our spot in the sun was great at first, but eventually it got a bit warm. Here’s a photo essay for you…
Abby fans herself…
And I am very happy to have sunglasses!
But before we could completely melt in the sun, it was time to go try and find our friends from the previous night. We headed to Hacker-Pschorr and found the first one. We waited a while but his friends were on a delayed train or some such thing, and we figured they could find us when they got there. The tent was closed, so we shot for a place in the beer garden (in the shade), and found one no problem.
We spent quite a while out here talking and meeting random people who plopped themselves down at our table. But eventually we decided to go inside. We ended up heading for the Spaten tent, presumably because the doors were open. We got in, grabbed a table end, I handed Alicia 20 Euro, said “order me a beer, I’ll be right back,” and went to the restroom. The restroom was directly at the end of the aisle we were in. But when I came back, couldn’t find them. They had gotten pushed to the middle of a table, and I went up and down the aisles but never found them.
So I wandered around for a while in the tent, then headed to our ‘meeting point,’ to wait for a while. During this time I went through the 20 Euros of credit I had on my phone trying to call Alicia’s UK cell phone. Which she didn’t have with her, but I didn’t know that. Whoops. I waited until the tents were closing, then gave up and headed home. I took a very roundabout way to the Hauptbahnhof, thinking maybe they would call when they got out of the tent. But that’s hard with no phone. They must have been right behind me, because I got home about 12, and they got in at 12:30. I did miss out on bumper cars though, so that’s a bummer.
Well not quite.
We got up early on Saturday because the girls had a morning flight. I went with them out to the airport, which is entirely too far out of Munich on the S-Bahn. I left them in the line to check their luggage, and got back to the Hauptbahnhof where I got to wait 40 minutes for a train. Uncool. Took the train back to Nürnberg, dragged my suitcase up four flights of stairs, and collapsed on my couch. Thank God that it was the start of the new television season because that gave me something to watch for the next three hours while I laid on the couch and moaned. I will be eternally grateful that I didn’t have to fly halfway around the world like those girls. Here’s your next lesson kids; 5 days of Oktoberfest is too many. My body hated me. And even more so when I realized that I had no food in the house so I had to go to the grocery store. And because this is Germany, I couldn’t put it off until Sunday. So I scraped myself off the couch and went out. It was painful. I definitely slept like the dead that night.
Sunday I had planned to meet a Sprachduo friend who needed some help. She had written a research paper and it had to be in English so I was going to meet with her and give her a hand. I was happy to do it, but my brain was not at all prepared for four hours of technical English at that point in time. We got through it but that was rough going. This was definitely one of those times where I was absurdly grateful that I didn’t have to work until Tuesday.
So that about sums it up. Without doubt, it was a good time, but it’s a good thing it’s only once a year!