I spent a lot of money, ate a lot of bread, drank a lot of beer and met a bunch of great people. You meet people everywhere. Everywhere. Even waiting on the sidewalk for my bus to go home someone approached me and we chatted for an hour, making me almost miss my one shot getting to the Memminghem airport.
So, Munich. What happens at Oktoberfest, stays at Oktoberfest—else broadcasted on the world wide web:
On the two year anniversary of not eating meat I celebrated by eating a ton of it. This was about a foot long and a-so-spicy. I could only eat half of this as it was huge and we weren’t allowed to bring them into the beer tents. This indulgence was totally worth a two year hiatus.
This wasn’t even my first indulgence. I left the house at 8AM and did not get to the campsite until 10PM taking two buses, one plane and one tram. I was famished and all the campsite was serving was roast beef (I think? how sad that I can’t even identify cuts of meat anymore) and potato salad. I had wanted my first meat to be a bratwurst, but it wasn’t going to happen that night. I got the roast beef and chowed down, at first a little hesitant, but eventually my plate was licked clean. It was cheap and fucking delicious. The campsite was a nice little hippy commune, vested in organic and local meats and produce. Every little excuse helps the meat consumption guilt (of which I actually had zero of).
I had a pack of eats during the day as well: two apples, nectarine, banana and pb&j
Securing a place to place to stay near the end was getting iffy, but things have a way of working themselves out, and they did just fine. As I suspected I probably could have went to Munich without any plans for a place to stay at all. I met a ton of great people who were crashing at friends places and nice hotels that were quick to offer up a spot if I needed one, and not in a shady “and then I’m going to murder you” way, but genuinely hospitable. The first night I stayed by the bonfire and met a bunch of (absolutely craic’d — yep going to start speaking in Irish terms) Brits, most who are not featured here, but who I spent most of the night hanging out with and am remiss for not getting any sort of contact information, or even really names. I remember “big red” and “rubber” and there was a Johnny and Lee:
My plan for an early day was thwarted when everyone kept buying rounds of drinks at the fire. People from Britain, Australia, Italy, US, singing American 80’s music around the fire. It was a good night. Lara from Madrid, Jason from West Virginia, the many crazy Brits. They had a massive tent that slept about 10 of them they put on a hill. Clearly boyscouts were not running the show. They all seemed to have just broken up with a “misses” and made facebook updates to make them jealous. Off their rockers, but entertaining. They were getting up at 8:30 to get a table. Yeesh. I climbed into my bunk around 4 and didn’t get up until 11, oops. I heard people shuffling around as early as 6 to get into the fest and get a table. I did not have the same gumption.
Bunk was simple living, close quarters, but I actually never saw my neighbors, awake at least. Everyone was on different schedules. I kind of liked it better that way. Anonymity was the only slice of privacy you really had there. They provide you with four heavy duty blankets and to boot, I got top bunk! It’s, I guess maybe, an aqcuired taste, but I really liked this place. Cleanest bathrooms I saw the whole weekend, great food and tons of happy people.
Bonfire area, reception building, lederhosen
Outside the tent
I loved being on my own. No plans, no discussions, not even a whole lot of thinking. I could come and go into groups of people as I pleased and wander the streets for as long as I wanted, then meander into the fest. I finally made it around noon, and walked up and down the streets to check out which tent I wanted to hit. The red houses are beer tents.
There was so much going on even before entering the bier havens.
I perused while eating what I thought was a fried tomato, but turned out was a sliced apple fried with cinnamon and sugar. So good.
There are no concessions for English speakers at the fest, which is kind of fair considering I was obnoxious enough to not learn even one sentence of German. I only ordered food from stands where I could point to what I wanted and they overcharged me every time.
I considered it a convenience charge of them having to tolerate ignorant English speakers. Tara taught me how to say “I don’t like you very much,” but that has already escaped me as much as it came in handy once in the tents.
Fourteen tents to choose from. Having done zero research on which tent would interest me most I went with the fact that I had a dream that someone told me to go to the third tent on the right. Good enough. I dug my heels into the line there and stayed until it closed. It turned out to be one of the largest, most internationally visited and notorious tents, ha. It fits 10,000 people compared to other tents ranging from 600 and up. The warning is to avoid this tent if you don’t like crazy rowdy crowds. Not a problem.
Waiting on line was awful. It is easier to get into a tent when you’re dressed in the traditional lederhosen and girndls and not in jeans and a grey tshirt, but who am I if I’m not completely unprepared and underdressed. I also just had no idea people actually dressed up for this. I don’t know if I would have in the end anyway. I was harassed enough in my dirty camping clothes that I would not want to wear something that was an open invitation for gropers. I was talking to girls at the campsite the next morning who said they had bruises from the friendly hello’s they got that looked a little something like this:
I thought it’d be easier to get in as a party of one, but they wanted parties of five to ten so four other stragglers and I grouped up and finally got ourselves in and then scattering once inside. It’s funny we banded together and then peaced out to do our own thing. I never saw them once inside either. I didn’t realize there’d by so much waiting. You wait online for hours smushed together in the heat, people up against you, unabashedly grabbing and groping and at some points could be miserable, but then you get into the tent and you forget every bad thing that’s ever happened to you. And then you prost:
On my way in I met Julian who even after telling him over and over I didn’t speak German, would kiss my hand and rant about something I was clueless to. Without knowing what he was saying I would respond “nein” and could tell it was the correct response when he would look very disappointed. Still unsure if he was wasted or illiterate when he gave me a piece of paper that was supposed to say his name, but was jumbled numbers and “i like you” on it.
Oh, Julian. How will we ever connect again? Every now and then he would speak English and I would understand a word or two like “orgasm.” Nein, Julian. Nein. I have a video of one of the table mates and in the background can hear myself tell Julian “dude, you’re going to get punched.” But he was entertaining enough to keep around. That was my strategy the whole time. Keep entertainment around until it was enough and move on.
My main table had four or five girls from Germany, one from Boston and one from DC. A bunch of Italians behind us, a bunch of Germans I gravitated towards near the end of the night. A couple from Rochester, a fellow Long Islander who I couldn’t stand to talk to for more than 5 seconds. Julian made friends with a foursome next to us, one being Lou(is)? Who kept showing up throughout the night to twirl me around and let me wear his fancy watch for ten minute increments. He didn’t let me have it, but took his time drawing his declaration of love:
I wish I had a video of how he/we drew it out. I was captivated.
Live bands start up around 3PM and run the show. Playing traditional Bavarian music mixed with Robbie Williams “Angels” and John Denver’s “Country Roads” Around 5PM everyone is up on the tables singing and prosting and there is no reason to be sitting again until 11 lest you want to be covered in bier. This is also one of the only tents where you can order a beer by standing and not have to be sat at a table. There is also an area in front of the band to stand at tall tables and party.
The tent was hours of singing, chanting, stomping and heavy prosts. The mugs can take a hit. I wish I could have had another day it was so much fun. When the tents started to shuffle people at night out I sat with the Germans and started to talk about their work and living and how easy it is to change the course of your life. We got separated by the time we were outside and I chatted with some others before heading back to camp. I managed to navigate the streets back to city center easily, throwing my hands up in a calm, but triumphant, touchdown stance when I realized I had successfully found the tram without a hitch. And then buying a celebratory bratwurst. This was much cheaper then at the fest and way tastier.
I walked home from the tram with some LMU students I had met the night before. The bonfire was still going when I got back to camp and said goodbye to them and then to (I believe) an Italian guy (I’m the worst at identifying accents) who wound up buying all my sodas and sparkling waters from me. I just wanted some damn tap water, but everything was in German on the vending machine so I just kept putting money in and taking my chances. I had a great night sleep and left in the morning to walk around the fest one more time before my bus.
My handbag served fine for everything I needed to bring and I even managed to fit the mug inside to bring home with me. This will easily be my most precious (and heaviest) souvenir:
It was a long day. Two and a half hour bus ride, two hour plane, three hour bus ride, lines and customs and securities in between. I started talking to two Irish on queue for boarding the plane to pass the time and bc I overheard them talking about the Jersey Shore and our great Nation that brings such lovely tv to the world. For the amount of transportation I had to take everything went incredibly smoothly. Tram to bus to plane to bus to car back home. I’ll be in Ireland for 9 days now. A nice respite from public transportation.
Oh. The campsite had Nutella filled croissants. And my first ever kiwi. Magical times.
Munich on my own never made me nervous. I am glad it’s the way it happened. I kept smiling to myself walking around thinking about how much fun it all had been. I have always always wanted to travel alone, something that I think the rest of the world does naturally, but as Americans we think of it as a great adventure. Festivals of hammered folk can be my element tho, I knew it was not going to be hard to meet people and get on fine. It was a quick 36 hours there, but I’d do it again in a second. Next time making sure to learn at least a bit of German; “right,” “left,” “a red one,” “go away,” “i have many diseases,” the basics.
Yesterday was 14 hours of traveling. Today was 10 hours tackling an exam. I’m ready to rest, please.“Ein prosit! Ein prosit, der Gemutlichkeit!” in my head for dayyyyyyys