This past weekend marked the begining of that mystical time of year called Oktoberfest. I say mystical becasue everyone who has never been but has heard stories conjures up all sorts of images of tables upon tables filled with people drinking, laughing, and eating pretzles the size of your head. Basically that is true but it is so much more.
Our trip started out on Friday night from Reutlingen packing myself and two other friends into my friend’s little red Ford Escort that he is borrowing from his grandmother who happens to live in Munich, while he is at the University. He said this thing was a 4 banger but when it is struggling to do 60 on the autobahn and a slew of Porches and Benzes go flying by at 150 it seems like the world is at a stand still. We make it to Munich without many problems except a 2.5 hour trip turned into 4 becasue of all the road construction, at time it reminded me of sitting on I-5 during rush hour. His grandmother fixed us breakfast the next morning, the traditional cold cuts, pretzel, and cheese with coffee. Halfway through my first cup of coffee I realize that I can only understand about every two words she is saying. No it’s not becasue my German is that bad but she is speaking Bayrish, or the dialiact of Bavaria if you will. I liken it to someone from New York trying to understand someone that speaks Creole. No worries right? Wrong! The people we are going to Oktoberfest with all speak Bayrish and little or no English, no worries after a few maß of Oktoberfest’s best I am sure to be speaking perfect German.
As I eluded to earlier, Oktoberfest is more than a two week long party of gigantic nature, it is rooted deeply in Bavarian history. The original Oktoberfest was pretty much one huge wedding reception to celebrate the Crown Prince of Bavaria’s wedding, and it was a way for the people to come together and celebrate being Bavarian. This display of regionalism is still very much evident today. As we rode the train towards the fairground more an people started to get on wearing the traditional LeiderHösen and Drindel’s. Entire families, the very young and the very old. Let me just pause to say that I can totally not wait to by my own pair of liederhose, oh yes, its going to happen. Anyway, we get off the train and walk towards the main gate, it’s before noon so the beer hasn’t begun to flow yet. On the first day, it is tradition for no beer to be served before the mayor taps the first keg at 12. So this place is in a frenzy just waiting for the first beer to be poured. Finally it comes and a huge cheer erupts and the music begins.
Everywhere you turn there are amusmement rides, vendors selling würst, pretzels, chicken, and bread. The giant beerhalls which can hold thousands of people at a time take up whole city blocks. We finally make it in to the Pauliner tent or I think convention center is more like it but were unable to find a seat but fortunately for us we were able to bribe some people sitting at a table to order is our first beers. The beers that most of us think of when we think of Oktoberfest is called a maß and it equates to 1 liter of godly goodness. Tired of standing and 2 maßes deep we decide to go explore, somewhere down the line we run into some friends who have a table, once again I am the only american there so we come up with the bright idea that those at the table will speak english to me and I will only answer in German, great idea except for two of the girls at the table kept telling me that I looked like George Clooneywhile feeding me pretzels. Good times, good times.
So the total number for this Year’s Oktoberfest opening weekend were 1 million people on Saturday and Sunday with over 500,000 maßes consumed. Not too bad for a wedding reception right?