23 September 2010

Prost! Oktoberfest [Day One]

Having already been on one big trip this month, and with more travel on the cards, budget was important when planning my trip for Oktoberfest. Flights were expensive and accommodation was even worse, so a group tour was about my only option. I settled on Top Deck – coach transport from London to Munich and tent accommodation. About as budget as you can get. Not to worry – I have camped in tents plenty of times before, and the 18 hour transit each way would give me a good idea whether I was up to the massive trip I have planned early next year (which will include several huge bus-trips).

Friday afternoon at 1pm we set off from London, heading for Dover. From Dover we jumped on the ferry to Calais, then finally onto the coach that would take us all the way to Munich. We departed Calais about 8pm, immediately things started to get a little rowdy. There was a stag party on our trip whose aim was to drink constantly for 4 days, no sleep allowed. The journey was about as good as it could have been really. The bus was not overly spacious, but not cramped, it was comfortable enough, warm, reclining seats. Couldn't ask for much more really. Along the way we were taught a traditional Bavarian drinking song which was quite cool, and it ended up being very useful; they sung it in every single tent about every 10-15 minutes. At about midnight Ross (tour leader) turned the music off and put on a DVD, for those who wanted to sleep. Problem was the volume on the DVD was up louder than the music! I got in a few hours sleep here and there – enough to get me by.

1200kms, and four countries later, we arrived in Munich. Along the way visiting Luxembourg for my first time, too bad it was the middle of the night and we didn't leave the bus. We got into Munich about 8:30am, dropped gear into the tent, had a quick breakfast, and then headed out to discover the festival. First we spotted the massive ferris wheel and roller coaster, both so big they looked as though they belonged as a permanent fixture in a large amusement park. We went for a quick wander, past stalls selling souvenirs, pretzels, all kinds of sausage... past the massive beer tents (you really can’t call them ‘tents’, they are HUGE halls). Most had elaborate exteriors, painted and decorated in the colours of the beer house. Many with huge props and flags. At about 10:30am we tried to get a seat in Hofbräu and Löwenbräu – but there was no chance, it was absolutely packed! And the first beer wasn't even served until midday. While there I saw some friends from London (the TNT crew) who I knew were going to be at the festival, but in amongst a couple of hundred thousand people chances were slim I would bump into them. Unfortunately they didn’t have a spot at their table, so I decided to go out and watch the parade.

From 11am there is a big parade to celebrate the opening of the festival. Think horse drawn carts, colourful floats, people waving and brass bands. The band for each tent comes down the main ‘street’ of the festival, and then enters their tent. It was all very cool. At midday the mayor taps the first keg, and from then it’s all on.

I met up with my friend from Austria, Gabi, and her friend Lisa. We tried to get into Bräurosl, but the girls had brought along some drinks (not allowed inside the tents). So we headed up onto some grass to chill out for a while. It was actually really funny - although it was only early afternoon, already people were throwing up or passed out all over the place.

We went for a wander around the festival, checked out a few rides, tried some weisswurst (white sausage), and pretzel and just generally hung out. At about 6pm we tried to get into some tents but it was so packed there was just no way. We tried all the entries to Löwenbräu but all were closed. We saw one group around a side-door – they seemed to be letting people in who had some special wrist-band. There were a few people off to one side that were trying to get in, arguing with the security guard. He stepped slightly to one side and we slipped in behind him. The perfect crime.

Inside the tent was mad! So many people, everyone singing/yelling, dancing, drinking… The music and atmosphere were awesome! It was a mix of traditional beer-hall Bavarian songs and some classics that everyone knew the words to. I found the TNT crew again and hung around for a beer with them. It seemed everyone in the tent was just there to have a good time. MOST people were dressed up, which I think made the atmosphere even better. I am actually really disappointed that I didn't make the effort. There were people from almost every age group and every country around the world. Everyone was talking to one another, dancing together. There wasn't even a hint of aggression, or anyone being an idiot. It was just an awesome time with the most friendly people, all having a beer (or ten) together.

Some videos:
Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye
Take Me Home, Country Roads
Dancing up a storm

Later in the evening I somehow acquired a mullet wig. I also made friends with some German locals, had a good chat/sing/dance with them. They were very cool. I had fun with our beer ‘wench’/maid Marina, who was a very, ummm, strong woman, but still really awesome (photo at the top of this post).

At about 10pm I left the tent to get a shuttle back to the campground. After the day's festivities I was a little disorientated and got completely lost! I ended up having to get a cab back, but the guy was really friendly and only charged me €10 when I am sure he could have charged double that.

Day one in a word: epic.

Next Post - 'Germans: Awesome'


  1. Awww I'm well jealous, I've always wanted to go to Oktoberfest! Great pics too! x

  2. Our version, in New Braunfels, TX begins soon! It's called Wurstfest.


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