Lesson #1: In preparation for Oktoberfest I spent a lot of time shopping for a dirndl (the traditional dress the women wear) and making sure I had all the correct pieces to the outfit. This felt a lot like shopping for the prom. I was finally satisfied with what I got and tested out some different hair braiding techniques. Once I had everything on I felt like a princess from a Disney movie. And not in a bad way, this was really fun like when you played dressup as a kid. I left the house feeling a bit awkward like I was going to stick out somehow. I quickly realized that while I may stick out wearing this in America here in Bavaria I couldn’t have blended in more! All that stress of picking the perfect thing only to realize that once you’re at Oktoberfest it really doesn’t matter that much. Yep, same as prom. That being said…dirndls are awesome and I wish I had a dozen to wear all the time.
Lesson #2: Speaking of dirndls. My second lesson was immediately after we entered Oktoberfest. A small blonde girl in dirndl and braids in her hair was sitting on the steps with her head in her hands. Women really appear innocent like little girls in these outfits so my first thought was that she was crying. I was concerned as she was all alone. I stopped Alex and asked him if we should see if she’s alright. Just as I was feeling a bit of shock at him unsympathetically saying no I also saw the pile of vomit in the shrubbery next to her. Nope, not an innocent little girl, just severely intoxicated.
Lesson #3: The passed out drunks are removed by stretchers. For privacy purposes these stretchers are covered by a plastic yellow tarp. Similar to what a body bag might look like only yellow and with space for air to circulate. So no, there aren’t dead people in there.
Lesson #4: This is an IMPORTANT one. If there’s a line at the front of the beer tent you should check the side entrances before standing in that line for an hour with your body pressed against people on all sides of you crushing you to the point of not being able to breathe. Because when you check that side entrance you will find you can walk right in without any wait at all. Seriously, a full hour standing amidst loud, obnoxious drunk people who are so close to you that you feel like you should at least know their names. And I use the term “line” loosely as it isn’t really the right word. More like a horde of people trying to make it to the ropes in the front with no regard for order. And if you think getting closer to the front means you’re closer to getting in, think again. When they do let people in they pick seemingly at random and often from the back of the line. When that happens everyone has to somehow move aside to let the chosen ones through and in those moments I think I could have lifted my feet off the ground and just been suspended in the air by all of the forces pressing against me. And doing all this while still sober? Well, it was like being in a moshpit where everyone is wearing gingham, lederhosen, and dirndls and there is no music.
Lesson #5: When we entered through that side entrance with no line I kept feeling like we’d gotten away with something and were about to be caught. But no, we had just been dumb tourists waiting at the front. We were finally in and holy crap what a shit show (in the best way possible)! Having a table would be amazing just so you could sit and people watch all day. Within the first minute I watched a security guard lead a Chinese guy with a Bruce Lee haircut out by his leather jacket. I turned to watch and just as I did Bruce Lee turned to the security guard, leaned in close to his ear and in English but with a thick accent said “YOU…SUNOVAHBITCH!” I still am laughing today when I think of it. Two seconds after that a fight almost broke out next to us for unknown reasons so we decided to make our way through the crowd and attempt to find a beer and our friends. And later still when we made our way to the opposite side of the beer tent we saw Bruce Lee coming right back in like nothing even happened. Sneaky guy. What’s the lesson here? I’m not sure exactly.
Lesson #6: If you come late in the day on opening day don’t expect to actually get inside the beer tent. Yes, those lines we waited in were just to get into the biergarten outside of the tent. Also, if you don’t have a table (by reservation or pure luck) then you have to follow around a waitress/waiter carrying beers to a table and hope that everyone at that table doesn’t need beer and you can buy one off her there. This could take a good hour which now makes me completely understand why the need for liter size glasses.
Lesson #7: Alcohol levels the playing field. No matter what country you’re from, how you’re brought up, what you look like, etc. If you drink enough alcohol you will act like a drunken moron. With all the tourists from all over the world at Oktoberfest, this concept is hammered home. And it is oh-so-fun to watch.
Lesson #8: If you try and meet your friends in Oktoberfest and they are already drunk when they text you where they are…you will spend the next three hours trying to find them in the WRONG tent!!! And then come out to find only 2 people left of the group who haven’t gone home drunk and one is leaving to go to the hospital to check on her friend who left Oktoberfest on the drunkbus. Always meet your friends before entering the festival.
Lesson #9: The festival outside of the beer tents seems just as fun, maybe more so because its less crowded and there’s plenty of food vendors and a ton of rides. Then you realize the only place you can buy beer is inside the beer tents. Definitely not as fun.
Lesson #10: A liter of beer and a giant pretzel can totally change your attitude.
The first day of Oktoberfest didn’t include many photos since it was just constant chaos and an attempt at getting our bearings on the whole thing. Hopefully the next few weeks I will get some more photos. But here are some photos from the impressive Oktoberfest parade we went to this morning. Apparently there were over 8000 participants in the parade the route was 7km. I can’t imagine walking that far in some of the shoes they were wearing and carrying the heavy instruments and flags!