If I can only say one thing; it would be:
“EXPERIENCE OKTOBERFEST AT LEAST ONCE IN YOUR LIFETIME.”
You can even quote me on that.
If you want to learn how to survive your first Oktoberfest experience in Germany, click here.
So you want to hear about all the crazy things that happen while I was in Munich, Germany for the weekend experiencing Oktoberfest?
Well… where do I begin.
After spending a marvellous couple of days in Edinburgh with my friend Savannah, we left Scotland behind and flew with Ryanair to Germany!
(If you want to know how I survived Ryanair – aka the cheapest airline company ever – click here)
We arrived in the afternoon an hour outside of Munich in a town called Memmingen. Basically, if you’re flying to Munich with Ryanair, you’ll end up here; in the middle of nowhere. We took the airport bus to the train station for 3 euros and took the one-hour train ride into Munich. I’ve come to realize that your only source of long-distance transportation in Germany are trains; don’t count on the cheap bus rides, as there aren’t any buses that will take you to far places. (Check out my blog on how to survive in Germany above).
As we hopped onto the train, all you can hear is the sudden noises of cans cracking open and the strong smell of german beer; not to mention men in lederhosens and women in busting, tight, coloured oktoberfest dresses. This became an enjoyable (yet extremely crowded) ride to Munich; especially with all the drunken singing.
We finally arrived in Munich (also spelt München) to a train station that was packed with people; conscious and unconscious. Oh the joys of Oktoberfest.
After a large amount of time spent trying to find a place with free wi-fi for me to use google maps for directions; we came to a complete dead-end. Night was starting to set and the nearest Starbucks didn’t have wi-fi (or at least maybe it didn’t work). We decided to get food from a grocery store, and then began a nightly search for a place with free wi-fi (My iPhone doesn’t work outside of the UK). Savannah and I ended up getting separated for some time with no way of contacting each other, and as I was about to give up on the search for her, I came across a wi-fi working Starbucks with her in it. Phew!
After getting correct directions to use the subway station (we weren’t sure if we should take the bus, train, subway, or tram once we got to Munich), we hoped on the subway and found our way to our accommodations late within the night. We were drained and didn’t want to leave the house once we finally found our way there. However, we realized that we hadn’t eaten dinner, so our hosts let us borrow their bikes, and we biked to the nearest restaurant to have our first German dinner; it was delicious.
We drove the bikes around the neighbourhood after dinner, and came to realize that we were actually in Germany. And realized that we were going to be at Oktoberfest. It was a very surreal moment as we biked through the neighbourhoods in the outskirts of Munich at night; it became a great evening once we were able to relax and enjoy the moment of where we were, and what we were going to experience this weekend.
Savannah and I decided to sleep in, as opposed to getting up at the crack of dawn for three reasons: 1) We were extremely tired from flying, traveling and all the added stress that came with it 2) We decided that we were going to spend half the day actually exploring the city of Munich and visiting all the tourist places as well as seeing all the must-see sights and 3) The guys that we were staying with all worked at Oktoberfest so we never had to wait in line to get into the beer tents. BAZINGA!!
The guys lent us there bikes again for the day, and told us exactly what we should see, experience and explore with our limited time in Munich. So, we began our journey by biking through Munich: WHO DOES THAT?! We do, and I’m so happy we were given the opportunity to bike through the beautiful city of Munich. If you can do it, then I would recommend it to anyone. It was the perfect way to see the city and all its beauty. The bike ride was about 40 mins (including traffic at the time, as well as the fact that we had limited knowledge to where we were going), but eventually, we reached our destination.
Oh! Did I even mentioned the weather? It was early October and it was 24°C and sunny. YEAH, SUMMER WEATHER (well at least for Canadians). I could not believe how beautiful the weather was, along with how beautiful the city was during the autumn season. I don’t know if I can express how much of an amazing feeling it was to ride freely through the summer weather, yet colourful autumn setting that had fallen upon the city of Munich that beautiful october morning.
We reached our first destination, which was the spectacular and gorgeous building located in what is called: Marienplatz; which is basically the central square in the city centre of Munich. I would recommend that this be your first place to visit if you come to Munich; it’s beautiful.
After seeing the historical buildings around marienplatz,such as city hall, and walk around a little, our next stop on our self-served tour guide was a really interesting farmers market called Viktualienmarkt. There was lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, and baked goods available to buy, as well as Oktoberfest-themed foods, beverages and souvenirs!
We ventured back towards Marienplatz and waited in line outside the Saint Peter Church (or SanktPeter or Alter Peter; it has a bunch of names). Basically, you pay 1 euro and you have access to climb to the very top of this church, and the view from the top is UNBELIEVABLE. On a clear day like it was that day, you can actually see The Alps. The view of the city was spectacular. If you don’t believe me, just see for yourself. Hopefully my pictures do it some justice.
After the 306 steps up to the top, and 306 back down to the bottom, Savannah and I walked further away from city centre to another city square called Odeonsplatz. It was named after a former concert hall and was now home to a very musical scene. There was a music festival/show going on for local musicians and bands. The buildings surrounding the square were very stunning.
After making a few stops to grab food, visit the Munich apple store, and see a few more buildings, we eventually followed the crowd of drunken lederhosen-wearing people towards Oktoberfest. If you don’t know what Oktoberfest is, it’s basically a 16-day festival during late September to the first week of October, in which the germans celebrate an amazing invention: beer.
With such beautiful summer weather on the second last day of the festival, Oktoberfest was packed! I swear, there were millions of people; sober, half-sober and wasted. It was a glorious sight to have witnessed. With my surprise, there wasn’t just beer tents and beer gardens; there were amusement park rides, games, and so much more! It was literally like a huge amusement park! There were children, babies, elderly people, and just people of all different ages and ethnicity’s. (Not to mention little babies in lederhosen’s, which were the most adorable things ever).
We made it to our first beer tent by about 4:30pm and didn’t have to wait in line because the guys we were staying with worked in the beer gardens. The name of our tent was Bräurosl, where they served Hacker–Pschorr beer; and boy was it good. I’m not the biggest fan of most beers, but this beer was so smooth and tasted so pure; you could almost drink it like it was water, it was that good. Not to mention the fact that the Oktoberfest beer is 2% stronger in alcohol than normal beer percentages and served in 1 litre beer mugs called steins. In addition, 1 litre of beer is equivalent to 3 normal sized cans/bottles of beer. Each beer went for about 9.40 euros, but you usually gave a 10 euro bill as you wanted to tip the people well so that they serve you again.
In our surrounding table, we met some italians and turkish people, as well as became good friends with some germans! We spent the whole evening with them, talking, drinking and teaching us more about Oktoberfest, Munich and the german language. It was a great evening and I limited myself to only 2 Litres of Oktoberfest beer (2 steins) as I forgot that we would have to bike home in the pitch black through the unfamiliar streets of Munich. That was a journey and a half. We eventually made it home and found the buzzed ride home enjoyable and extremely relaxing; again, it was feeling like a wonderful summer’s night.
We woke up at a decent time and found that the beautiful, sunny, warm weather had vanished, and sudden, cold, rainy, october weather had taken its place instead. Savannah and I were not going to let the weather rain down our parade… I mean… festive activities.
We took the train into Munich and arrived at Oktoberfest before noon. The crowd wasn’t as packed as yesterday (thanks weather), and seeing as how it was the last day of Oktoberfest, the atmosphere felt more relaxed and mellow. Savannah and I decided to pick up a few souvenirs now, before the beer took control of us and could have potentially forgot about getting some; fair enough.
Afterwards, we decided to venture into our first beer tent of the day, which was called Hofbrau Festzelt. The beer was average, but the tent was much more lively and crowded with so many international people. We met some really nice Italians that didn’t know barely any English, and saw an old german man finish his 10th stein of beer of the day (and it was noon). I had much respect for that old man.
Cheers to the drunken old german man!
Making our rounds, we came across some really cool Brits, who at first kept calling us Americans, even though you told them numerous times that we were Canadian. One guy said that Canada was apart of America and that he had been teaching geography for 10 years. They were pulling our legs hardcore but Savannah and I were starting to get aggravated because we thought they weren’t joking. They were completely pulling our legs and we came to realize how nice and funny they actually were. They told us that they were all part of a group for one of the guys’ bachelor party. If I ever get married, I want my bachelor party at Oktoberfest; hands down. We also met a South Korean, who pretended he was from South Korea, but was actually from Austria, and a professional chef; he was also very funny and nice. There were just so many genuinely nice people at Oktoberfest & everyone was just there for a good time.
After a good amount of time in the Hofbrau Festzelt beer tent, Savannah wanted to go on the Ferris wheel; I did not. As a waited for Savannah to go on her ride, I sat there and just watched the people; watched how much joy and laughter this one festival brought to everyone. It was a very surreal moment. I was also laughing consistently over all the drunken people falling, tripping, and making complete fools of themselves; it was a grand ole time!
As the evening began to approach, Savannah and I decided to go back to our favourite tent that we had gone to the very first night. The atmosphere was incredible and the beer was fantastic. We ordered a chicken dinner, which I highly recommend when you go to Oktoberfest. It’s a tad expensive, but completely worth it. It was the juiciest, freshest, and most delicious chicken I have ever had (sorry mom)!
After a few more litres of beer, a giant pretzel and some crazy table dancing, the night was coming to an end. At the end of the very last night of Oktoberfest, there is something that happens in the tents that is one of the most magical and awe-inspiring moments I have ever witnessed. Basically, they shut off all the lights in the tent, and every person is given a light, and as a trumpet plays this happy and majestic tune, thousands and thousands of people raise there hands with these lights and sway back and forth. It was almost like being at your favourite rock concert, except better, because it was Oktoberfest.
Of course, the night wouldn’t have been complete without everyone coming together, singing and drinking to the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” Savannah and I spent that whole evening with an amazing german couple who lived in Munich. They were a happy, and loving married couple that were a joy to have around, talk with, and share such a remarkable night with.
If only I could have frozen time and stayed there for a little bit longer; it was an amazing experience and highly believe that everyone should at least experience once in their lifetime.
Sleep deprivation, cuts from broken beer glass and moments of feeling infinite; Oktoberfest was a moment I’ll never forget. Good beer, great friends and an experience to cross off my bucket list! Couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.
P.s. Also check out Savannah’s blog for her experience & photos of Oktoberfest here.