Today was our first REAL day in Oktoberfest… and what a day…
For the first part of the tale I guess you need some back story… our hostel was really nice, but was located on a corner and we were lucky enough to have a balcony room. To assist people with crossing the busy intersection there was a pedestrian crossing which had one of those beeping things to help the blind people. Only this one was a clicking noise… and it only turned off from about 11pm to 4am. Guess what woke me up each morning? Hahaha
So we got up early and headed down to Oktoberfest, having been prewarned the night before about the pandemonium we were about to encounter. Despite the tents not opening til 10am, we were advised to be there no later than 8:30 - which we ended up making 8:45. The same Australian had given us a few horror stories as well about people throwing up into their steins, men peeing under their tables (sometimes in their steins, sometimes onto the floor) and just basic base behavior. All in all we're amped for a pretty cracker of a day to be honest!
So we get to Oktoberfest to find… we're almost the only two people there… walking through the grounds was like we'd gotten there the day after it had closed. Wandering around we ran into 5 people sitting outside one of the tents who we got to chatting to who claimed that LAST YEAR it was really busy at this time (still not convinced!!). They also told us that beer doesn't get served til 12 (EXTREMELY NOT TRUE!!!) and that at 10am the entire place would be packed (also fibs!!!). After asking us where we were from, we got the run down from them - one of the answers had us in stitches as we left… there were three Americans there and two Aussies, and the Americans all said Chicago and the Australians said "We're from Perth. In WA." Nick and I just kind of looked at them, and waited to start giggling after we'd left - I mean, Australia's a pretty big place, but EVERYONE has heard of Perth… lol
We continued walking through the grounds as stalls began to open, and things began to start to come alive, and we ended up at the Lowenbrau tent (which came highly recommended from our Australian the night before). Sitting out the side were a group who were mixed but mainly Kiwis. We chatted to them for a bit, then kept on walking to try and pick which tent to go to… as it approached 9:45am we decided to pick a tent, and ended back up at Lowenbrau, where the Kiwis invited us to join them.
Let me reiterate at this point - I do NOT drink beer… the smell of it alone is enough to make me gag, so I was beginning to question the wisdom of saying we had to go to Oktoberfest. At 10am when my first stein of beer arrived, needless to say I was perplexed. An entire LITRE of beer just for me??? I did not see how this was going to work… I made it about 1/3 of the way through mine as Nick finished his, so he got 1/3 of mine, and I tried to drink the remainder… It was SO not happening so the Kiwis suggested for the next round I get a Reddler (I have no idea if that's even what it's called cause I never ordered one!!!). This is essentially a shandy, and just tasted like Lemonade so it's what I ended up drinking for the rest of the day!
The boys all took to drawing lines on their arms for each round, so they had count and knew how much they'd had.Now, I'm normally pretty good with accents, and GENERALLY speaking don't have too many issues (I admit the neeps and tatters the Scottish kept talking about had me thrown, but that's local speak, so I'm not surprised I didn't know it!!!) - but when one of the Kiwis said the he was a shepherd I had to question it… I mean, a kiwi who's a shepherd - that's just too good a joke to pass up… Turns out shepherd was actually CHIPPIE! Hahaha… OOOPS! For the millionth time Nick and I also got told that we look nothing alike after being mistaken for a couple YET AGAIN. So far it's happened in each of every place, so we've taken to either introducing each other (this is my brother/sister Nick/Seb) or slipping something in about 'brother/sister, our mother/father, etc' when we meet people. Just so they don't ask how long we've been together for… it's kind of getting a bit annoying to be honest, and I'm pretty sure some check in places just think we're married cause of the shared surname… Hahaha
As the morning gradually wore on, all of a sudden it was 1pm and Nick (having quite a score of marks on his arm) was looking worse for wear, so we got him a half chicken (fresh off the spit it was SO GOOD!!!) and I got a potato dumpling - man, beer REALLY fills you up!!! Not too long after this Nick uttered what are now famous last words, "I'm going to the toilet, I'll be right back". Having heard about the crazy lines for the mens toilets (the ratio men to women is about 10:1) I wasn't too worried when 30 minutes later Nick wasn't back… after an hour I was getting a little bit worried and the Kiwis had started to ask where he was… 30 minutes after I sent him a text and got the reply back that he'd gone for a walk and was down near the rides. Over the next 30 minutes a series of increasingly incoherent text messages eventually I assumed Nick had gone back to the hostel to pass out. So, Nick had left us at about 2:30pm, I hung out with the Kiwis until about 5pm before heading back to make sure that Nick had actually made it into the hostel, as he stopped replying to my messages…
Now, before we get onto that part of the day, let's cover some of the antics in the Lowenbrau tent! One of the Kiwi boys didn't really pace himself, so we saw first hand how someone can throw up into a stein (actually, it was into two of them, as first it was his beer one and then his water one…) - the interesting things is though, that the Germans don't cut you off or kick you out if you're like that…
The band came on about midday and played random sets through to 5pm and were really cool. All of the German music was so happy it was hard not to get into the stein waving, standing, swaying spirit. In between the band sets, random tables would burst into song, so we had a few renditions of Seven Nation Army and Will You Be My Girl, start up through out the day…
Now, I've already mentioned the ratio of men to women in the tent - and to be honest I was being quite generous with that figure. A fair amount of the tables were men only, and few had more than 3-4 girls on their tables of 10-12 - so for the most part what you're looking at is men and beer. If ever you're in need of an ego boost and you're even VAGUELY attractive (and female) I recommend going to Oktoberfest, the attention is ridiculous. One guy tried to dress me up in a hat that had been broken (I was fine while it was just putting the outside of the hat around my waist, but had my limits tested when he decided to try and make the brim into a nappy for me… Thankfully the Kiwis stepped in as Nick had done his vanishing act) and general comments in German or English depending on which they thought they would get further with. Anyone who's ever been to a club or bar knows just how witty men who've had beer are, so pretty much any language had the same success rate of a glare and then a laugh at their expense… at one point when I was checking for a text from Nick I was told (in German), there's no point in checking your phone, as you don't have our number to call us… Riiiiight…
Wandering through out the tents there are an assortment of people selling wares, from beer souvernirs to sweat bands to wipe beer of your mouth, to t-shirts and hats to roses. Now, the roses sellers are probably the most seen through out Europe and have a common tactic and routine everywhere. First, they walk up to the girl and say 'Here this is for you', and then when the girl takes it, they turn to the boy to pay. By the time the rose seller made it to the table I was at, I was sitting there with a bunch of guys, so when she said 'Here, this is for you', I thought I knew how the spiel was going to play out, and kindly declined. Which is where the story changed, and she said, 'No, it's a gift'. I took the rose (I think it was from the people who's broken hat I had been almost dressed in…) and later found out it had cost 4 EURO!!!! I should have asked for the cash and told her to keep the rose!!! The 10 euro steins were starting to add up! Hahaha
So, by now time is ticking by and it's gradually getting closer to 5pm, and I start to worry about whether Nick made it into the room, and where he actually left Oktoberfest at all, or is passed out somewhere… before I go back to the hostel though, me and one of the Kiwis get some chocolate dipped strawberries (SO TASTY!!!!) which he believes are the best thing in Oktoberfest… I'm inclined to agree, cause it sure as heck wasn't the beer! Hahaha
So, I say my goodbyes to the Kiwis (who are all London based, so we might be catching up on my birthday!!!) and head off on The Quest to Find Nick And Then Yell At Him For Leaving Without Telling Me. I'm not overly mad at this point, and it's a beautiful afternoon so I stroll back through Oktoberfest looking for a stein and t-shirt souvenir for me to take with me. I'd seen a few I'd liked earlier, but all had been too big for my liking. Finally at the last tent I found one I liked, and asked them if it came in a S… as he searched through the sizes, and finally asked a lady for help, she told him it was a kids t-shirt - not to be deterred I then asked for the BIGGEST size they had - which was perfect!
I wandered back the 10 or so minutes to the hostel, and found Nick fast asleep in his bed… and still quite drunk. I let Nick sleep til 6pm while I chatted to the other girl in our room, and then woke him up to tell him we were getting dinner and going to Oktoberfest to get the other steins he wanted…
Now, Oktoberfest is even COOLER by night than it is by day - something I thought could not have been possible, if we had of known how cool it was going to be we would have slept in and partied at night times instead (although probably safer for me to be ditched by Nick during the day than at night… lol). We wandered through the stalls and picked up local food for dinner - pork knuckle and a roll-mop roll (for Nick), and weisswurst and corn on the cob (for me). I also picked up some of the YUMMY cinnamon, vanilla and sugar cashews they were selling everywhere.Now, the Germans are really into their recycling and I respect that. AND I can understand how much waste must get generated from Oktoberfest… BUT, when a bottle of coke is 2.50 euro, and you have to leave a 1 euro deposit to ensure you return the bottle TO THE EXACT SAME TENT I think that's going a little overboard… we met so many people with pockets of tokens as they couldn't find the same stall, and had lost their bottle through the day. The other amazing thing about Oktoberfest is all the jailbait walking around. With legal drinking age at 16 for beer, there was more than one girl I am sure was under legal age of consent, stumbling around in her traditional costume looking for some trouble - which might lead to some jail time for some unlucky foreigner… Hahaha
After more wandering through the grounds, and checking out the rides, all the fighting couples and crying girls, and people being carried out to get them home, we headed back to the hostel to pack. Which is an interesting challenge when you have and ALREADY full bag and try to add a stein into it… eventually it all worked out, but I don't think I'm going to be buying anything else!!!
Oktoberfest was absolutely brilliant, and I had a great time with our new Kiwi friends! After a misty start this morning, we're now on the train to Prague where we have no idea of how to get to our hostel. I think Nick thought I was joking when I told him it was his responsibility to get us to all the hostels fromnow on… We've heard some great things about Prague, and some real horror stories about rogue gypsies too, so it's going to be interesting to say the least! The end of the travel is slowly coming to an end, and I don't think I like it!!! After Prague it's just Berlin and Amsterdam before we're back in London, so it's not long now at all til we're back home.
Looking forward to seeing you all soon! Much love!