I don’t consider myself a big beer drinker. Then I spent three months in Southeast Asia and everything changed. It’s hard to pass up pints of beers that cost half of a dollar. From then on my palette grew. I actually preferred an ice cold brew over mostly anything else, however I still didn’t consider myself a regular beer drinker (compared to everyone else I know). Knowing well in advance that I would be attending Oktoberfest this year gave me plenty of time to step up my drinking game. Germans are known around the world for their beer and they’re also known to be able to handle an insane amount of it. I couldn’t go there in the current state of condition I was in, so I had to train myself. Whenever I went out, instead of my usual white russians or captain & cokes, I would order a beer and beer only. Progressively and slowly I would work my way up (responsibly of course). I wasn’t sure what types of beer they had in Munich so I tried a wide variety: ales, wheats, stouts, lagers, blondes, darks, lights, low alcohol content, high alcohol content, you name it. It wasn’t until the beer crawl in San Diego and then Europe when I really started to go beer crazy. It’s not a myth; it’s true what they say about Europeans and booze–they really can drink up a storm! Americans can too but I think the biggest difference here is that generally the Euros can handle it better. This also explains why I have been slacking on keeping up with my blog posts. There were many nights and morning-afters where I just…couldn’t. I’m just doing what the Europeans do! And that was the perfect training I needed leading up to the ultimate goal I had for Germany and that is Oktoberfest!
After a brief meeting with fellow Full Moon party buddy Daniel, I took a seven-hour bus journey from Berlin to Munich. It was nightfall by the time I arrived so I couldn’t really see much of the city. Though I did see Kevin waiting for me at the bus station. Do you remember Kevin? I met him, along with Björn, in Thailand.
He comprises a quarter of the Pai Guys! Björn, Viola, and myself make up the rest of the group. It’s always a great feeling meeting up with travelers I met previously. Usually when foreign travelers meet for the first time, it ends up being the last time. I’ve been breaking that rule all over Europe!
Kevin guided me to his flat which is about a five minutes walk from the center of Oktoberfest. He had the prime location! There he made us homemade schnitzel and we reminisced about our previous travels through Thailand and Cambodia. I also met his roommate Guiren, who was also keen about the festivities going on. I would only be staying with Kevin for the night. Tomorrow morning, Kevin, his girlfriend Nicole, Guiren, and I would take a quick train to my friend who lives just a few stations away. And that friend is a person I met in South Africa by the name of Miriam.
I met Miriam last September in South Africa. I didn’t volunteer with her nor did she live with me in Kayamandi. I met her through Hanneke and Mieke. They all worked together. Miriam was the only one of all of us who had a car there and she was kind enough to drive us everywhere! Today all of us, including Miriam, would be attending Oktoberfest! But first, Miriam invited us to her place for a traditional Bavarian breakfast.
For Oktoberfest, it’s proper to wear a Lederhosen (a Dirndl for the ladies). It’s typical Bavarian clothing they usually wore back in the day and it costs loads to get one! Thankfully, Miriam had one prepared for me. It was her dads and since he wasn’t going to be wearing it this year, she thought it would be perfect for me. It was a tad tight, but it did the trick! We were on our way!
Here’s my prior knowledge of Octoberfest: I know there are tents where you sit and drink beer, there are some carnival rides, and lots of tourists. Upon entering the epicenter of Oktoberfest, I found that it resembled a very large carnival bursting with all sorts of fun. There were loads of rides, skill games, food stalls, and people everywhere dressed in typical Bavarian wardrobe. The beer tents were not actual tents, but instead buildings about the size of a gymnasium, each with a unique name, featuring a unique beer, usually harboring a specific demographic of beer drinking enthusiasts. The place was packed! It was the weekend after all, meaning it would be busier than the rest of the week.
We made way to one of the beer tents called Schottenhammel. We met a few of Miriams friends who already held a table and joined them in the midst of everything. There was no sitting. We stood the entire time on top of the benches. I ordered my first liter of Bavarian beer and within minutes I was able to join the rest of the table. Prost! It means “cheers” in German.
Every couple of minutes, the live band in the middle of the tent would play a song that the crowd would sing to. A lot of the songs were in German, so even though I didn’t know the words to anything, I found that saying “Blah Blah Blah” in a melodic fashion did the trick. One song they played the most often was called “Ein Prosit” a popular prost, toast, and drink kind of song.
Within hours we were all tuned into liters of beer. I was able to keep up with my German comrades mostly because if I didn’t drink fast enough, my beer would get warm and nobody likes room temperature beer. Kevin told me I should slow down and take my time. I knew he was right but I was in such an energetic atmosphere and whenever someone went “Prost!”, you kinda had to drink!
By the time I finished my fourth liter, I decided to stop. It was still relatively early and I had two more days of Oktoberfest to go! Plus these liters weren’t cheap. Ten Euros a piece! Do I look like I’m made out of money? We stayed at the tent until closing time at 11pm but it didn’t feel that long. Throughout the night I would leave the tent to go find some bratwurst from the food stalls. The price of the food in Oktoberfest is nuts and even more so inside the actual tent! But whenever I came back, I always managed to squeeze myself back into the table of drunk Germans and foreign tourists alike. By the end of the night, everyone was all over the place. There were mugs shattered everywhere and masses of beer being sloshed and splashed amongst everyone!
Miriam and I decided we’d go again the next day but in a new tent!
Day Two: Prost Dos!
I woke up the next day thinking, I do not want to go back today! Thankfully, Miriam agreed and we decided to give ourselves a day to recover. I woke up feeling like all of the moisture in my mouth evaporated while I was asleep and my head was buzzing. We went the next day though, a little bit earlier and to a tent called Bräurosl. Here we met up with our friend Max who we also met in South Africa.
This tent was a little different from the previous one. The tables were a little smaller and there were guys standing on the tables whipping their whips along to the music the band played. It was actually pretty neat.
Other than that, it was more of the same and that’s a good thing! By this time, I had the Ein Prosit song down! Everyone liked this tent better but I preferred the Schottenhammel tent, but thats just being nitpicky. We didn’t stay too long this time because we had plans to explore the city some more later on. But we would come back to Oktoberfest once more where I wanted to go out with a bang!