Oktoberfest and Munich

Trip Start Aug 27, 2007
Trip End Sep 17, 2011

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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hey Guys,

This afternoon I arrived back from my latest adventure to Munich for Oktoberfest. Man was it crazy! It was busy with people everywhere and so many sights and sounds going on around. I had an awesome time and now that i am back home all i can think about is that I want to go back....5 days just wasnt enough.

I went to Munich as part of a tour group but was still extremely nervous as I wasnt going with anyone  I knew. Unfortunately most of the people I know went for opening weekend which I just couldnt get the time off work for. Turns out I neednt have worried as I met a bunch of really nice people.

We took a coach from London to Munich which was supposed to be an 18 hour journey. It stretched to a full 22 hours as our toilet broke about 2 hours into the trip. Needless to say this was bit of nightmare with about 60 people drinking booze on the coach. In desperation the guys had to pee into bottles which promptly got thrown outside the bus window.

It was definately an amusing sight to see bottle after bottle flying out into the French and Belgium Country side. Eventually the whole toilet door had to be removed and reattached as some bright spark managed to lock it from the outside.

After many RTD's and lots of random acts of entertainment (such as one guy ripping his underwear right out from underneath him and then proceeding to try eat it) we made it to our campsite at Thalkirchen in Munich. On arriving it was just like a giant sea of tents unlike anything Ive seen before.

There was time for a quick change into my Drindl and then it was off to the Oktoberfest grounds. On arriving I was just blown away. The grounds were about three times bigger than I was expecting. There was a roller coaster and Ferris wheel. The beer tents I had heard about werent tents/marquees at all, they were large permanent structures that housed thousands of people.

James, my bus buddy and I headed to the Lowenbrau tent for our first taste of Oktoberfest. It was absolutely packed but oddly felt so familiar. Maybe it was the live music or smell of Wurst in the air but somehow it just reminded me of all the German/Swiss events I had been to through my Dad. I could so picture him up there on the stage with his band.  I could even sing along with some of the songs which I thought was pretty kewl.

Unfortunately we couldnt get a seat as it was so full so it was off to the Hofbrau we went to try again. We had to queue for two hours to get it but once we did man was it worth it. I spent the rest of the night in this tent. I had my first Stein which scarily enough went down quite easily....all litres worth. I wasnt a beer drinker before but after this past week I can no longer claim that.

We ended up sharing a table with a bunch of about 6 Dutch guys and one from Perth chucked in for good measure. Unfortunately for me being the only female in the bunch it meant I suddenly found myself trying to keep up drink wise with the boys. Also meant I got picked up...literally.... an awful lot. One drink was followed by another until suddenly Id had three Steins on my own, by the end of the night Id shared another three with James.

James got a bit plastered and the last I saw of him that night he was wearing a womens Drindl top hed found somewhere along the line. Apparently the next day he couldnt remember the next few hours after that and luckily found a nice taxi driver who drove him round every camp ground in Munich until he recognised the one we were staying at. I just hope he tipped her well.

As for me? I ended staying in the Hofbrau tent with the Dutch boys drinking, dancing and singing "Ein Prost" every 5 minutes.  Absolutely awesome night. I had a ball. I eventually left the hall and went for a walk to take a few photos of the grounds by night and then caught the shuttle bus back to the campground....best night out I have had in forever and I was still tucked up fast asleep in my tent by 10.30 at night. Not bad at all.

The next morning I woke up after having frozen my ass off all night, and some of our tour group headed out for a tour of the Dachau  concentration camp. Well thats the people that didnt go straight back to the beerhalls and the ones who hadnt just got out of jail. Yup you read right, one guy got into a bit of a fight with some guy who tried to knick his wallet and found himself in jail for the night trying to scrape together 400 euros for bail. In the morning he had one hell of a black eye, a bust lip and what looked like cuts going around his neck.

After the festivities of the Beerfest the day before, Dachau was a very sobering experience. It was so sad to see the conditions that so many thousands had been forced to live in. I remember at one point being in a bunker looking down  a hall seeing hundreds of small doors leading off to tiny rooms. So concrete and sparse, I was thinking how awful it would have been to live in them when I realised that what I was looking at were the officers rooms and that the barracks the prisoners were in were just masses of hard wood beds stacked 5 high. With about 10 people crammed into the space the size of those first tiny rooms I saw.

I saw the gas chamber, and the crematorium and it was terrible. They showed photos of the medical experiments that were carried out on the prisoners. Horrible horrible image that I dont think I will ever forget.

After our visit to Dachau we went to Andechs which is a monastry where they brew their own beer. Its set high on a hill which has awesome views looking over the local village. We sat trying the local brew and having a meal which for me a was a peice of Fleischkase with Potato Salad and the biggest Pork Knuckle I have seen in life. It took three of us to devour these two meals.

After a tour of the monastery itself it was back into the beer halls for what is supposedly the busiest day of Oktoberfest. It was absolutely packed and im possible to get into the beer gardens let alone into the halls. James managed to sneak Libby (my tent mate) himself and me through a side entrance to get us into a beer garden where we spent the rest of the night. We just sat having a few drinks getting to know the people we shared our table. People came and went but in our short time at the table we managed to meet investment bankers from New York, a bunch of Swiss Girls and some Canadians.

Libby and I lost James some where along the line so we decided to go try a few of the rides. We took the Ferris wheel with some guys from Zurich and got some of the most incredible view of the grounds with all the night lights.

The following morning our whole tour group bar me went back to the halls to have one last drinking session before heading back on the bus to London that night. Me? I decided to be a tourist that day so I set off with my guidebook and spent the day going from one site to another.

I visited the famous Marienplatz to see the Glockenspiel play, I saw heaps of old churches and the Rathaus and some pretty amazing buildings. I toured the Englischer Gardens and the Residenz before heading out to the site of the 1972 Olympic games.

I went up the Olympic tower to try get some views of the city however it was bit foggy so the views werent exactly the best. However in saying that it let me have an incredible view of the BMW factory which honestly was the size of a large village. No wonder that and the Man factory are the cities biggest employers.

I spent the rest of the day just wandering around the park before I headed back to the campsite to catch my bus. I was quite proud that I had managed to navigate the city on my own with my dodgy German. I managed to order food in a cafe, ask for directions and take both a bus and the Ubahn by reading signs.  My German may be crap but it was enough to get me where I needed to go.

On finishing my sightseeing tour and being one of the few people to catch the bus from the campsite we picked the others up from the beer halls before departing. All I can is it was one heck of a long bus ride back to London. I felt awfully sober next to everyone else who were giggling and singing and might I add still chundering from the days efforts. It sucked not feeling as merry as everyone else seemed to be but Im still pleased I went sightseeing as at least I can now say I have seen Munich and can cross it off my list.

Two books later we had arrived in London  The trip although 5 days had so much travel time that I feel like I didnt have enough time to experience the Oktoberfest. But what time I did have there was awesome and if the opportunity came up to go back I definitely would. I was right in my element good food, good company, good music. What more could I ask for?

So until my next trip...(Berlin in November) take care, Miss you all!
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