Help me by sharing this blog with your friends and by generating some income for me by clicking through on my sponsor's Google ads. Thank you!

Search This Blog

Monday, March 1, 2010

Traveling - Oktoberfest Munich Germany

Oktoberfest in Germany is an event that I thought I would never get an opportunity to attend.  While Oregon has several “Oktoberfest” celebrations with the best known being in Mount Angel with it’s large beer gardens, they cannot begin to compare with the celebration in Munich.

In 2007, I had to fly to Europe for a business trip and I used the opportunity to travel with my wife.  We planned the trip so that the first two weeks would be our vacation starting in Germany and the last two weeks would be the business portion that concluded in England.

We flew Lufthansa directly from Portland to Frankfurt, and then flew on to Munch where we would spend the night and pick up our rental car.  We knew that it was the last weekend for Oktoberfest (a two-week long celebration) in Munich because it was very difficult to find any accommodations within 20 miles of Munich.  I searched the internet and found a Bed and Breakfast about five miles from the airport (about 15 miles outside of downtown Munich) and we had arranged to pickup our car at the airport – very nice!

When we fly to Europe and arrive at our destination, we like to stay up and not go to bed until it is bedtime at that location.  This really helps us quickly adjust to the local time.  It was about 1pm when we arrived at our hotel and checked in.  As we were going to stay up anyway, we decided to spend our time traveling into Munich and checkout Oktoberfest.

The train ride was a lot of fun as many of the residents attending Oktoberfest were wearing their traditional clothes of long dresses for the women and lederhosen for the men.  The train station is in the center of Munich and just a five-minute walk had us at the Oktoberfest site.  Though most of the year, the site is just a very large paved oval.  In early September, the various beer companies start assembling their beer gardens, which are incredible multi-story buildings.  The buildings, constructed just for the festival, are taken down once the celebration is over.

We were amazed by the number of people in attendance.  We walked through the crowd taking in all the different sights; foods, displays and people.  At times, we could only move with the flow of the throng of people around us.  Where they went, we went, and then in an instant, the crowd would thin and we would have a ten-foot open area around us.

We had not eaten for hours, so our first order of business was to secure some food.  Our first stop was for some traditional German fast food: sausage.  We found a stand serving sausage on a bun and we each consumed one with lots of the local mustard.  The sausages contained just the right amount of spices and were an excellent starter for two hungry travelers!

We walked a little further and saw some of the fish-on-a-stick which is salted fish skewed on a stick and roasted (head and all).  We passed on the fish, but headed for some pastry.  The pastry we tried was ok, but not the soft-sweet confection we expected.  It was very dry and seems a little old, we could have passed on pastry.

Now that we had some food (some good, some not), it was time to find some beer!  We checked all the large beer gardens but they were all full and closed to new attendees.  We knew it might be a problem to get in as once the beer gardens fill up, the attendants close the doors and will not allow anyone else in. 

While looking for beer, we wandered the loop of the festival grounds looking at the restaurants and different kiosks selling souvenirs.  We purchased one of the gingerbread hearts that have a message iced on the front.  These are a traditional gift from a man to a woman and the woman wears it around her neck on a ribbon (sealed in plastic so the frosting does not get all over).  You can purchase them with all kinds of messages from serious to funny.  The one we purchased said “Greetings from Oktoberfest”.  While they are edible, they are designed for use as decorations.

We are still looking for beer!  A complete circuit of the grounds brought us near the location where we entered.  It was here that I saw the beer carousel.  The beer carousel is just that, a revolving circular platform were you work your way through the other beer seekers to the center of the carousel to get your beer.  I climbed on with my Euros in hand and after three revolutions, worked my way to the bar where I could order my beer and get the glass refund marker (if you return the glass and the marker you get your glass deposit refunded).  Making my way back to my wife, we shared the beer and kept the glass (I occasionally use it at home).  I would have preferred a darker beer, but the Franziskaner Weissbier (wheat beer) was still refreshing to drink.

We were amazed at how orderly and courteous the people were in the crowds.  I would recommend only wearing shoes with sides when attending Oktoberfest as at times we could tell we were walking on the remains of smashed beer steins thrown from the beer hall windows.  Even through we had jet lag and were very tired it was still a fun experience,.

For us, this was something we only need to experience one time, but we are glad we had the chance to go.  Now if we would have been able to get into the beer halls early in the day…

No comments:

Post a Comment