Day 327 - Oktoberfest!

Trip Start Nov 07, 2010
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186
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Trip End Jan 01, 2012


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Where I stayed
Barbelies House

Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's 5 am, I’m missing a shoe, there’s a pilfered beer stein in my jacket pocket and I have no idea how I got here - hanging from the balcony trying to climb my way back into our friend’s flat. The liters of beer sloshing around in my stomach are mixing with the currywurst and fries, making some kind of super human fuel that has propelled me up and over the railing.  I stand in astonishment at my own feat before reluctantly trying the door.  Thank god, she left it open.  I quietly stumble in, feeling my way around the pitch black room, trying to find the bed when I hear a shuffle and a murmur come from the corner.  "Holy shit!  You’re alive!"  Sean’s exasperated voice echoes off the walls and greets me with surprise.  I strike a victory pose - legs spread, arms raised in triumph with the Oktoberfest stein held high above my head like a precious trophy.  “Dude!  You have no idea where I’ve been.”  Sean and Barbelies, a friend of ours that’s sharing her flat with us for the week, were both speechless with anticipation.  “After I lost you, I’m pretty sure I talked to a Polish spy, rode a bus around Munich for an hour, made about a million German friends and met Vladmir Putin.”  Silence was followed by half drunken exclamations and signs of relief that I made it home in one piece.  “I told everyone you were dead.”  Typical response from my best friend.  Still fueled from my late night excursions and adventures across Munich I launched into a flurry of expletives and descriptions about my night.  “The last thing I remembered was telling you I had to use the bathroom.  We had snuck into the Hacker-Festzelt tent around 7pm, and the whole place was an absolute madhouse.  I was gone for five minutes, and when I got back, you and the rest of the group were nowhere to be found!”  He denied it with a passion, but at that point Oktoberfest was in full swing and anything goes.  “After roaming around the tent for ages, I gave up and just wandered out into the mayhem outside to see where the night would take me.”  It was a dizzying mix of carnival lights, bratwurst stands, beer stained lederhosen and an endless sea of drunken tourists and busty Bavarians.  The next few hours were a blur of new friends, cries of “Prost!”, clinking of mass mugs and the steady oompa of brass folk bands that lingered in the stagnant air.  This is Oktoberfest.  The largest beer fest in the entire world, and the Mecca for connoisseurs of the sweet amber ale the world over.  Seven million liters of beer were consumed in the short span of just a few weeks, and I was there to do my part.  No words can describe the feeling of being caught up in the middle of this booze soaked wonderland.  It literally was like Disneyland for adults with carnival rides, schnitzel stands, candied nuts, souvenir shacks and of course the massive “tents” that each famous Bavarian beer hall erects to throw an endless celebration in the name of tradition and indulgent inhibitions.  They call them “tents,” but in actuality, they’re more like enormous warehouse sized structures made of wood, glass, canvas tarps and carved awnings.  At the center of every tent is the bandstand, playing anything from traditional folk music to classic 80’s American rock.  German’s love the kitsch, and it was on full display here at the festival.  It was everything I expected and more.  The beers are served in “mass” glasses that hold a liter of brew, and they were specially crafted for the occasion to be extra potent.  After three of four of these beasts, I decided it was best to ramble off and explore more of what this town had to offer.  Walking through the streets of Munich after hours, beer stein still clasped in my hand, brazenly making friends with everyone and anyone I came across, the entire town had the feel of an endless party that raged for three weeks until no one was left standing.  I laughed, loved, partied and pandered my way through the night, meeting Brits, Bavarians, Belgians and Brazilians.  It seemed people came from all over the world just to take part in this ode to the ale.  Adventures were had, friends were made and by some miracle I found my way home hours later, scaling that same wall to reach the balcony and sneak in without waking up the flat mates.  All in all, it was a helluva start to what would turn out to be three days of epic shenanigans and unforgettable stories.  Next time though, I’ll make sure to bring a key.
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