Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
135Trip End Ongoing
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We left London in torrents of rain and hoped Munich wouldn't be the same. We'd been checking the BBC and other weather sites every day and there was promise of sun. By the time the train reached central Munich it was overflowing with dirndl and lederhosen clad Bavarians heading for Theresienweise festival grounds.
The weather had stuck to the predictions and it was warm and sunny. Our hotel is steps from the grounds so we were swept along in the rivers of people heading in for festive fun. There were so many people!!!!! We knew we'd have problems getting a seat. It's the last weekend and the weather is good.
True to form, the grounds were packed solid, the doors of all the tents were closed and the beer gardens full. There were crap loads of hammered Italians everywhere almost outnumbering the locals!! I wouldn't say that Italians are normally known for being drunk and disorderly but they do have a somewhat soiled reputation at the Oktoberfest. It's not too far for them to drive over for a night; they get massively pissed up and tend to be a problem for the ladies. I jest you not. It's not pleasant to be surrounded by a group of very drunk Italian guys at the Oktoberfest!! Bit like being at The Golden Temple of Amritsar during Diwali!
Anyway, we knew we wouldn't be having a beer anywhere there until later so we headed for our fallback beer garden which just happens to serve our fav drop and is just over the railway bridge. I've never seen it so busy but we managed to find a space in the sun.
Mmmmmm that first sip! Nice and cold and wet and beery. We spent the rest of the afternoon there with a few steins, some halbs and stuffing our faces with schweinwurst and hendl followed by more schwein. Absolutely bloody marvelous!! Oder super!
The sun had gone down and we thought we'd see if the PP crew had arrived at the Lowenbrau tent so headed back into Theresienwiese to find them. It was fantastic timing because Bomber, the owner of PP Travel and our mate, arrived as well. He's a great person to know, not only because he always gets us a good hotel room, but because he knows some of the guards and can get us into an otherwise very closed beer hall. We all went round the tradesman's' entrance where he pulled the right strings and there you go, in like Flynn!!! I was chatting with someone, waiting for my beer to come over when David disappeared from view! A gaze downwards and he reappeared. He must have slipped, but then some guy standing on a table fell right on top of his back!!! My first thought was, oh my god! He's broken his back! But thankfully the beer jacket he was wearing must have cushioned his fall because he stood up and was happy as Larry - only problem was he'd lost most of the contents of his stein! The falling guy promised to buy him another though, which we held him to. The rest of the night went pretty much like this; stein, prost, singing, prost, dancing on the chairs, prost, prost and prost. You get the picture.
I'd promised Paul (a friend of David's) that I would try to get him a stein so when we were finally kicked out I casually continued with it in my hand. It's been done before and I was almost in the street when I was rugby tackled from behind by security!!! And the stein was whisked away! Now there's a first!!! Sorry Paul!! We wandered past the schnapps stall and in all our alcohol induced wisdom, decided it would be the most fantastic idea to have some schnapps!! Four shots of Erdbeere later and we were staggering off in search of the almighty kartofellen mit knoblauch sauce baked potato with creamy garlic sauce, mmmmmmmm). Whilst Davo had his face buried in it, I was handed a mug of disgusting weiss wine by a group of lederhosen-mullet-sporting locals with whom I continued to chat. They insisted I go on a ride with one of their mates, so off we headed arm in arm, me in my jeans and him in his fabulous little leather shorts! Fortunately for me all the rides had closed and even though I put on a great show using the ever famous - but I've come all the way from Australia (not) just for the Oktoberfest! - to try and get on, but secretly I was pretty damned pleased. The inner depths of my mind where the alcohol hadn't quite penetrated was sending out SOS signals. It flashed me a not so pretty picture of myself strapped into a seat spewing my guts up all over fellow revelers. Yep. Thank god they had closed!! Somehow I found David again only gently reeking of knoblauch (garlic) and we decided that, yes, we should consume more! We were on a mission. We tried to get into another hall, David went one way and I went the other. Don't ask. I don't know why. Anyway, I ended up chatting to a table full of Bavarians all drinking weiss wine so the only guy that could speak English decided I should buy some more for them. Again, luck was on my side and they'd stopped serving. I remember saying to the waiter and the other guy, 'Ha ha ha, that's so funny. You're both German and you're both speaking English to each other! Ha, ha, ha!' Yeah, well, at the time it was funny. You had to be there. Anyway, they gave me an Oktoberfest Lowenbrau pin and I waved them Auf Weidersehen. I found David having a quiety in the hotel bar. We made the executive decision at that point, that it would be a good idea to go to bed.
Pretty heavy going for our first night!
Breakfast was a really, really hard call. They only serve until 10am so you have to get your ass down there quick smart if you want some nosh. I did make it down at about 9.30am and decided I could only force some cereal and juice down my throat. Although I did take some bread and cheese up for later. We were both feeling the effects of our unsmart decisions so had to go back to bed for a few hours......................
We finally got our act together, showered, put a bit of slap on and headed out in to that jungle of beers. Alot of the Italians had gone and the atmosphere seemed a little less frantic with even more people opting for traditional dress than yesterday. We got a seat in the Augustiner Fischer Vroni beer garden. Our favourite beerhall. Smaller than the others with less tourists and they serve amazing fish. So we ordered our first stein of the day and settled down with a Seelachruchenfilet. A couple of mum's took seats next to us and we discovered that they come every year at least once as they live outside Munich closer to Andechs monastery/brewery. They moved on after their lunch and more people replaced them fish and steins. We chatted with them for a while too. So for all you out there who doubt the authenticity of the Oktoberfest event you're all wrong. It is heavily attended by locals and Germans/Bavarians from further afield. There are tourists but locals are aplenty! We spoke to loads of people that try to fit in a stein or two every year whether they live in town or further out or even closer to the Austrian border! One of the attractions, we learnt, is the fresh beer. It's much more fresh than the stuff they get in their local bars. It's brewed especially for the Oktoberfest!! We ended up chatting to a fish-skin sucker and her hubby who were very old and wrinkly but come every year to eat some legendary Fischer Vroni fish and down a stein. We also established that the old guy had stolen over 10 steins from all the tents over the years and they holiday every year in Manheim and Heidelburg. The things you learn when you're not speaking English!! Everybody is so friendly and eager to know where you're from and want to make sure you're enjoying yourself. It's very warm and fuzzy. It gets even warmer and much more fuzzy after a few mass!!!
We thought we'd catch up with Bomber and the PP crew so headed over to the Lowenbrau tent to see if he'd come back from his annual Andechs bike race. The doors were shut tight so we went round the back where I spotted their frauline, Susanne. She said she'd get us in!! So of course we would return the favour by way of a tip and a mass or two. Just as we were going through, Bomber and his crew arrived and we all rolled in together to claim our seats and steins. The night rolled on much as before singing, dancing on the chairs, prosting, steining and we even got a visit upstairs in the VIP area! David even met a fellow Travelpodder!!! How amazing is that! The 8 beer halls hold over 100,000 people (all together) seated - so imagine how many are in there standing too!!! And he meets a TP'er! We eventually got kicked out yet again and slowly made our way back to the hotel via the kartoffellen man, wurst man and chicken man. Back at the hotel we watched some of Kill Bill 2 in Deutsch, but it just didn't sound right.
Morning two wasn't even half as bad as morning one and I managed to enjoy more items from the lovely buffet breakfast. There were even less tourists in the grounds and more locals so we wandered around watching them all enjoying the rides and munching out on chocolate coated fruits (a huge fav of the Oktoberfest), hax'n semmel, hendls, wursts and whatever else they eat there. It was time for a beer so we went inside the Fischer Vroni hall and ended up talking to two guys who worked for Siemens. They were great and also maintained that Augustiner was the best beer of the fest. They also told us some interesting information about lederhosen and dirndls. Apparently they're all quite individual and you can tell if women are single or married (or even virgins!). They said that you can tell where a man is from just by his lederhosen too! They had been allowed a day off work by both Siemen's and their wives! After a few steins and some fish, they moved on and we met a bunch of youngies from Stuttgart who were at the Oktoberfest for the first time. Then down the end of the table were some Bavarian English students who David ended up in deep conversation with - piss talk in other words! We stayed with them all night singing and dancing away, sharing steins and comparing notes on our different cultures. They even bought me a rose!! One of the guys had a strange shaved monk's patch on his head and I asked why. Apparently the police do it if you've been done for drink driving. How embarrassing! It was a brilliant final night. I thought about having some shots after the halls had closed but David sensibly pointed out that that probably wasn't such a good idea so I settled for some handle.
Sadly morning three meant the end of our time in Munich for another year. We spent the rest of our time wandering around the whole of Theresienwiese then wandered over to St Pauls church and climbed the tower for an overall view of the grounds. I can't believe in a few days it will all have disappeared, packed away for another year. The weather was fantastic and hot, a great farewell. Even though it was early, the beer halls and beer gardens were full. There were hardly any tourists left. It was the last day of the Oktoberfest and also a public holiday for Unification Day. All the families had come out to celebrate.
Our bodies indeed felt as if we'd used and abused them too much. We're definitely not as young as we used to be!! If we're still around Europe next year, we'll be doing it all again!