Oktoberfest. The world's largest fair. Nearly 200 years old. 6 million people a year, over 100 thousand a day. And I was there for opening day. Sounds like a blast right? Or then again maybe it sounds like absolute hell to some of you out there. What is the experience of Oktoberfest? Well read on to find out at least one, and check out the Photos.
We rented cars to make our way up there. It was quite an interesting journey. I got to drive an Audi. Yeah I know. It's tight. Driving in Europe was quite an adventure though I'll tell you. The following occurred at least once while I was leading our little 2 car procession: drove down street car tracks, got lost on curvy alps' roads, clipped a road sign (10 points!), parked illegally, ran over a stroller. Ok I admit it, the last one didn't actually happen, thank goodness! But I did go an unmentionable speed on the Autobaun. It's unmentionable because certain familial members will most likely read this. To give you a hint, and you can figure this out if you want to--if not plead ignorance (mom)--there are 3 numbers in this paragraph, just put them together in some order. And we stayed in tents in some horse training facility with several hundred other sojourners. That was interesting. Obviously you could hear everything in the other tents: snoring, laughing, singing, sex. You know, your common sleeping arrangements. I've also never slept in the same tent as girls before. Not a big deal, though it just makes me even more glad that I'm a guy!
We woke up at 7a.m. to head out to Oktoberfest to try and get in line early enough to get into one of the good tents and get a table. It wasn't early enough. However we were able to get a table outside at which we sat for 7 hours. If we got up our seats were gone, and when in fact we did because we thought we could get into one of the tents, our table was gone. That was the lull during which we wandered and some of the less than sober people rested a little. The more sober people went to ride a few rollercoasters while we left the others on a lawn to sleep. Now, whoever came up with the brilliant idea of putting together a lot of drinking and rollercoasters--I'd just like to shake his hand. I saw way too many people throw up. Then later that night we got inside one of the tents and it was a pretty rocking party. The band was going nuts, playing German folk songs which everyone sang along to, as well as random American songs, which everyone tried to sing along to. After a while there we made our way back to the tents.
Our table was pretty interesting though. Sitting across from us were a couple of German ladies, dressed in the traditional Bavarian Lederhosen (pretty attractive if you ask me). Well one of them, Suzy, was a professional German figure skater. She represented German in the world championships and met the likes of Michele Kwan and Sasha Cohen. Crazy! Just for records sake, I did try to get her to participate in the game, but stupid old australians kept doting over her. Oh well. She's the one on the left:
It may not sound like the most wild of days, and perhaps it wasn't. I did leave out a lot of the details, and I think comparably our day was a lot more tame than others had--even others in our group that went up there. They spent some time with a bunch of Australians and got split up all over the city. One girl came to (she blacked out) and she was in a taxi with a bunch of people she didn't know. This is Oktoberfest.
The tents at Oktoberfest have a wooden facade in the front that looks all nice, and then the rest of it is just a tent--though ornately decorated and packed from wall to wall. It all looks nice from up front, and perhaps if you're not sober you rarely get the opportunity to see beyond this facade. And this is just a bit. I can't imagine being the paramedics there. I wonder how many people die from over drinking there. My small experience of all that went on saw two fights and at least 5 people people taken off on stretchers from passing out. And I'm just 2 eyes out of 200,000 in one day. The big beers and the food and the facade are appealing. It's pretty cool on the outset if you look at it. At least if you don't look past and see the consequences of having a place like this.
But don't get me wrong, it was a fun weekend for me. We went to an art gallery the next day and the drive was definitely cool. I got to have some good conversations with people on them. My experience personally at Oktoberfest was pretty good actually. I stayed sober and enjoyed the food and appreciated the beer. It was fun and I'm glad I went. It is just hard to be around all that and to see it for what it is, when I think so many fail to identify it as such. 6 million people, living in this like it's the greatest thing ever. If alcohol was ever to be thought not a god, just look at the beer mugs there. It's In case you hadn't already figured out, my blog is called "myneutrality" because it's ironic.
To not end on a depressing note though, I do have to say the food is some of the best I've ever had. The brauts were quite good, and the half chickens were the most incredible chicken I've ever had. German Roasted Almonds filled the air with an amazing scent, and they tasted just as good. The giant pretzels too. And of course the gelato is always available. I think it was worth it for the food alone.
Ah yes, and one more thing. We went to a museum the next day that was pretty great. There was one Rembrandt that hit me super hard though. Just look at the pictures, and marvel at the character in the face of Abraham--surprise, relief, etc. It gives such life to the story: