It was our last day in Germany and our last shot at a table at Oktoberfest. We woke up early, showered, packed, and headed off for the fest. I had planned to wear my dirndl again, but it was still so terribly cold and rainy that I thought better of it and went for warmth and comfort rather than cuteness. I didn’t want to spend the rest of the vacation sniffly and sneezy.
We arrived early, but not crack of dawn early. We went into the Schottenhamel tent at about 10am and noticed a marked difference in the amount of people at the fest. On Saturday we couldn’t walk anywhere without bumping into people, but now we could walk a clear path throughout the tent. Unfortunately, most of the tables were still pretty packed. We walked through, passing table after table with no room. We reached the back area of the tent and spotted one table that looked like it had room for two more. We walked up to the people sitting there, fully expecting them to turn us away (the people sitting have all the control in this situation and many would just prefer to have more elbow room than to invite strangers to sit down next to them). I think we were already preparing ourselves for disappointment before we event asked. Chad was already glancing around, scanning the area for the other options. I asked, “Do you think we could sit here, please? There’s just two of us.” To our amazement and utter happiness, they said, “Sure!” And scooted over to make room for us! HOORAY! We had finally scored a seat INSIDE the tent at Oktoberfest!
This called for celebration, so we promptly ordered a beer (the only beer option comes in a ridiculously large glass mug. It’s like drinking a two-liter of beer. Our table neighbors were from Nebraska and very friendly. It was a daughter (about my age) traveling with her father. Chad talked football with the father, and I swapped traveling stories with the daughter.
After awhile, we were getting hungry so we decided to share a chicken, as did the father and daughter. That definitely hit the spot, but I also wanted to sample their apfelstrudel. That stuff is delicious!!
After a few hours, the tent started to get more crowded. I assume the German folks either left work early or came by around lunchtime. A group of four German girls came by our table and asked if they could sit down. I looked over at the father and daughter and asked them if we could make room for four more. After our day of rejection on Saturday, I really didn’t want to make anyone else feel like that so I was hoping we could squeeze them in. The father and daughter said of course and we all squished over so they could sit down. The look of relief on their faces after being able to find a seat made us all feel so happy.
It was also fun to share the experience with Germans who taught us the words to the song Ein Prosit, the drinking song for Oktoberfest. We chatted, asked them questions, shared stories, and drank lots and lots of beer.
We were having such a fun time that we could have stayed there all day and night, but we had to catch our train to Rome that evening. We were going to be traveling on an overnight train that was leaving at about 7pm, so we planned to leave Oktoberfest no later than 5pm so we’d have time to grab a few Oktoberfest souvenirs on our way out. At this point, though, we’d probably had about 4 enormous beers and were both feeling pretty tipsy. Chad had had a bit more than I did and he was pretty thoroughly smashed.
We said our goodbyes to our wonderful new friends and made our way to the exit. Chad was having a very tough time. On Saturday, we had been surprised to see people look so drunk after Oktoberfest; they literally looked like they had been punched in the face repeatedly. It was odd, but that is the best description I can give for the Oktoberfest drunk faces. Well, Chad was beginning to look like this now. I dragged him along to the souvenir stands and he “helped” me pick out a few things, including a T-shirt for him. He was very insistent that we get him the one with the tiger symbol for Oktoberfest, but when I mentioned this to him the next day he had absolutely no recollection of ever picking out or buying a shirt at all!
We finally made our way to the train station and after some difficulty, boarded our train and found our couchette, which is basically a shared bedroom with 6 bunk beds. We plopped down on our bed and drifted off to sleep almost immediately. We had some difficulty throughout the evening because there is a door that closes between the bedroom and the train aisle which we were unable to open throughout the night. The other bunkmates had the same problem, which convinced us that we had been locked in all night. Luckily, we were able to open the door in the morning and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief and we took turns waiting for the bathroom. 🙂