Europe Trip, Day 8: Munich/Oktoberfest

We got up at the crack of dawn… or somewhere around 7am… filled with excitement and ready to PARTY at Oktoberfest! Chad was particularly excited since this would be his first taste of getting in touch with his German heritage. I took a quick shower in what I was pleased to find were perfectly adequate showers with hot water (not always found at campsites), donned my German dirndl outfit, and braided my hair to complete the look. Chad threw on his green and white checkered shirt and off we went!

We caught the tram to Oktoberfest and were shocked to see so many other people doing the same at this early hour. The tents don’t even open until 10am and we were all heading there just to land a good spot in line and hopefully a seat once the doors opened. After much research, Chad had a plan outlined for Oktoberfest. We needed to get a seat in order to get a beer. The coolest tent for opening day was supposedly Schottenhamel because that’s where they tap the first keg. We got to the festival area at about 8am and were probably the 20th person in line in front of the Schottenhamel tent. We felt pretty confident that we’d get in! Chad waited in line while I ran down to the nearest ATM to get some cash. As I was searching for the ATM, I discovered that there were several “lines” to get into the Schottenhamel, and I began to worry that we might have chosen the wrong one. Well, about an hour later, someone came along and informed us that we had chosen the wrong one and that everyone needed to go line up in a different line. Well, this was a real setback. Where we had previously been number 20 or so in line, we were now hundreds back in this other line. We were determined to play the game and wait it out, but I was feeling very claustrophobic as the hundreds of people kept squishing forward, cramming us all into the alleyway leading to the door, with no possibility for exit.

We hung in there, waited it out until after the doors opened, and then eventually heard the words we were dreading. The tent was full. We knew this would throw off the day because by now, all the other less desirable tents would also be full. We tried a couple other lines but couldn’t even get in the door, let alone get a seat (however, we did grab a delicious pretzel at a stand outside). The Hippodrome tent at least let people walk around in the tent and see how cool it was, but no seat = no beer, so we were still on a mission to find that illusive seat.

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In Chad’s research, he had found that we needed to basically beg for a seat at this point. So we went from table to table asking if there might be room for two people and were turned away again and again. It was beginning to feel like junior high in the cafeteria. “Is this seat taken?” “Yes. There’s no room at this table.”

We were getting frustrated, hungry and disappointed. Luckily, I remembered that there was supposed to be a parade for Oktoberfest around this time, so went outside and watched the floats, decorated for each tent at Oktoberfest, and the bands go by. It was fun and nice to have a break from the table rejection of the past few hours.

After the parade, we were both a little frustrated with trying to find a seat, so we just walked around the Oktoberfest area, looking at all the tents and making our way to the fair area and children’s rides. Aside from the huge beer tents, the rest of the area reminded us a lot of the county fair.

Eventually we decided that we had had enough of the beer tent drama, so we hopped the tram and headed back toward the campsite hoping to stop off at a beer garden along the way. We found one near the campsite and were one of only two occupied tables there. We shared some food and beer and rested our feet for awhile. Once we were full, we contemplated what we should do. It was only about 6pm and we weren’t ready to go back to the tent just yet. Chad said that maybe we could go back and give the tents one more try. Maybe they’ve cleared out since we were there. We decided to give it one more try and landed back at Oktoberfest again.

We tried a couple tents with no luck and Chad was ready to throw in the towel. I told him to give it a couple more tries and we headed back to Schottenhamel, where there seemed to be a shorter line. We were waiting behind a barricade out front when someone came up to Chad and rattled something off in German. He looked at them with a confused stare and said, “I speak English.” The leaned in and told him, “Why are you standing here? This is for tourists. Come here and I will show you how to get in.” They took us around to the side of the tent and pointed at a side entrance to the outdoor patio (even the outdoor patio was an improvement to standing in a line!) and we were in! We got in the other line to get from the patio to inside the tent. As we were waiting, some seats opened up at an outdoor table right by the line. Chad said, “Should I just grab these seats?” I said, “Why not?” And we sat down and ordered our first beer of Oktoberfest!

A few minutes after we were sat down, we were joined by a group of Germans about our age, who also spoke English. We chatted with them, and the more we drank, the friendlier everyone became. Within an hour or two, Chad and the German guy to his right, Marius, were practically best friends! A drunk guy from San Diego sat down next to us for a little while and bought us both a beer. A friend of his got in a heated argument about how great the Chargers were and then wandered off. Another friend of theirs came by and Marius said, “I bet that girl is German.” We said, “How can you tell?” He said, “I don’t know how you say in English, but… a stiff… uh” Then he confirmed with his friends in German, and his girlfriend exclaimed, “A stick up her butt!” We were rolling with laughter! We definitely weren’t expecting that to be his description of a typical German girl!

A little while after this, it began to drizzle. And then the drizzle became rain, and the rain became a downpour. Since we were sitting at an outdoor table, we were getting thoroughly drenched! Everyone huddled under the overhang near the tent or under umbrellas. We exchanged names and info with our newfound German friends and then we all made our way toward the train station since the waitresses weren’t serving beer in the rain.

What began as such a frustrating day ended with wonderful new friends and a fantastic Oktoberfest day in the rain!

(Until, that is, we returned to the campsite to find our tent flat as a pancake. The storm had broken the polls and ruined the poor little tent. It was an inch deep in mud and water. With the help of a couple other campers and a good deal of tape, we tried to put it back together, but it was no luck. I explained the problem to the campsite desk, and they were kind enough to let us borrow blankets and sleep in a room next to their office. It turned out to be for the best because the room was much warmer and drier than we would have been out in our tent!) What an adventure!


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