Thursday, October 2, 2014

Oktoberfest - Best festival in Europe

When we planned our 2011 Eurotrip, we knew we had to head over to Munich to see what the infamous Oktoberfest was all about. Oktoberfest actually takes place mostly in September, with the opening ceremonies typically occurring the third weekend in September and the closing ceremonies the first weekend of October, for 3 weeks total of beer and partying. If you are thinking of staying in Munich's city center for your visit, beware, as hotel prices skyrocket and many hotels even sell out months in advance. We tried to lessen the blow to our wallet by only staying 2 nights and booking our hotel stay for midweek, which still set us back almost $200 a night. Rest assured, you do not have to book a weekend stay in order to fully experience the festival. The 2 weekdays we were there were still packed to the max, and no one seemed to be holding back on their beer consumption!

Oktoberfest Munich

We arrived on an overnight train from Paris in the morning and proceeded to walk to our hotel, Hotel Europaisher Hof, which was conveniently directly across the street from the train station. I highly recommend this hotel as in addition to being so close to the train station, it was also in an ideal location for both the old town and the festival grounds, each being a 10 minute walk away. We tried to check in but since we were so early and checkin wasn't until 2, we had no luck. So, we left our bags with reception and got right down to our beer drinking.

Munich city center
Munich City Center
 Almost everyone at the festival is dressed in lederhosen, and you can purchase your own at pretty much every clothing store in town. Since we didn't even have a room to change clothes in, we opted to forego the outfits this time around. The festival has different tents where the beer is served and you can walk into any tent you want free of charge. Groups of 10 or more are allowed to reserve seats, but since it was only Brian and I, we just located the first available table and sat down. We then promptly ordered our beer steins, which were huge and probably contained the equivalent of 3 bottles of beer in them. From what we saw, the beer served in the tents is mostly all light beer, and that works out since the steins are so big!

Oktoberfest Lederhosen
All storefronts had the latest Lederhosen fashions on display

Oktoberfest beer tent
Oktoberfest beer tent
Oktoberfest beer stein
Oktoberfest beer stein - the picture doesn't do justice to how large it was!
After we had a stein, we walked around the festival for a while, which had a carnival vibe, with food tents, rides, and other carnival-like attractions. Mid afternoon, we walked back to the hotel to check in, napped, showered, and returned to get the evening Oktoberfest experience. By this time, the festival was crowded as the locals starting piling in after work. All the tables were now full, and we had to ask permission at a table to squeeze onto the bench. Since we weren't in lederhosen like everyone else, we were immediately identified as foreigners, which led to the kind locals buying our beer steins for us and making conversation in order to practice their English.

Oktoberfest heart cookies
Oktoberfest souvenirs -  heart shaped cookies
oktoberfest swing
The infamous Oktoberfest swing
Oktoberfest kegs
The Oktoberfest keg on wheels pulled by horses
Oktoberfest chicken
Oktoberfest chicken
Oktoberfest food
Festival food - tasty!

Oktoberfest pretzel
The beer steins weren't the only oversized menu item at the festival!
We stayed until closing, which interestingly enough was only around 10:30 PM. I guess this is done purposely as it opens early in the morning and there were many many people that had trouble even standing up to leave. On the walk back, we saw the full effects of 12 hours of drinking as there were people getting sick, stopping to urinate, and laid out on the ground all along the sidewalks. There were a few ambulances, and a lot of cop cars, but luckily everyone was a friendly drunk and we were not bothered.

Oktoberfest Munich
Enjoying Oktoberfest! Cheers!
We woke the next morning hungover, and decided to skip our planned visit to Neuwanstein castle in order to sleep in and visit the festival some more. Day 2 was more of the same, drinking, Oktoberfest chicken, and chatting with locals. In total, we have seen more drunk people in one place in those 2 days then we have ever seen in our lives combined. That being said, we had a great time, and there were people of all ages at the event and everyone we encountered was very friendly. If this festival isn't on your bucket list already, it should be!

Have you already attended Oktoberfest? What did you think?

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