Since I was in Munich and it was Oktoberfest, we had to cut our meeting short. Instead of going all day, we cut it to 2pm or so and then headed out. We had a few warnings and I read a few funny things- but it was a great and pretty interesting experience. I went with my boss who speaks German - which was nice because I generally had no idea what 95% of what I read meant though beer and bier are pretty easy to figure out. The tents (about the size of a circus tent) open at 10am and close at 10pm. I though this seemed sort of short, until I had the beer and realized that people were not going to make it much past 10pm anyhow. People of all ages were there - from kids in their early teens to old folks. It was more like a fraternity party where everyone was invited and it didn't smell so bad.
You sort of feel like a tourist when you don't have your lederhosen or dirndl on but no one made any mention of it. I actually think that the whole thing is really designed for the men. The beer comes in massive glasses - a liter - and the women all wear outfits that lead little to the imagination when it comes to the size of their, well....um, chests. It may, for this reason alone be the single greatest holiday anywhere. Ever.
The greatest warning I got was around the strength of the beer. It was almost 2x as strong as the beer you'd get in the states and then of course, your mug is a whole liter. I found that you can also smash the living snot out of the mugs - hitting each other, banging the table or if you're not careful, whacking yourself good in the head. The basic protocol seemed to be if someone smiled or said anything - you'd do a 'cheers' and then have a sip. Before even getting to the tables, we made sure to eat a massive plate of apple pancakes followed by an even more massive place of sauerkraut and sausages. I don't really understand how with this incredible diet more Germans aren't the size of Americans - but they're not.
Here is a more common sight and then less common ones. Not only were most of the men in this outfit, a good majority were leaning on one another. The fellows in the far right photo are Brits, you could spot them a kilometer away - they were the ones pounded at 4pm and unable to walk and very white and not wearing Lederhosen. In 2nd photo, the guy in the middle is actually trying to walk straight but despite his good intentions, he mostly sucked at it. Of course, seeing that little lady in her slightly less traditional dirndl might have had something to do with it.
So here's basically my narrative of the next few hours. Pick a tent. They have beer in all of them, they all look the same you pick them based on the lack of lines. There are about 100,000 people per tent and I think around 12 or 14 tents. They're big and everyone smokes. Most of them are covered in blue and white streamers - I'm guessing my mom helped out. She's really good at streamers.
So among all of these people you find a seat. Since there were two of us, we needed 2 seats, no seat no beer.
The band above was playing, the problem is that they were playing 'Country Road' by John Denver. Except it had a tuba in it this time. And for the first time ever, people were dancing by the dozens to the song - probably a first. John Denver and beer have never been so good together since well, John Denver had a beer.
Here are two costumed ladies. I mostly took this because she was pretty ripped and you can see her boobs. Sorry Gretchen. Then of course you see Americans.
You can spot them anywhere. Actually, english speaking folks you can spot anywhere. Usually the older Americans you can spot because the men are Veterans (thanks fellas!) which you know because their wives are round and they're all wearing USS (INSERT SHIP'S NAME HERE) baseball hats. I also think since they're veterans that they're walking around thinking "Nazi Bastards" at everyone. The real Nazis were actually having a rally over in the town square. That part is true.
Then you get the menu and you try and figure out if you want Munchener Leberknodelsuppe mit Schnittlauch or not. Turns out my boss who I was with spoke German, so he helped me out. Good thing because the first thing we ordered was out - and I would have needed another 3 hours to figure out what I wanted not to mention another half hour trying to figure out if the waitress was telling me they were out of it or if I was an idiot. I ended up with 4 sausages and the best sauerkraut ever. And then comes the beer.
Not much to say but a liter is a lot. And basically anytime anyone does just about anything it is cheers worthy and you drink again. Then the radish and pickle vendors walk by. I can't imagine anything that pairs better with beer than those two. They're traditional I guess but some traditions should probably be discontinued. I'm also not sure where the pickle lady's fork had been - so really am I going to just order a pickle that gets handed down the table like a beer at a baseball game?
Then these ladies joined us for the next few hours I think. They admitted to my boss that they were there for some action. Then asked him if he was my dad. The action ended right about then. They talked with him in German and looked at me and laughed a lot. And 'cheers' a lot. Then asked my name. So I showed my license rather than try and say it. It turns out they spoke english fine but decided to torture me. My middle name is Stewart and they called me Little Stewart because of the children's book until I told them it was the other way around. This is Caroline and Sebene. They were fun - they would have been fun to break out for parties and just about any other time you wanted someone time smile at you and yell "ein Prosit". They asked if I liked Germans.
Then after 1 beer (yes, this all happened with one beer). I thought I had to have another. Then by the time I got the next one I found out why people were so lit. I struggled. I think I left a splash in the mug and we left. I had to fly to Seattle the next morning. So we decided to walk a bit and I took some snappies:
Then after it's all over, you have to figure out which train you're going to take home and I think the tracks look a lot like I saw them in this photo:
But the highlight of the people watching was this fellow. He was an Aussie or South African. I met one of his friends. He stood there for at least 5 mins or so - just swaying with a non-existent breeze. Then he walked. See video below:
Then I got a text from a co-worker who was going to try and meet us - I saved it because it was funny - the spelling has been preserved. His name starts with a D, not O.
"Had one stein. Ouch. Niche mas. Will meets up with yu tomomooreew. Just going to wanteer a bit. O"