listen to Easy by Cro: http://youtu.be/4r_Ddvdfxvk
If Europe were a family, Germany would be the wealthy Mercedes-driving uncle who lives in a clean-cut mansion that only serves fresh-squeezed juice and seems to spend all his time drinking beer but somehow still accumulates a fortune managing his 5 businesses. At least that was the impression I got when I went to Oktoberfest 3 weekends ago. Here are some stories and advice for Oktoberfest.
Travelling and Lodging
It doesn’t take years of seasoned travelling to know that plane tickets and hotel prices gradually increase the closer it gets to Sept/Oct. Many choose to fly on Ryanair since it’s the cheapest option. The harsh truth I’ve learned from travelling on Ryanair is that the seemingly economically efficient plane ticket comes at the inconvenience and expense of taking a bus at 1am to an express bus station, taking an express bus to the plane station, taking a plane to a city near your destination (Memmingen), taking a bus to the city you actually want to go to (Munich), taking a train to the part where your hotel is, and walking from the bahnhof (train station) to your hotel. Had I paid extra and gone to the Munich Airport, I would land right on a train line. Luckily, there was a bus right outside the airport that went straight to Hauptbahnhof (the central train station) and the receptionists there were very helpful with directions. Other Ryanair complains I have include the airport closing at 10pm, which I will get to later, and inconsistent locations for checking your visa/passport.
The best place to book your hotel/hostel is obviously as close inside Munich as possible since the trains close fairly early. That’s all I have to say. Don’t live in the suburbs like I did.
There’s no rule saying that you have to be in costume but a good majority dressed up. I tried buying a dirndl online but the only ones available over the internet were “sexy beer girl costumes” made too many inches above your knee in below-par materials for Halloween purposes. Yes, I fell into that trap and bought one but didn’t wear it because I ended up buying a more authentic-looking dirndl at the bahnhof for 50 Euros (I got compliments from a Bavarian saying that I looked very Bavarian so I’m guessing it’s in fairly good quality). The cheapest Lederhosen (including shirt and socks) was about 50 Euros but most were 70. Honestly, just get a costume once you get there and don’t waste time thinking about it. Ladies, tie your apron to the left if you’re single, right if you’re taken, and back if you’re widowed. In the end, it doesn’t really matter where you tie it because someone will hit on you regardless.
Get off the S bahn at Hauptbahnhof and follow the crowd of people in costumes.
A bunch of tourists crowd in front of the beer tents where the ropes are in hopes that the bouncer would let them in. That is not the way to enter a beer tent if your intention is to go inside. What you should do is walk around until you find a side entrance that’s not an exit, then wait there for the bouncer to let a certain number in at a time. Go before noon on a weekday because you will be stuck outside otherwise.
Once you’re in, it will be difficult to find a table because all the downstairs ones are taken and all the upstairs ones (and some of the downstairs tables as well) are reserved. Stand near a table and wait for the server to come. Tell her the number of beers (liters) you want, and pay 10 Euros per liter when she comes back with beer. Remember to eat food. I heard the chicken sandwich is the best.
You should probably also look into some Oktoberfest songs. Here’s Ein Prosit, which plays every 10 minutes so you can drink and buy more beer: http://www.oktoberfest-songs.com/ein-prosit-lyrics.html
I often hear people from other countries complain about Americans. Some of their criticisms include:
- constantly chanting “U.S.A.”
- cutting in front of the bathroom line and then offering those who voiced complaints to go into the same stall and pee with her
- general raucousness
Don’t be the guy standing on tables and hitting people on the head with a blow-up microphone in Hofbräu:
Last story about Ryanair:
I had a 7am flight back to London and the only buses that took me from Munich to the airport departed at either 7pm or 3am. I took the 7pm one to be safe and to my inexperienced chagrin, the airport closed at 10pm and I had to leave. Another Ukrainian girl was in the same situation so we set out at night in cold and dark suburban Germany where the houses near the airport were deserted because who wants to live near an airport? It was eerily silent and we walked in the dark toward a hotel that someone at the airport had suggested. No, I was not scared or stressed, mainly because my mind was 80% preoccupied with how low the temperature was. After going through a dark alleyway, we found the hotel. Unfortunately for us, an entire orchestra was staying there and we did not have a room. To make a bad situation worse, the hotel closed at 11pm and we were kicked out again. We thought about taking a cab to the city but it would be a hassle to have to get a cab back in the morning. So guess what? We stayed. Outside. On a bench. In the cold. Until some of the orchestra members came back and we sneaked into the lobby when they opened the doors.