The sixth month mark of our trip could not have been better. First, we were in Munich during Oktoberfest. Second, we were with Katie’s parents, Dennis and Sherrill, as well as my mom, Jan. Plus, our good friends and my past roommates, Kate and Jesse, joined in as well for some Bavarian shenanigans. This was the first time in the trip we had a large crew of close friends/fam so we were beyond pumped up.
Us and our parents stayed in a great Airbnb rental about 15 minutes by public transit outside of Munich’s city center. While it seemed a little far at first on a map we soon realized just how amazingly efficient Munich’s public transit is. We could buy a group pass on our phones and breezily get into the city in a matter of minutes with no hassle, long waits or confusion. I would die for this back in Seattle. The apartment was a win as we could all be under one roof with separate bedrooms for our parents and a pullout bed for us in the living room.
On our first day, we went walking around the main city center then to the Oktoberfest grounds to scout out our plan for the next day i.e which beer tent we wanted to live the dream in. The city center was bustling and we were in heaven trying all the local meats, sandwiches, baked goods and drinks. I usually keep a look out just to see what others are eating then I try whichever thing thing looks the most popular. I typically have no idea what it is but who really cares as this trip is all about trying new things. I also have gotten in the habit of always asking the food preparer to make it how they make it vs. telling them how I want something prepared when they ask. While this sometimes backfires, usually it’s a win. In Munich it was a grand slam. Their local meat sandwiches were unreal (especially the pork belly). I couldn’t eat them fast enough.
After walking around downtown for a bit we decided to have an actual lunch and beers at Hofbroughs. For those who haven’t been to Munich, this is probably the most famous Bavarian style beer hall simply because it is the closest you can get to the Oktoberfest vibe year round. Large beers, great food, music, etc. This got us all in the mood for the real thing to come.
After lunch we bounced over to the actual Oktoberfest grounds to walk around. One surprising thing is there is no cost to go in. The grounds are massive. Half is covered in beer tents aka huge structures designed to house hundreds to thousands of people. The other part of the grounds is a typical fair with boatloads of rides, food booths, games, etc. Basically this is the most massive, drunkest fair you will ever see. After popping into a few tents (and obviously eating more food) we figured out our game plan for the next day and which tents to go for.
Let me explain the game plan. Each tent has about half of their tables reserved (usually months in advance) and the rest of the seats are open seating. Tents open at 10am and are open until about 11pm. Once they reach capacity, they close the doors so nobody else can come in. Most people go early, get a table and never leave it until it closes because there is a chance no other place will let them in after a certain point. This creates a giant game of how early do you have to show up to get a good spot (ideally next to the live music). If the weather is bad it’s even more cutthroat as nobody wants to be outside. So we didn’t want to take any chances. We showed up right at 10am (cheers to first call!) and went into the tent we wanted to post up at. We laughed as it was almost empty at that hour. I guess this was over-preparing :). Either way, we sat down and enjoyed our first morning liter of beer. You could choose between a regular beer or a Radler which was a mix of beer and lemonade (delicious to my amateur drinking self). Our server, Wolfgang, said we would be fine to walk around and go enjoy the rest of the fair but to come back by 3pm at the latest to get a good table before it filled up and there was no space. The plan worked like a charm and we were able to get within a few tables of the music and had it locked down all night. The best part is the tables are constantly joined by others so our group of seven had 7-10 others throughout the night who would join from time to time. This created a fun atmosphere and great conversation. Throughout the night the tent just got louder and louder and by around 5pm everyone was standing on the table benches singing songs and having the merriest time you will ever see. This exceeded all my expectations as it was probably the happiest I have ever seen a drunk bar crowd. It isn’t like the states where you can always expect some meatheads and shitty bar behavior. Instead everyone is just happy, friendly and looking to have the best time. Pretty much heaven.
In the end, Oktoberfest did not disappoint, the family had a blast, it was great seeing Kate and Jesse, and another bucket list item checked off in style. Now we are just planning on how fast we can get back here in the years following this big trip!