September 23, 2010

Oktoberfest, Wiesen, Ass-Kicking Bier Festival… Whatever You Want to Call It

Munich is alive and well with Oktoberfest celebration and I am feeling incredibly blessed to be here for such a momentous occasion. I know that I’ve blogged about it already (kind of…) but there is so much more to say. And it hasn’t even been on for a week! I could try to explain it to you but I think it’s impossible to get it just right. It’s something you have to see to believe. The midway part of Oktoberfest is fairly predictable – amusement rides, games, food stands, and souvenirs (I bought a keychain for 6 EUR!). Of course, it’s bigger than any fair or carnival I’ve ever been to. The walkways are packed with people – thousands of people. There are horse carriages pulling giant beer kegs and horse poo all over the ground. And located between all of this are the beer tents. This is what makes Oktoberfest so incredible.

Imagine yourself in a massive beer hall packed to the four walls with people. Hundreds of tables, each one full of up to ten or twelve beer drinkers, the surfaces covered in massive 1 liter beer steins. There’s a band stand in the middle and when they’re putting on their show, it’s likely that everyone is standing on their benches, prosting to each other, spilling beer all over their friends, singing along, reveling in the excitement of a festival of beer and good spirits.



Oktoberfest officially celebrates the anniversary of the marriage of Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810 (thanks, Wikipedia, for giving me the right spelling of that one!). And a massive horse race that they organized there. The field where O-Fest is located (and where all this history happened) is called Theresienwiese, and O-Fest is affectionately nicknamed, Wiesen. “You’re going to Wiesen today? Oh, me too!” There’s also a massive celebratory parade that trails through the city – one on the first Saturday and another on Sunday. Jessica, Ana, and Susie and I went to the one on Sunday and definitely enjoyed the long procession of marching bands, horse drawn carriages, and costumed Germans.

(Oh yeah! My California friend, Susie, was in Germany visiting her ma in Garmisch so she came to Munich to celebrate Wiesen with me on Sunday! It was so much fun having her here!)



Sunday was my first official experience with the beer tents. On Saturday, Jessica and I had explored the grounds but hadn’t really interacted with the festival. But on Sunday, we got started around noon and were drunk off one Maß by one o’clock. I already posted about how the day turned out – it was messy but fun. I was drunk for 10 hours straight and must have had at least four Maß. That’s a lot of beer. I’m amazed that I was able to get home without any problems! My college friend, Kate, from California, was passing through Munich that night with her friend Kari so I was able to see her. That was surreal but it was so much fun – even if I did wander away in drunken confusion and never saw her again. Haha.

DSCN6089Happy Wiesen!

I went back to O-Fest on Tuesday with my au pair family. The four of us – me, the Frau, and die kinder – all had our dirndls on and we met up with the Frau’s friend who has two boys and their nanny, Jill. The six of us just wandered around for most of the day – going on a few rides and once, almost losing a child. At around six, the Frau let me go off with my friends and I met them at the Löwenbräu tent where I got into celebrating right away. I only had one Maß this time but it was enough to have a good time. Fio broke her Maß when she prosted – it was kind of funny, even if a shower of beer rained down on top of Clare’s head. But no glass in anyone’s face or serious injuries! We met some crazy Australians who entertained us for the evening.

The best part of the night was when the beer tents closed and Jessica and I took our new Australian friends down into the midway for some rides. This is a bad combination with drunk people who are uncoordinated and slightly confused. We went into a fun house and met our demise in the spinning barrel. Drunk people CAN NOT walk through these things and instead, they take one step in, fall over and tumble around blindly, elbowing, kneeing, and knocking into anyone who is nearby. Twice (no, I didn’t learn my lesson the first time) I tumbled through these things sustaining minor injuries. I walked away with a large knot sprouting from my right knee and with deep, purple bruises all over my body. As painful an adventure as it was, it was just that – an adventure. Even if Jess and I gave the tourists a pretty interesting show as we tumbled together like mentally retarded hamsters in a wheel, we had a blast. And walked away looking as if we’d been beat up.  Today, two days later, I can hardly move without wincing. The stairs are my mortal enemy and I’d prefer to just stay in bed and not ever have to get up. My entire body aches in every place imaginable and I discover new bruises every few hours. It will pass – it always does – but I’m actually kind of amused by the whole event. Oktoberfest definitely kicked my ass.

My friends from England are coming to visit TOMORROW for the entire weekend and I am so excited to see them. Helena and Alison worked with me at Camp Cayuga – Alison in 2007 and Helena in 2007 and 2008 – and I haven’t seen either of them in two years. We’re going to have a Wiesen filled weekend and even after my crazy adventures, I’m not ready to stop quite yet! There’s still eleven more days of this festival! Bring it on, Oktoberfest! You have yet to defeat me.


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