It’s been a long time since I visited Germany. I was thinking the other day about my experiences at Oktoberfest. This story is great every time I tell it, so I thought, why not share with the unfortunate soul that happens to find my blog somehow.
It was near the end of my study abroad program in Lyon, France. Three of us hard-working students were running out of money… but we really wanted to experience Oktoberfest. We needed a plan. We needed a set budget. We devised the plan – instead of flying, we’d get a rental. And instead of staying at an expensive hotel, we’d stay in the car. Mind you, to save money, we rented the smallest, cheapest car possible – the Fiat 500.
Our trip was off to a good start – I was the only person of three who could drive stick shift. That was a wonderful long drive to look forward to. Actually, I’m not kidding. Being the control freak that I am, I felt lucky to drive, especially on the aut0ban. (!)
We arrived at our destination 8 hours later. Our destination being, a parking lot near a subway entrance that was a few stops away from Oktoberfest.
Now, two important things to note about Oktoberfest are:
A) It’s not really in October, which we luckily had learned previously
B) Tickets to the beer tents should be purchased approximately a year in advance because they sell out
Well, when there’s a will, there’s a way. We heard through the grapevine (or is it a hop-vine in this case?) that if you head over to the tents really early in the morning, 7am or so, you’ll get in with a little charm and bribery.
Knowing we’d have to get up early, we hopped on the train to check out Oktoberfest for a few hours, with our early bed time in mind.
Well, it turns out charm and bribery works at night as well. One of the bouncers at a tent heard our accents, knew Americans tip well, so he snuck us into the tent he was so carefully securing.
We walk into the tent. It was shoulder-to-shoulder packed with drunks of all nationalities. People screaming, music blaring, beer sloshing out of mugs, it was quite the sight. We get dragged through the crowd to a table that appeared packed full of Liederhosen-wearing Germans. Somehow, the server knew they wouldn’t last long. One of the guys spewed what appeared to be gallons of beer onto the table. The server kicked the crew out, cleaned the table, and sat us there, awaiting a fat tip. Of course, we gave it to him.
From there, we enjoyed real German beer, drinking from steins, like real Germans. What we didn’t do like real Germans, is handle our alcohol. One of our friends disappeared with a crew of new buddies, nowhere to be found. The last men standing somehow made it back to the Hotel Fiat.
Luckily, the next morning, the lost friend had left the crew of friends that asked him to tag along when he realized that he probably shouldn’t leave with a bunch of strangers. He got into a cab, apparently asking the cab driver to “take him someplace warm.” Seventy-five Euros later, he ended up in the McDonald’s at the airport.
Needless to say, we didn’t get up at 7am as planned, but the good news was we somehow made our way into another tent the following day to experience more Oktoberfest shenanigans.