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Despite its misleading name, Germany’s Oktoberfest festival typically starts on the third weekend of September and ends on the first Sunday of October.
It all began with a royal wedding.
Back in 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig was married to Princess Therese of Saxony on the 12th of October. All the people of Munich were invited to partake in the festivities to help celebrate the happy and prestigious event.
The festival began with horse races where citizens would perform in front of the royal family. Those horse races, which were the oldest and most popular event of the festival, are no longer held in Oktoberfest today.
But where there are no longer horses, there is PLENTY of beer.
Today, Oktoberfest in Munich is the largest festival in the world and is definitely worth the experience at least once in one’s lifetime!
You’ll need to decide how much time you’re going to spend at Oktoberfest in Munich.
Many people make the mistake of thinking they’ll be able to handle a week’s worth of Oktoberfest festivities. In all honesty, a maximum of 3 days is all you’ll need.
Keep in mind that Oktoberfest consists of A LOT of drinking, and when you get smashed a second or third day in a row, the effect on your body is similar to punching a dazed boxer who’s still struggling to get back up after the first sucker punch to the face!
After binge drinking, your liver needs time to recover from the day before—and each consecutive day can get more and more painful.
Think of Oktoberfest as you would think of Las Vegas. It’s overstimulating, rowdy, and becomes physically and mentally exhausting very quickly. In fact, many German locals will only visit for a day or two. It’s mainly the tourists that try to prolong it into a major holiday!
My friends and I spent 3 days in Oktoberfest and by the third day, we were all so exhausted it took all our efforts to make it to the fairgrounds by the third day.
In fact, we spent most of the first half of that day in our beds hungover!
We didn’t actually make it to a tent until the sun was already setting on our final day.
Part of the fun of Oktoberfest in Munich is being able to wear traditional attire! You can choose not to but believe me, you will stand out if you don’t! The majority of attendees wear the traditional dirndl for women and lederhosen for men. There are a couple of different routes you can go to purchase these, and there are pros and cons to each.
Alternatively, you can wait and buy your dirndl or lederhosen at a store or booth in town.
They’re available all over Munich—so they won’t be too difficult to find. On average, dirndls range from 70 to 180 euros while lederhosen range from 100 to 200 euros.
Believe it or not, Dustin and I weren’t originally planning on purchasing outfits.
We had just spent 2 weeks traveling through Croatia and Italy and didn’t think it would be worth spending the extra money. BOY were we wrong! We showed up at the tents in our t-shirts and shorts sticking out like a sore thumb!
We ended up purchasing our outfits at a little booth in the metro station (and it was a pretty low price compared to all the other shops we browsed through). As it turns out; it was much more fun partaking in the festivities while wearing the outfits! It was a penny well spent!
Getting to and from the grounds is very easy with Munich’s efficient metro system. The city’s public transportation consists of a network of underground suburban trains, trams, and buses. Depending on where your accommodations are located, you’ll be taking one of these options listed.
To utilize the public transportation system, you’ll have to buy a ticket. The same ticket is valid for all of these forms of transportation, so you don’t have to purchase different tickets (making it super convenient). Before embarking, the card must be validated to start your time punch.
During our three days there, we were NOT ONCE asked to present our tickets. We rode the subways multiple times a day and never got stopped by an officer.
On our final day— the day we were set to fly out, Dustin and I in a rush forgot our rail pass in the hotel room. We didn’t realize until we had already walked a quarter of a mile to the train station with our heavy luggage that we had forgotten the ticket.
Not wanting to go back, and not wanting to purchase another when we already had paid money for one, we decided to take the gamble and board the train without it. I mean, we hadn’t been asked ONCE in the three days we were there!
Well, as you can probably guess, right before our final stop to the airport, an officer came over and asked for our ticket. In a panic, we frantically started searching our bags hoping to buy some time before our stop. She just stood there, staring. And looking completely unamused by our charade.
After giving us plenty of time to search, the officer escorted us off the train and wrote up a hefty fine of 60 euros- PER PERSON.
We stupidly realized we should have just spent the extra couple of euros and purchased another ticket.
The moral of the story—ALWAYS HAVE A VALIDATED TICKET WITH YOU. You may never get asked to present it, but the one time you don’t have one you’ll walk away with an empty wallet.
This is definitely some weird sh*t that will happen to you if you’re not careful of your surroundings.
It was the very first day of our trip and we were fortunate enough to find a spot at a table for the four of us. We had just ordered our beers and were chatting with some of our tablemates as they were explaining to us how “handsy” some German men can be.
Moments later, the infamous drunk karaoke song “Sweet Caroline” came on, and everyone (including us) jumped up on the benches to sing along.
The next thing I knew, an old, heavily intoxicated German man walked up to me and clumsily tried to stroke my leg with a very perverted grin on his face. My boyfriend, realizing what had just happened, batted his hand away. The man then just smiled drunkenly and said “wonderful!!!!”
We couldn’t be mad at him. We just laughed it off. But we were all a bit more cautious of our surroundings when standing on the benches to sing.
Be very careful of where you’re standing. In an attempt to show off or be “high above the crowd,” if seen standing on the table, you’ll be peer pressured into slamming your entire liter beer.
The second you stand on the table and get noticed, HUNDREDS of people will start yelling and chanting at you to chug!
Once completed, you’re supposed to hold the empty glass over your head and turn it upside down to a chorus of cheers—or a chorus of boos if you fail to the challenge.
Something my friends and I should have thought about doing before attempting Oktoberfest was setting up a meetup point in case one of us got lost.
Because that’s EXACTLY what happened on our second night there.
The four of us were in a rowdy and crowded tent about 5 beers in (we had been drinking all day) and my boyfriend decided to get up and go to the bathroom. As he stumbled out of the facilities, he realized he had NO IDEA WHERE HE WAS or how to get back to our table. In a frantic, drunken struggle of texting, he tried to get in contact with my friends and me.
Long story short, in all our drunken texts and slurry worded voice calls we never found each other. Hours later, after I had already headed back to the hotel room to (hopefully) find him there, I heard a knock on my door—opening it to see him on the floor, exhausted from trying to make his way back.
Beer is filling. And before you know it, you’ll already be two liters deep with an empty stomach. In a haze, you’ll realize you’ve had no water and no food. Uh, oh.
On our second day of Oktoberfest, this was our reality. This mistake is what ultimately lead to the “losing your boyfriend” story.
My advice, don’t follow in our footsteps. Be smarter than that. Try and get in a bottle of water in between beers. And every couple of hours try to get some food in your stomach to replenish the nutrients and electrolytes that you’re losing from all the drinking.
My personal favorite was the big pretzels (the bread helped soak up some of the alcohol)!
The beer you consume at Oktoberfest is Munich’s beer, which means it was actually brewed on their grounds. It is a bit stronger than your average beer—usually by about 1%. You can expect your ABV to be anywhere from 6-6.5%. Oh, and did I already mention they come in LITER mugs?
Fun Fact: 6.3 million people attended Oktoberfest 2018 and consumed 7.5 million liters of beer!
This ties back to my “be careful of your surroundings” advice!
There was a gentleman lingering around the women’s restrooms and hitting on every single female that entered and exited the bathroom! We even caught him trying to peak through the stall doors!
Realizing he harassed a lot of the girls, we approached an officer and informed him of the shenanigans going on by the women’s restrooms.
Shortly after that, the officer escorted him away. At the Oktoberfest in Munich, be careful of your surroundings and any weirdo creeping up by the restrooms!
My girlfriend and I weren’t the only ones getting inappropriately groped! While sitting at an outside table finishing our final beer of the night, a cute, heavily intoxicated German girl came and sat uncomfortably close to my best friend’s boyfriend.
She immediately struck up a conversation with all the giggles and arm touching of obvious girl flirting. Ashley and I gave each other the look. The look you give to your friend when you KNOW something is about to go down.
Sure enough, the girl opened up her legs to straddle the bench…AND her boyfriend!
We left immediately.
Everyone drinks too much at Oktoberfest in Munich; that’s the reality of it. But, not everyone can handle their liquor or know what their limit is.
By the end of the day, my friends and I were being very cautious of where we were walking to make sure we weren’t stepping in anything that we didn’t want to get on our shoes!
Other than vomit, you’ll also see spilled beer, food, and drunk folks struggling to stand up straight!
On our second night of Oktoberfest festivities, my friends and I were sitting at a table with a really lovely German family. It was a father and his daughter and a couple of others I only vaguely remember.
I recall my girlfriend and I having a really intimate conversation with the German family. We were engaging in a very friendly, humorous, and lively conversation.
All of a sudden, an overwhelming cloud of emotion came over me and I just started balling my eyes out. I was emotional because here I was, in this beautiful country interacting with some amazing locals. There were people back at home that would NEVER get a chance to partake in this experience.
I was mainly thinking about my dad. We both have very different viewpoints on life and travel. He genuinely believes that any country outside the United States is dangerous and unsafe. I was sad that his narrow mindset would never allow him to experience the world and all it has to offer.
Unfortunately, many Americans are fed this lie that the world outside their country is unsafe. That simply isn’t true. It’s sad to see so many people go through life without ever leaving and seeing the world.
After wiping away the tears and trying to make myself somewhat presentable, the German gentleman gave me a hug and simply said “don’t cry. This is a happy and joyous celebration!” He was absolutely right.
And then I turned around wondering where my boyfriend ventured off to.
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