The entrance to Oktoberfest...I was constantly amazed how many people were there
Saturday: This last week my wife and I had discussed attending Oktoberfest here in Germany. It's something you hear about all the time and I figured we had to do it at least once while we were here. It takes place in Munich, which is about 4 hours from Heidelberg. We thought about driving, but did not want to drive back afterwards…we both wanted to partake in some consumption of beer after all. I think it would have been difficult to get a hotel room with such late notice, we heard that they get booked up pretty quickly. SGT Mex wanted to go as well and started looking up train prices, I ended up checking to see if the USO or MWR was having any trips. The train prices were a bit too expensive, but I did find out that MWR was heading down this weekend. We chose the MWR trip, not only was it just $69, but they leave from PHV and also bring us back…so we will only be a minute from home when we get back.
The bus left at 0600 and along with SGT Mex, the CAM in our office went as well. (The CAM is our ComSec Account Manager…the person in charge of everything at the ComSec level). Once on the bus I put in my headphones and rested most of the way there. We stopped at McDonalds about 3 hours into the trip for a break. It's interesting looking at the differences in the menu here vs. the US. They offer some of the same things, but then offer totally different things like a bread basket for breakfast. The menu accommodates the culture that surrounds it.
Once we arrived, we were told that the bus would be leaving at 2300 sharp…with or without us. We made our way to the festival, which was not far from the main bus and train station. We just followed the crowd full of lederhosen. Along the way we ran into the opening day parade. It would have been cool to watch, but the crowds around the street were so deep that I could only hold my camera up above my head and snap a few photos. Everyone else is even shorter than I am, so there was not a whole lot to look at.
We then made our way to the entrance, which was packed full of people. The parade was making it's way through the entrance as well, so there was not much room for people to get in and out. The whole festival looked somewhat like a fair on steroids. There were vendors selling all kinds of tasty smelling foods. There were amusement rides all over the place. There were also what I'm going to call the beer halls. I thought there were going to be tents, but these are actual buildings that everyone piled into. When I say piled into, I mean it was similar to trying to make your way to the front of the line at the opening day when the new iPhone goes on sale, or perhaps to the front of the line in the wee hours of the morning before a black Friday sale. In fact it was pretty much impossible. We decided on standing in a line to get into another smaller building, but I think we only moved when people gave up and left that were in line in front of us…then it started to rain. I was thinking this pretty much sucks. I wondered how people even got drunk at Oktoberfest.
We then decided to drink at an outside beer garden that we found. Although not ideal, the rain let up for periods of time and they had outdoor space heaters. They used a squeegee to clear off the rain from our table and seats, then we proceeded to order a beer. The beer is served in a very large glass that we were told was the size of 3 regular beers. Contrary to what I had imagined, our server was a dude and not some busty German gal carrying 12 glasses all at once. In fact all the servers I saw were dudes. No worries though, the beer was good and when we decided to order food, the chicken was delicious!
We drank, then went on some rides and then drank some more. One of the more adventurous times was visiting the male bathroom. They setup two troughs shaped in a giant "U" to go pee in. This ended up with a final shape somewhat looking like a giant "W", so when positioned at one of the troughs you would be looking another man straight in the eyes while you relieve yourself. That wasn't even the crazy part. Just getting to the trough to go pee was exactly like fighting to get to the front of a giant crowd at a heavy metal concert. After pushing and pulling your way to the trough, then finally relieving yourself…you would still be getting pushed and pulled around, all while you are in the act of going pee. So there would be streams of pee shooting out with everyone trying to keep it aimed in the trough. It was quit and adventure, and one I had to repeat many times because of those extraordinary large glasses of beer I had been drinking.
The whole place was crowded, but it was full of entertaining people to watch all over the place. A lot of folks were dressed up in costumes, guys wearing lederhosen and girls wearing the dirndl dresses. There were public displays of drunkenness all over the place, there were also public displays of affection all over...one of the affects alcohol has on folks. All it all it was pretty entertaining from the time we arrived until the time we headed out.
We finally left with plenty of time to spare. Everyone had a great time in spite of the rain. We made it back to the bus and I was surprised that actually everyone made it back in time. There were little garbage cans near each seat in case someone needed to grab a bag and vomit in. Everyone was warned that if they threw up in the bus, they would be charged $100 (clean-up fee). Before we even pulled out, a guy grabbed a bag behind me and started throwing up!
I put in my earphones and slept all the way home.
Sunday: Since this was my only day off before work (I can't call Oktoberfest a day off…I was busy the whole day!), I took the opportunity to take it easy. We did a little laundry and cleaned up the house. We watched a few TV shows and basically just relaxed. It was nice to sleep in and just hang out in comfy clothes all day. Tomorrow I have to head back to the office…I wonder what has changed since I left??