My 2012 Oktoberfest experience
Oktoberfest is a crazy celebration of beer, bretzels, bratwurst, and everything Bavarian. People from all across Germany and the world head to Munich for the 16-day beer festival, dressed in traditional lederhosen and dirndls.
You can’t live in Germany without visiting Oktoberfest! Sure, it’s a bit touristy, but no matter what anyone says, it’s still the biggest beer festival in the world. And I love me a good beer. We decided to make the 2 hour train ride to Munich on German Unity Day – a national holiday. This meant that the trains were crowded, the streets of Munich were crowded, and you guessed it – Oktoberfest was crowded. :)
Bavarian beer is the best in the world
When we get to a new city, Nic likes to explore interesting architectural sites, and check out museums. I like eating food, wandering through flea markets, and going into cute shops. But the one thing we can agree on is sampling as many different beers as we can.
In my opinion, nothing in the world can compare to beer from Bavaria. Sure, beers from elsewhere in Germany are great – we’ve had amazing beers from the Stuttgart region, and while Czech beers are consistently better (there are definitely crappy Bavarian beers), the best Czech beers just aren’t as good as the best Bavarian beers. At least in my opinion. :) That’s why I was so excited about Oktoberfest… getting to sample my favourite beers like Hofbräu, Augustiner, and Löwenbräu. :)
We started off the day wisely at the Ochsenbraterei, where their roast oxen is the specialty. Even though it seats almost 6,000 people inside, it’s a tent known for its food, and not it’s crazy, excessive partying.
Our next stop was Löwenbräu, another great beer. The music was great, and everyone was in a terrific mood! We were lucky to get seats on the balcony, so that we could look down and catch all the action below.
Once outside, Nic and I decided to sample my favourite beer in the world at Hofbräu. :) I was so excited to see the horses decorated, people in costume, and how happy everyone seemed to be.
Germans know how to drink
Back home in Canada, we’re known as a beer drinking country. I love a good beer (and admittedly, I’m a bit of a beer snob), but Germans are insane. We witnessed one man drink a 1L beer in 6 seconds. SIX SECONDS! None of us could even get our cameras out fast enough to record him. Luckily he followed up that performance a few minutes later, slamming back another 1L beer in 8 seconds. I was prepared that time, and caught the entire thing on tape:
It was hilarious to watch people stand up on their tables, and have everybody cheer them as they tried to chug their 1L stein. Some failed (they got booed), but most succeeded. It was impressive – not just how fast they could drink their beer, but that they could hold 1L worth of beer in their body at the same time!
Go to where the food is
If you plan on staying more than a few hours at Oktoberfest, you’re going to have to find some food. Luckily, there’s plenty of it. But unless you want to blow your beer budget, it’s best to stay out of the pricey beer tents, and grab some grub from a food vendor outside instead.
Food inside the beer tent ranges anywhere from €15-30 on average, so it’s definitely not cheap. Here were our favourite eats from the (much cheaper) food vendors outside:
It’s really hard to leave Oktoberfest without a souvenir or two to remind you of the amazing time you had. In the Löwenbräu tent, there were women coming around snapping photos. They’d return a few minutes later with your photo placed in a cardboard Oktoberfest heart, and for €8 you can take it home. Well, I’m a sucker for a good photo, so I splurged and bought one for Nic and I.
Nic also bought me an Oktoberfest heart cookie (made of gingerbread). They are sold all over Germany, and they usually have cute messages on them that expresses your feeling towards your loved one. Mine says “Chaos Princess,” so I guess I know what Nic thinks of me! :P Many men and women of all ages wore these heart shaped cookies around their necks. It was really cute.
It’s not just about the beer
You can go without having a single sip of beer, and still have the time of your life. There are so many different foods and desserts to try, not to mention an entire park with games, rides, roller coasters, and family fun. There is so much to do on the Oktoberfest fair grounds that you couldn’t possibly see it all in just one day, and what surprised me the most was what a family-friendly event it was. There was truly something for everyone. :)
Krystal Yee is a travel blogger and personal finance expert with substantial media credits to her name. Lover of off-beat travel, hiking, French macarons, barefoot shoes, and her iPhone. Excel spreadsheet addict. She is currently living in Vancouver, plotting her next adventure.