Party Shoes? Check.
Drinking Tolerance? Uncheck.
Oktoberfest is a worldwide spectacle that attracts beer and party lovers to unite under one tent. The clock struck 5:30 a.m. with ear-piercing sounds to remind us of our 6:26 a.m. train. After a long five-hour train ride from Hanover, we meandered through the Bavarian streets in search of our Airbnb apartment. Dirndl and lederhosen stands sparkled the streets with color and excitement.
At the apartment, we changed into our Bavarian gear and headed to the festival. Upon entering the gates, we belted, “Willkommen” as we sniffed the fresh aroma of sugared almonds and fried schnitzel. The grandiose display welcomed families to eat, drink, play games and be merry. What seemed like an innocent, family-friendly atmosphere in the streets was just a façade.
Upon entering the Paulaner beer tent, we snapped some pictures and walked past hundreds of rows of tables containing full-plate chicken dinners, liter beers and cheerful Bavarian smiles. Amused at the size of the “brezels” that were as large as my head, we thought, “Why not check out other tents?”
Adjacent to Paulaner, we walked into the famous Hofbräu (HB) tent. With just under 7,000 seats, our excitement jolted as we watched young, strapping men with beer guts stand on top of tables to chug a one-liter beer. At 3:00 p.m., we said, “Well this place looks fun. Why not drink a beer here?”
We joined into the merry cheers that initiated a “prost” with thy fellow tablemates. Australians, Irish, English, German, Korean, Swiss and other people from around the world clanged our beer glasses with smiles and half-closed eyelids. Two hours passed, and we thought, “What a fine time for pommes.” German fries are as popular as their bier steins. You can eat your fries with either ketchup or mayo and German pommes are eaten with a tiny two-pronged fork. Unfortunately, you cannot stay in the tents or tables without eating or drinking, which resulted in us ordering more beers.
The tent became tighter and the people became drunker. Each group of friends wore something different to make them “recognizable” in the tent. With a bit of creativity, some men strapped a child’s pink unicorn balloon on their belt lederhosen, so their friends could find them easier. Other’s strapped stuffed animals on their shoulder resulting in, “If you see any of my mates with a stuffed animal on their shoulder, tell them to come here.” Upon the early evening an eclectic array of homo-erotic culture infused the tent to show the best of English-speaking behaviors while abroad. A group of Australian men formed a line and started a choo-choo train of humping eachother. Turning right, a group of British and American men sang songs to eachother while caressing each others face to Dirty Dancing music.
Next came the live music. The band belted out traditional tunes such as “Sweet Caroline” and the crowd went wild. By 8:00 p.m. we realized that the only time we left the tent was to get our friends who also visited from America.
We stood next to a bunch of Irish guys, they shared their beer and chicken dinners as if we were family. Their friendliness and drunken thoughts turned into a philosophical lecture about how happiness is more important than money. By 10:00 p.m., broken beer steins piled on the ground, including people who drank past their limit. By 11:00 p.m. it was time to figure out the best method to get home and what late-night snack to eat. Men who could not pass a sobriety test stumbled through the grounds while pondering whether to eat a wurst or a schnitzel. By midnight, it was lights out while nursing a pre-hangover headache.
Oktoberfest was an outrageous international party that united regular people with the occasional Canadian HGTV reality TV celebrity. The memory will forever be in my heart and I encourage everyone to check out Oktoberfest at least once in their life, especially the Hofbräu tent.