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Oktoberfest

Posted by Jeremy Schultz on November 13, 2006

Alright, back to topic.

Oktoberfest, first of all, is only what English-speakers call it; Germans refer to it as “die Wiesn,” which translates as “field,” short for Theresienwiese, the field where it all happens. (Side thought: Why does there have to be an english version of things titled originally in other languages? There’s no Munich on a German map: it’s München. Venice? Venezia. Rome? Roma. So, I don’t live in Portland, I live in Hafenland, or Terra di Orificio? This practice stops now.)

First thing I found out, die Wiesn isn’t exactly obvious to find. The field where it lies is a couple miles from the main city center. As you can kinda see, there’s quite a crowd. We had been to the Hofbräuhaus as part of our impromptu city center tour, and I figured that die Wiesn must be a close walk around. So one of the days, we walked all over the place. I don’t know how, but we didn’t get anywhere. We finally asked somebody, and found we needed to hop on the subway. So, after a long bout of trying to figure how/where to buy a ticket (amazing how some cities make this easy, others, not so easy), we rode one train, transferred, and arrived to one of the two stops that arrives nearby.

We follow the flow of people from the subway exit, through a neighborhood, and finally to the field, er, die Wiesn. On one hand, it looks like your typical state fair. Lots of places to buy munchies, souvenir stands, and a collection of bolted-together-rides-on-a-big-trailer. You can see from the picture above that there are quite a few people there: all ages, families, and groups of teenagers, nobody left out. But that’s just the outside the tents. According to the official website, there are 14 large tents. A friend of mine from work, who we were supposed to meet up with, had done some research and found that there were a couple tents where you could arrive without reservations and have some luck getting seated. Being on the last couple days of the event, and arriving in the early afternoon, I was feeling confident. And as you might guess, I was dead wrong. Every tent we went into was packed, with dozens of people standing around vulturing or waiting in line.

It’s an interesting scene. There really isn’t that much going on. Essentially, each tent is just a giant temporary pub with long tables, 1-liter mugs of beer flying around, big plates of food being served, various types of music filling the air, and a healthy cloud of smoke hovering overhead. But I’d have to say, I was impressed with number of folks who sported their Dirndls and Lederhosen (great Halloween idea, hmmm). In the end, we went to die Wiesn without going to Oktoberfest. We followed another flow of people back to subway, across to the city center to an outdoor bar at Viktualienmarkt, where we enjoyed a couple of modest 1/2-liter beers and one big breze.

Almost forgot, we never hooked up with my friend. I forgot to chat with him before he left and never got his hotel. He had mine. When we check out, the person at the desk hands us a piece a paper, says “You got a message, sorry.” Oh well, I hope he had better luck than we did. And off to Como we go….

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