Waking up in Tent City is everything one would expect. It was quiet, a bit chilly, and looked like the party had only ended an hour or two before.
As I walked two tents over to where the girls sleep. I found them bunking together (instead of in their separate, designated tents) just as they said they would upon last night’s arrival. They were convinced that staying together would succeed in warding off any mishaps from our rowdy neighbors who had started the party the night before. I, on the other hand, decided to take my chances.
Having already supposed to have left by this point, as advised by our friend who had conquered the festival the weekend before, I quickly entered my Group-Mom mental state and began trying to rush the “ducklings” (yes I said ducklings) as fast as I could.
Naturally, we didn’t leave until the top of the hour. 45 minutes, many frustrated rustlings, and 1 passport debacle later.
40 minutes outside of the fairgrounds, our morning adventure led us to a new task: tackling the Munich Metro Lines. Seeing as it was our first trip outside of Copenhagen and not one of us could understand German, this was no easy task. Throw in the following of the first train we got on decided to stall, then, just as we stepped off to decide what to do next, the doors closed and the train started right back up and off it went; without us. The next train wasn’t leaving for another 20 minutes and on top of it all, we still didn’t know a lick of German and as a result had only about a 20% idea of where this train would be dropping us off. Lucky for us it was indeed heading for the fairgrounds.
Finally, we made it. Oktoberfest. One of the most famous and longest celebrated festivals in the world. All that was left was to — wait in line for the next 2 hours. As the gates don’t open till 9:00 am.
After almost 2 hours of waiting in line and several new friendships later, we were ready. Well, we were almost ready. We still hadn’t decided if we were going to believe the guest security, Munich’s very own boys in blue, or if we would follow the masses, all of which were ready to sprint to the finish line — Hofbrau-Festzelt.
And what is Hofbrau-Festzelt you ask? Well, its the most famous brewhouse in at the Fairgrounds and as such the most desirable place for every study abroad student who had made it their mission to attend Oktoberfest. So what you ask next would naturally be, “what’s the big rush to get there?” You see, there are seldom reservations for tables at Oktoberfest. Hence the two-hour wait in line for the gates to open. Everyone wants a table, but the tables are no guarantee.
The gates are about to open.
And they’re off! It’s like a scene straight out of a movie. At first, everyone walks. Still a bit afraid of the cops warning that “if you run, we’ll arrest you”. Yet, there’s always a brave soul in the crowd and not but one minute in you can see the shift. Walking turns to speed walking, speed walking to jogging, and jogging to full out sprint. By two minutes in the whole pack of us, start sprinting as fast as we could; despite it being 9 in the morning and being decked out head-to-toe in dirndls and lederhosen.
Graced with a bestie with a cross country past, we were lucky enough that she sprinted in front of us less athletically inclined stragglers, rushed into HB, and jumped on top of the nearest table to save us all a spot.
Indeed, jumping on tables in the Oktoberfest way of staying “this seat is taken”.
By 9:10 we had found a table, made few friends, and had set our focus to the next task in hand. Finding a barmaid and ordering each a liter of beer so that we could cheer to our victory.
The hours following were filled with old and new friends, laughter and jokes, and of course lots and lots of authentic German Beer. We spent the time being visited by those from high school, college, and even those we had newly made abroad; we befriend the group that became our table mates and then the next group that became our table mates. We ate pretzels the size of our heads and were yelled at to get off down the banisters or not stand on the benches on them, a few more times then I care to admit.
By 11:30 we decided to give up our well-earned seats at the table to venture out into the rest of the fairgrounds to see what was in store for us next.
Little surprise, what was in store for us next was more food and certainly more beer. For good measure, we threw in some souvenir shopping and even a ride or two. What we did not expect, however, that our journey would have a pause. A short break if you will. Right in a prime spot on the Bavaria Lawn, or what I affectionately call “napping hill”. Yes, you read that right, for the next two hours we napped, side by side, letting the surprising sunshine and bellies full of beer lull us to sleep.
We rose about two hours later. A little soberer and shockingly still hungry, ready to conquer more of the festival. For the next several hours we walked the grounds taking the sights and sounds and most certainly all of the people. It amazed me that this was not just a festival of the young; it is truly is a festival for all. People of all ages were there, from the awestruck young to adventurous elders and everyone else in between; it seemed everyone had come out to enjoy what the life of Queen Therese had inspired.
After a full day of eating, sightseeing, and most important of all, drinking; it was time to set off back to the camp. Lazily we strolled toward the exit gates. Making a few last friends along the way and snapping some final pictures to capture the moment.
Finally, reaching our tent city home, we settled into our tents. Promising just each other just a small nap before we joined the rest of our fellow tenters at the onsite brewhouse for a little more fun.
We wouldn’t rise until the morning.
For more photographs of Octoberfest, check of Travel Along’s Photo Gallery.