On my second day in Munich, I attended Oktoberfest. There really is no better time to visit Munich than during this time, and I think it is something that everyone should do at least once in their lives. I joined a tour called the Size Matters Beer Tour which started at 9am and continued till 4pm. The only reason I joined a tour was because I didn’t want to go to the world’s largest drinking event alone, especially in a foreign country where I barely knew the language.
The tour started off with some history of Munich itself as we walked to our first stop for our traditional Bavarian breakfast. For those who don’t know what that is, it is basically 0.5L of Weiss bier, 2 weiss wursts, and a pretzel. It was something that was included in the tour. I had never had beer that early in the morning before, and it was pretty damn good. It is amazing how well that particular weiss bier goes down with a pretzel at that part of the day. The weiss wurst tasted far better than it looked, although it can’t be eaten the ‘traditional’ way since the skin is too chewy to actually eat, so you need to somehow peel it off without making a mess.
On a side note – bratwurst was always something I wanted to try, but I was very disappointed by it. Currywurst and weiss wurst are far better.
After breakfast, we were taken to one of the world’s largest beer gardens, namely the Augustiner Keller beer garden, which can seat up to around 7000 people. After we were taught some history about it and the reason for the white gravel, we proceeded inside for another 0.5L of beer which was slightly stronger than the one we had for breakfast, but even tastier. The owner’s wife is actually South African. Gary, who was on tour with me from Cape Town, shared a proud moment with me when we found that out.
We made our way to the Hofbrauhaus tent at Oktoberfest from there, where we had a table in the balcony that overlooked the entire tent. 2L of beer was served to us there, along with half a chicken each, and a snack platter for the table. The chicken is very well cooked, and even though it didn’t come with any accompaniments, it was perfectly fine to eat on its own. We had the table until 4 but managed to hold it for almost a full hour afterwards before deciding to part with each other.
3L of beer was consumed that day…the most I had ever had in my life. Thankfully it was over the course of around 7 hours, so I was still standing at the end. Do not underestimate the power of pretzels – they are made specifically for water retention (so you don’t need to answer to nature’s call so often) and to absorb the beer so that you can drink more (that’s why they’re so salty). Thanks to those pretzels, I literally required the use of the restroom only 3 times that day. Beer drinkers will know that that is practically impossible after consuming that amount of beer.
The restroom facilities in the Hofbrauhaus tent were immaculate and not busy at all. Ladies will know that you have to wait in line in at least 90% of public places – I did not have to wait even once. I do however owe it to the fact that we attended the festival during the day on a weekday, so it was not as crowded as it would have been after 4pm when the locals get off work, or on weekends. As a single woman, it was the ideal time to go.
Security is quite tight at the festival and attendees are monitored even though they don’t realise it. I witnessed a man being escourted out of the tent by 2 burly guards, as he was clearly over his limit with alcohol and could barely walk by himself. The guards also check if anyone is trying to walk out of the tent with a beer mug, so if you want to sit in the tent’s beer garden outside, you need to tell them that that’s where you’re going with your glass.
Do not take a backpack to the event (I mistake that I made) as you will not be allowed into many of the tents. Some tents searched mine before letting me in, where others refused outright.
There really is no experience like Oktoberfest. Beer fan or not, it is an absolute must do. The Hofbrauhaus beer was awesome, and although the locals claim that it is just a tourist attraction and that there are better beers around, I really did not mind being the tourist that fell for the so-called trap. In terms of price, I didn’t notice much of a difference. Also, there is so much history attached to the Hofbrauhaus itself that I saw no harm in being drawn to it.