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  • Writer's pictureMariko


My friends and I went traveled to Munich, Germany for the first weekend of Oktoberfest. Since it was the first weekend, the celebration officially started on Saturday at 12pm. The campground where Oktoberfest is reminded me a lot of County Fairgrounds. There were a number of indoor “tents,” similar to exhibition halls, which lined the main section of the festivities. In between the tents were food and souvenir vendors as well as amusement park rides.

Adorned in our dirndls (which you can get for 50 euros in old town Munich), my group of friends headed out into the rain at about 8am to get in line for the tents. We planned on going to the Haufbrough tent (they are named based off of which beer they serve inside) because we heard that it was the happening place for non-German college-aged kids. Once they opened the doors at 9am it was a mad scramble to get inside and claim tables. Many of the tables were reservation only so it was hard to find a place for a large group. We ended up finding a table next to some New Zealanders that did not have a reservation until 3pm. Once we got a table, the waiting began.

A waitress came by to make sure we were all over 18 and to explain us the rules of the day. Supposedly no one can receive beer until 12pm when the Mayor of Munich taps the first keg. She did say we could order soft drinks starting at 10am and place our orders starting at 11am. After that, it was only socially acceptable to drink beer; nothing else (non-beer alcohol, food) could be ordered until 1pm (and even that was looked down upon).

The three hours waiting passed by quickly. Some people had playing cards while others just talked and ate pretzels.

A little before noon, the mayor came through out tent and waved to 8,000 people in the Haubrauf tent before continuing to the tent where he tapped the keg. At noon, we heard a gun salute that signaled the official start of Oktoberfest. Right on the dot, waitresses came out with 10 steins of beer in their hands (mind you these weigh 5 lbs each!!!) and whistles in the mouths to alert people to get out of their way. A band started to play and the whole tent became very lively. Supposedly a tradition is if you stand on the table, you must chug your entire stein. If you fail, people throw food at you. Every time someone stands up, the entire tent cheers him or her on. It was quite the experience.

After three when our table reservation was up, our group split off into a pairs of twos and threes. The girls I was with and I traveled to another tent (this one had more families and played more American music) and then got food. Ironically, in Germany, one of the most meat-heavy places, I found the best veggie burger of my life. It was so good that I got two.

If you plan to go, make sure you follow these general guidelines:

- Get there very early, and if possible make a table reservation

- Keep all belongings on you at all times. Once you leave a tent there is a long line to get back in. It is very easy to be separated from your jacket, etc

- Make sure you have cash, especially smaller bills to make large group orders easier

- Drink water when you can! The beer served at Oktoberfest is aged longer than commercial beer. It is strong!

- Stay with a buddy. The event is so chaotic we lost the majority of our group by the end of the day. It's guaranteed that guys will make a move on you, which can be very fun. That being said, I felt safe knowing that I was with trusted friends the whole time.

- Speaking of which, Ladies here is the "code" for Dirndl wearing:

- Bow tied on the Right: Indicates that you are in a relationship

- Bow tied on the Left: Single and ready to mingle

- Bow tied in the Center: Under age/Relationship status is none of your business

Have fun!

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