What’s Oktoberfest Really Like?

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Attending Oktoberfest was on my bucket list…and in 2015 I went! So what was it like? I documented my experience below! 

September 30, 2015
Munich

Getting my Dirndl:
Well! After much Deliberation I finally bought a dirndl! I was very torn between colors: red and black or blue and pink. Blue and pink is more ‘fun’ and ‘young girly,’ whereas red and black is more traditional (according to the sales lady). My sisters said I should get red and black and it’s not like I’ll be young forever, so I guess getting red (the blood of angry men)  and black (the dark of ages past)  makes more sense. Some of the dirndls I saw were really expensive but I managed to get mine for 50 euros. I also got it cheaper because I bought a coordinated set as opposed to buying all the different pieces separately.

How to Wear a Dirndl:
As I emerged from the dressing room with my apron tied in a bow at the back, the saleswoman right away and untied it. “If you tie it in the center of your back, it means you’re widowed,” she explained.  These are the rules: A knot tied on your left side means that you are single. A knot tied on the right side means you are married or unavailable. Good to know – otherwise I would have walked around Oktoberfest with people thinking I was a widow! 

At Oktoberfest:
I dressed up in my newly-bought dirndl and tried to curl my hair but it didn’t curl properly (it never does) and then made my way down to Oktoberfest. It was actually so fun to walk down to the grounds from the U-Bahn with all the lederhosen and dirndl clad people.  Such a festive atmosphere! It was a Thursday morning which meant it was busy but not too busy so you could walk without the fear of being trampled and/or herded by the massive force of the crowd in a direction you didn’t want to go. 

Oktoberfest is more than just tents of people drinking beer. The fairgrounds boast lots of rides and the smells from all the different food stalls is intoxicating.  Everything smelt so delicious that I think if I could afford to buy everything, I probably would and then get fat because I don’t like exercising.  I loved looking at the Lebkuchenherzen which have cute little sayings on them. I saw quite a few people wearing them around their necks . How they had the self-discipline not to eat them (not even a little bite!) astonishes me but then again, they almost looked too pretty to eat! 

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Lebkuchenherzen at Oktoberfest

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People really did look so nice in their Trachten. Old people who looked so much like Omi and Opi, little children (oh my goodness, I wanted to hug them so much), young jovial men, and other girls just like me.  I also saw a few school groups and the little German children all holding hands and walking around in trachten made me smile. A few people asked to take a picture of me – I guess if you wear a dirndl, you become a tourist attraction.

As I walked around, I felt a surge of pride that I was German and that this was my culture. Seeing the familiar hand made crafts, smelling the familiar foods, understanding the language…I don’t know, I just felt very patriotic towards Germany as though I was falling in love with it all over again.

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At 1:00, I  met my friends Kevin and Dustin at the Ferris wheel. I have to admit, it felt surreal to see people from Delta in Munich. I mean…I went to elementary school with Kevin! He lives five minutes from me.  It makes the world seem small.

We went to the Schottenhammel tent – the tent where the first beer is poured.  Being inside it was so cool!  You walk in to rows and rows of huge wooden tables,  a band playing traditional German music, and everyone yelling “Ziggy ziggy, ziggy ziggy, oi, oi, oi!” It’s really just one massive party filled with people from all over the world stuffing their faces with pretzels, or swaying to and fro with mugs of beer.  We bought beers for 10 euros each and sat with a group of Germans, one of whom looked like Kristoff from Frozen. (Even Kevin thought so) THE BEER MUG IS HUGE! And heavy. I feel like the waiters and waitresses must emerge from Oktoberfest with stronger arm muscles because I saw some walking around carrying six at a time!  I’ve never really been a fan of beer but in the weeks leading to Oktoberfest, I prepared myself by slowly getting used to drinking it. I still prefer wine, but beer’s not that bad. It was fun yelling ‘Prost!’ and looking people in the eye as you cheered them. As I sat at the table, I had to take a moment just to look about me and appreciate where I was and all that I was experiencing. Here I was at Oktoberfest, wearing a dirndl and drinking a beer…it was almost surreal! 

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Then we went to another tent – the HB tent – which is apparently the ‘party tent’ and stood around a table where a very large man from America quickly revealed that he was only interested in himself and money. The worst.  There are 14 tents at Oktoberfest and all of them have different atmospheres and different decorations. I didn’t go inside all of them so I can’t pick any favourites but every tent I did enter had me standing still for at least two minutes trying to take it all in. The noise, the people, the huge trays of food, the excitement – it’s all slightly overwhelming! 

After we left the HB Tent, Dustin really wanted to go on rides (which were ridiculously overpriced, I might add). Anyway, we went on two and I really thought I was going to fall out and die. But thank goodness I didn’t.  Although I was terrified, the one good thing about the rides was that they gave you a great view of the Oktoberfest grounds. And how spectacular they were!

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In the evening things got busier and it was “damn near impossible” (in the words of Oliver Wood) to get into a tent. By this point, the amount of people who were too drunk to function became much more apparent. I saw security guards leading people away and girls crying into their friend’s shoulders.  Thankfully I didn’t see anybody throw up! It also started to get a little bit chillier. So with my jacket wrapped tighter around my shoulders and my dirndl smelling like beer, I decided it was time to go home.  Before leaving, I bought myself a Leberkäse sandwhich (typical German food) and it was so wonderful. (Though not as good as my Grandma’s!!) Even the security guard at the U-Bahn said it looked good.

That was my first experience at Oktoberfest! Bis später!!

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Kazandra Pangilinan

Kazandra is probably not that different from you. She eats, sleeps,and wonders about how to make the most of this life. This blog is dedicated to the trials and triumphs she has experienced in the process of growing up in her quest to find meaning, connection and happiness.

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