This last weekend, T, M, Nicola, and I went to Munich for the ever famous and popular Oktoberfest. The conversation started because Nicola had always wanted to see the Oide Wiesn.
What the hell is that, you ask?
Here in Germany, the more frequent name for Oktoberfest is Wiesn, which comes from the word wiese and means meadow or field (since Oktoberfest always takes place in ‘Theresa’s Meadow’ – Theresienwiese). Also, see Muswiese. The first mention of Oktoberfest was as a celebration for the wedding of King Ludwig I (not the mad king) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildgburghausen. The celebration took place in the fields outside of the city gates. This field was later named Theresa’s Meadow after the princess. The word “Oide” is Bavarian for “Alte” or “Old.” So Oide Wiesn translates to “Old Oktoberfest.”
Got it? Good.
As responsible adults, we took the train in (having the earliest possible train leave Schnelldorf at 6:14 AM. Woof.). And Nicola, being the little German Girl Scout that she is: provided some pre-gaming booze (Secco for the ladies and beer for the gents). When we arrived, the fairground was already quite full and Nico mentioned wanting to swing by the Hacker Beer Tent since one of her besties, Anke, was working there. It is common knowledge to anyone who has experienced the Wiesn before that it is literally impossible to get into a beer tent, but we thought we would at least give it a try. We got in!
To say that it was full was an understatement. This beer tent alone can fit 7,000 people and the raucous was loud enough to prove it. Anke’s area was in the higher level at the far back end of the tent. We arrived to not only find her but to find several tables empty! Huzzah! So we took advantage (knowing that the tables were reserved but starting at 1pm). We had our typical Bavarian breakfast (white sausage and pretzel) along with a Maβ of beer (1 L and it’s pronounced Mahs – or if you’re Bavarian: Moh-ahs). And while we dined, we chatted with our delightful Anke about the goings on (she has been working at Oktoberfest for the last nine years). We mentioned our surprise at being able to find any seating at all. Anke mentioned that the numbers at the Wiesn have been dwindling over the last few years. She attributed it either to the fact that it is fuuuuuuuuucking expensive (at one tent, I paid about 10€ for a Maβ and about 20€ for a dish. Woof.) Anke also mentioned that because of the recent terror attacks that less people also want to risk venturing into a festival that caters to about 7.7 million liters of beer in one event (that stat is from 2013). Either way, T also noticed a difference since the last two times that he came, he couldn’t even get close to a tent nonetheless in one.
We stayed until about 1, which is when the shift change. Servers leave for the next to start their shift and the first group of drunkards literally get kicked out for the next group of festival-goers. That was a lot of people and the four of us got split up (briefly). When Nicola found us, she had also found a stray. There was a young woman from New Jersey who decided to come to Munich on a whim and enjoy the festival by herself. She was the same age I was when I did my solo UK trip back in 2011. Her name is Nitza and we had adopted her into our tribe for the day. We took her to Oide Wiesn where we had more food, more Maβ, and enjoyed some of the old carnie games that were reminiscent of the “old time” Oktoberfest, including Motorom – where gentlemen ride old BMW motorcycles from the 1930s up the side of some walls and collect money from the spectators who have the courage to reach over the railing. I made a video, check it out! The hand in the video belongs to T. Watch closely as they take the money directly from his hand! It’s super cool!
We had so much fun! After Oide Wiesn, we meandered around the fairgrounds until we arrived at yet another beer tent that was actually on a carousel. I really wished I took photos, but honestly, I was already pretty drunk at this point. 😛 But there I made more friends: a gay American couple from Dallas with Germanic roots. I am sad to say that I don’t remember their names; however, I do remember them being an absolute delight! So much of it reminds me of the Indiana State Fair (which is also wanted the greatest things on earth).
Overall, what’s not to love about Oktoberfest? It’s like a state fair that celebrates beer and you get to dress up?! Sign me up for next year!
Have you been to the Wiesn? If so, what was your experience?
Bis naechste Woche!