Oktoberfest, Munich by Sobhit Gautam

Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany

Banker Sobhit Gautam enjoyed Oktoberfest and shares his first hand experience of the Bavarian high! Read on and start planning for the biggest annual beer fest in the world to be held from Sep 17–Oct 3 in Munich, Germany...

Oktoberfest Munich

We all love festivals and what better if it happens to be a beer festival.  While a lot of cities around the globe have started organizing it, nothing beats the original Bavarian one - The Oktoberfest. If your Europe travel happens to be around September mid to October first week, it would be a crime to miss out on the Oktoberfest. Squeeze in a few days for Munich and make it a point to get to the Oktoberfest grounds to experience German brew binge at its best.
Oktoberfest is Disney land with lots and lots
of amazing quality beer, live music and... beer maids!
I experienced Oktoberfest in 2014 with my friend Karan on his Bachelor's trip and still have fond memories of guzzling the best German beers. After an almost 9 hours Lufthansa flight from Mumbai, I reached Munich and checked in to Holiday Inn Express hotel in the Munich Messe area. Freshened and instantly forgetting fatigue of a long flight, we headed straight to Theresienwiese, the  Oktoberfest grounds. The city of Munich exuded a special charm and was soaked in Oktoberfest spirit. Only regret I have is three days were clearly not enough to do justice to the fest!
Do note that if you are travelling in a large group, it is better to book a table in advance and the craze for this fest is such that bookings for a spot here start as early as December. Apparently, preparations for the next year's Oktoberfest begins at the close of current year’s fest. Phew!
Anyways back to our ale tales... we were two guys and somehow managed to get a place to park ourselves inside the tent. Probably only because we went in early in the day and it was a weekday. If somehow you manage a seat, stick to it as you may not get one later unless you have made prior reservations. When you have have had your fill at a particular tent and won't be able to guzzle any longer then Hop On and Hop Off to as many tents as you can. The venue is huge and it is difficult to cover all tents in a day.

"Once the beer starts to kick in, no one stays a stranger. It is like a world peace conference. Everyone loves everyone. Dance, sing, stand on top of the benches."

Oktoberfest is a celebration like no other. Thousands of people visit Munich every year for the love of beer 

HoHo Trivia: Oktoberfest began as the marriage ceremony between Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese on October 12, 1810. What was a simple wedding celebration has transformed into a 17 or 18-day festival in which 7 million people from around the world participate consuming more than 6 million liters of Bavarian beer. That’s 1 million gallons of beer!

Oktoberfest can be an amazing family outing too
Drink responsibly is the first virtue that goes for a toss here. I kept reminding myself not to get carried away too... but to no avail. Chances are you too will, and in a way that is part of the experience as well. The beer's potency will hit you before you know when to stop and getting lost in the huge ground is nothing new. Fix a meet up point in case you get lost and more importantly remember the point yourself as after getting drunk, finding the spot will also be a task. So even if you're drinking for the worst, hope for the best.

"The beers at Oktoberfest are way more potent in the alcohol content and a pint is not the pint we get in India. One can easily get carried away (so did we) and end up lost and sloshed."

Sobhit and his friend Karan enjoying the Oktoberfest
The concept of beer corpse (People lying dead drunk!) are very real and if you are someone who likes to drink, then chances are high you will end up becoming one (happened with us, I think). Though not much one can do once you are so wasted. Good thing is that the cops are helpful, but in a place where everyone is drunk and falling over, they tend to care the least. Being a tourist might for once work for your advantage, it did for us. After getting lost at the grounds, meeting couple of hours later like "Kumbh mein bichre hue bhai”, we managed to get lost again and this time we were actually walking on the Autobahn. While trying to figure out the route to the hotel, after unable to find a bus or taxi which could drop us, we decided to walk back to our hotel (Clearly not the wisest idea). That’s when we got pulled over by cops and on explaining our story to them, they dropped us to the hotel safe and sound. Yayyy!
Just to add though while beer corpses are a normal sight at the fest, it is not advisable to be one yourself. Enjoy the fest, be careful of your belongings and most importantly make sure the experience is not that wild.
We woke up the next morning totally hungover but even more excited about another day of drunken revelry. We got late, managed to reach by evening and could not find a place to sit anywhere. Forget tents, even beer gardens were all bursting at the seams. That's when we realised there's more to Oktoberfest than just beer! The fest is also a brilliant family outing destination with amusement rides and lots of food stalls to explore. Apart from the beer tasting, you can sample different types of amazing meats and other Bavarian staples on display.
Anyways back to our beer binge. After enjoying these local food treats we did manage to find a spot and started doing what everyone does best at this fest... drink beer. Hic hic hooray!

Tipsy Tips

  • They have a rule of not serving you unless you are seated. So in case you are unable to find a place to sit, forget the beer as no one will take the order.
  • In case you are done drinking and plan to just sit and enjoy, forget that as well. With the never ending waiting queues, the servers are candid enough to ask you to leave.
  • Attractive beer maids masterfully carry the huge beer mugs and are also the biggest attraction of the fest... There are bouncers around too, just in case you get tipsy and frank!
  • Larger groups planning to travel are best advised to book a table in advance. You can search online, raise a query and the organisers will revert. Direct queries to the major tents can also be made. 
  • Do tip as avoiding it isn't the best idea. The pricing is made such that you anyways end up leaving the change.
  • Do look for traditional Bavarian outfits, buy them and wear them. I plan to do that as well next time.

HoHo Info

What: Oktoberfest 2016
Oktoberfest MunichSix million visitors and still counting! Beer lovers from around the globe congregate at this mammoth fest to pay their tribute to the ubiquitous beverage. One of the largest celebrations around the world, the Oktoberfest is a spectacle and experience not to be missed.
First things first… Oktoberfest actually kicks off in September. This year’s dates are Sept 17-Oct 3 to ensure the crowd can enjoy outdoors better before the frosty October sets in. On the dot of 12 noon on Saturday, September 17th, Munich’s mayor Dieter Reiter will tap the first barrel thus declaring the “Wiesn” - as the Munich people call it – officially open.
Second most important thing — anyone can enter the Oktoberfest and all of the tents for free. You don´t need any ticket to get in! Woohoo!
There are 14 main beer tents at the grounds serving brews. Of the 14 tents there are 6 large tents, which rotate up to 12,000 people per day! Only six breweries are represented at the Oktoberfest grounds – Späten, Augustiner, Paulaner, Hacker-Poschorr, Hofbräu and Löwenbräu. Everyone has their preferred brew by the end, which one will be yours?
Where: Munich, Germany
When: September 17 to October 3, 2016

Sobhit narrated his experiences to our hopper in chief Nausheen Tareen

Images courtesy: buzzmunich.in
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