We got in to Munich around 5 pm and scrounged around for wifi at the station, but because the service was so crappy, we walked across the street to the Wombats, a hostel I had stayed at a few years before. We mooched their wifi for a bit and charged our phones. While at the hostel we had overheard a tour guide person talking to a large gaggle of travelers about Oktoberfest, what to expect, times, dress attire, etc. Most of the information we had pretty much expected or anticipated, but I will get into this in a bit. For now, we were most interested in their advice regarding dress attire. Lederhosen and dirndl, not necessary, but you will stand out if you are not dressed to dress.
I already have a nice lederhosen, but I didn’t want to haul it around for 7 weeks to only use it for 2-3 days. Luckily, their advice had told us about a shop at the end of the block that sold some cheap knock-offs for 20euro! So we immediately left before the crowd dispersed to do the same. I got the last pair that didn’t look like gigantic clown pants. As we were paying, we say the rush of guys coming down the stairs on the hunt for their own. We walked to a number of different stores checking prices for a decent dirndl for Kristin. Oddly enough we found a nice one for 50 euro from a pop-up vendor next to the main station. Now that we were all squared away on attire, it was time to find out where we were going to stay 🙂
Because we booked our flights so late, we didn’t feel we had any chance on finding an economical accommodation, so I had reached out to people I knew in the area that could possible host us during Oktoberfest. Patrick, another friend I had met from traveling had responded and let me know I could stay with his family. Even though he was actually out traveling through the Philippines and wasn’t going to be around we were able to set something up through couchsurfing with them.
We had two minor setbacks with this plan. the first was my couchsurfing account was messed up and I needed to wait for them to fix it before I was able to reach out again through it. So we defaulted to email, this was our second setback. All updates I had sent out, had been forwarded to the junk mail folder and our hosts weren’t sure if we were still coming. In the end, it all worked out, but it was a little awkward at first when we showed up and they didn’t know who we were or how we knew how to get there. They basically thought, because I never responded, we planned to stay elsewhere. Luckily they still had room for us and all was well.
Basically this is the quick and dirty run down on Oktoberfest. Dress to fit in. General styles are perfectly fine, but if you really want to fit the bill, look for the traditional Bavarian style attire with vest, socks, etc. You will stand out if you are not dressed up that goes without saying. On the first day they do not start serving beer until after noon, after the procession has passed and the first keg has been tapped by the mayor. It is tradition. Only then will the beer begin to flow. But until then get there stupid early to stand in line to make sure you can get a table. I don’t know when, but they open the doors early. We aimed to go to the Hacker Pschorr tent but that felt completely full when we arrived at 8am and we still stood in line outside until 11 or so. If you go on the first day, bring a deck of cards and aim to get there around 6am to get your pick of a good table.
About reserving tables – you can’t, unless you are a local. And even still, they have to reserve super early, think beginning of the year early. So if you know a local and know you plan your trips in advance, plan accordingly. The reservations are free and seat 10 to a table., but you must commit to a certain amount of food and drink and pay that ahead of time. Interpret that how you like.
For everyone else who doesn’t know locals or plans to elbow their way in, this is how it works. On the first day if you want the best table get there around 6am. We got there at 8am as recommended and did not find something until after 2 or something. I can only speak for the first day, For the week days, I don’t think it matters, we got there around noon on monday and walked right in and sat down. For the weekends I heard try to get there around 8 or so, They don’t start serving beer until after 930 or 10, but you at least have a table.
Another heads up, if you plan to just show up whenever, consider this, they typically do not serve you if you are not seated or have a seat at a table. If you want beer or food, you must have a table you can get it from, otherwise you will not be served. We basically vultured near a table and waited until a server brought beer by and had extras and we snagged those. I only saw one type of beer, so don’t go asking for a beer list, just say how many, be quick and have your money ready. When you do get your first beer, make sure to tip well on it so they come back. If you do not tip they will not keep coming by the table. The philosophy is simple really, tip and you will be taken care of. The cost per liter stein was 980eu this year. Plan to spend money.
Smoking is also not allowed inside the tents, you most leave. If your waiting for the first beers and need to get your fix, I don’t know if they will let you back in. They may, but that is something you may need to figure out on your own. Maybe invest in an electronic cigarette or bring some nicorette.
About the tents – if you’re looking for specific information about specific tents, my recommendations would be to seek that elsewhere, I can only share what I know. The Hacker Pschorr tent is supposed to be one of the most famous tents. It is also supposed to be the most beautiful because of the clouded ceiling. And I believe it is supposed to also be one of the rowdiest with a younger crowd. If you want a little calmer, seek another tent. This is the tent we spent the first 2 days in. On opening day we were there for about 13 hours in total. I heard good things about the Hippodrome, Haufbrau house is supposed to be the most famous of blablabla, but personally I could care less for their beer. Maybe go check out the real Haufbrau House downtown, but I wouldn’t stay. There is much better beer out there, but that is all a matter of opinion really.
If your interested in getting the true local experience, go to Augustiner. We went to this tent on the third day, but their beer where the real experience is at. They have halls and restaurants all over the city. The food is to die for; they have their own butcher only for them. In my opinion, their beer is, hands down, the best. They do zero advertising, and not until very recently (3 years or so) they didn’t do any exporting and still it is impossible to find. Any local you speak with will say it is their favorite. The tent was fine, but the real experience are in the halls.
As far as my personal take on Oktoberfest, it was fun but I don’t know if it is something I would make a point to come back to every year. Probably now just another tick off my bucket list, but worth every penny. You can do it in 2-3 days, just make sure to pick your tents and times wisely. We met tons of people so even if you go by yourself, which I doubt, you wont drink alone. And everyone is out to have a good time, singing, dancing, standing on the benches, etc.
On the second day we relaxed and took it easy and planned to meet up with some of kristin’s friends later that evening in the HP tent again. But for the day, we did laundry and other important things like setting up a ride to Berlin, booking a hostel, and playing Candy Crush Saga 🙂 Again, Sundays are a pain in the butt if you need anything. Finding change for the washing machine was next to impossible. We also left the house that afternoon and stowed our stuff in the lockers at the main station and went to meet with Kristin’s friends. We drank with them and crashed in their room that night.
On the third day we spent a few hours in the Augustiner tent until around 330 or so. Then took off to catch our ride up to Berlin. I think the total beer count for the both of us was somewhere around 22 liters in three days. 🙂 great success. Kristin got blitzed on monday. I tell you that was super exciting hauling around super drunkiface through the subways and streets of Munich with two packs on our backs and in head-to-toe lederhosen and dirndl. I have a video of her somewhere, but she would kill me if I posted it.
When we got to the car, Kristin slept the entire way up to Berlin, with the exception for when we stopped for a quick bite to eat halfway there. She was still drunk. Burger in one hand, salad fork in the other. Another tick off ye ‘ole bucket list, Oktoberfest down. We were in Berlin by 9pm.