A whole lot has happened in the last week-plus, so I’m going to break this post up. Let’s start from the beginning…
Arrival in Munich
On Sat, Oct 1 I departed from Heathrow airport in London bound for Munich. I was in very high spirits, with great confidence on my navigation abilities, and maybe not so much with my german language abilities. The flight to Munich went without a hiccup, and having run into 4 or 5 different groups of Californians bound for Oktoberfest, I delayed switching to German mode. Upon arrival it hit me: "shit, I’m gonna need to use German to get around."
Well, for the most part anyway. Passport control was a joke, they didn’t even ask me how long I was to be in Munich. I managed to buy my train ticket using English and took the hour or so train to the Hauptbanhof, or central train station. Upon arrival I realized I had forgotten how to get to the hostel from the train station and hadn’t printed directions. Awesome.
So I wandered outside and walked a couple blocks, not recognizing any of the streets (I did remember the name of the street connecting the hostel’s street). I decided to ask this old dude where the street was (in surely horrid, scrambled German) and he didn’t know. So I wandered around some more and eventually found the street and hostel. Chris greeted me warmly upon arrival. He was a welcome, familiar sight in a strange, foreign land.
That night we met up with Kevin and Ivan, his friend from Munich, and promptly made our way to a club. The club was below ground and was fitted with a room consisting of nothing but large couchlike cushions lining the walls in a seductive red color. Unfortunately the room was reserved so we grabbed a table in the adjoining room, near the bar. Upon receiving the menu I opened it up and immediately (as in less than a second) lay my eyes on an interesting cocktail: an Absinthe martini. "Hell yeah," I thought to myself and ordered one soon afterward. I had wanted to try Absinthe for awhile. So we sat and talked for a little while and sipped on our cocktails. The martini had a very strong licoriche flavor, but wasn’t too unpleasant. After finishing it I felt definitely intoxicated, but not really drunk. Later Kevin/Chris and I went to a Bierhaus for a few beers. I had a bit of a buzz but that was it, the absinthe was a bit disappointing. No worries, for I will dabble in it again since it must be legal here.
Day 1: Where’s the party?
Oktoberfest is like a gigantic fair with several beer "tents" run by
a few of the local breweries, who develop a special Oktoberfest brew.
It is quite immense, the tents themselves are huge and probably sit 5
to 10 thousand people. It has the special distinction of being the
largest public festival in the world (making it quite touristy).
So on sunday we slept in a bit and didn’t meet up with Kevin/Ivan til mid-afternoon. We were told that if we got to Oktoberfest too late all the tents would be full and we wouldn’t be able to get in. Well, that was exactly the case, as 3 PM was too late for every tent we tried to enter. The rest of the day was mostly a bummer, we ended up riding the bumper cars for a while and then (on the third try) getting into a pub for dinner and a drink. I ordered a random beer and it was pretty gross (real sweet). Later we went to a Russian movie (dubbed in German of course) of which I understood just about nothing.
Day 2: Success!
So upon our return I decided Monday was to be dedicated to getting into a beer tent so we could really experience Oktoberfest. We (Chris and I) got up at around 9 or so and were on the festival grounds by 10:30. After wandering around a couple tents and not finding any seats I spotted a table that was just being surrendered, and quickly pounced on it. (The tent was #14, Löwenbräu) Not two minutes afterwards we were joined by a couple from Texas and a Bavarian family, filling up the table. Then the fun began!
We were happy to find the couple was American and chatted for awhile, putting down a Liter of beer apiece (check out the Munich photo album, these mugs are just huge!) After awhile they left and I started chatting with the rather attractive young German lady next to me about all kinds of stuff. Luckily her English was still pretty good, and my German good enough to initiate converstional topics. This continued until 5 PM or so when they took off. All this time the beer had been flowing freely (4L!!) and we decided it was time to leave before I got in over my head. So we wandered back to the hostel in the rain, well after buying a sweet hat at the festival that is! After 15 minutes or so of sitting in our room watching the tube I got bored and wandered downstairs to the bar, conveniently located near the check-in desk (I highly recommend this hostel, the Euro-Youth Hotel in Munich).
I was still wearing my ridiculous hat from the festival and drew all sorts of attention at the bar. An Irish lad flagged me down and I took a seat. So the next few hours were spent chatting with him and a few Australian girls about all kinds of stuff. Then a Spanish girl the Irishman knew took a seat next to me and the Irish kid tried to get us to go with him to a local pub, where he was to perform or something. I decided that’d be a horrid idea based on my current level of inebriation and declined. By midnight or so I headed back up to my room to literally pass out.
Day 3: Hangover!
4 AM came real real fast. This was the time Chris and I had set to get up and head to the airport for our 620 flight (I knew this was a horrible time when booking it but did it anyway). Needless to say I was still quite drunk and felt awful, but managed to get up, pack up my shit and head back to the Hauptbanhof. The train came pretty quickly and we were at the airport by 5:30 or so. However the walk from the train station to our departure terminal took forever and we arrived at the checkin line at quarter of 6 or so. By the time we checked in it was 615, and too late for the flight.
So we bought tickets for the next flight and paid the 40EUR rebooking fee. Then we sat around the airport waiting for our new flight at 14:10. I managed to sleep for a good deal of it, feeling horrible, and eventually we checked in and made the flight. I contacted my Hausmeister when we arrived in Münster and the rest of the day went fairly well.
Welcome week fun will be my next post…