One of the destinations we Aussies love to visit is Munich – especially during Oktoberfest. For those who don’t know, Oktoberfest is an annual German beer festival that originated back in Bavaria, Germany in 1810, and is held over a two week period that sees more than six million people enter the festival. German men often wear leather Lederhosen and women wear Dirndls – which are traditional German outfits. Tourists, on the other hand, are more likely to wear a cheaper version of these traditional outfits due to their outlandish cost (especially the Lederhosen), and because it’s often single use.. However, the Germans have a good eye and can spot a “fake” lederhosen from a mile away.
One more thing to clear up, for those who have yet to make the trip, Oktoberfest isn’t actually fully held in October (Shook)! The event spans over two weeks and concludes on the first Sunday in October.
Johnny and I were not going to miss the opportunity on our European trip to visit Munich. However, it didn’t exactly go as smoothly as planned. Upon arriving in Munich we headed straight to our hostel to dump our bags, shower and head to the fair grounds to experience Oktoberfest. Unfortunately, the hostel we were staying at had a policy where once you paid your deposit you would then receive an email from them to pay the rest of the costs for the hostel before arrival, due to it being the busiest time of the year. Sadly, Johnny did not see the email as it fell into his junk box (Damn you Hotmail). This meant that our reservation had been cancelled and we had the option of going down to a campground to sleep in tents for a reasonable cost, or re-book our rooms for AUD 220 each per night! It’s safe to say I wasn’t impressed with our options. But as some of you know these things happen from time to time and are unavoidable, and there is no point getter stressed and angry (I know this now, but a good learning experience back then).
We decided it was a no brainer to suck it up and pay the large amount of money per night in order to sleep in an actual bed, instead of the enduring the European cold in a tent.
Eventually we made our way down to the fairgrounds and it was heaving with people. Roller coasters, food stalls, bright lights and of course drunk individuals were in every direction. We managed to eventually make our way into a beer tent. The atmosphere was electric! A brass band playing German folk music, the smell of German cuisine, and the sounds of clinking and people singing at the top of their lungs. A couple of steins in and we had a blast on our first night in Munich.
Even though we mainly went to Munich to visit Oktoberfest, we also wanted to see some of the city sights too. The next morning we ventured into the city center, to the main street known as Marienplatz, where I was able to do some tourist shopping and I bought myself a ceramic stein to remember the occasion. Unfortunately, later on in my trip I decided to post it back home to Melbourne with another stein I “acquired” from a beer tent in the festival grounds and it turned up smashed into pieces…. 😦
Moral of the story is, don’t post fragile items, even if you have a fragile sticker on it as, it won’t make it.
We met up with one of Johnny’s close friends Rico and continued to explore the city, seeing St Peter’s Church, the New Town Hall and Viktualienmarkt.
We treated ourselves to pretzels the size of one’s head (Gotta love carbs) and made our way to the English Gardens – which was a lovely park with many cyclists. We even managed to stumble across a man-made surf machine for the locals, who would struggle to find a beach in hundreds of Kilometres.
The Munich region has a large Turkish population, and with them they brought the amazing Durrem kebab. Every time I head to Germany I make sure I have at least three of these! They are cheap, spicy and meat packed. I lived off my fair share of kebabs at university and these topped my list. I just make sure I take out all the healthy stuff first 😉
That evening we met up with some German guys Johnny had been speaking on good old Grindr and they decided to take us under their wing and take us out gay clubbing Munich style. It’s pretty much the same as back home, but you just don’t understand a single word that is being said when everyone is chatting away. Nevertheless we had a blast and were out till 5am at club 47, where Johnny decided to find the closest Aussie bar to go and watch the AFL Grand Final and I decided to hit the hay to prepare for the next big day.
5am finishes after a night out always means a great sleep in. However, hostel life doesn’t always allow for this, with the rustling of those leaving early in the morning. With major hangovers it wasn’t time to experience more beer halls at Oktoberfest just yet, even though I assumed there would be many drunk tourists there already by the time we woke up.
We ventured out to Nymphenburg Palace, which offered great insights into Bavarian royal history. I find I’m always intriguing by intricate and delicate designs and elaborate structures of palaces and buildings hundreds of years ago. To me, the fact that these structures and fresco paintings have stood the test of time (with obviously a bit of maintenance) and are still so extravagant makes modern architecture sometimes look quite lame and boring, with some buildings and structures falling apart even after a couple of decades. (Sorry in advance of the lack of photos in the Palace, none turned out so great!)
After getting my history nerd on we headed back into town to meet up with one of Rico’s friends, where I decked out in my wannabe lederhosen for another big night of drinking. Several steins later we were having a blast, singing and dancing on tables with locals to the German traditional brass band.
The next day was our last in Munich before we continued on our adventure, so we got up as early as our hungover bodies would let us and headed straight to the Oktoberfest festival. We started by walking around the showgrounds to see it during the day, and it did remind me of Winter Wonderland in London. Lots of rides, food shops, and activities for the kids (obviously the beer tents aren’t for them, so these type of festivals need something for the youngin’s).
Being a Sunday and the final day of Oktoberfest and our final day in Munich we had to make an effort to finish the Munich adventure in a beer tent. We caught up with some of Johnny’s friends and a guy named Christian, who we met the night we went to club 96! I mean 47 (Interesting to see if anyone gets this reference 😉 ). A lot of the locals wanted to get to know us and drank and sang with us as the day went on, and yes we ending up singing and dancing on the tables again.
Oktoberfest is certainly something I recommend for everyone to go to once in their life. Even if you aren’t a fan of drinking or specifically drinking beer, the city of Munich and the festival itself comes to life at this time of the year. When tradition meets celebration you get a really exciting place to be. I 100% recommend adding this magnificent city to your to-do list in Germany. Let me know about your experiences in Munich if you have visited at different times of the year.