It's 11:09 am and I’m in a plane somewhere above Germany. In an attempt to make it to Oktoberfest, we booked a Ryan air flight for "Munich West", without using Google maps to realize that the airport that is an hour and 30 minutes west of Munich, in a town called Memmingen. While Ryanair, is inexpensive, I’ve realized that you have to both Google map the airport to see if it is near the city you intend on going to and you also have to print your boarding passes out online before arriving at the airport, to avoid the 95 USD fee (because of this, I’ve mostly gone through Easyjet or even Wizzair).
In the lines (or queues, as they say here) for boarding, I was stuck behind two American girls from the states, going on about how their dads were funding their 1,000-euro per night (!) hotel.
Once on the ground in Memmigen, Jared and I began practicing our German to each other, half jokingly, considering my knowledge of the language is very limited. A few Americans soon asked us if we were German and could help them with the language.
Once our bus from Memmigen dropped us off in the heart of the capital of Bavaria, we were greeted with crowds of people and the occasional cross-eyed or stumbling morning goers of the fest. The first day we got there we walked around town visiting Frauenkirch, an old cathedral dating back to the 12th century. We stopped to grab sandwiches and pastries; to my surprise, the food in Germany was probably the best in comparison with any other country in Europe (my opinion). Accordingly, I splurged and wrecked my budget this weekend thanks to bratwurst, currywurst, walnut bread, tiramisu and pastries.
The process of getting into a tent at Oktoberfest without first having reservations was rough. First, you must pry past anyone in a crowd that is shouting to enter and holding up the fingers to show number of people in their party. After scooting to the front, we managed to assertively gain and entrance into the outside wall of the tent, where you can purchase a drink but must continue standing unless a table opens up. Once we were tired of the crowds, we went to restaurant nearby to avoid restroom queues. Here we met a group from Copenhagen, Denmark, who spoke English and one guy from South Africa who was living in London. They were pretty goofy and began telling us about life in Denmark and their travels so far. The following night the a similar chain of events happened with a group from
The United States who were working as military in Germany (some of which who were born in Philippines before moving to the States).
This group of Americans, wanted us to play the “random picture” game with them, which involves trying to be the most successful at walking up to a random group of people and asking them to take a photo with you. While in any other circumstances this might be seen as an extreme disruption of social norms, because it was Oktoberfest, people half-willingly stood in these pictures. With the help of our some-what local American friends, we found that the restroom signs in Germany are marked by "WC" not the box with a stick figure man and woman (which points out an elevator).
While we spent our nights bustling around Oktoberfest, we made an effort to explore Old Town and to see the National Theatre and The Residenz Museum, during the day. The Residenz Museum was a look into 16th century royal life and the Italian architecture that permeated Germany.
Another festival was in full swing while we were there, Ander Art Festival, which was held in Odeonplatz square, right by Theatine Church. There we were able to listen to German folk music and browse the foreign food tents (At the American food tent there was chili, American fries, and hamburgers). We wondered into Marienplatz (New Town Hall) in time for the 11 am, 43-bell ceremony, a tradition of dates back to the 17th century—where Germans celebrated the passing of the plague-- but we quickly moved on during the show in order to walk all over central Munich. We took the metro stop to Olympia Park to see the location of the 1972 Olympics. The park was a nice break from the city, with quaint racquetball courts, coffee shops, bikers and a couple of teenage kids on skateboards.
The weekend in pictures: