And so, to return to Otoberfest! It was pretty ridiculous how many people were there! I think the statistic is that 6 million people attend over the 16 day long festival. We were there on the second of three weekends and there were a lot of people! One of the girls I went with had done a really good job choosing our hotel, it was right on the tram line to the Teresienwiese, the festival grounds. Our hotel was also right next to this building called the Lowenbraustein that seemed to be both a traditional Bavarian restaurant, a giant beer garden and then a festival hall. So, upon landing Friday night we made our way there for a dinner of wienerscnitzl and other Bavarian fare. After dinner, we went upstairs to what was called the "biggest post-Oktoberfest party in Munich".
The next day we got up early, upon the advice of our tablemates at dinner the night before. The people sitting at our table heard us speaking English and asked where we were from. It actually turned out that the man had attended Andover, my high school and grew up in Andover! This was just the first of many strange things that make me feel as though the world is so incredibly small! In order to be able to order, beer or food, in the beer halls at the festival grounds, you have to be seated at a table. And to get a table you have to get there early and you have to be a little pushy. We ended up at a table with 6 40 year old German men who did not speak English! It was a very... native experience. One of the girls I went with did at least speak German, so she was able to help us out when there were comprehension issues.
So we went into one of the beer halls and sat down and didn't get up until about 4 in the afternoon, because we didn't really want to lose our seats, or our new younger German friends that we'd made at the table next to us! It was really interesting to talk to people from Munich who have been coming to Oktoberfest since they were born, when it seemed like such a special occasion to us! [Side note: Lederhosen and drindl (the sort of beer-maiden outfits for girls) were being worn by EVERYONE. I would say that 75-80% of people were wearing Bavarian outfits, which I was shocked by! I felt left out!] The beer hall was HUGE with no ceiling, just a tented roof thing.
So that was Saturday. That night again we went to the Lowenbrauerstien place which was just as crazy as the night before! On Sunday we were a little festival-ed out and wanted to actually see Munich while we were there, so we went and walked around the Old Town. The town hall and the palace were great. Wonderful old architecture that reminded me a bit of Prague and Budapest. The greatest thing was that the weather was wonderful! It was a bit chilly, but we had sun every single day which was great because we were outside so much.
And then Sunday night we headed home. It was a very tiring two and a half days but it was an experience that can't be replicated anywhere. The warmth and excitment of everyone, especially the Germans themselves was unlike anything I've seen before. Everyone was friendly and open and truly festive.