GOING to Oktoberfest in Munich was something that was always on the front page of my bucket list.
Every September, I found myself holding it off for one reason or another, but this year I decided enough was enough and spontaneously booked a return ticket to the Bavarian capital.
For those who don’t know, Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer fest and travelling funfair. Held annually from mid-September to the first weekend in October, the festival attracts more than six million people from around the world each year.
During the event, approximately 7.7 million litres of beer are consumed – a fact that made me want to go so much!
Visitors also enjoy numerous attractions, such as amusement rides, side stalls and games. There are also a wide variety of traditional foods and Bavarian delicacies on offer.
Many hotels and hostels take advantage of the additional visitors to their city and raise their prices accordingly. Luckily for me, my friend, Sam, who moved to Munich last year, kindly offered to put me up for five days in his apartment.
Upon arriving, the first thing on my checklist was to buy lederhosen, which are essentially leather breeches based on the traditional clothing of Alpine peasants.
If you wore this extrovert outfit anywhere else on the planet, you would be seen as the German equivalent of Crocodile Dundee, but during Munich’s Oktoberfest some 80% of men wear them.
Girls, on the other hand, wear traditional dresses called dirndls, which are extremely flattering and very pleasing to the eye. Lederhosen can cost up to €200, but since I was only spending a few days in Munich I decided to buy a second-hand one for just €50, which was in excellent condition.
We were all up bright and early the following day to ensure that we wouldn’t miss out on a table in one of the 14 beer tents. I use the word “tent” very loosely, because they’re nothing of the sort.
In fact, these shelters are huge purpose-built structures, beautifully decorated inside and out, and capable of accommodating hundreds of people at a time.
With a full day of drinking, eating and enjoying the festivities ahead of us, we arrived at the Winzerer-tent at approximately 9am.
It was very easy to find a table at this hour, which came as a big surprise to my friend.
Apparently, there was a significant decline in the number of people at the fest compared to last year, which was most likely due to the spate of terrorist attacks across Europe this year.
Although the threat of an attack was never too far away from my mind, I was very reassured by the large and increased number of security guards present.
When the waiter arrived at our table, I asked for a litre-sized glass of beer (€10.50) and a giant Bavarian pretzel.
I was surprised at how refreshing and easy to drink the beer was, but I knew I had to be very careful with the amount I drank.
The last thing I wanted to be was an Irish stereotype, intoxicated and blaring out Christy Moore ballads before lunchtime.
The salty pretzels greatly complemented the beer and were no doubt a life saver when it came to keeping me on my feet (you can buy miniature ones in Lidl for only 40c).
Crowds started pouring into the giant tents once the afternoon came around, and although we were all nicely settled at our table, I decided to go for a wander.
The dynamic atmosphere in each of the tents I visited was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Thousands of people were standing up on tables swinging their beer glasses harmoniously to live music.
With nearly everyone dressed in traditional German attire, it seemed as if I had stepped into a bygone, almost enchanted era.
Back at my table, I decided to order the Weißwurst (a white sausage), along with the famous Hendl (roast chicken), which was by far my favourite thing I ate while in Germany.
With two litre-sized glasses of beer drank already, we decided to join the mob of cosmopolitans on the tables and attempt to sing along to German songs we’ve never heard of before.
This continued until about 6pm, when we decided to call it a day – call us lightweights, if you will.
The following few days of my Oktoberfest adventure were filled with just as much fun as the first, and despite having a very sore head on my return home, I’m seriously considering making it a yearly tradition for me.
Many thanks to Sam, Emily and Michael for putting up with me. They haven’t seen the last of me yet!