What happens at the Weis’n: Oktoberfest, a Beer-Lover’s Dream

A three a.m. wake up call two days in a row – first to drive to Málaga and catch a flight to Frankfurt, and then to pull on a dirndl, braid my hair and brush my teeth.

Ja, I was on my way to Oktoberfest, echoing my college days when I would get up at dawn to tailgate and slam a beer on Melrose Avenue as the sun came up.

The Weis’n was like a full-blown, Bavarian style Feria de Sevilla – tents that were difficult to get into, carnival rides operating around the clock, vendors selling all kinds of local fare that filled the air with scents of smoked sausages and fries.

Have I died and gone to beer-lovers heaven? Ja.

Christyn and I arrived to the enormous complex shortly before 11am. Knowing the weekend would mean an influx of tourists and reservations at beer tents, we beelined directly to where the line seemed the shortest, the Löwenbräu tent. An enormous plastic lion with a mechanical arm was drinking more beer than we were – we learned that once the reserved tables were full, we would have to wait with the other tourists, as the bouncer with a scary-looking neck tattoo who looked like he’d never eaten anything but bratwurst and sauerkraut would only let patrons in when others came out.

Even in Spain, an orderly line would form, so what’s with the Germans letting the entrance be a free-for-all wherein the scary doorman chooses how desperate or thirsty or Bavarian you are?

After 40 minutes, we were led to a long wooden table outdoors. Being late September, it was chilly, but the heat lamps and constant toasts and chants kept us moving about and a bit warm. I borrowed a friend’s dirndl, carried a cardigan and wore two pairs of tights, and thanks to the large amount of beer I drank, had few problems keeping warm.

Once inside and seated, the busty server slammed a litre beer down for each of us at a cost of 10€. The heavy glasses were empty before we could even order a snack (an enormous pretzel, exactly what was missing in my guiri life). Only five types of Munich-based beers are allowed to be served, and of the several we tried during the course of the day, Lion’s Brew was my favorite.

After two enormous beers and getting creeped on by some Italians at the table over, Christyn and I needed to go to the bathroom. I was relieved to see that the German efficiency at the door (as in, lack thereof) was back when it came to the women’s toilets, but mainly because the entire beer hall was rocking – a lederhosen-clad band was playing German folk songs and Sweet Caroline from a raised stage in the center.

I knew we wouldn’t get beer unless we were seated somewhere, but Christyn had already taken care of that problem. A few locals scooped us up and squeezed us into their table. They were already standing on the wooden benches, rocking out, and invited us to some food and topped off our steins.

The interior of the tent was like a raucous mess hall of school cafeteria. I felt right at home. Case in point:

In need of some fresh air around 2pm, we walked towards the carnival rides, past booths with the traditional tirolerheut hats and lavishly painted steins. I somehow convinced a local to ride on the rollercoaster with me when my cousin refused to lose her pretzel and the gingerbread cookies we’d snacked on. I got a glimpse of the entire Teresenweise – the place was enormous. Then, it was over the hill and plunging back towards the ground.

The rest of the day passed in a haze – the beer sold a Oktoberfest is stronger than the beer served in local bars – but we were befriended at another tent where we (thankfully) could not get another beer. After currywurst and a sudden downpour, we were tuckered out and found a little Indian restaurant for a bowl of warm soup and a litre of water – my first of the day.

I’ll be back in Munich for two days in December. Apart from the beer and Christmas markets, what else should I see? What should I eat? Where should I stay?

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living among pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she wrangles babies at an English Language Academy and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

Comments

  1. Aaah the heart shaped cookies! We had a small Ocktoberfest party at my office a few weeks ago and my coworker brought in one of those very same cookies she got in Germany a few years ago. Apparently you’re not supposed to eat them, they are just decorative. She hung it on the door to the conference room so it greeted coworkers as people came into the room to drink beer and eat (stale) New York pretzels. Germans have pretzel making down to an art.

    And I would love to return to Munich. I remember loving walking around the Englischergarten, which is bigger than Central Park. I also visited Dachau concentration camp, which was by no means a cheery visit but it wasn’t meant to be. It was hard, emotional, and exhausting but ultimately I’m glad I visited. However if you’ve already been to a concentration camp before, then maybe skip it.
    amelie88 recently posted..On the Literary Trail of New York: Washington Irving’s SunnysideMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I told my boyfriend they weren’t meant to be eaten…the cookie is half gone, and I don’t think it’ll get eaten!

      Thanks for the tips on Munich. I’ll only be there for two days, so I was considering a day trip during one. I’ve been to Sachenhausen in the dead of winter, which made it chilling and more real, but Dachau is probably where I’ll head. Any place you’d recommend to eat?

  2. Creepy Italians and tattoo-necked bouncers. Yep, sounds about right for Octoberfest just about anywhere. :)
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..Would You Make a Good Viking? Take the QuizMy Profile

  3. Sounds like you had a great time! I still have yet to make it to Oktoberfest and need to make it happen sooner rather than later.
    Adelina recently posted..Walking Across the Brooklyn BridgeMy Profile

  4. We were in Munich last year for Xmas! You have to drink gluwein (mulled wine) when you are in the markets. Restaurant suggestions: Zum Alten Markt and Zum Durnbrau. Good German fare very close to Marienplatz.

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      mmm I love mulled wine and can’t wait for it! Thanks for the tips, you two! Hope Coru is treating you well (and the weather is behaving!).

  5. Haha those are some nice-sized beers. I heard the security was super strict about taking them out of the festival, but my old roommates managed to smuggle some home anyway.

    Also, I had no idea you had to get up so early for Oktoberfest.
    Jessica of HolaYessica recently posted..You’ve Never Seen Street Signs Like This BeforeMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      You definitely don’t have to get up that early – I stayed with my cousin near Frankfurt, so we got up early to get a bus her military base offered. But it’s true that the tents fill up really quickly on the weekends, so I would go early!

Trackbacks

  1. […] case in point: When I visited my cousin for Oktoberfest, I nearly had a heart attack when we went into the grocery store on her Army base. For the first […]

  2. […] A Guiri Guide to Oktoberfest // Passau, the City on Three Rivers // Karnevals of Cologne […]

  3. […] I’d long been hoping to visit Germany during Christmas time. After five trips to Deutschland during the coldest months of the year, I finally made it to Oktoberfest, an absolute dream for beer lovers. […]

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