So, yes. I did indeed go to the famous and truly infamous Oktoberfest in Munich this past weekend. I think among students studying abroad in Europe for the fall it is a rite of passage for us. It was a reunion of the grandest proportions for all of UCSB.
My friends and I were wary about booking this trip earlier this semester because of how high the ticket prices were from Spain to Munich, but we all decided that it would be a mistake not to go. I cannot see myself in the near future being in Europe during the month of September/October. I’ll tell you that every dollar I spent on this trip was incredibly worth it.
Our journey begun in Spain, where we left straight from a class field trip at the Reina Sofia Museum to make it to our 8pm flight. We anticipated an eight hour travel day because our itinerary had us landing in Munich after an overnight layover in Luxembourg (ever heard of it? because none of us hadn’t before getting there). We landed in Luxembourg at 10pm and thus begun the worst night of sleep that I have ever gotten. Our flight wasn’t until 6:50am the next morning, so we were sleeping in the tiny Luxembourg Airport that night. In total, after almost getting kicked out of the airport because who knew airports actually closed, I slept just about three hours. The three plastic benches that I splayed myself across were rock hard as anticipated and I managed to choose the one right in front of the doorway, so I was absolutely freezing all night, but couldn’t figure out why until the morning. I kept getting up to put on more and more layers and ended up with seven jackets on by morning, which for me was 4:45am. We finally were able to go to our gate and boarded our flight to our final destination: Munich.
We landed in Munich, where we thought all was going to run smoothly, but we were mistaken. The train station to get to our campsite (yes camping, I’ll explain in a bit), was broken so we went to the bus platform to battle with 200 other people for spaces on the bus to take us to the next train stop. We couldn’t get on, so we took an airport commissioned taxi, which was supposed to be free, to the next stop. It wasn’t actually free, so we had to pay $50, an awful start to all of this. After one taxi, three trains and one bus, we all finally made it to Stoketober Fest.
We checked in, got dressed in the famous dirndls and headed out to the beer halls. I had no idea that Oktoberfest was actually a real, enclosed festival. There was huge gate that you had to enter through, rides, food stalls and so many people dressed in lederhosen and dirndls. We went for the later part of the day, so we didn’t end up spending too much time in a beer hall, but we got to walk around the festival.
Saturday we woke up around 8am and got ready for the halls again, but today was the big day where everyone and their mother (ironic because there were actually children going with their moms) goes to the festival. This day was unlike anything that I had ever experienced in my life. I walked into a beer hall (Hofbrähaus, thanks for the recommendations Dad), and there were hundreds of tables lined up next to each other with hundreds of people milling around, standing on tables and everyone with a stein in hand. It was organized chaos. People had their own tables and there was a specific way to get a stein of beer, but by looking at the scene set before you, you would have absolutely no idea what was going on. You couldn’t just walk up to any waiter/waitress and request a stein. You had to be at a table, whether it was yours or not, and elbow your way to get to the waitress serving beer. Everyone was singing and walking around to find their friends and drinking. Surprisingly, us Americans were very well-received by the Oktoberfest crowd, so it was easy to drum up a conversation with people next to you. I met so many people from all over the world, Germany included.
We spent the entire day at this one beer hall before leaving from Oktoberfest around 5:30pm. The party didn’t end when we went back to Stoke. The unlimited bar is open until 11pm and there are live DJs that play for us too, so we were warmly welcomed when we got back to the campsite. The campsite was still buzzing until about 3am, when the last wave of people went to sleep.
The campsite was so much fun. I really didn’t have any complaints about the sleeping conditions because the sleeping bag was warm and our tent wasn’t wet/broke too badly. There were hundreds of tents lined up next to each other and all of my friends were within a 10-foot radius of my tent. We were provided good breakfast and dinner each day, with the bar serving alcohol from 8am to 11pm every day. The staff were incredibly friendly and prided themselves on how stoke they were to be there. I should leave a Yelp review now that I’m thinkign about it.
We woke up on Sunday very ready to leave. Even though it was a crazy, fun weekend, a few hours more of traveling lay ahead of us. We said goodbye to our friends and Stoke and were off to the airport.
Of course, we did not have an easy travel back because Germany public transportation hates us. We made it one stop away from the Munich Airport and the train broke down. The entire train ran to the nearest bus stop because everyone was trying to make their flight. It seemed like a scene from The Purge; people were running to the nearest taxis, trying to hitchhike, hopping over the railing to run to the airport. It was a crazy sight to see and we also had a flight to catch, so like the rest of the insane people around us, we walked along the side of the freeway to our terminal. There were approximately 50 people trekking with all of their baggage to the distant airport. We ended up getting a ride to our terminal after walking for almost a mile and thankfully made it to our flight on time.
Needless to say, this weekend was one for the books and I am extremely glad that I went with the people that I went with. Prost to München!