Each and every year, a city on the other side of the world hosts an unforgettable get together. This gathering can be best described as a 6M person house party, full of exciting and diversified strangers, that feel like lifelong friends who have simply been absent a while. The country is Germany, the city is Munich, and that wild festival is the infamous Oktoberfest.
After my first official day and night (yes, this party requires a minimum of 6 hours attendance), I awoke to a semi-problematic hangover, and a pretty decent bruise on my hand. Mind you, if you drink and cheers from the colossal glass mug in the right way, you’ll have one too. Then, after packing up the backpacks and hitting the train to Prague, I responded to my best friend’s text, which asked for highlights from the previous day’s adventures. I think this may be the best way to summarize our adventure, in a movie trailer sort of way.
My text, word for word, was as follows:
“Lots of beer, sang in German, danced on tables, cheered in many languages, met a ton of people, molested a few, got blood all over – mostly other peoples, narrowly missed flying glass from a smashed mug, ate way too many pretzels, hit some people, hugged some people, arm wrestled some people, touched an std ridden duck, lost a drunk guy and found him hours later, lost another drunk guy, who I thought looked like Colin Farrell (talk about beer goggles), but never found him again, got lost at midnight, found a castle, then put Amy and sergeant Dib to bed.”
The above gives you a small glimpse into a single day at Oktoberfest. Needless to say, this covers only our first day there. The next weekend’s adventure was also quite exciting, with a whole new set of highlights… including my falling in love with a German man (those lederhosen can be quite sexy, you know), meeting a fellow New Yorker who ran away with his Oktoberfest love to live in Sweden, and a hilariously embarrassing video of Amy and I telling everyone to go home because Oktoberfest was over (because what “weirdos” were sticking around??? *Ahem* Right here, buddy). All in all, even with two full days, I can definitely see myself returning to experience the magic of Oktoberfest once again.
However, there are certain steps, albeit few, which you need to follow in order to have such a spectacular, carefree time. Here goes…
- Go early. Do not believe, as I did, that people couldn’t possibly begin drinking before noon. And if by some chance they did, it wouldn’t be enough people to prevent my attendance. Wrong. They start really fucking early. Do not bother trying to go past 3pm. Remember, you will not be served unless you are seated so your butt MUST be on a bench. Also, be polite. The lovely, very strong German ladies do take notice.
- Don’t go only on a Saturday. Saturday, while the easiest to attend, is a god damn zoo. Think Times Square, but without the Chinese tourists armed with enormous cameras. Oktoberfest tourists are armed with a würstl and fritten, and are most likely drunk. Go on a Sunday, find a tent you like, park your butt on a bench full of strangers, and get to chatting. Need a tent recommendation? Go to Armbrustschützen, and avoid the overly famous Hofbräu Festzelt (unless you’re still in college).
- Schedule ample time to attend. We learned this the hard way. We planned on one afternoon and one full day… because how many days can you really drink beer all day? No. Just, no. Oktoberfest is so much more than drinking. And since time matters, as I said in #1, afternoons don’t count. In fact, we opted to switch our schedule around just to attend one more day. You know the famous Neuschwanstein Disney castle? Yeah, we settled skipping that with a simple “we could find that same picture online, right?” While it was a tough choice… do you think we regretted it? Not for one god damn second.
- Go for it. Really go for it. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Don’t debate the calories in the brezen that is as large as your face. Don’t worry about being judged (you have to be REALLY bad for this to become a factor). Don’t refuse an invitation to dance on a table bench and sing a German song you’ve never heard (fake it like everyone else).
In that moment, you are making memories that will last for a lifetime. Make it count.