Monday, September 25, 2006


Taking Oktoberfest by storm...

Or maybe it was the other way around. Eric and I made our way up to Munich this weekend for Oktoberfest - my first time and his 15th. Not sure how good his memories are of the last trips, however. Here are some highlights:

- Luckily, our travel time was uneventful this trip. We throw our bags into a locker at the train station and walk off to meet Hans-Peter, our host for the weekend. Unfotunately, he's at Oktoberfest (the Wiesen) and we aren't prepared. We're both in sandals, but we go anyway.

- Five minutes after stepping on the grounds, I kick a huge broken glass and slice open my big toe, cracking the nail in half. Blood everywhere. Sandals get ruined. Eric gets queasy. I end up in the first aid tent before I've even had a beer. All the doctors laugh at me.

- The next morning we are in line for 8 AM to get into a tent at the Wiesen. By tent I mean ginormous hall that can fit 8000 people. The crowd is already big when we arrive, mostly teenagers in lederhosen and dirndls. The girls all look adorable, but the boys just look, well, gay. When the doors open, they try to crush and trample us to get in, then they run screaming for a table, which we do, too. You have to guard these tables with your life, cause you can't order a beer without a seat. It's chaos, and it's only 10 AM.

- Everyone orders a mass (you know, those beers bigger than your head?) and the fun begins. It's the best people watching on earth. Although most people are between 16 and 30, there are lots of old people, too. And the vast majority of them are all dressed up in their German specials. It's awesome.

- The band begins and the place goes nuts. Mostly its oompa oompa stuff, but they toss in some random surprises. "Heeey Baby! I wanna know-oh-oh, if you'll be my girl! Ooh Aah!" What? Somehow this American classic has become a German drinking chant. It's cool; it's the only time during the day when I can actually sing along. And when I am not stuffing my face with a giant pretzel.

-Eric and I head out around 4 for an afternoon nap. No one else does this. As we step outside, the first evidence of the rumored "Italian Weekend" craziness is everywhere. The crowd is full of drunk Italians. People are passed out all over the grass. Most people in the crowd are singing or screaming, and there are already a few fights. Even on the 20 minute walk back to the apartment, almost everyone we see is wasted.

- We sleep til 7:30, miss all the possible shopping, and head back to the Wiesen to meet friends Andreas and Doreen. We meet some very drunk Americans who claim they are Swiss, and one of them tries to sit on Eric's head. Doreen's friend Stefan babbles at me in such drunken German I can barely follow him, but he is trying to call me a cow and something about Bin Laden. How those two things relate I will never know. We wander the grounds for a while, people watching. It's a massive carnival outside the tents: rides, games, food, and trash. More beers, more freaks, more fights. Many of these people have been drinking since 10 AM. I don't know how there aren't more casualties.

-We cap the night off with doenner, the best drunk food ever. Definitely my favorite thing to eat here, even if it is Turkish. Make our way back home to find Hans-Peter, whom we have not seen all day, lounging in his lederhosen, drunk as a skunk. He's so excited about his day and can't wait to tell us the "funniest, best story ever! I met two Austrians!" And? That's it. Great story. After a glass of wine and a discussion about music send him to bed with a new love for Corinne Bailey Rae, I fall asleep and have nightmares about blood, beer, lederhosen, and a ferris wheel.

-Sunday morning is beautiful, and thanks to our nap, painless. We walk the city, and relax. Unfortunately, shops are closed on Sundays, so no shopping. The Italian tourists are out in force; I hear as much Italian spoken on the streets as German. Half of them are hung over and angry. Every fourth person on the streets is wearing an "I Survived Oktoberfest 2006" tee shirt. We have killer sushi for lunch, and head to the train station feeling kind of bummed. This is Eric's favorite city; he lived here for a year. Our little home in Friedrichshafen is pretty, but it just doesn't compare!

-Another long train ride gets us home tired and hungry. My bandaged feet are throbbing, but it's worth it. And this time I did remember to buy a tee shirt.

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