Welcome to a land that for the most part is a pretty serious place to be. Germans tend to be more toned down than my Australian brethren, more subdued than the typical Irish fellow, and more level-headed than the typical Englishman. Except for three weeks of the year that is - at the annual beer fest.
Brett and I touched down from our quick hop over the North Sea and headed to our pre-booked campsite - Campingplatz Thalkirken. As far as campsites go, this is actually a pretty memorable one, for a few reasons. First impression (and to be expected) is WOW there are a lot of tents here! This campsite is the closest one to the beer grounds - only about a 20 minute bus ride (or a 5 minute bus ride and a couple of stops on the metro) - and as such it is used by many of the tour groups (hi Contiki, Top Deck!) and camping package companies like the one we booked with. What you get is a tent already put up for you, and breakfast every morning if you can actually wake up in time (I missed two of the breakfasts, I wonder why).
Now you might ask yourself if you are savvy - but Mark you don't have a pillow or mattress! What did you sleep on? And the answer to that is simple for the first night - nothing. All I had was my sleeping bag and some shirts as a pillow (I was wearing my jumpers and jacket because it was about 2 degrees). Of course that is less than ideal, but I'll get to that soon.
Anyway so we met up with Karla - a fellow Contiki traveller - and hit the beer tents rather late in the day - about 6pm, but not to worry because they serve until about 11pm so that would give us plenty of time to partake in the festivities. Now those beer steins are plenty big, and it really doesn't take much to get drunk. I managed two on my first night and I doubt I could have put away more. Only two litres of beer you say? (I'm looking at you Joel if you ever read this) Well it's actually about 8% alcohol, so therefore two litres is by my estimation about 6 or 7 pints of normal beer. A poor effort I know, but don't worry I made up for it the next day and the day after since we did not one but two drinking sessions on each day. Hardcore, I know. I think I did two steins in the morning, then we went back to the camp site to nap, then I did three or four steins in the evening. Brett on the other hand seemed to soak up that beer like no tomorrow and I think one of the days managed 8 steins altogether. That was on our last night, and lets just say he was a little worse for wear when we were travelling in a bus all day.
Oktoberfest has a kind of rotation system going throughout the day. In the morning and early afternoon you have the older crowd who have been attending the beer fest every year for decades and are there to unwind. You also see the crazy foreigners such as myself and other rowdy Australians who just want to piss it up all day long. The locals though only really hit the tents at around 5 or 6pm and then the fun gets started and we get all the pretty girls in their dirndles and guys with their lederhosen dancing on the tables and singing traditional German beer festival songs. It's great fun!
Ok remember I said I was going to tell you about the whole mattress and pillow situation? Well one afternoon (after our usual morning two steins) we walked to town in search of something cheap to sleep on, like a yoga mat or something similar. We didn't have any luck, except for a furniture store that we could have bought actual matresses for about €150, which was outside of our budget. So we went to Aldi's (yes they have Aldi stores everywhere) and grabbed ourselves some top of the range, DIY matress materials.
It only cost us about €10 and my it was actually pretty comfortable, all things considered! We got some duct tape to hold it all together, and bam! Here we are!
So I can't remember if I've mentioned this before on my blog, but did I ever tell you how I bring the sunshine? I'm serious - wherever I go it's good weather, sunshine, beach time, and so on. Hell I didn't even have a white Christmas last year it was so warm and sunny. A few of my friends had gone to Oktoberfest on the previous weeks and complained about how it was raining the entire time and it was so muddy. Well eat your heart out fellas!
I'm drawing this to a close now, but I just thought I should mention the Weisen Hendls. Weisen (half) Hendl (chicken) is amazing. It's half a roast chicken and it's amazing! And they practically mass produce them.
And so I think I have written enough about our little München adventure. I will leave you with the following: Brett using his elite sharpshooting skills to win us our adventure mascot - Dolphy the dolphin.