The Bucket List

In other words, stuff I’d like to do before I kick the bucket.

I have a book called 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. It’s well thumbed. Fun to glance through and plan a trip somewhere, sometime. An American wrote it, so it lists quite a few places I wouldn’t cross the street to see.

Munich’s Oktoberfest is listed, but it hasn’t been on my list since my student days. So when that suggestion came up for a day out at the start of October, I was undecided. Was it really going to be worth 90 minutes (in each direction) on the train on what promised to be a lovely sunny Sunday?

Well, I decided to grab the opportunity – go and see for myself.

It turned out great. That’s partly because Sunday lunchtime on the last weekend is when locals go. The touroids have mostly gone home. So it was all Dirndls (women, usually) and Lederhosen (men, usually).

First impressions were that the place is huge and so are the crowds – even at 11am. It is a fairground as well as having all that beer and food, so lots to do for family groups.

We had coffee and a snack in Bodo’s – an Oktoberfest institution, I’m told.

Bodo's

Then a Prosecco with Aperol just before 12. I needed that to get in the mood gently, not being much of a daytime drinker.

Prosecco time

With no excuses left, it was time to hit the beer tents. I’m told people would have been queueing outside at 9am (opening time), to then stampede for a table. If you’re not seated, you won’t get served. We got into the Paulaner tent easily enough – a huge place with a brass band in the middle. One of us got half a seat, and the beer arrived!

Paulaner tent

They only serve the beer in a 1 litre Mass, so forget about having a wee one. They only serve one kind of beer – that brewery’s Oktoberfest special, so forget about a helles or a Weissbier. And they only serve beer, so forget about the glass of chardonnay.

I like Paulaner, so I was fine (as you can see from my cheery wee face).

right arm exercise

After that, outside for some fast food (Bavarian style) to soak it up. Barbecued sausage in a hard roll.

Next, to the Hofbräu tent. Also huge, and starting to burst at the seams. By this time the front doors of all the tents had been closed, so you would have to wait for someone to leave before getting in. We sneaked in a side door!

One little cameo – at the table next but one to ours – summed it up. A young lad in Lederhosen – early 20s – stood on his table, wound up the crowd, and then downed his beer in one. Huge cheers. The others at our table told us he’d already put away 4 like that. 30 minutes later, he he was up again and scoofed back his 6th. More huge cheers.

the cheering crowd

That was the end for him. He puked up the lot, all over himself and his table. Security took him away. That was before 2pm.

We got out after that and went for Steckerlfische. That means “fish on a stick”, and it’s a Volksfest tradition. We had the barbecued mackerel – absolutely delicious.

fish time

By 3.30 we were on the train home. It was 25℃ by the time we left, and very, very busy. I’m really glad to have seen it, but I was happy to escape early as well!

© iain taylor 2011


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