I’d never visited Oktoberfest before so wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. What I did know was that on the gay Sunday (the first Sunday of the festival), there was a great big tent full of lots of gays drinking beer – I mean what could possibly go wrong! The previous day I’d arrived in the city from London via the train. Some of my local friends who go every year had already managed to make a reservation for a table in the main tent, where as another group who were mainly visitors, hadn’t been so organised.
For those of us who were disorganised, we apparently had to make it early in the morning in order to queue up and both make it in to the tent (as it gets really busy), and also then be able to get one of the unreserved tables before they fill up. How early you ask – we needed to be there for 07.00!
I was staying out near the Arabellapark at the Westin which I luckily managed to grab on points. Most of the city centre hotels were going for around €400/ni, and even the Westin I was at was selling for €350. Therefore using 35,000 Marriott points for a night was pretty decent value. So I set my alarm for 06.30 the next day. The next morning, I awoke to the alarm, switched it off, turned over and promptly went back to sleep. 🙈
Well, it wasn’t until about 09.00 that I finally woke up, had a bit of an ‘oh shit’ moment, showered, and jumped into a cab towards the park. The police closed off a significant portion of the roads surrounding the park, meaning that for the last 1km or so I had to walk.
As an aside, I was very impressed with the visible police presence surrounding and inside the park. As a former officer myself I was quite impressed at the sheer number of officers both in the venue and all the roads surrounding it. The overtime bill must have been significant!
When I eventually made it, I wandered in around 10.00 and navigated the fair ground surrounding the park to find the right tent.
I apparently was exceptionally lucky as I was able to walk straight in without queueing at all, and after a few circuits of the tent (it’s massive) found my friends. And started drinking.
Beer was priced at €11.20 for a litre, with the custom to round up to €13.00 (with Oktoberfest only time that Germans will tip this much).
Thankfully there were also lots of people walking around selling food as well, meaning that I wasn’t going to get completely wasted from the get go.
The entire place was packed. It was hot. People got sweaty. There was drinking.
One end of the tent had a balcony area which was reserved for the folks into leather (you have to have booked in advance for that part).
The band on the dais in the middle started playing a fascinating mix of both traditional songs and newer stuff like Frank Sinatra and Robbie Williams.
There were interesting customs like being allowed to stand on the benches to sing, but not on the tops of the tables. Other customs were more ‘Gay Sunday’ specific such as using the urinals. There were three ‘banks’ were guys went to relieve themselves – the first was just for that, the second bank was for those that were interested in piss-play, and then the third bank was for, er, other things. As the day wore, on, the other things got more, er, interesting.
It was a fantastic day out! Around 17.30 I left the tent with a few friends and went to one of the neighbouring ones in search of food and water. I had an incredibly over-priced Wiener Schnitzel and Apfelstrudel, but it was necessary. I think it was around 19.00 by this point and I was pretty much done. I wandered out of the park, and back to the U-Bahn, making it back to my hotel for about 20.00 where upon I crashed.
Thankfully managing to drink enough water before I went to sleep, the next day wasn’t too bad.
All-in-all, it was a fabulous day out. I’m a complete light-weight when it comes to beer, yet had a brilliant time and wasn’t too rough the next day. Highly recommended and I’ll be more organised about heading over for next year!