We arrive at the Hackerbruecke hostel at 11am. The reception is full of people and empty beer cans, a forerunner of what awaits us a few miles further on the Theresienwiese.
Two days of Oktoberfest in Munich, that is the plan. Hopefully. We didn’t make any reservations for the beer tents and apparently it’s a bank holiday in Germany. I heard many horror stories of people trying to get a spot in one of the beer tents, but without any luck…
No time to waste then! After dropping off our luggage, we make our way to the famous Theresienwiese, an area of 420.000 square metres! And boy, is it huge! The whole site looks like a major theme park with funfair attractions, Bratwurst- and Pretzelstands, and huge beer tents in between. There are 14 major beer tents (and about 20 smaller ones)! We try our luck in the first one that comes along, the Ambrustschützen, with a seating capacity of 5830 people! It isn’t even the biggest one, the Schottenhamel-tent for instance, can accomodate almost up to 10000!! It takes us a while to find a table that hasn’t been reserved yet, but its’s still early, so we manage to find a spot in the back of the tent, ready to sample as much of the Fest as possible. We order a few Maß (a mug of one liter of beer), some pretzels and sing along to the one song you are guaranteed to hear at least every half hour: “Ein Prosit, ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit”, after which everyone raises their glass and drinks!
The atmosphere is great and the organisation is perfect! It really takes the Germans to organise such a big event and not let it turn into one big chaos! No question of even taking a nap on the table, German security is straight at you!
We go from beertent to beertent, get invited to join people’s table, drink and make new friends. Before we left, I feared that there would hardly be any Germans at the Oktoberfest, mainly Americans or Australians, but this turned to be absolutely untrue! There is even a word in German for people you meet at the Oktoberfest: “ein Wiesenbekannter” ( literally a person you’ve met at the Wiese, the field where the Oktoberfest is held)
Tents close at 11.30 pm, which may seem early, but is absolutely necessary, considering that most people start drinking early afternoon. We somehow make it back to the hostel, our heads filled with laughter and beautiful memories… and beer!
Lesson learnt: finding a table at the Oktoberfest without a reservation is totally possible! If you go early in the day, socialize and be friendly, you’ll find a space in no time!
Have you been to the Oktoberfest? Or planning to go? I want to hear your stories!