I have been missing from the blogosphere for a few weeks now largely on account of my recent travels to Germany and the Czech Republic! But like all holidays, this one too came to an end and K and I are back again in our favourite Joburg. We travelled around for 10 days and in my forthcoming posts, I will share with you some of the amazing sights and tips on how to make the most when on a short trip like ours.
Since our travel plans to Germany coincided with the Oktoberfest, one of the world’s largest beer and fun fairs, it only made sense to include it in our itinerary. We arrived in Munich, where the fest has been held every year since 1810, on the first day of the Oktoberfest and after dumping our bags at the hotel, we made straight for the Theresienwiese – the fair grounds located in central Munich and very close to the main train station.
Millions of people attend the Oktoberfest from world over and on weekends getting into the beer tents may involve queuing up from as early as 5am! Of course you can book a table inside one of the tents, but that is a very expensive proposition and has to be done months in advance.
Luckily for us, a friend of our’s was already at the fest and she managed to get us into one of the tents. I was amazed by the sheer size of the tents and the number of people who were in it! Beer was being served in large one litre mugs, and while I need both hands to hold it, the ladies serving the beer were able to carry 8 such mugs pretty easily.
Even without being able to get into the tents, one can have a pretty amazing time at the Oktoberfest. The fair grounds are massive with loads of smaller beer stalls, food stalls serving traditional Bavarian delicacies such as the Weisswurst or white sausage, bratwursts, pretzels, roast chicken, and a variety of crepes. There are also tons of fun rides to choose from. However, I wasn’t sure of how much fun it would to be to be tossed around in the air after a few beers!
Another very important part of the Oktoberfest is dressing up for it. Bavarians take it very seriously and throughout the fest, which lasts for about 16-days, you will see men and women all over the city dressed in traditional clothes. Women wear Dirndls which consist of a low cut blouse worn with a dress and apron tied with a bow. Apparently, the way you tie the bow has a lot of significance! If its in the left side, it means you are single, if on the right you are taken and if it’s in the middle – it means you are a virgin! Men on the other hand, wear leather shorts known as lederhosen with suspenders over a checkered or white shirts. These outfits are widely available in shops all over the city should one wish to dress up!
A few tips to make the most of Oktoberfest:
- Be prepared for massive crowds.
- If you want to get into a beer tent and have no reservation, try going over the week as crowds are much lesser and chances of getting inside a tent are much higher. If you don’t find a seat inside the tent, you won’t be served!
- Carry cash. Entry to the beer tents is free; you only pay for what you eat and drink and cards are not accepted.
- Do not to take a big backpack or bag – beer tents may not let you in for security reasons and it’s much easier to wade through the crowds with minimal weight.
- Use public transport to get to Theresienwiese.
- Try the traditional food.
- Drink copious amounts of beer!
- Walk around the fair grounds and soak in the atmosphere.