Thursday, October 25, 2012

Remembering Oktoberfest in Munich

When I signed up for the Contiki tour I went on in September of 2008, I didn’t even know that it was in the itinerary. How was I supposed to know Oktoberfest started in September anyway??
Later on, I found out that most of my tourmates chose that tour specifically because of Oktoberfest! Out of 51 people in our group, only 16 of us opted to see a little bit of Munich. The other 30 went straight to the fairgrounds to… well, to drink!

I’m glad I got to spend a few hours exploring the city though, because Munich is beautiful and I’ve never been to Germany before. Besides, if I hadn’t gone, then I wouldn’t have been able to buy this authentic Bavarian beer maid costume (called a Dirndl) that I absolutely adore!!! 
With Alicia and our tour guide, Sandy
I’ve worn this outfit at least 10 other times after I’ve bought it (for Halloween or local Oktoberfest celebrations) and it still does its magic (read: they make your boobs look amazing).

After the short pit stop, the other 15 and I set out to find the group. The fairgrounds were HUGE! There must have been thousands of people in there that day.  
Reminds me of a carnival!

When we finally caught up with the rest of the gang, as expected, most of them were already drunk. What else is there to do in a festival celebrating beer after all? It’s hard not to when the steins are this huge!

Got Beer?
Apart from the beer, my tourmates and I delighted in some of the traditional German staple food. There was the Schweinebraten or roast pork, Wurstl or sausages, Saurkraut or red cabbage (I’m not a fan, unfortunately) and my favorite, Schweinsaxe or Pork Knuckle, the German equivalent of Filipino Crispy Pata. Mmmmm…

Cav and his Pork Knuckle!

The atmosphere was incredible, and everyone was friendly – especially the locals. It didn’t hurt that they were cute too. Who would have thought that I’d think a lederhosen was a turn on??

The ones I’ve met taught me a few things. First, never wear sandals (or open toed shoes) to Oktoberfest because a stein drops and breaks every few minutes, and you don’t want wet and bloody feet to ruin your vacation. Second, when you toast, you say, “Prost!” – which means, “Cheers”. Third, when you toast, you have to look people in the eye, or else it’s seven years of bad sex. (NO BLINKING, PEOPLE!)

Me hanging with my two new cute German friends in Lederhosens ;)

Sandy, our tour guide, pretty much gave us free reign over our activities for that day. I mean – there really was only one activity if you think about it. Anyway – she only had one rule, and it was, “Make sure to be back in the bus by 10pm sharp, or else you’re going to Italy on your own.” She was serious. Our hotel was more than an hour away from the fairgrounds, and there weren’t any taxi’s to take us all the way there at that hour. It sounds harsh, but to be fair, she made us a little sheet with the names of all the nearby hotels, plus the train schedules for us to be able to catch up with the rest of the group in Venice, in case we get left behind. Whenever Sandy said, “sharp”, she meant “sharp”. No exceptions.

I didn’t think it was going to be a problem – until it was 9:30 and everyone was drunk out of their wits, and our driver was parked about 3 miles away from where we were. When people started to realize this, panic ensued. Suddenly, there was only one thing in our minds – We needed to GET TO THAT BUS!

It’s all a little hazy, but I remember a lot of running. Lots and lots of running. It was only then that I realized what it meant to ‘run for your life’. Imagine about 30 people falling over, throwing up, dodging the crowd, scampering to get to the bus… my roommate even lost her flip flop (just one) amidst the chaos. It wasn’t pretty.

By some miracle, we made it in due time, all panting like we’ve run a marathon as we hurried to our seats. I remember right when I sat down, Sandy started counting heads. I was a little nervous. It didn’t look like all the seats were filled and I found myself feeling bad for whoever was left behind. I’d honestly hate to be in their shoes because how the heck could you find a hotel in the dead of night with that much alcohol in your system?

Then Sandy came up to the front, turned her microphone on and said, “Guess what? WE’RE ALL HERE!!!”

And the bus erupted with cheers loud enough for a pork knuckle to crack!
A bus full of inebriation!

How we all managed to get there in one piece is beyond me! (It turns out, the seats I thought were empty were occupied by people crouched down, throwing up.) Our driver roared the engine to life, and we started our journey back to our hotel in high spirits – both literally and figuratively!

Sandy played our tour song (which she chose for us on our second day together), “You Shook Me All Night Long” by ACDC, and all of us sang it at the top of our lungs word for word, albeit a little slurred. I think we were all just so relieved to have made it, most of us lost our intoxication that when we got back to the hotel, the drinking continued. No surprises there! :)

After our action packed day and the exhaustion started to kick in… one by one, we started to head back into our hotel rooms… but not before grabbing one last glass, to stare into each other’s eyes and say one final, “Prost”. :)