Munchin in Munchen. Obliterating Oktoberfest. Day 43 & 44
Jess and I are up at the crack of dawn to get the bus from Zurich into Munich. Little did we know that it was going to be a bus ride filled with rowdy german tourists and elderly women demanding “cafe” at the top of their lungs. Sleep was off the cards. Luckily for us the countryside is beautiful as you dip through rolling fields of almost luminescent green decorated with the occasional wooden farm house and fuzzy sheep. Soon enough I find myself in fact counting sheep drowning out the horror I was surrounded by and slipping into the sweet abyss of bus seat slumber. Jess on the other hand, not so lucky.
We arrive in Munich to find that it was in fact not what we expected at all, no little beer worshipping town here, no no this urban space is filled with both history and culture. Wander the streets and be washed in art house motif scribbled on walls, daunting gothic cathedrals whose spires seem to reach the heavens, and of course a culture awash with gastronomic delights. The history is of course cast a shadow upon by the infamous Nazi Germany but these streets speak to any historian interested in the period.
Then of course there’s the beer. A culture utterly infatuated with sweet wheaty amber in a plethora of sizes! We are of course in Munich for Oktoberfest, the time of year where the city is punished with tourists from all over the world looking to feast and drink to their hearts content. Sounds like a party!
Following a quick bratwurst for brekkie at the local market Jess and I step into the world and are completely saturated with German culture. There’s folks in complete traditional dress, all the way down to the lederhosen, giant Clydesdales wandering floats of beer swilling locals through the crush of people, and the scent of meat. Roasted meat. Yes besides the beer Oktoberfest is known for its fantastic carnivorous feasts; whether it’s whole fire roasted chicken or slow succulent ox stuffed into a kaiser roll. Strap on your stomachs folks because these locals love to eat. The festival is opened by the tapping of the keg performed by the Mayor of Munich then it’s bottoms up. A rifle salute is performed and the beer flows like, well beer.
Now we must warn you, we were here on day one and it took us nearly two hours to get a table at one of the tents, you can reserve but there are no guarantees. No table means no beer. So whilst all the happy folk are drinking and dancing around you it’s easy to feel like you’re left out of the party. Fear not, persistence is key. Simply mingle and interact with people and ask if you can join their table. Once again food and drink bring people together, even across cultures and through language barriers it’s easy to say cheers and everyone understands the love of german dumplings smothered in slow braised lamb shoulder. So drink up and be merry.
The beer halls themselves are enormous and trust us, try them all. I was just about ready to give up on getting a table when Jess scored us a great little number in the Paulaner beer garden. Within the halls they have bands playing traditional German songs, loads of drinking, cards and dancing. A seat outside doesn’t get you quite into the action but Jess and I are here for three days so we will of course return. Anyways beer and food, I’m sorted. Waitresses carry enormous steins by the dozen and it is not long until I’m necking sweet liquid by the barrel full. German locals sing, laugh and dance and it’s truly just about having a great time and enjoying each other.
We order a half chicken, yes half a chicken and some German potato salad, I’ve got my heart set on an ox roll but still decide to demolish the chicken with Jess. You could certainly stay at the tents all day and hang with the local crowd as their faces get redder and redder and the singing becomes louder and more incoherent and still have a wonderful time but there is so much to see here. Rides, stalls, food, markets, Jess and I want to see a bit of everything today and return a little later. We check out the local stalls that are brimming with shiny glass steins, Oktoberfest clothing, beer keg hats, pretty much anything you can think of you can grab it here.
After getting tonnes of souvenirs and pressies for the fam we jump back on the train headed for home, beers at midday makes a perfect partner for an afternoon nap. Tomorrow we’re checking out just how much history Munich has. Of course there’ll be some food along the way.
Josh and Jess