Oktoberfest is a pretty crazy time of the year for the Germans. I didn’t really know about this event until I was trying to plan possible trips during my exchange. I was on exchange for the winter term, and Oktoberfest was an even that screamed a must go! Honestly, I’m not a huge beer fan, so it wasn’t a super appealing event for myself, but what better time to go when I’m young. Plus, visiting Germany was on my list! Oktoberfest is the largest annual fair in the world that takes place in Munich and lasts for around 17 days. People from all over the world come to attend this festival and it is a way to celebrate the Bavarian culture. It actually occurs in the end of September and lasts til early October. At first, I imagine the place to just be for beer. However, it’s a place for the young and old. Families attend in their German traditional outfits, with the females wearing dirndls. You can totally get a gist of their culture, and if you’re not in for the beer, no worries. It’s basically an area of amusement parks with assortment of rides and games, stalls for crafts and food, and last but not least, the beer tents. For myself, I found it pretty weird that one day I would sit next to a grandma, and another, a crying baby. And they are all drinking beer! Well, not the baby, but everyone around the baby is…Definitely an event where they don’t exclude anyone!
On the first day that we arrived, we didn’t get into the city center until around noon. It’s nice that this event is quite close to the city center, so it’s easily accessible. A tip for this event is that you must arrive very early! People basically stay at one beer tent from day to night, so if you don’t arrive early, you basically cannot find a seat. There is also an option to secure a seat by reserving online ahead of time, but it is of course pricier. So by the time we arrived at the event, there was no seats left at any tent. We ended up exploring the festival grounds and grabbing some lunch. First off, I grabbed a hot dog! Something about the sausage just tasted so much better than those hot dogs back at home..I guess it’s the authentic German Wiener!
Another popular item we found at many stalls were chocolate covered fruits! They came in white, milk, or dark chocolate and you could choose from a variety of fruits. This one was a mix of bananas and strawberries covered in white chocolate. Completely satisfied my sweet craving! These are quite pricey though, and everything at the fair is basically priced up.
In the evening, we were recommended to visit the Hofbrauhaus am Platzl, which is one of Munich’s oldest beer halls, dating back to 1589! It is owned by the public Royal Brewery in Munich, which is owned by the Bavarian state government. The beer hall is crazy! It’s basically like the tents at Oktoberfest again, with lines of tables and benches and people who look to drunk to be drinking any more. I’m not sure if this is what it’s like on regular days without Oktoberfest. The place is really hectic, and there are no reservations. You basically scout around and find yourself a seat. Service is also pretty bad here, and I wouldn’t blame the servers as they have to deal with all these intoxicated, obnoxious people. First thing to note is their beer. They only come in a litre, and is referred to as a mass of beer. You would think that a mass will last these people all night, but the locals around us told us they can drink aruond 6-8 litres….Yup. That’s how the Germans do it. Anyways, I’m not a big beer fan, so I can’t really comment on the taste and such. But being someone who doesn’t drink beer often, I actually really enjoyed my beer. There’s a lot of foam on the top, but it’s actually something the Europeans prefer, and you will find most beers to be poured with the foam on top. However, something about the taste of the beer is really different from cheap beer. It’s a lot easier to drink, and doesn’t have that bitter aftertaste. I can see why German beer is so well recognized as one of the best.
Half of the diners had some dishes in front of them, while half were here really for the beer. It was dinner time for us, and we were not crazy beer drinkers, so of course we ordered some food! There were some Germans from all over Germany here in Munich, and they gave us a few suggestions on what were typical German dishes. First, in the far back was the Roasted Pork Knuckle. This was really good! The outer layer had a crispy skin, and inside, the meat was tender and flavourful. It came with a side of potato dumplings, which we all enjoyed a lot. It’s got a nice chewy, bouncy texture compared to regular mashed potatoes. To the right was an order of Half Roast Chicken. This was by far our favourite. I’ve never had a roast chicken with such tender and moist meat! The skin was also roasted so it was a little crispy. This came with a side of mashed potatoes, which were just average. Lastly, we wanted to try authentic German Wieners. We were told to try the Weisswurste, which are white sausages, but they were sold out. We ended up getting normal wieners, that didn’t taste too different from typical American wieners. It came with mustard and a side of mashed potatoes.
The next morning, we got up early to find a seat in the tents at Oktoberfest. However, we made a pit stop for breakfast. It was some sort of fast food bar with salads, buns, and typical German snacks. We didn’t really know what to order since everything was in German, but most of the items were some sort of meat. Totally fine with me! We saw some locals order a bread roll with some sort of meat in it, so we asked for it as well. It’s called Leberkase which is a type of sausage that is baked in a mould and cut into slice. It reminded me of spam basically. It was put inside a bread roll, and had some sweet mustard inside. It was actually really good, and cheap, filling breakfast!
After grabbing breakfast, we headed over to Oktoberfest. We found a tent called Ochsenbraterei, which I later found out is famous for offering ox dishes, as the tent is named. The first picture up top, is what the tent looked like inside. Each tent is decorated differently, and apparently specialize in different aspects. You’re also supposed to find different types of crowds in each tent. We found our tent to be quite family-friendly, with ages of young to old. At Ochsenbraterei, they serve beer from the brewery Spaten. Many other tents also serve this beer, so it is quite popular. Again, it was very easy to drink. It felt sort of weird to be drinking a litre of beer when it wasn’t even noon yet though…
K had the Munchner Leberknodelsuppe mit Schnittlauch, which is a liver dumpling soup with chives. It was actually really tasty and the liver dumplings just reminded me of sausages. Next, we shared 2 orders of 1/2 frisches Wiesen-Hendl, which is the Roast Chicken we had the other night. We found this one to be a little more salty compared to the one at Hofbrauhaus. Still, it was moist and tender! Lastly, we had an order of Kartoffelknodel 2 Stuck, which are German potato dumplings. These were our favourite! Extremely chewy and sticky and the sauce was so delicious! Keep in mind that the food inside the tents will be much more expensive than outside. A mass of beer will also cost almost 10 euros.
Lastly, during our time in Munich, we actually didn’t do too much exploring, since Oktoberfest took up most of our time. The other reason was because Munich was freezing cold! Okay, well maybe Vancouver is currently colder than Munich during the time I went, but a 1 degree weather in Munich with no car and long walks out in the cold wasn’t the most surreal experience. Hence, we ended up spending our time in a coffee shop most of the time. The other problem was we had a day in Munich, which was their holiday and everything was closed! San Francisco Coffee Company was our hiding spot most of the trip. It was basically a Starbucks for us, and it was interesting that it was named San Francisco… Not sure if this is actually an American company. It was perfect for us to warm up and the fact that there was free wi-fi and plenty of comfy seats made it perfect to catch up since we were social media deprived. Here, I have a basic Jasmine Green Tea.
On another day, I tried their Matcha Latte, which I found a little too sweet. Not bad though!
And lastly, a picture of some of the stalls at Oktoberfest. These heart shaped gingerbread cookies were everywhere. Girls would wear them around their necks. They’re called Lebkuchenherz, and they are decorated with icing and have love messages written on them.
And that is all for Munich! I wish I had explored the city more, but it was definitely a wild few days.