This Saturday was the opening of the world famous beerfest in Munich. Approximately 6,000,000 people will attend Oktoberfest over the next 2 weeks and on average 500,000 attend on Saturday and Sunday each. The first 4 people to go to Oktoberfest went Sunday night and somehow found themselves a table, then after a couple Maß of beer, they somehow stumbled home. Two of them actually went hiking the next morning. Goodness.
|I did not go on this|
The other 6 of us found ourselves at the fest Monday afternoon (we don't have classes Monday). All but one of us got dressed up in dirndls and liederhosen and if I may say so looked quite fetching. We spent our first hour or so walking around the fairgrounds and riding rides. I even got myself a very expensive ice cream cone. And then we found ourselves in the Augustinerbräu tent, the historically preferred beer of Guilford students. Somehow we found room for the 6 of us at a table and almost immediately one of the people behind us spilled some of his beer on Caroline.
This of course meant that he had to come over an strike up a conversation with us, which was totally fine by us. His name is Matt, he's an Aussie who is stopping at Oktoberfest for a while before heading over to Denmark to visit friends. He showed us a quickly scribbled map of Australia to show where he's from and Caroline drew him a map of the US to illustrate where we are all from. He ended up switching back and forth between our table and the one he was originally at. He and I had a very interesting conversation about his feelings on Aboriginal peoples in Australia (I was interested because of the book I quoted in my first post). Strange and interesting to hear a white Aussie's point of view of it all. But generally everything was light-hearted banter.
We also met a group of Americans sitting at the table on the other side of us, one of whom went to high school near one of us, which prompted him to buy her a maß of beer. When they found out that I'm from New Jersey they of course made the appropriate slurs on the state and we all continued on. The interesting thing about beer halls, especially at Oktoberfest, is that they dissolve all sorts of problems. When you sit down at a table you are equal to everyone around you and everyone is there to have a good time.
|Beer tent of choice|
We also met two guys from Westphalia who were down just for a day or two. Very nice guys, one of them spoke English, the other didn't. They hung out with us for a while but I was at the other end of the table from them so I didn't hear much of the conversation. The tables weren't all that big--your normal picnic table size, maybe a little smaller, but there are thousands of people inside a beer hall at one time, so it's quite hard to hear everything. This is made even more difficult by the band who are playing on top of a podium in the center of the tent. The band does add to the atmosphere of the tent, especially when they play "Viva Colonia" which is a carnival song recorded in 2003 that everyone loves singing.
Our group made our way back to our houses in pairs, I was the first one to leave as I had to escort someone home since he couldn't walk or see straight. There were completely sober people at the end of the afternoon and then there were some who blacked out after 5:00pm, so all along the spectrum. I am proud to say that I was among the more sober people at the end of the day out, granted I stayed for the least amount of time.
What a day.
Today I went back by myself, took pictures, people watched, and went into a few other tents on the fairgrounds. Even on a Wednesday afternoon it was completely mobbed. It's worse than walking through Times Square in the summer. Despite that its a very nice fair/carnival/beer fest. Most everyone is happy when they're there and I think that's something special.