Saturday, a few friends from the Sprachkurs program and I went to Munich for Oktoberfest. We caught the earliest train we feasably could, the 6:28AM out of Tuebingen, that would put us in Munich at around 10:30AM. Unfortunately for me, living out in the boondocks meant that there was no bus here that early in the morning, meaning I had to shell out for a cab. After being hurtled to the trainstation by a lead-footed guy blasting German pop in his Mercedes taxi, we all boarded the train and took off. Our first train, from here to Plochingen, was no problem–empty, as one would expect. Our next two trains however were another story. At Plochingen, about 50 people tried to fit into an already full four car train. After taking my place sitting on the floor, I lucked out when someone sitting next to me got off at the next stop, so I got a seat for the rest of the hour long journey. The next train was even worse. In Ulm, we, and seemingly the rest of Germany, boarded the train to Munich. There was no way of anyone getting a seat on this thing–it was standing room only, and barely that, with no room to even sit on the floor. And more people got on at every stop. To top it, in Augsburg, the train broke down–except that the doors broke down along with it, and so we were stuck standing in the train for an hour. With that many people on the train, it gets hot fast, and to top it, people started smoking. Hot air choked with cigarette smoke doesn’t make for a good time.
Finally, at around 11, we made it to Munich. Promptly heading towards Oktoberfest, all we had to do was follow the masses of people wearing lederhosen and beermaid dresses to the festival grounds, about 15 minutes from the trainstation. We soon arrived at what looked like a massive state fair, and could already hear the drunken singing and carousing from the tents. We walked down one of the main streets taking it in, ate quickly, and then tried to find a place to sit down. All of the tents we tried were full (hard to believe, seeing as these things probably fit 10, 15 thousand people each, but they had apparently been full since 10AM), but soon we heard from another friend who had found a table outside the Paulaner tent. We promptly crammed ourselves in at the table, and ordered a beer.
The beermaid soon returned with our beers. These things are huge–1 liter each, which is the equivalent of three 12 oz bottles of beer. You can hardly lift one with one hand, and these beermaids carry 8 or so at once. When they hit the table, it makes the most tremendous racket. We promptly set to drinking our one liter masses of beer, and were soon talking with the people sitting across from us–an older German man and his nephew, the man plays steel guitar in a country-western band, lyrics in German, of course. He used to play in the officer’s clubs of American military bases in the region, and we talked about the strange small differences between American and German culture.
We were also well entertained by the table of Italians sitting across from us. They had been there drinking strong since 10AM, and were (clearly) having a good old time. As soon as we walked in, they practically pounced on the two girls we had with us, and after seeing that they seemed pretty harmless and were buying the girls plenty of seven euro masses of beer, we sat down at our table and just laughed. Hey–free beer.
We kept drinking strong. The problem is that everyone is carousing and singing and toasting, so you’re constantly drinking, all the time. Add to that the smoothness of the beer, and before you know it, you’ve killed your mass and need another one. As the empty masses piled up, everyone gets much more friendly with each other, and before you know it, you’re talking with anyone and everyone. I ended up talking with a couple of French people, and had a great conversation about politics, and then, even better, we talked about cycling and argued over whether or not Lance Armstrong is a doper. A most excellent conversation. Soon after, we realized that we were very soon going to have drank too much (if we hadn’t already), so we departed our hard-won table and decided to leave so we could get some affordable food and see some of Munich before we had to leave.
After munching down one of the ubiquitous German fast-food sandwiches, the Doener (which is actually a quite good Turkish sandwich on fresh baked bread), we headed into the Altstadt and wandered around. I was very impressed with the place, and it looks like a great place to spend a few days. I went and found the hotel that my parents are staying in when they come and was lucky enough to get to see a room, and then we headed back to the train station.
The train ride home was uneventful save for the pounding hangover headache I and everyone else in my group had. The whole train was a ragtag bunch, all the way back to Tuebingen, with everyone on the train hungover and looking like they wanted to die. It was entertaining in the least, and after an uneventful, and much less full ride home, I promptly hopped in the bed and slept hard for 10 hours.