On a low-cost airline packed with rowdy Londoners and a particularly chatty Glaswegian, one thing about this trip is patently clear. While it may be an exploratory adventure for me, it’s not exactly off the beaten track. Still, I brushed off my inner travel snob, for a road well-worn is so for a reason, and what better time to explore Munich than Oktoberfest season?
For 16 days each year the city sees an influx of merry tourists, hoiked up hotel prices, and to my delight, traditional German outfits in abundance. I’m serious. I was greeted by an airport full of men in lederhosen and ladies in the much more flattering dirndl dresses, and the novelty didn’t wear off when I found a city full of them too.
An inside source, old friend, and genuine Münchnerin informed me that locals don the full traditional gear in the workplace, just so they can get down to partying as soon as they clock off. That made my day. As did the creamy sugary latte macchiato that we caught up over. Having a local on your side is a bonus wherever you are, and in Munich it meant that I caught a peek into a residential world of humungous buildings and ornate architecture, as well as coffee shops teeming with chatter and dishing out traditional sweet treats.
Getting down to business, we made our way to the festival via a string of beer halls and drained tankards, arriving in the fairy-tale land of Oktoberfest tanked up and ready to roll. Temporary streets are lined with fairground rides and chocolate heart cookies, and each giant tent spills over with the froth and bubbles of a different brew. We battled our way through swaying crowds, hopped on a bench with some friendly Germans, and got stocked up with a standard one-litre stein.
Scoff if you will, but it’s literally like a musical theatre set. We stood on tables and clinked glasses, letting waves of beer spill over as we did so. We sang and stomped with the oompa band, whether we knew the words or not (with the exception of a few Robbie Williams and US country numbers, we very rarely did). A cheer erupted from nearby, and as it rippled through the tent a triumphant young man held up half a bench. A tribute to enthusiastic dance moves no doubt. Also a reminder to be grateful for fully-comp travel insurance.
Now, I’m not advocating excessive drinking habits, but beer can bring people together. I shared tables with new friends from all over the world. We’ll probably never meet again, but for one night we were the best of buddies. Strangers exchanged hugs, not punches, and in a crowd of thousands, I never saw an angry face. Also, with last orders at 10.30pm, revellers are tucked up in bed long before public transport takes a rest.
Sporting sticky feet and an aching drinking arm, I trudge back to the sing-song sparse bars of London, but I’ve learnt a few things on the way. Beer is best served by the litre. A beaten track is still worth treading. And, no coffee machine will ever produce a cafe macchiato to rival those of Munich.
Main image by Ditschisworld
Images by 夏天
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Category: Guest Post