Oktoberfest – Pretzels, Beer, and Friends!
Dressed in dirndls and lederhosen, my friends and I arrived at the Bavariaring in Munich around 10am ready to experience Oktoberfest. We were all excited to try German beer, pretzels, and to soak in the atmosphere with the singing, music, and overall culture of this popular event.
When we entered the festival grounds, we were surprised to see amusement park rides and colorful booths and stands everywhere – the mental image we had had of Oktoberfest was a bunch of undecorated tents that each had different types of beer inside, not an entire sprawling festival ground with rides and family-oriented activities.
We quickly headed to the Hacker-Festzelt tent which served Hacker-Pschorr beer and was recommended as one of the best tents for its great atmosphere and decor. Luckily, since it was early in the day, we had no trouble getting a table.
Probably the best part of Oktoberfest for me wasn’t the beer, or the food, but the opportunity to reunite with my friends who are studying abroad in London! The four of us from Florence met the two from London at the Hacker-Festzelt tent and excitedly hugged each other and talked for hours, catching up on everything that’s been happening in the time we’ve been apart.
Although the majority of my friends are not self-proclaimed beer lovers, we all ordered a stein of beer because you can’t not have beer at Oktoberfest. The steins were huge but I managed to finish it over the course of our meal. After we placed our order with our waitress, we all also got pretzels – I opted for a pretzel or brez’n with cheese or käse.
For our lunch, our table tried Wiesn-Hendl (grilled chicken), sausage with cold potatoes salad as a side, and Käsespätzle which was essentially German mac and cheese and ended up being my favorite.
Halfway through our meal, the band started playing and the atmosphere of the beer tent immediately elevated. There is a tradition at Oktoberfest where if you stand on a table, you have to chug your beer and the entire tent will either cheer you on and applaud when you succeed or boo you if you fail to down the entire glass at once.
After experiencing the Hacker-Festzelt tent, we headed to another tent to meet up with our other friends. We also tried a sugared pretzel here, which was a great way to balance out the savory meal we had just had.
We walked around the festival grounds for a while and tried to decide which amusement rides we wanted to go on. It’s a bit paradoxical to have amusement rides that could induce throwing up at a festival known for beer and getting drunk. We decided on a roller coaster that looked really fun, but when we found out it was €11 for one ride, we decided we could still have just as much fun at Oktoberfest without the amusement rides.
There was so much good food at the various stands all around Oktoberfest, which you can read more about in my German food blog post. Baumstriezel, or chimney cakes, filled with Nutella and topped with coconut and brown sugar was definitely the highlight of the day.
By mid-afternoon, we were honestly a bit done the whole scene of Oktoberfest. Besides drinking all day or going on the vomit-inducing amusement rides, there wasn’t much to it – I really wouldn’t recommend spending more than a day at Oktoberfest.
To pass the rest of the time, we went to another beer tent, Löwenbräu-Festhalle, which served Löwenbräu beer. We read online that a good drink to try was half lemonade, half beer, called a Radler. We all ordered one and I did enjoy it much more than the regular beer since it tasted much lighter.
After hanging around the festival ground for a while longer, we headed into the city to find a place for dinner. We settled on a restaurant that served traditional Bavarian food called Wirtshaus Maxvorstadt. We ordered a trio of Weißwurst sausages, potato dumplings with sauerkraut, and schnitzel.
With happy, full stomachs, we headed to the bus station, called the ZOB in Germany, to board our overnight bus from Munich to Berlin. Oktoberfest was definitely a memorable experience and a great way to get a peek at the culture of the whole event, but I don’t think I’d go back in the future. The most fun part was really tasting the amazing food and being with my friends.