Ah you came back for more tales of my Munich adventures.
Day two dawned looking all bright Autumn Sunshine, so we started the day with a run by the river. An activity which was suspiciously healthy considering our plans for the rest of the day, because today was the day we planned to visit the Oktoberfest tents.
We ran along a woodland path just behind the hotel that went along the river Isar, the river is wide and full of picturesque waterfalls and it was a lovely, flat, run. As we ran we started spotting signs for the Englischer Garten a couple of kilometres ahead. Envisioning a small herb garden, possibly with low hedges of lavender and a some kind of central seated area with stone benches we decided we would run on, have a look round for a bit and then head back. However, with just 0.4km to go the signs mysteriously disappeared, we had a little look down a side road or two, before deciding we must have completely missed it and just headed back along the river.
When we returned to the hotel we looked up the Englischer Garten on a map, at first we couldn’t find it, then we realised that was because we were thinking too small and the English Garden is, in fact, one of the largest public parks in Europe. It is larger than Central Park in New York, but we, somehow, had failed to find it, even with signposts. So, feeling all healthy and wholesome we resolved to put that on our list for tomorrow, showered and dressed for our trip to Oktoberfest.
Before I arrived I had got quite worried about numerous articles I read claiming you would be mercilessly mocked for not wearing tracht (Lederhosen for men and Dirndl for women) to Oktoberfest. Sadly I had neither the time nor the money to find myself a Dirndl before I left and decided not to bother. One of the things that really surprised me when we arrived was the number of people who appeared to be German locals wearing Dirndl in the streets, just casually like they’d just popped out on their lunch break to buy a sandwich wearing full German traditional dress. Then I began one of my epic worry fests about WEARING THE WRONG CLOTHES to Oktoberfest, despite normally being a person who dresses inappropriately for almost any occasion you care to mention, this bothered me.
There were many shops selling Dirndl, but even the very cheapest and tackiest we could find cost at least 100 Euros for a dress, blouse and apron, and I, of course, had my eye on the gloriously beautiful designer versions in the shop windows for over 2000 Euros, and once I’d seen them, nothing else would do. One, and I’m still dreaming about it now, was grey silk with a corseted bodice and black skirt and came with a fur trimmed cape. Swoon.
So, having decided that even 100 Euros (or a third of our budgeted spending money for our trip!) was out of the question, I decided to go for a half hearted Dirndl-esque effect and wear the green tartan Dolly & Dotty dress I had bought to wear with a black apron that cost just 18 Euros.
I was not the only one to have panicked about the lack of traditional attire. On the train to the tents I spent 10 minutes stifling giggles as a group of Welsh men, all dressed in Lederhosen, discussed the disturbing lack of other men in Lederhosen on the train and how “Steve” had told them everyone would be wearing them. When the train pulled into the station I could pretty much hear their sighs of relief as crowds of men in Lederhosen appeared from the other carriages.
I thought I must get an outfit photo before I drink too much beer.
But my first attempt was photobombed by a very tall man in Lederhosen
Attempt 2 was in front of the arrival sign at Oktoberfest, and came out far too dark, and attempt 3 featured my laughing hysterically in the Fischer-Vroni tent under a large picture of a fish, before Mr Chicks attention was distracted by a woman waving pretzels.
The Fischer-Vroni tent was the first tent we went in, we were slightly worried about getting a table as everywhere was full of stern warnings about how busy the tents were, but at 1:30pm on a Thursday it was busy, but with only 2 of us there were spaces still available if you don’t mind making friends.
We ordered a beer in the tent, and settled down to drink it. This where we made our first mistake. We took a look at the menu and decided it was too pricey and decided we would drink our beer first and head outside to look for food. The mistake was that we hadn’t really eaten yet that day, and we kind of forgot that “drink our beer first” meant having already consumed essentially 2 pints of strong lager, as these were litres of beer.
The procedure in the tents is to find a seat and a waitress will come to your table, take your order, bring you beer, and then you pay her, and tip her. The Fischer-Vroni tent speciality is also fish on a stick, not something that I found particularly appealing, so after the one drink we headed back outside away from the smell of fish.
It’s at this point I think we made our second mistake. Feeling fine and already full of a litre of beer, we headed off to our second tent, the Paulaner for another beer, pausing only for another attempted outfit photo in front of some beer barrels decorated with flowers.
The Paulaner was much grander than the Fischer, and featured much banging of tables and cheering in a very Bavarian manner, plus lots of Eagles all around the tent. We shared our table for a while with some Americans, and wondered how important you had to be to make it up into the box under the large topiary crown that reminded me a little of Ians’s creation on GBBO the week before.
At this point we sensibly got some food, I think, though Currywurst and a bread roll was a woefully inadequate meal after 2 litres of beer. Especially as we found one of the bread rolls in Mr Chicks bag the next morning.
Then we bravely (foolishly) headed into tent 3, the Spatenbrau, with its rotating oxen above the door, where we sat in the beer garden area and drank our third litre of beer.
At this point the next 4 hours are pure supposition. We managed to navigate our way back to the train station, purchase tickets and board a train to our hotel. We went to the supermarket under the hotel where we purchased 10 very optimistic bottles of beer and returned to our room were we promptly fell asleep on the floor about 10 feet from the bed.
Later I woke up, very confused to a grey light coming through the window. I looked at the clock and then spent some minutes working myself up into a bubbling, frenzy of worry about the 14 hours of my life I had lost sleeping on the hotel room floor. After much repeated checking of clocks we finally established it was fine, we’d merely had a couple of hours nap and it was 7pm in the evening, not 7am in the morning. Honestly we felt amazingly healthy, there was no hangover, just a desperate need for a nap after 6 pints of beer and only one measly currywurst to soak it up. We wandered round the room gathering up our various discarded belongings, discovered those 10 bottles of beer in a carrier bag and wondered whether we were now banned from the HIT supermarket, and headed off to find some proper food.
Thursday night was, shall we say, somewhat quieter, as we ate Schnitzl and Spatzl (I like alliteration in my food) in the hotel restaurant and then returned to our room to watch The Walking Dead on Amazon Prime, and, in my case at least, nurse our shame about failing to do Oktoberfest like grown ups.
We had an amazing time, and are definitely planning to go back, but from this one brief visit here are my top tips on how to do Oktoberfest like a grown up, next time.
Retro Chicks Top Tips for Oktoberfest
EAT – Before you go, then between each tent I reckon. Eat all the food, and get some nice stomach lining carbs in there.
WANDER – Our Welsh friends went left into the first tent serving beer they could find. We at least wandered a little further, but our worry about finding a seat in the tents meant we didn’t go far. We should have taken a walk around the full site BEFORE we hit the beer.
WEAR – Whatever the hell you want. Yeah, lots of people wear Dirndl and there’s everything to be found from middle aged women in dresses that reach to their ankles to American tourists in mini dirndl with their boobs falling out, anything goes, but if you don’t have a Dirndl, that also applies to turning up wearing normal clothes, no one cares.
DRINK – Slowly. These are litres of beer, we did indeed sip our beers, which is probably why when we woke up we avoided a crushing hangover, make sure each one lasts at least an hour and you’ll feel much healthier.
GO – Early, but not too early. I’m really glad we didn’t try and go on a Friday or Saturday night. You can reserve tables, and each tent we went into had a section of reserved tables, but you’ll probably need a big group of you for that as each table seats about 10, and, so I read, costs about 300 Euros to reserve. Whether you are in a big group, or just a couple, I think mid week is a much easier time to find spaces. Tents open at 10:30am, but I’m very pleased that I read up and discovered that before 6pm mid week most places will have a free table. There’s no need to be there for breakfast unless it’s to go on the rides!
♥ Dress – Dolly & Dotty* ♥ Apron – Random shop in Munich ♥
♥ Shoes – Mel by Melissa ♥ Jacket – French Connection* ♥