|Last weekend (September 23rd-25th) I embarked on one of the most "bucket-list" worthy trips: Oktoberfest. As a 21 year old college student, not going to Oktoberfest while in Germany was really not an option. Upon arriving in Germany with Katy, Marc, and Howie, booking Oktoberfest was of the utmost importance to us. We understood that if we did not get on the ball soon with our travel plans, a trip to Oktoberfest would be just a dream. Luckily for us, we were able to get accommodation, and then plan our train trip with another group, rounding us out to 11 of us all going together. Since there were so many of us, we got a reasonable price on train tickets, too.
Getting up at 5 am on Friday, we headed to the Haubtbahnhof at 6:30. The train left at 7:15 but we had to make sure we were not late! The train took about 3 hours, and that was the high speed (ICE) one! ICE trains are great because you can get to so many other places that normally would take a very long time, in a short time! We arrived a little after 11 and made our way to our hotel. We stayed at Hotel Nymphenburg which was an older hotel, just outside of the main part of the city so it was easily accessible to everything but still quiet at night.
After checking in, we made our way to the festival. Not expecting to get in a tent since we did not arrive until about 1 in the afternoon, we were pleasantly surprised to get in the Augustiner Brau tent! Walking in for the first time was a surreal experience. I had never seen a sight like! Thousands and thousands of people ranging from families to college students to elderly, were all sitting at tables enjoying freshly brewed beer and authentic German food and music. While every tent had rows and rows of tables set up, each had their own colors which they represented via ribbons and other streamers that hung from the ceiling. Here is the Augustiner Brau tent from the inside!:
And here is a picture of Katy and I having our first Oktoberfest beer!:
The steins that the beer was served in were HUGE! In fact, when you order a beer you are realistically ordering a LITER of beer! It took quite a long time just to finish one!
One of the best things about Oktoberfest was seeing all of the traditional clothing that Germans once used to wear on a regular basis. Men wore lederhosen and women wores dirndls. Lederhosen directly translates to "leather pants." With the leather pants, it is also common for men to wear some sort of white or ginghman button down shirt, with leather suspenders, and knee high socks. Some men also wear hats that have feathers sticking out of them. Women wear dirndls which are a kind of dress. They have a corset-type bodice that laces/zips up the front along with an apron that coordinates with the colors of the dress. The best part about the dirndls is that they have so much more room for self-expression in their designs. One can have different colors, patterns, or embroidering on them. Katy and I chose to wear peasant tops that were also common as well. The boys wore the traditional lederhosen. Here's a picture of us in our outfits outside at the festival!:
Katy and Marc and I all wore green gingham. We unintentionally all matched!
On Friday night, we went out to dinner as a big group at a traditional German restaurant. While everyone else got some sort of wurst or fleisch, I maintained my vegetarian status and ordered Käse Spätzle, one of the only German dishes without meat! Spätzle is a long noodle made with flour and eggs. Käse is cheese. So my meal was essentially fancy mac'n'cheese!
On Saturday, our second day at Oktoberfest, we met up with other Bentley students that are also studying in Europe. We met with kids that are studying in Spain, Italy, and Austria. I was especially excited to see the girls that are studying in Vienna, since Elizabeth is one of my closest friends at school.
Here's Elizabeth, Emily, and Cori from Vienna!
It is funny how even thousands of miles away from Bentley, we all still seemed to find each other at Oktoberfest; a festival that has over 2 million visitors every year! The only ones we planned on meeting were Elizabeth, Cori, and Emily, yet somehow we all wound up in Paulaner tent on Saturday, together!
It was "Italian" weekend at Oktoberfest, so aside from learning traditional German songs, we also sang along to some Italian ones as well. The boys from Vienna that travelled with Elizabeth, Emily, and Cori, could not be outdone by the Italians so they proudly waved American flags all day. When they were tired of waving them, they took to wearing them around their shoulders.
There were so many people from so many different countries at Oktoberfest so it was nice to have a flag and recognize where we were all from. We met people from Italy, Australia, Switzerland, Ireland, and of course Germany! While the beer was good, it was overall a great cultural experience because it brought us all together, enjoying each other's company, something that would have not happened if not for Oktoberfest!