In the midst of all the craziness last week, one of my best friends from Junior High/High School flew into Munich for an 8-hour layover. This had been planned for months, and we hadn’t seen each other for 20+ years. Of course I went!
I rose well before dawn to drive the 2-3 hours to Munich. Thankfully I was blessed with a gorgeous sunrise and a fairly uneventful trip. However. Despite possessing cell phones and hand-dandy maps with “You are Here” arrows every 20 feet, Wendi and I took 30 minutes to find each other in the cavernous Munich airport. I finally said:
“I’m standing at checkpoint Z. I’m in bright orange. I’m spinning like a top.” And people looked at me weird.
“I SEE YOU!” She yodeled in my ear. 10 seconds later we were in each others arms. The years faded away and it was like we had seen each other just yesterday. I could not have wished for anything better.
We hopped in my trusty blue bus and drove down to the one, the only, the original, Munich Oktoberfest! I had dirndl’s for us both in the back, we hopped in the back and wriggled into our traditional trachten (traditional fest clothing), helping each other zip (they are snug) and tie the bows just right (each bow tells a story). Out we piled and into fest we went.
We got as far as the entrance before become part of an official bachelor party photo… all the way from Australia! 30 seconds later we were in our first bier tent. Oktoberfest currently houses 14 large bier tents and 20 smaller ones, as well as a big wine tent for all the non-bier drinkers at Oktoberfest.
Our first tent was quiet. It was not yet noon (the bands start at noon), yet bier was on the menu. I’d explained to Wendi that we would get 1 liter bier, called a Maß. I knew from experience I could not drink multiple Maßs. I recommended we start with Radlers, lemon soda mixed with bier. We each had our own.
While I took a picture of the near empty tent, Wendi stumbled to order the Radlers… with the only German she knew “Radler” and holding up two fingers. I burst out laughing, and promptly made new friends at the table next to me. I beckoned Wendi over to join us and soon we were babbling away in Austrian (very similar, but not exactly the same, as German). By now Wendi was uber-impressed at my multi-lingualism. Let’s keep it that way?
Within minutes we had invitations to come stay with our new friends in Vienna. Phone numbers were exchanged and things got very cosy. Luckily we were both thirsty, and after a chaste kiss goodbye we escaped our first tent giggling like schoolgirls.
And then, for the first time at all the fests I’ve been too, we saw the traditional delivering of The Bier. Each cart drawn by six beautiful, magnificent, full-costumed horses. Both of us fell in love. Much time was spent petting. Drooling. Posing. We are both horse crazy and to see this, icing on an already fabulous cake.
We popped into another tent, after all the drooling we were again thirsty. Within seconds we made new friends. This time I fell in love. There is nothing I love more than a dapper, confident, smartly dressed man. It turns out older men love me! Sadly it’s because I have very warm hands & theirs were ice cold. Once we’d finished our (shared) bier, and I’d warmed the hands of many a cold-handed man, we ventured out to see more of the famous Oktoberfest.
I’ll be honest, I’d let Wendi drink the vast majority of our shared bier and she was a riot exploring all the sights, smells and sounds of Oktoberfest. Of course, she’d spent the last month working on a Rhino rescue plantation in Africa. Oktoberfest is a culture shock straight from the states, from rural Zimbabwe? I think we’d all be like Wendi.
When we spotted the original Löwenbräu bier tent, we knew we had to go in. Löwenbräu is also brewed by Anheuser-Busch (makers of Budweiser) and to spot something so “American” in the middle of all the German was a little unreal. The dots connected in our heads, and in we went. This is the tent I’d recommend for first time visitors to Oktoberfest! Their band set-up is amazing! Their polka music resonated deep inside me. I could feel my whole body hum along. Plus, they have the most adorable waitresses.
Sadly, Wendi’s plane was starting to call her name, so we stepped out for one more tent, making friends along the way (they had some not family-friendly tales to tell of how Leberkäse is made). Still laughing we popped into our last tent, the fullness telling us it really was getting close to plane time, and we stopped to admire the crowd and let me take a picture. A beautiful blonde approached us and asked:
“Just you two?” We nodded.
“I get you two mans.” And we were promptly seated with two young men in their twenties. We had a fabulous 15 minutes as Wendi drank most of our shared bier, before leaving Oktoberfest with great regret.
The entire way to the airport Wendi schemed to stay in Germany, with me, with Oktoberfest, longer than the 6 fabulous hours we’d just had. In the end we decided she would just have to come back and plan a longer trip. Is it Spring yet?