Oktoberfest

Blog Post No.8 (05/10/2019) - Oktoberfest

6:55 am - Train stations have always been places where I’ve felt the need to invent new languages. We have no word for places that make the world feel young again. I can forget all the maps I’ve ever read and all the things I ever learned when I hear the ghostly grind of train wheels. The sky is a midnight blue relenting to the azure of pre-dawn and my train is trundling in.


7:30 - My train leaves for Hamburg Hauptbahnhof. Final Destination? München. It is the last weekend of Oktoberfest AND I will not waste this opportunity!


8:15 - I am in luck, the train to München is on the same platform as the inbound train from Lüneburg. I buy a pretzel sandwich and wait. Too bad pretzels won’t be the same back home.


8:30 - I step aboard the train. I think I have finally boarded properly this time. Let’s go.


9:00 - I make the unfortunate connection that this train to München passes by Lüneburg. Taking the train to Hamburg? Redundant. Waking up at 6 am? Redundant. To think I could have slept until 8 and boarded the train in the comfort of my home town…


11:45 - I flicker awake and it is pitch black outside. We are passing through a tunnel. Suddenly, we find ourselves high above the alpine fastness of a Hessian valley. These mountains, these streams and this sunshine! I have been so bound to my grey rainy weeks in Lüneburg. The city is beautiful but the climate leaves something to be desired. I am going to enjoy this day trip to the south.


Guess I know where to go.

2:52 - München Hauptbahnhof. We have almost exactly 8 hours on the ground and back. Hotels were $100 too expensive, so it will be a 16 hours of train for 8 hours of Oktoberfest. But when you have already paid for tickets, all you need to do is follow the signs.


3:30 - I pass under the shadow of St. Paul’s cathedral and the crowds are thickening. I can see it now. Judging purely by the aesthetic from afar, it is the world's largest country fair (it is indeed the world’s largest folk festival but it reminded me of my own county fair if it were ten times larger). I can see roller coasters,striped and all sorts of fun rides peaking above the fences out and beyond my sightline.


You cannot see it well here, but these were some thick crowds

4:00 - The crowds are unbelievable. Standing on my tip-toes I can see the press of people stretching until the end of this famous Theresienwiese thoroughfare.


4:15 - I forget who it was that gave me the advice, but they said that you had to be drunk to enjoy Oktoberfest with all the people and drunken behavior. I may as well have some beer at this Paulaner beer garden and see what happens.


4:20 - The beer is delicious! I am pleasantly surprised as someone who doesn’t really like “liquid bread” (the German nickname for Beer), as this weißbier is quite fruity and to my taste. Good because this comes in pints. It costs €8’80 and geez that is rather expensive.


4:50 - I try to call my friends here in München but the bier garten is too loud. I try to step outside and security stop me. Naturally they wouldn’t want me to be outside with my beer as I might steal the cup (it was actually €5’80 for the thing but a three dollar deposit or Pfand. I found that out later). Oh well, I drain my beer.



The Bavarian monument overlooking the fairgrounds

5:45 - I have some currywurst. candied banana and 10 dollars worth of roasted Erdnüsse. In my defense it was the special offer. I visit the Bavarian monument which is pretty but for the people too drunk to properly use a bathroom. I’m far too sober for this…


5:00- I cannot reach anybody so it looks like I will be alone for Oktoberfest. It is a shame I will have to do this alone, but I did not come here to turn away! And besides, I can always tour the city after a few beers.


6:45 - I have ridden the rides, drunken the beer and the 50 euros I brought are gone. But there are still four hours left here. Here I am all alone at this social event. I need to drink more and have a good time.


Taken by the Americans I had a conversation with

7:00 - I am back in another Beer garden and on my forth beer or so. After so many bathroom breaks I overhear a nearby conversation. At least one half of the group is American, so I step in when the opportunity crops up. I asked them to take my picture as proof of my visit. We had a very pleasant exchange which made the whole excursion worth it.


8:30 - After a very long conversation, three bathroom breaks, six pints of quality beer (one gallon) and famous Bavarian cheer, I am ready to turn my steps home. An attraction catches my eye. It is some sort of sliding ramp that drunk folks are stumbling up and tumbling over themselves quite comically. If I have had just five beers here, perhaps I could make a spectacle of myself. Fortunately, I didn’t trip up on the obstacle course but I did have a blast.


9:00 - Passing back through the city. I reach the train station with time to spare. So I keep going and head in the direction of the nearest cathedral. That onion-domed landmark draws my eye and my feet through the streets. My head is pounding from this beer-induced dehydration.


10:30 - I found the cathedral, listened to some street-players and got some water at Mcdonald’s. The night train pulls into the station. I hurry on. As I position myself on my bed, I ruminate on the events of the day. I will be back, München.

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©2019 by William Southworth.

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