Sunday, February 26, 2012

Flashback: Munich, Germany - Oktoberfest! - September 2010

Written by Adam

After paying a visit to the Porsche factory in Zuffenhausen, the very next morning we made our way by train into nearby Stuttgart.  We then set our sights upon paying a brief visit to Munich, where the 200th Anniversary celebration of Oktoberfest was imminent.  Even being essentially a white wine kind of guy, I still wanted to go if at all possible.  

Upon finally arriving at the Munich train station, we tried to finagle some sort of hotel accommodations in order to allow a last second drop-in visit to experience the beerfest, but there were simply no hotel reservations to be had.  The Mayor of Munich was just about ready to tap the first keg - as tradition dictates - and we were thus destined to miss the ensuing party.  
So, while seemingly excluded (but not mortally offended) from the revelry, we boarded another train and made our way to Salzberg, Austria.  To most of the world Salzberg represents the birthplace of Mozart, and to the rest of the world it brings to mind the memorable and picturesque setting of the motion picture “The Sound of Music”.  I can take each of these in very small doses.

Salzberg as seen from the hills, alive with...the sound of no-vacancy.
As we arrived in the town, the only sound we heard were apologies for the non-vacancies in numerous hotels.  Apparently there was some sort of “congress” occurring, and hotel rooms were thus suddenly in very short supply.  Sometimes when you wing it you tend to resemble a couple of ducks as you waddle around looking for a pond.  It was getting kind of late, and upon visiting another random hotel we were told that there was a room available...so we paid a little bit more and finally found a place to rest for the night.

Mozart lived down there...somewhere.     
Yeah, we saw all of the sights around Salzberg the next day, but that was not where the party was raging, or at least any parties where we were on the invited guest list.  So, we decided that since we needed to head west again anyway, why not go back through Munich and see if the Mayor had managed to somehow pull some strings for us.  We got real lucky - we suddenly secured a room at a reasonable price smack dab during Oktoberfest!  He’s certainly got my vote now!

The arrow on his sleeve points to what it's all about...beer.
How do you begin to describe the phenomenon that is Oktoberfest?  Well, imagine the largest stadium that you have ever been part of the crowd all exiting at once.  Take that massive assembly and spill it into the largest amusement park that you’ve ever seen.  Add to that massive cacaphony being surrounded by livestock displays and every regional variance of dress and attire.  Soak that visual in millions of gallons (liters) of beer flowing into tubular glass silos, blunt instrument-like.  Then, proceed to spill, consume, refill, and enjoy the beer as you are crammed into vast, expansive tents. 

From L to R...Fritz, Hans, Annika, Katarina, Josef, Marlena...
When first entered, these structures reveal a true Phil Spectorish wall of sound, minus The Ronettes.  The tents are filled with vast legions of people, who - when adequately lubricated - all suddenly think that they can sing like The Ronettes.  Then, imagine the circumference of a circle that can be made by a human being when extending their arms out at shoulder height, with the tips of their fingers barely touching.  Fill that anatomical (rhymes with comical) circle with beer mugs.  Multiply that by pi and the radius squared, and then she suddenly leans forward, so you better get out of the way to allow the harried waitress to deliver yet another load of beer to convivial revelers seated at long tables adorned by pork and other regional delicacies of Germanic origin and tradition.  Repeat for two weeks, then resume what might be called a normal life.

Government announces beer is an alternate fuel - big smile!
Riding a silly bike at Oktoberfest incognito...or so they thought! 
We learned about the metric system when we ordered a half-meter long sausage.  We saw bicycles designed to counteract the effects of alcohol consumption and entertain the masses watching as brave people struggled to ride them.  We observed with amusement the physical intricacies of Bavarian folk dancing.  We saw every variety of lederhosen and dirndl as displayed upon every possible body type.  We saw families and friends, strangers and tourists, raging drunks, "Bierleichen" (German for "beer corpses"), young and old, as well as teetotalers - all together.

Make your way through the crowd for a bite to eat.
As we left the party, we made our way back to the subway, which for this special occasion was staffed by an army of security-types whose mission was to not allow the tipsy to fall upon the tracks.  Just another way the Germans make the trains run on time, I suppose.

Big cookies to go with the big beers.  Das ist gut!
The spectacle of Oktoberfest certainly has to be seen to be believed.   To these two ducks who just waddled in, we found a massive lake of beer, good cheer, and the party to which all must now be compared.  And, our train left right on time!

No comments: