Accidental Oktoberfest

The largest festival in the world.

Who on earth would show up without realizing it is happening?

I sat at the laptop trying to book our stay in Munich. Four hundred dollars a night for a three-star hotel? A hotel that is also located a forty minute train ride from town? What the heck is going on!? I knew Munich would be expensive but this is insane. After searching for hours for anything at all that would be a better deal, I finally settled on a hotel. Only at that point did I realize we were showing up in town the night before Oktoberfest starts!  Whatever itinerary we had for our stay had just been boosted with the energy of 6 million other visitors!

Now that’s a party.

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Did you hear the one about the couple who didn’t know Oktoberfest was going on?
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Lots of cute kids, probably half-a-million in all.

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Our hotel was a very nice surprise. It was located in one of the Aubing/Lochhausen/Langwied district of Munich. Within walking distance were grocery, coffee shops, restaurants, and excellent local produce. The neighborhood had a park-like feel with many trees and green spaces.

We soon discovered our friend Sue from Mexico was in town visiting her daughter. We decided to meet up with them at the Augustiner-Keller biergarten. Many other people had the same plan the night before Oktoberfest. We arrived early in the evening, so the biergarten was not yet at capacity. A sign near the entrance informed customers that they no longer do stag parties; can you imagine?

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We learned from Sue’s daughter that locals will fill up their beer mugs with half lemonade, to avoid drinking too much too quickly. Pace yourself!

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Out of nowhere we heard a huge rumbling sound drowned out the revelry. Was that thunder? Nope – just the sound of the next keg rolling past to be tapped. We got so used to that sound that we learned to ignore it.

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On the other side of the Augustiner-Keller basement a whole separate party was in full swing. Its a tradition for a venue to try and jump-start the festivities a day early.

The next day was the official first day of Oktoberfest. The train ride into town from Aubing was an unexpected treat because dozens of families were dressed in their best festival clothes. Everyone of all ages from grandparents to grandkids. The excitement was palpable. Locals anticipated family fun at the parade, now only hours away. With each stop, more people dressed in elaborate costumes piled in. The weather cooperated and gave us blue skies.

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The Bürgermeister. Chairman of the parade. The boss.

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Ooooooohhhh….Hacker-Pschorr!

After the parade we decided against going to the biergartens with everyone else. Instead, we made our way to the Marienplatz. We found all kinds of shops, street vendors, and fun. The New town hall had interesting gothic-looking architecture. We turned around and laughed at five guys drinking beer and driving a unique bike down the road at the same time. Each guy had a set of pedals, which one of them faced forward and steered the bike.

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We kept walking until we stumbled onto a nice Church. Outside, people were cheering. We walked over to them to find out what was going on. A Porsche had parked in a handicapped space. It was in the process of being towed by a truck with a crane. The cheers were from people at the nearby park who watched the entire ordeal. In a matter of less than a minute, the truck had grabbed the car, gently placed it on the bed, and sped off. Efficiency!

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Last, we checked out the world-famous “Viktualienmarkt.” Our experience in Munich could not have been better. With the whole adventure behind us, we escaped back to Aubing for a well-deserved rest.

Prost!

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