Since we are living in Europe, we decided to go check out a real Oktoberfest. And where better to enjoy it than Munich, Germany?
The actual name of the festival is Wiesn, but worldwide, most know it by Oktoberfest. This annual folk festival runs roughly 3-weeks long, starting in mid to late September (not October!). If you’re going as a group of friends, it’s a good idea to make reservations for a table within one of the halls well in advance. We didn’t make any reservations since it was just the two of us. It would have been nice to still have reservations, but we managed.
Our plan was to attend Oktoberfest for the opening Saturday.
On Friday, September 20, 2019, we arrived in Munich. Getting from the airport to our hotel was fairly easy. We just hopped on a train that took us all the way into town. We accidentally got off a station earlier than we were supposed to, so we had do a little extra walking.
We tried to check into our room at Hotel Alfa München Zentrum around 8AM, but the room wasn’t ready. There was a restaurant bar area at the hotel, so we made use of this space and worked until our room was ready at noon. For the price and proximity to Oktoberfest (festival is located near Theresienwiese), this hotel was a good fit for us (especially since we booked kinda last minute).
After getting into our room, we headed out for lunch at LeDu Happy Dumplings & Jianbing. The location is tiny and can be found underground near Karlsplatz station. It took us a while to find, but was well worth it. The food is authentic fast-food style. We got one of the jianbings, dumplings, and beef noodle soup to share. All bomb!
We finished up work in the afternoon from our hotel room before beginning our weekend. Here we are at Marienplatz plaza.
We continued walking around this entire area. It was lively and there was plenty to see and do without really having any plans at all.
To kick of the festival, we found ourselves at Victual Market Beergarden. It was amazing how packed it was with people drinking huge steins of beer. They were also serving classic Bavarian foods, but we had a lot of trouble finding a spot, so we just stood with beers.
Another place we found was Hofbräuhaus Müchen. Apparently, a very famous beer hall. It caught our eye when we saw large crowds outside waiting to go in. They allowed the people waiting outside to enter around every 10 minutes, so we gave it a go.
It was magical inside and hella huge. I felt like I was transported to somewhere I’ve never experienced with all the music and upbeat vibes. This is the place to go if you want to experience Wiesn any time of the year!
For dinner, we ate at Haxnbauer. This is a restaurant that serves traditional German Bavarian style foods. We were lured into line by the rotating pork knuckles in the window display. How could we not?
I think we must have waited in line for around an hour before we were seated. When in Munich. Might be a little touristy (it is a popular restaurant), but it’s good!
As you can imagine, we were very full after this meal. Especially since we had some pre-dinner and dinner beers, ayyyee! Wrapping up dinner, we made our way back towards our hotel and called it a night.
On Saturday, we got up early for the first day of Wiesn! The opening ceremony started around 10AM, but you can’t actually get any beer until 12PM.
In the morning, we went to go pick up our rental outfits for the event. I went with Bavarian Outfitters. Their location was a little out of the way from where we were staying, but it wasn’t too big of a deal. We managed. Overall I was quite happy with our rentals. The price was reasonable and the quality was on point! We could have bought our own for roughly the same price, but honestly, the quality isn’t as good. Plus I don’t know how often I’d make use of the outfit. For the rental, we supplied our own socks and shoes (and for Erick, his own shirt).
This is what we looked like in our outfits, hehe. It was really fun to dress up, and I’m glad that we did!
Before heading to the festival, we had to stop back at our hotel to drop off our clothes. No big deal.
But now we were ready for the main event! Let’s go!
It was easy enough to find the festival. You just need to follow the crowds and all the marked signage on the ground.
In the morning, I already saw groups starting early with their beers.
I didn’t really know what to expect, but it was just like what you imagine a fair to be like. This place was huge! There were foods vendors everywhere, these cookie hearts that you wear around your neck, games and carnival rides.
During the opening ceremony, there was a sort of parade that went down the main street. Each cart was decorated differently. Eventually, each cart pulled up to a different hall.
Inside of the hall, people excitedly wait for the mayor to tap the first beer barrel to commence the drinking!!! Just minutes before 12PM, we saw loads of beers being topped off and then BOOM! Beers are flowing left and right, up and down, everywhere you look. Oktoberfest had officially began.
We checked out as many of the different halls as we could, but there are sooo many. Each one seemed to have a different theme, too.
It was near impossible for us to find a spot to sit. We were awkward and didn’t know how to approach the tables. Everyone seemed to know each other.
Later in the afternoon, it got even more crowded. So much that they needed to close off the hall and manage the flow going in based off of current capacity.
We spent a lot of time mostly watching people. It was difficult for us to partake, because we didn’t understand the system and how to get beer. Did you have to place an order? Do you have to be at a table? How does it work?
Turns out, you just flag one of the workers and pay them on the spot. No ordering needed, because the beer will just keep coming out non-stop.
Eventually we got a beer. It was strong! We went for a walk around the fairgrounds afterwards. We did take a shot, too, that was probably a bad idea.
Just when we were considering going home (because we didn’t know how to find a seat), we decided to give it one last go and really try this time.
We were walking around outside when we saw some people leaving and thought, oh maybe we can take their spots! The people still sitting at the table must have seen us looking, and they invited us to join them. They made room for us and we all became friends.
This is where things probably went south for me. I had maybe 2-3 of these beers, and that was much too much. Drinking outdoors under the sun, with little to no food has never been a good idea! But it’s so easy to get carried away with all the fun. I n00bed my first Oktoberfest.
Once we had our fill of beers, we decided to head home.
I passed out in our hotel room. We did go out at night for some late night pho at Com Viet Restaurant. That’s always helpful after drinking.
The next day, I wasn’t feeling so hot. But we had to go and return our rentals, so we made the journey out. Along the way, we took a nice stroll through Alter Südfriedhof. I have a thing for walking through cemeteries, I find them peaceful. We also ended up walking along the river for a bit before deciding that I really needed to eat something.
We opted for lunch at Indian Restaurant Samrat.
After lunch, we continued walking. I saw this super cool bike just outside of the Wikipedia office (yes, that Wiki). I’d ride it.
Me on the other hand, I just couldn’t handle the thought of any more beer. The day itself was already enough of a struggle!
It wasn’t until late afternoon that I was feeling a bit better. We decided that it was safe to go back to Oktoberfest and check out what the Sunday vibe was like. I’d say, it was no different from Saturday. If anything, it was just a little more sloppy.
We saw quite a few interesting things along the way, and of course just pure drunken madness by a couple of dozen. Then there’s a few of the sad sights, like a guy passed out under the ketchup/mustard/mayo sauce dispenser.
Deciding that we were done with Oktoberfest, we went for dinner at SAM. We were lucky enough to get a seat outside. The food was Japanese fusion. Overall it was good, but not amazing. I’d still go back though.
That was pretty much our entire trip. We flew out early the next morning.
Have you been to Oktoberfest before? Would you want to go?
Can’t wait till I can travel again. Looking back and writing on my past trips really makes me miss traveling. Hope you’re all doing well and staying safe. Take care out there.