Oktoberfest!

25 Sep

Show of hands- how many of you have a visit to the world famous Oktoberfest on your Bucket List? Well, it was definitely on ours and had been on my parents’ ever since we moved here, so after a decade of being in and out of Europe, we’ve finally crossed it off! And it was totally worth its spot on the list, too. SUCH a fun experience!

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So to kick off this little picture post, y’all know I’ve got to get a bit nerdy and give you some backstory. Don’t judge. Oktoberfest is the largest beer festival in the world, complete with a traveling fair. It takes place for 18 days in late September/early October every year in Munich, Germany (about two hours from us in Stuttgart). Other cities around the country also host similar festivals (stay tuned for my post on Stuttgart’s own Volksfest- our personal favorite- in a couple weeks!), but Munich’s was the first (held in 1810, as a wedding celebration for King Ludwig and Queen Therese) and is still considered the most popular, drawing more than 6 million visitors each year and serving nearly 7 million liters of beer (!).

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Our tent for the day, Schutzen Festzelt. Each tent is known for different things. Ours was known for good food (especially pork) and good, modern music by live bands. It’s one of the larger tents, holding about 8000 people.

So what does Oktoberfest look like? Well, it’s basically a giant fair- complete with rollercoasters, giant stuffed animals to be won at games, and greasy fair food- with ‘tents’ (ie. giant wooden restaurants) throughout, each serving its own kind of food and drink. I tell you what- these ‘tents’ are more sturdy and better put together than many a house I’ve been in! That’s how permanent they look and feel! The majority of tents specialize in whole roasted chickens and beer (each tent is sponsored by a different brewery), but there are also wine tents, dessert tents, wild game tents, etc. In addition to varying cuisines, tents range in size from smaller (2000ish people) to massive (10,000 people), as well as style (traditional, progressive, rowdy, older crowds, etc.) So in other words, choosing which tent you’d like to spend your time in is big business and there are lots of things to consider!

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So do you just choose one and walk in? Well, yes and no. There are two different options for getting into the tents. The first is to go during slower times (ie. weekdays, earlier in the day) and hope to find a seat inside. Sometimes you luck up, other times you don’t. (You can’t be served food or drink without a seat.) If you tried to do this at night or on a weekend, you’d have about a 0% chance of this happening. The second way is to round up 10+ people and buy a table reservation in advance (this isn’t an option for smaller groups). With reservations, you choose one of three ‘shifts’- morning, afternoon or night- in the tent. Although we’ve done it both ways, this time we opted for Option 2 and it couldn’t have turned out any better! We always prefer the afternoon shift for various reasons- less being exhausted before it’s all over, more stamina, slightly more ability to hear ourselves think, more stamina, less vomit from surrounding patrons…so that’s what we went with this time. Plus, half of our group was leaving the next morning for their Ireland vacation, so…yeah 😉

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Of course we’re embracing the culture! With the number of fests always going on, we had to splurge for a dirndl (it’s three separate pieces- the dress with built-in corset, the apron and the blouse) and lederhosen. Traditionally, the placement of the apron bow denotes married/single/widowed and the symbol in front of the suspenders is the region you’re representing.

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Walking through the front door of Schutzen Festzelt at noon and already a madhouse. Each tent has its own decor, its own colors, its own placement of stages and tables…Fest tables are typically long and skinny with benches down each side to accommodate 10 people each.

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View from our table on the second floor. BEST seating we’ve ever had! (And yes, this is how packed it is on a Thursday afternoon!)

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Festival beer is sold in one size and one size only. Each masse holds 1 liter.

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Can I get a hallelujah for whoever invented the pushup bra?! They make them here specifically to go under dirndls- and to add 2+ cup sizes! 

We realized while we were home this summer that our good family friends, the Heaths, were also planning to cross Oktoberfest off their Bucket List this year, so the coordination plans began. Our two families go way back. My mom and Susan worked together in the operating room at Trident Hospital in Charleston in the late 80s. When I was in middle school, and the Heath boys in elementary school, we started vacationing together, along with two other familes- the LePines and the Forinashes. In other words, we’ve all been close for the last 20+ years <3. Harrison, the youngest Heath, graduated from West Point a few years ago and is now stationed in Germany with his wife Sammi, so just like my parents, his parents and his brother, Kyle, are in town for a visit. What better excuse to plan some awesome joint ‘fest’ivities. (Ha! See what I did there?!)

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Our tent sold Lowenbrau beer, one of the most popular breweries in Germany.

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When you discover the table behind you is also from N. America…Canada, but close enough 😉

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Finding the perfect hat 😉

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The Heaths

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View from the deck…

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FUN ❤

One of my favorite things about doing the afternoon shift is that when you leave the tent, the sun is just going down and the fair is in full swing- all the lights and sounds and smells that can’t help but make you happy! No, you don’t always necessarily feel like riding loop-di-loops after 5 hours in a tent, but walking around and just taking it all in sure is fun in itself.

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Missing our girl- Neve’s favorite ride at every fair!

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We really did have such a fun day- and to get to share it with my parents and our great friends from home was just icing on the cake…er, gravy on the schweinehaxe! Ha! Definitely an experience- a little trip to Munich- we’ll never forget. Next week, Round 2 at Stuttgart’s Volksfest!

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Just in case you were wondering what one eats for dinner after a full day of festing…We plan ahead ❤

And to quote another girlfriend who also just got back from Munich, “Rick Steves said it best: ‘Fest is about people getting together to celebrate culture, happiness, and embracing life.'” Yes, it surely is. ❤

6 Responses to “Oktoberfest!”

  1. jsimssr September 26, 2016 at 2:59 AM #

    I could give up VO for beer with those surroundings .Tell Larry and Robin t0 call us when they get home..Date ?? You and John look great.

    • Erin T. September 26, 2016 at 6:43 PM #

      You’d definitely love the tent atmosphere! And the dancing that inevitably comes later in the day!

  2. Eleanor September 26, 2016 at 2:28 AM #

    What fun! I know your parents especially your Dad has had an awesome time! Thanks for sharing, but who took care of Neve???

    • Erin T. September 26, 2016 at 6:44 PM #

      We’re all having a lovely time- great having them here, although I’m sure Dad is about ready to see his house since it’s been 2 months! Ha!

  3. Georgia September 25, 2016 at 2:19 PM #

    Thanks for great pictures & sharing for what a great day y’all had.

    • Erin T. September 26, 2016 at 6:44 PM #

      Thanks for always following along on our adventures, Georgie!

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