Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Oktoberfest & Munich

If you follow me on Instagram, you might know that I attended one of the world's biggest fests: the (legendary) Oktoberfest. This had been high on my bucketlist for some time, and this year I finally had the chance to experience this German - or rather Bavarian - tradition. I left Amsterdam Thursday night and stayed in Munich until Monday night, so it was a nice and long weeked. As always I'm sharing a few snapshots with you... 

Friday
After a bit of a rough start (discovering that the suitcase I took home wasn't actually mine), I woke up to a bright and sunny day in Munich. After picking up another friend from the central station, and finding my lost suitcase, it was time to explore the city a bit. 

We had brunch/lunch outside at Cafe Puck (Türkenstraße 33) A massive omelet with mushrooms, some bacon and a fresh orange juice. Yum!

Munich is quite a beautiful city, with impressive buildings. We went up to the rooftop of the technical university, where there's a cute café and a nice view over the city. (Vorhoelzer Forum Café - Arcisstraße 21)

Once we were back home we tried on some dirndl's (dresses). Look at how cute my friend's lederhosen are! After relaxing a bit in the afternoon, we headed for dinner at Schmock (Augustenstraße 52), a Jewish restaurant. Though I don't have good pictures of the food, it was really super delicious. I had salmon with fennel and bulgur and it was so tasty! Schmock might not be super cheap, but the food is incredible so it's definitely worth checking this out when you're in Munich. (check out the menu here)

After dinner we had some Moscow Mules at a small and cool bar called James T. Hunt (Schellingstrasse 32). Lucky I stayed with a friend who's from Munich who showed me all these cool places I would've never found myself :) 

Saturday
This day was the first day we would go to Oktoberfest. There's a lot you need to know about Oktoberfest before you go. On weekends, you definitely need to reserve a table if you want to go to a good beertent with friends. This usually happens three to six months before the fest, so because I decided in August I wanted to go, I didn't have a ticket. People actually start queueing in front of the tents around 5 am, but I decided to take a risk and go by myself around noon. Oktoberfest (also called Wiesn) is held at a big space in the city called Theresienwiese. Entrance to the fest is free, you only need to pay for food, attractions and when you reserve a table (though you get your money back in food and drink vouchers). During the two weeks of Oktoberfest, it is jam packed with people, fun fair attractions, food stalls, and fourteen ginormous beer-tents which have beer-gardens outside where you can also sit down, eat and enjoy the sun. But inside the tents is where you really want to be...

So it took a lot of smiling and some bad German sentences on my part, but I eventually got into the Schützen zelt (which is actually quite difficult considering the second Saturday is the busiest day of the whole fest, but somehow manageable if you're alone and you're a girl haha). 


We spent the day in the Schützen-zelt (see picture above), where most young German people go. It's one of the smallest tents at the fest, and it fits around 3000 people, so you might imagine how massive the whole Oktoberfest is! 

Inside the tents there are lots of tables, half of which are reserved, and the other half is up for grabs (hence the 5 a.m. queueing, imagine it like Selfridges on boxing day, except people are running to get a table instead of bargains). I was in awe when I first entered the tent. I had never seen something like it!

Live music is played all day and 90% of the people are wearing traditional Bavarian clothing (guy: lederhosen and girls: dirndls or sometimes lederhosen). I was lucky enough to borrow one of my friend's dirndl dresses because wearing these traditional clothes is kind of a must! 

The thing to drink is obviously beer (they only serve beer that is brewed in Munich), which comes in 1 liter glasses. I managed to drink two liters throughout the afternoon, which is quite an accomplishment since I rarely drink beer. The beer is quite light and easy to drink, but if you really don't like beer you can also drink lemonade, schnapps (shots) or wine mixed with lemonade. 

With all that beer, you also need something to eat, otherwise you won't last very long. While I kind of expected the food to be somewhat average considering the amount of people and the size of the whole thing, I was really pleasantly surprised. Bavarian food isn't particularly refined, but it's simple and tasty. All the food I tried at the fest was of proper standard, and the Hendl (chicken) was crispy and amazing :) you can order all kinds of Bavarian foods, like pork, sausages, the biggest pretzels you've ever seen, Knödel, Kaiserschmarrn, etc. etc.

While most tents close at 11 pm, it's definitely not the end of the night for most. Clubs are packed during Oktoberfest and everyone goes straight from the tent to the club. We went to a place called Drella and partied until our feet hurt and our dirndls hurt our backs (those dresses are TIGHT).

Sunday 
Sunday quite obviously started really late, around lunch time (sleepy heads). We had made plans to make a brunch at home so made a little team effort to put it all together (the banana waffles which I made aren't pictured, very tasty though!) German bread is the best there is so I had my fair share of walnut bread - my favourite bread ever. 

Then it was time for me to venture to the Theresienwiese yet again, leaving the others behind. This post is getting way too long so I'll sum up a bit more and let the pictures do the talking.

After a rather calm afternoon at the Oktoberfest, I somehow ended up on the roof of the Käfer zelt (FYI - the best tent for good food).

And ended up sitting on a cow drinking champagne out of a cup. Oktoberfest can be quite decadent too, it just depends which tent you're in! 

Monday
My last day already! After a good sleep and a small breakfast we walked to Kaisergarten (Kaiserstraße 34)  for some more traditional food and apparently the best Kaiserschmarrn in town. It was so hot this day, even too hot to sit out in the sun. It felt like summer again for a moment :) 

If you want proper Kaiserschmarrn (which is a bit like a fat pancake cut into pieces, only better), you NEED to go here. The wait for this dish is 45 minutes so order it right when you sit down and leave some space for dessert because the portion is huge. SO delicious!!

After that it was time for one last beer at the Schützen zelt before flying back to Amsterdam. The best way to end an eventful and crazy weekend!

Goodbye Oktoberfest, I will most likely see you again next year if I get the chance! This is really something you have to experience once in your life! 
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