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A Girl's Guide to Oktoberfest


Plan ahead.
Book early.
Use the buddy system.
Eat lots of pretzels.

My only problem when I went to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany was forgetting to pull out my sleeping bag before I went out. By the time I got home the first night I had drank one (or two) too many litres of fantastic German beer and when I crawled into my tent I fell asleep, also known as passing out. I woke up very early in the cold morning lying on top of my backpack, hugging my sleeping bag still in its sack, beside my air mattress. I was frozen. Note to self, plan ahead.

Accommodation books up very quickly so book early, hostels and hotels go first. If you are planning on going alone, book into a tour. Wandering the grounds by yourself - not a great idea. You may be smart about things but after a day of drinking good German beer not everyone else is. If you join a tour you will have no problems finding many people to spend your days (and nights) with. If you plan on going with people you know a tour is good as well. They usually cover a place to sleep, some transportation, and some meals. All good things when you want to spend your days and nights seeing the sights and drinking beer. Going with a crowd is the best way to stay safe as someone is always looking out for you.

Every morning I was in Munich I would roll out of my tent and thank the grilled cheese sandwich gods that someone was there to cook breakfast for me, one of the perks of a tour group. After breakfast my friends and I would head into Munich and get amongst it. Oktoberfest here we come. A massive amusement park meets carnival meets beer drinking. People everywhere, food and smells and souvenirs. The traditional German outfit has to be one of the best I have seen; the greatest part is that everyone wears them, from the Germans to the tourists. The beer halls open at 10:30am and close 12 hours later. If anyone could actually last that long they need an award. You have to search for seats at the tables - and there are many tables with many people sitting at them. There are also many different beer tents sponsored by the different German beer. The first day I attacked Oktoberfest, I sat at a table in the Lowenbrau Tent with about four Italian guys and the four people I was with. It was a great day. Steins and pretzels, pickles and radishes. It really doesn't get much better.

The Oktoberfest grounds are big, I mean really big. There are thousands of people. Pretend like you're on a field trip in grade three, use the buddy system and have a meeting spot. Somewhere not too hard to find after a few litres of beer, someplace or thing tall, with bright shiny lights, something obvious. We all know what it's like at a party when everyone is drinking; things seem like a good idea when they really aren't. When it gets later in the day and the thousands of people around you have been consuming litre after litre of beer, be smart. Take someone to the bathroom with you when you go. Seems silly but there are always guys milling around the toilets and they 'only want one thing' as my mother used to say. Personally I never had any problems, but I did follow my own advice. I also didn't go into the middle of a certain tent that is standing tables only, where these football player type (big) guys are standing around eyeing up your underroos. That's right - they want to rip them off, so watch out, they don't spare anyone.

Eat the pretzels. Best piece of advice I can pass on. They are amazing. The doughnut ones are perfect too. Tip the Beer Ladies, who can carry ten steins; I'm sure they put up with a lot of crap from the drunks, although, after seeing them I'm sure they can handle it better than most. I also introduced the people I was traveling with to radishes. I had no idea not everyone knew what a radish was so we bought a bowl full, dipped them in salt and drank our beer.

Oktoberfest has to be one of the greatest festivals in the world. So, sometimes I couldn't find my way back to the table but luckily I would always take a friend and eventually we would get back there, stopping every few tables to chat with people along the way, maybe doing a dance step or two on top of a table. Did lose one guy - to this day we don't know where he was (he doesn't either) but he found the meeting spot in the end and we all made it back to the campsite together. I even got a marriage proposal, an invitation to move to Naples, and met some new friends. Never be afraid to try something new.