Oktoberfest 2012 was slightly less exhilarating than Oktoberfest 2011. There are a handful of reasons for this with the main reason being that I was sick. There were days when I barely made it out of the hotel room. There are two things that suck when on vacation. The first – and arguably the worst – is bad weather. The second is being sick.
Peter and I had big dreams for our second Oktoberfest. We attended The Oktoberfest the year before and spent a good portion of our time observing and learning the rules, both written and unwritten. We were prepared to go all-in with tent visits and tours and then I got sick about a week before we left.
One activity that we canceled was our tour to the Dachau Concentration Camp. An all-day tour far from the hotel bed would have been challenging considering I was taking a nap every couple of hours.
Another activity that we quietly bailed on was meeting Peter’s colleagues at Hofbrau Festzelt (a big tent at the festival) on Sunday.
At Oktoberfest, there are reserved and unreserved tables in tents.
To snag an unreserved table, you must arrive at the tent very early in the morning and queue, potentially for hours. Now that I’m feeling better and reminiscing on our trip to Munich, I regret not “pulling up my bootstraps” and joining his colleagues at the tent Sunday morning.
The Hofbrau tent is the second largest tent at the Oktoberfest and seats 6,896 people inside and an additional 3,022 people outside. This is why it was chosen by Peter’s colleagues as the go-to tent for Sunday – the higher number of seats, the better chance for unreserved-seat goers.
Standing outside of the tent is sort of like being at the tent, right?
We actually made it inside the Hofbrau tent on Saturday but it was only to take a couple of photos.
Every tent has a band that is usually positioned on a stage as seen in the photo below. When the band plays, everyone stands. In fact, a lot of people stand a lot of the time.
These photos are a perspective of what life is like inside a tent. There are people standing on benches, people getting romantic, and people jumping in the aisles and then giggling hysterically when you give them a thumbs up that they successfully photobombed your photo.
The guy in the photo below was particularly intoxicated and he apparently left such an impression on me that I included a photo of him in this post.
Though it seems like we didn’t do much of anything, Peter did manage to drag me out of the hotel room often enough to make the trip worthwhile.
On Friday, we bummed around the Oktoberfest grounds and selected a random bratwurst kiosk for a quick bite to eat.
Protip: When ordering, specify if you want a red or white bratwurst and don’t hesitate.
We weren’t really feeling up for trying to buy our way into a tent like we did in 2011, so we left the grounds and went to the third-largest biergarten in Munich, the Hofbrauhaus.
Hofbrauhaus am Platzl
The [original] Hofbrauhaus probably isn’t the greatest biergarten in Munich but it’s got a wicked history and we’d been there before and there’s comfort in knowing how the process works.
The original Hofbrauhaus is located in the city centre and it was one of the beer halls used by the Nazi Party to declare policies and hold functions. It was at the Hofbrauhaus on February 24, 1920, that Adolf Hitler proclaimed the 25 points of the National Socialist program. This reconstituted the German Worker’s Party as the National Socialist German Worker’s Party, known as the Nazi Party.
There is one thing that I know for certain and that is that this biergarten is always busy [mostly with tourists].
The Hofbrauhaus was built in 1589 but the technology that runs this biergarten is from the future.
Below is a photo of one of the beer and wine-filling stations inside the Hofbrauhaus.
Servers fill their own orders by inserting a key into the dispenser and pressing buttons like an episode of the Jetsons.
Below is a close-up photo of the conveyor belt in the filling station. I was mesmerized by the system in action.
After glasses exit the conveyor belt dishwasher, they are grouped in crates and then rolled on their way to the beer and wine-filling station.
The system is super efficient because clean glasses are constantly arriving at the filling station for the servers to refill and deliver to the partiers.
On Saturday, we went back to the Oktoberfest grounds and were able to walk into a few of the tents. Now, just because we were able to physically walk into a tent does not mean we consumed beer in the tent.
By law, patrons can only be served beer when they are seated at a table, and finding an empty seat at the Oktoberfest mid-day on a Saturday is an impossible task.
First, there are big and small tents at the Oktoberfest.
With a total of 4,200 seats (inside and outside), the Hippodrom tent is considered a big tent but it pales in comparison to the seating capacity of other big tents.
The Hippodrom tent is primarily known for being frequented by celebrities. As an example, Kim Kardashian visited the tent at Oktoberfest 2011. Secondarily, it’s known for its sparkling wine.
We were in the Hippodrom tent briefly and I did not spot any celebrities nor anyone drinking sparkling wine.
The photo below was taken inside the Hippodrom tent. It’s quite colorful in there!
Hacker Festzelt is where Peter and I bribed the security guard to gain entry at Oktoberfest 2011. It’s a big tent with 9,300 seats (I assume this is inside and outside).
When we walked by this year, the doors were wide open and there was no security so we walked right in. I wonder if we had bad luck last year or good luck this year.
I call this tent the “clouds” tent because the ceiling (in the middle of the tent) is decorated as a cloudy sky to give the illusion of a Bavarian Heaven.
The ceiling in this tent may resemble heaven but it was not heaven inside of this tent. Of the three tents we visited, this was the loudest tent. I think my senses were in overdrive because of being sick and sober.
We exited Hacker Festzelt as quickly as we entered it and spent the rest of our time walking around The Oktoberfest grounds.
The grounds are a mixture of big tents, small tents, and carnival rides. All of the small tents we saw were proper wooden structures, just like their big tent brothers and sisters. Some were more extravagant than others.
Small tents are a possible alternative to your Oktoberfest adventure if you don’t have a reservation but still want to have an authentic Oktoberfest experience. Keep in mind that small tents fill to the brim during peak times (which is basically all of the time).
The Oktoberfest grounds are a great place to observe people and traditions, like the horse-drawn keg carriages. In today’s time, these horse-drawn keg carriages are more for show than anything else but I like how this tradition continues to take place.
Sometimes you’ll be walking down the sidewalk and hear the clickety-clack of horse hooves and turn around and boom, there’s a horse-drawn keg carriage en route to the festival!
A few hours at the festival watching people drink beer actually made us thirsty for a beer so we left the festival and went to a nearby biergarten and then another biergarten and then another biergarten. I can’t say that I recommend drinking beer, especially wheat beer, whilst congested but you only live once.
Sunday was a bit more of the same bopping from biergarten to biergarten mixed in with a little shopping and a lot of eating.
We departed Munich on Monday with plans to return the following year. We’ve been to Oktoberfest twice now and have yet to drink beer in a big tent whilst seated at a proper table in the middle of the action. This is our goal for our next Oktoberfest.
Until then, auf wiedersehen.