I'd always promised myself a trip to the Bier Festival in Munich but although I've passed through and stayed in Munich several times throughout my life, Oktoberfest has sadly escaped me. This year I finally decided I had to go before I was simply too old to enjoy it without sliding under the table pre 9pm to the disgust of twenty something Germans. I did reassure my wife that I'd be keeping my intake down to four or five glasses per evening, neglecting to tell her of course that the delicious and strong lager was served in Steins, or litre glasses. My companion was recently divorced so he had no one to answer to and was keen to make up for what he called 'lost time'.
Even though I've always harboured a desire to visit I didn't fully realise the scale of the partying in Munich. I suppose when something of this nature has been going on for over two hundred years, it has to have something special going for it. Apparently it's the biggest fair on earth, including the Rio carnival, and gets up to seven million visitors from all over the world. Most of them actually make it back home.
What can I say, I wished I'd done it sooner and more often. The atmosphere is simply astonishing and there's certainly no room for any xenophobia. I clinked glasses with professors from Prague and students from the States. You need to speak only one word to get along fine, PROSIT, as you all clink your glasses together prior to slaking your thirst. Bavarian music won't be everyones cup of tea – did I really say that – but the oompah bands seem perfect for the occasion as the nights get louder and more riotous. The performers are one of the many highlights and only the very talented get to play here. There's a lot more than brass if something else is more to your taste. And if you're normally the shy and reserved type, believe me, you wont be at Oktoberfest. Occasionally we can all feel a tad self conscience if encouraged to act like a total buffoon. Here you'd be conspicious if you behaved sensibly. In fact you'd probably be asked to leave for bringing the atmosphere into disrepute.
So you have great company, unlimited refreshing beer, no family to worry about and marvellous entertainment. What more could a man ask for. Well a feast of course and the hot pork sandwiches, HALF chickens and ham hocks are legendary. It's said you need to lose half a stone before you go on a week's cruising. Well I think you'd need to double that pre Oktoberfest. And if anyone has ever lasted even half of the 16 days it blasts on for, well they must be unrecognisable when they return home and in need of urgent medical care. One obvious piece of advice I would give to potential sloths and slurpers is don't wear the clothes you intend to don for interview or a wedding a week later. With the barmaids seemingly carrying a bathful of beer in each hand and raucous revellers moving their steins back and forth to the music, the 'odd' spillage does occur ! But no one cares, well apart from the por soul who's just chucked half a litre away.
Outside of the tents Munich has a world famous football team, some great architecture and obviously a rich and dark history. But I can't say I saw a lot of it this time ! If I did I certainly can't remember. I'd love to go back and probably will. Just have to be careful I don't enjoy it too much and end up in the same marital position as my buddy.