Monday, November 11, 2013

Lifestyle: Oktoberfest 2013 Part 1 (the touristy days)

I know what you're thinking. It's freaking November, and I'm just now starting to post my Oktoberfest experience, which ended a good month ago?! Between the end of Oktoberfest and now, I went to Egypt and Austria, and I just kept putting the task further and further behind. The task of going through 800+ photos was daunting, and my desire to do Oktoberfest proud was preventing me from merely throwing some photos on a post and being done with it.

I've finally gotten to the exhaustive task at hand, and have managed to organize the 4 days total that I attended Oktoberfest into two blogposts, fittingly split into Part 1, the touristy days filled with daytime and outside photos, and Part 2, the boozy days/nights mostly spent at or inside the tents. I will culminate everything in an Oktoberfest Guide, so if you're looking to attend next year, it's my take on what I feel are all the basic to-knows about this amazing fest.

Without further ado, let Part 1 of Oktoberfest 2013 commence!

My first day at the Munich Oktoberfest in no way prepared me for the sheer amount of people meandering around the fest site- 6 million attended in 2013, roughly 70% coming from Bavarian countries, anywhere from 15-30% coming from outside countries. It was a gorgeous autumn day, so the place was packed out with families and tourists.

The first order of business was to get a Lebkuchenherzen- basically a gingerbread cookie baked into a heart and written with something sassy on it. At Oktoberfest, they're a form of "flirting currency"- single boys pick the one that perfectly voices how they feel and give it to a girl of their fancy. If a girl is popular, she will be wearing bundles of these around her neck like rappers wear gold chains. This one looked intriguing, but I passed for one that was a little more... modest. 

We were wearing matching trachten (traditional national costumes of Germany), and C's red gingham shirt not only matches my dirndl, but it also masks any accidental ketchup droplets escaping his bratwurst. 

I opted for the Schaschlik, marinated skewers of pork, bacon, onions, and sweet peppers simmered gently in a paprika and onion sauce until the meat falls of the skewer. Yum.

 You'll have to dodge the marching bands tooting traditional polkas all around the fest. They'll occasionally stop and do an impromptu concert at various locations around Oktoberfest, but mostly during the day, probably because tooting a tuba as an official Oktoberfest band member is hard work that must obviously be rewarded with beers in the evenings.

They are very colorful and friendly. It's not an easy feat playing an instrument while marching in tune, let alone dodge a few million curious/inebriated Oktoberfest revelers, so hats off to these hardworking musicians.

I got these Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes) without the applesauce that they're eaten with traditionally. Instead, I asked for swirls of ketchup, which they were very confused about, but come on, they taste exactly like hash browns so I had to do it. 

I'm in front of the statue "Bavaria", a massive, 18.5meter structure that is the "female personification of the Bavarian homeland". It stands in front of the Hall of Fame, a columned hall that contains works from celebrated Bavarians in the fields of politics, science, and the arts. Basically, a seating area for drunk people who can't gain admission into the tents during Oktoberfest. 

I love ferris wheels. 

I really love ferris wheels. I love their architectural aesthetic, the romantic connotations, the view from the top, their symbolic representation of fairs, festivals, and fun... I got on it. 

This gives you a brief idea of how many people were at Oktoberfest this first Sunday of the 3-week, 16-day bonanza. The bottom of the photo shows the southern end of the festival, towards what is called Oide Wiesn, a quieter, less-crowded, traditional part of the fest focused on historical rides, tents, and agricultural displays. You'll notice the northern side is ridiculously packed. 

We timed the ferris wheel ascent perfectly, managing to get the last remnants of the sun (aka the golden hour) to take these shots. We were on the ferris wheel a lot longer than I expected, for about 4-5 rotations. You can see the Hall of Fame and "Bavaria" over my shoulder. 

We rode a few other rides, but the photos we took for this ride were stunning, right when the sun was setting, so I just had to post them. 

This is whilst waiting for the people ahead of us directly underneath...

...and then this is when we were on the ride, clutching onto the camera for dear life while trying to snap clear photos. 

Stunning views *_*

 And then it all got a bit beautiful, the juxtaposition of the setting sun and the pastel clouds with the flashing neon lights and the clanging sounds of the festival rides, underscored by the humming murmur of the crowds.

We got a bit cold as we dressed for the daytime, but that was the only downside to this day. This was definitely the perfect first introduction to Oktoberfest- taking advantage of the sunshine to play tourist, eating our way through the stalls, timing the sunset with spectacular views, and most importantly, minimizing the beer drinking to be able to remember the layout of Oktoberfest for our next foray in the coming weeks.

Next blogpost up is Oktoberfest Part 2: the boozy days!

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