Can't make it out to Oktoberfest? Lean back and let me paint a picture for you:
"Half the adventure is in the journey", and the Wiesn (as the locals call it) is no exception. Attempting to make your way to the festival grounds is like squeezing through a crowd of rowdy Australians in heat; desperate for beer, food, and sex.
Actually, that is exactly what happened.
The subway system thankfully provides more than one exit for the Wiesn, but regardless, the trains are overcrowded with smelly men in Lederhosen. With my face smushed into the sweaty chest hair of a rather jovial fellow traveler, I momentarily reflect on what I am doing with my life. No matter, the journey must continue. The Fest beckons...
Once we reach the stop, I exit the train (more like I am forced to exit, being pushed out) and take my first breath of fresh air in 10 minutes. The designer of the Wiesn train stop must be a freakin genius, as once you exit the platform you must ride a long escalator up to the ground floor. Truly, it was like ascending into Heaven. The sunlight was motioning with its cheery rays "Come. Play with me. Bask in my glory." Basketh I shall. Reaching the top, I felt like Sir Edmund Hillary. However, as I entered onto the fields, I was struck by the first impression that strikes every Fest-goer immediately like a pimp with a temper:
Dude, it's a giant carnival.
The first thing you see is literally dozens of rollercoasters and ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds (not so merry with four liters in thy tummy) and haunted houses. Bright lights and children frolicking about in funny hats and painted faces. Balloons in the sky. Hot dogs and roasted almonds in eager hands. This is seriously just a giant amusment park.
Panic strikes and my heart rate accelerates: I didn't see any beer. Where's the beer? Oh dear God, I need to taste the beer. My mouth is parched and my hands are clammy. That's WRONG. My mouth needs moisture and my hands need beer stein condensation. Must... satisfy... desires....
Hark! Mayhaps the brew is located in the tents. And when I say "tents", I mean those enormous freakin' college gymnasium-esque structures with giant, majestically rotating steins and cheerful cartoon chickens sticking forks into themselves. I am no genius, but my intuition tells me that's where the beer is. Extending my arms out and dropping my jaw, I saunter zombie-like across the field in search of my prey.
Weaving through tens of thousands of people takes longer than expected. Progress is slow and exhausting, but my goal is in sight. The tent. It's called the "Hippodrom." Maybe Russell Crowe is inside slaying a heavily armed slave-demon or Charlton Heston is racing around in a chariot brandishing a Colt .45 and a sawed off.
Nope, just lots of beer.
The inside of these tents is sort of very much like a college or high school gymnasium. Wooden plank floors with picnic tables and long benches as far as the eye can see (which, by the way, is not very far as the frat brothers in front of me block my view). The band is playing German brass band music. Everybody is singing. Thousands of people singing. It is always surprising how on pitch and in key masses people are when they are in one area and heavily intoxicated (think baseball parks, Oktoberfest, men's a cappella, etc). Every single person has a beer stein in their hands and most are standing on their benches (that's kosher, but standing on tables is prohibited). Unconsciously, I wrap my fingers around a handle and can feel the thick, heavy glass resting comfortably in my hand. We were made for each other. I love you. However, looking down, there is no beer in my hand. It was an digital illusion (get it?). I must remedy this situation immediately.
I push and shove my way through crowds of people so drunk that they have lost their nationalities. They are a homogenous mix. That's right, homogenous mix. I meant that. How can that be? Well, they are all wearing different clothes, but all sound the same and are acting the same and smell the same. Beer is everywhere. In steins, on the floor, on my shirt (oh shit, some dick just spilled beer on me...).
I find a seat outside in the beer garden. A waitress (when I say "waitress" what I really mean is a dude dressed in a dress. Not that many transvetite waitresses at Oktoberfest, but I got one. Or maybe he/she was transgender? Transsexual? I am not sure of the correct name, but all I know is that he/she was very nice, had a low baritone, and wanted to give me beer. Naturally, we hit it off.) quickly spots that I lack a beer in front of me. I order one like a pro. No second glances, no repeats in English, just a knowing nod and a scribble of the pen. I lean back and hitch up my lederhosen suspenders (did I mention? I am in lederhosen. Big fucking surprise.) in complete satisfaction. So this is Oktoberfest? Not bad. Not bad at all. I have a moment with myself. I love it when I have these personal moments of complete tranquility surrounded by unchecked chaos. I would have them at frat parties as well. Just me, with my thoughts, in the middle of a swelling sea of over-intoxicated, over-sexed co-eds.
And that is about it. I met some friends at a table and had a good time. More details to come. For now, I have a lunch date. By the way, I may not be able to post for a few days as I am going to Prague for a few days. Should be fun. Ciao!