Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Love the Lederhosen!

We knew it was going to be a spectacle of a weekend as soon as we arrived at the Munich train station and it became obvious that (1) lederhosen for men and dirndls for women were the uniform de rigueur and (2) a lot of beer would be consumed.  Fortunately we were somewhat prepared since a friend of ours who went to Oktoberfest last year tipped us off:  "You'll definitely want to be wearing lederhosen or dirndls -- you'll feel out of place otherwise -- and you'll probably drink so much beer you'll be swearing the stuff off by the end of the day."  He was right. 
"Good morning, Oktoberfest!"
Oktoberfest is an annual beer festival -- the world's largest fair -- held in Munich, Germany from late September to early October.  There are 14 beer tents of varying themes and sizes -- we chose the Ochsenbraterei Tent for no particular reason other than the queue seemed shorter than most other tents -- although we weren't disappointed with our decision:  a variety of ox dishes were on the menu and Spaten was the beer of choice.  The "tent" -- a liberal use of the word there -- conjures up images of a temporary circus-like structure so when we arrived to the field where the tents are (and several amusement park rides), I was surprised to see enormous warehouse-like structures capable of seating upwards of 8,000 people.  The Ochsenbraterei tent has a capacity of 5,900 people on the inside and 1,500 on the outside.  Even though the tents can accommodate so many people you'd think you could arrive at your leisure and have no problem getting in.  Not so.  Official and unofficial resources indicated that arriving early is paramount, especially if you have a moderate-sized party and don't have a table reservation. 
Waiting for the 7:30 train
Posing on the the lederhosen!
That pretty much described our party of five.  So we schlepped off to the metro station at 7:15, arrived at the venue (Theresienwiese) just before 8, waited in line for 30 minutes or so, were seated by 8:45, and were drinking our first liter of beer by 9:10AM.  In spite of the numerous pictures posted on this blog of Lisa and me drinking -- ordering (and drinking) a beer at 9AM was a new experience.
Nectar of the gods...
...and goddesses.
A liter is a lot of beer -- nearly three 12 ounce cans -- and not exactly feather-weight.  Lifting one from the table to your mouth can sometimes be a struggle so seeing the German servers -- beer wenches? -- hauling 6-12 liters up and down the aisles is nothing less than impressive.
Mad respect for that beer wench!
Meanwhile, we're counting -- in German -- the beer we're working on..
...when we're not dancing and singing on the tables and benches.  For reasons unknown to us, this tent had a John Denver fetish and when the band played "Country Roads", the place went ballistic. 
"Country roads, take me home..."
By mid-afternoon we were ready to call it quits and wander around but it turns out that those of us who had arrived in the morning were more or less forced to leave anyway (mid-afternoon crowd turnover).
View of the carnage as you exit
If we were in our mid-twenties we may have considered two consecutive days of Oktoberfest, but alas, we are marginally responsible adults with somewhat battered livers who just couldn't marshal the energy for it.  We went out to the Munich Olympic Stadium -- home of the 1972 Olympics -- instead.
"Perhaps we should run a lap?"
"Yes, of course, in s-l-o-w motion."
"Yes, you can have a head start -- I'm sure I'll lap you."

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